Consumer and Home Design Trends

Small, but Mighty: Making the Most of Limited Outdoor Space 

Anja Seng photo

Anja Seng

April 26, 2023

Over two-thirds of homeowners use their outdoor spaces multiple times per week, regardless of life stage.1 Working with a small lot? No problem. Function matters more than size. 

Here are three small townhome yards with big impact: 

1. Bring the Porch Lifestyle to the Forefront

Create a front porch lifestyle.

Thrive Home Builders teamed up with Godden Sudik Architects to design their popular DoMore Rows in Baseline, CO. The design team challenged themselves to create a front porch lifestyle that is seldom found in townhomes, which often have only upper-floor outdoor living. Adding front yards and patios created a communal space that encourages socialization between neighbors. It’s the perfect spot for a morning coffee or evening cocktail while catching up with friends.

2. Carve Out a Courtyard

Tuck in private outdoor living.

At the Villa Townhomes at Walsh in Aledo, TX, Highland Homes used an unconventional layout to tuck in private outdoor living. The townhomes are attached at the front of the home and detached along the garage. The result: The perfect space for a side courtyard. What would normally be a shared wall between townhomes is opened up into a covered area for entertainment and a side yard that extends along the alley-loaded garage. The bonus: The opportunity to add windows along the side of the home to bring natural light into the interior units!  

3. Split Your Efforts 

Break up the outdoor living space into smaller nodes.

When land is scarce—which is almost always!—break up the outdoor living space into smaller nodes around the home. Toll Brothers and BSB Design created the Cody Place townhomes with up to four private outdoor spaces per floor plan. A small pool in the backyard delivered the Palm Springs experience. Combined with covered balconies off the bedroom or a covered roof terrace, residents had multiple outdoor retreats to choose from. And even when you have just one outdoor space, thoughtfully segmenting it through merchandising can make the sum of the parts greater than the whole.

In a tough housing market, standing out and cutting costs are key. How do you decide which features to keep and which to cut? It’s all about knowing your audience. Do your research and understand who your buyers are and what they want in their homes.

For even more insights, complete this form to learn about becoming a New Home Trends Institute member. 

 New Home Trends Institute by John Burns Real Estate Consulting October 2021 survey of 1,184 homeowners with homes containing outdoor space. 

Building Market Intelligence™

Every week, we deliver analysis to over 40,000 subscribers with our Building Market Intelligence™ newsletter. Subscribe to our weekly BMI newsletters to stay current on pressing topics in the housing industry.

About The Author

Anja Seng photo
Anja Seng
Senior Research Analyst, Design
Anja assists in the production of monthly DesignLens features and manages the New Home Trends Institute (NHTI) Instagram account. Additional responsibilities include helping run New Home Trends Institute’s Master Plan Trends Council and designing external presentations.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about our services or if you would like to speak to one of our experts about we can help your business, please contact Client Relations at

Products and Services Mentioned

green check icon

New Home Trends Institute

The New Home Trends Institute pairs design inspiration with exclusive insights into the “why” behind consumers’ housing choices. Gain exclusive insight into housing preferences and pain points through our monthly survey insights reports, webinars, and proprietary surveys of builders, architects, designers, and other industry professionals.
green check icon

Research Membership

Our research services enable our clients to gauge housing market conditions and better align their business and strategic investments in the housing industry. We provide a thoughtful and unique holistic approach of both quantitative and qualitative analysis to help clients make informed housing investment decisions.
green check icon

Real Estate Consulting

Our experienced team of consultants helps clients make sound housing investment decisions. We thrive on their success and work with many clients over multiple years and numerous projects.

Latest Insights

NHTI Industry Pulse: $40K for a Gym Membership?
Dear Consultant: Can people still afford homes with high rates and increased inflation, or are they more likely to rent? 
Hillwood Communities and the Art and Science of Placemaking