It's a Lifestyle!
Close to 20 years have passed since we began writing about the trend we called the Outdoor Room. We’ve tracked it since its natal stage in California, watched as it moved into Arizona and other southwestern states, and later, as it spread slowly across the country – and we do mean slowly.
Rob DeMassa, business manager for Outdoor Designs & Living in Fairfield, Connecticut, says interest and awareness of the Outdoor Room reached this southern New England area relatively recently, but business is now “exploding.” He says, “People want more than just a grill on a patio. They want a kitchen where they can put on a show, while guests watch from seats at the bar. They want a great entertaining space.”
Six years ago, we published our first Canadian issue. When our writers interviewed manufacturers and retailers across the border, they found that hardly anyone believed the Outdoor Room trend would gain traction in their country. The rationale was that their season of warm weather was too short to justify spending the large sums of money being spent by homeowners in the U.S. When we published our third Canadian issue, that line of thinking had already been proven wrong.
Today, the Outdoor Room trend is going strong way up north. Even Toll Brothers, that very upscale builder of fine homes, is now offering Outdoor Room options at its developments in colder climates.
In fact, just about all of the major homebuilders in the U.S. either include an Outdoor Room with the purchase of a home, or offer it as an option. That has given the trend a tremendous boost.
But trends have a tendency to lose steam and eventually go away. We doubt that will happen with the Outdoor Room. So perhaps we should stop referring to it as a trend and call it what it is: a wonderful lifestyle.
What follows are some of the compelling words and data that you will find in this issue of Hearth & Home.
Fifty-five percent of homeowners creating outdoor living spaces spend $15,000 or more. The report finds they’re buying outdoor lounging furniture (36%), fire pits (32%), outdoor dining furniture (28%), grills (20%), patio heaters (10%), built-in cabinetry/storage (8%), sinks (5%), refrigerators (5%), and pizza ovens (3%).
Sixty-nine percent of architects say interest in outdoor living spaces is up; 61% say their clients are more interested in blending indoor and outdoor spaces; and 45% say outdoor kitchens are growing in popularity.
Consumers are looking for ways to add extra living space without the expense of putting on an addition, by converting basements and attics, and adding Outdoor Rooms.
Outdoor living spaces with areas for grilling, dining and sitting, indoor-like furniture and fabrics, and a seamless flow between interior and exterior living areas, are still very hot.
Forty-three percent of National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) designers have experienced increased requests for outdoor living spaces, and 69% recently created an outdoor kitchen. According to the NKBA, besides a grill, these projects increasingly include a fire pit, pizza oven, weatherproof cabinetry, refrigerators and music systems, as well as defined areas for dining and relaxing on indoor-style furniture.