Updated: Jul 26, 2021
According to Design Experts the process of decorating a home doesn’t end the moment you’ve outfitted your interior. Because odds are, you have some kind of outdoor space —and it deserves love and attention, too. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with a teeny-tiny balcony, a sprawling backyard, or something in between. Your space could probably benefit from a few upgrades, and since those changes might result in you logging a few more hours outdoors, you could probably benefit from those upgrades, too.
Our backyards, patios, and gardens have dutifully served greater purposes than ever before as office spaces, happy hour haunts, gyms, and refuges to enjoy (and be inspired by) the beauty of nature. We’re expecting the popularity of outdoor living spaces to continue to grow, not only in light of COVID-19, but also as many of us pursue more sustainable lifestyle and seek to achieve greater health, both mentally and physically, from home.
According to Bobby Berk, design expert and Emmy-nominated TV host “Think about how you actually want to use your outdoor space, and then focus on those specific goals,” he says. “If sharing meals outside is important, start with a dining area. If you want a space to relax, set up that space.”
Spending time outdoors should be an enjoyable experience, so don't stress yourself out trying to make it perfect.
Below you’ll find 9 outdoor living trends curated by landscape architects to offer inspiration for your summer 2021.
1 - MORE SEAMLESS TRANSITIONS BETWEEN INDOORS AND OUTDOORS
Fernando Wong, leading landscape designer at Fernando Wong Outdoor Living design says outdoor furniture has come a long way in recent years. In fact, it’s gotten so great that people are increasingly interested in using outdoor furniture inside.
“When it comes to design details and comfort, outdoor furniture truly rivals what we typically find inside,” Wong says. “This helps blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces, creating a sense of cohesion and flow between the two.”
Expect to see more indoor/outdoor spaces, like screened-in porches, garden rooms, or partially covered yards.
Think of your outdoor space as an extension of your living room and decorate it as such.
2 - NATURAL MATERIALS
When it comes to outdoor décor, people are gravitating toward natural materials—like rattan, bamboo, and clay. From woven lanterns to rattan furniture to terracotta pots, it only makes sense that materials from nature should be outdoors.
These pieces can be a great way to dress up your space, and they add so much texture and interest to a backyard.
Sea Lavie Marbella
3 - CLEAN LINES
“I love the more modern and streamlined pieces that are trending right now,” Berk says. “Clean lines contrast so well with organic elements, the curvy shapes of leaves, and plant life.”
If your yard is looking seriously lush, consider adding contrast with some sleek outdoor furniture. And even if your space isn’t looking particularly verdant. the pieces are sure to make a striking addition to your yard, porch, or balcony.
4 - NEUTRAL PALETTES
Subtle colors have long been a favorite for interior décor. But, according to Joe Raboine director of residential hardscapes at Belgard’s, “they’re just as popular outdoors. And People are gravitating toward neutral palettes. These colors are calming, natural, and timeless. They blend in seamlessly with the natural environment.”
Of course, color isn’t off the menu entirely. Since neutral shades tend to pair well with brighter colors, you can pair neutral stones and pavers with vibrant furniture, décor, and plants.
5 - GARDEN
Gardens can go way beyond flowers, herbs, and vegetables.
As we have different rooms throughout the home, the same approach can be applied to the outdoors—defining spaces through hedges, hardscaping, fountains, and more.
So, feel free to think outside the box—or in this case, outside the garden bed.
6 - PRIORITIZATION OF OUTDOOR LIGHTING
When spending time outdoors during the evening or night, lighting is a must. "Good lighting helps transition an area from day to night, so the party can continue after the sun sets,” Jane says.
To pull off this trend, expert recommend investing in proper outlets and fixtures. Look for outdoor-friendly and weather-resistant options, and make sure to read the installation instructions carefully.
LEDs (light emitting diodes) are popular as they are particularly useful for long cable runs, and can be used almost anywhere: in step lights, as recessed spots in paving and decking, even under water spouts and fountains. Some LEDs come in different colors and there are others where you can program the color to suit the mood. You will pay more for LED lights than standard fittings, but the bulbs last a lot longer and the fittings are more discreet. Permanently colored lights are best used in moderation and specifically in areas where a distinct focus or style is require.
7 - FUNCTIONAL MICRO SPACE
You don’t have to have a ton of space to pull off a stunning outdoor environment. In fact, people is making the most of smaller spots like side yards and balconies.
As lots get smaller, land prices rise, and the population expands, many homes don’t have the large yards many people grew up with. So many overlooked areas—such as side yards, front yards, or even small urban backyards—are being transformed into fully functional outdoor environments.
Image credit lights4fun
Even simple additions, like a bistro table and chairs, can make your space feel much more functional—and fun to spend time in.
8 - SUSTAINABLE AND ECO-FRIENDLY MATERIALS
People aren’t just looking for stylish ways to outfit their backyards—they’re also looking for eco-friendly and sustainable ways to do it. For some, this means stocking up on furniture crafted from recycled or ethically harvested materials.
“The push toward more sustainable practices and eco-friendly materials is also great to see,” Berk says. “We need to be taking care of the Earth, and this is a great step toward that.”
And for others, this means looking for more sustainable ways to tend to their greenery. “As we design our outdoor living areas, people should consider permeable pavement, raised gardens, pollinator gardens, edible landscapes, and native plants,” Raboine says. “These things can greatly improve the local environment, and truly make an impact in the world.”
9 - CULTIVATING MORE NATIVE GARDENS
As we become more mindful, conscious consumers, we should also do the same as we cultivate our gardens. Yost's team expects gardening with locality in mind to be a big trend in the upcoming year.
"Native plants are great to incorporate into your garden because they provide benefits for regional birds and insects, and they are often more suited to the local soils and temperatures than ornamental plants," Yost says. "There are many good resources out there. For birds, we like to reference the Audubun’s website, as you can easily search by plant type and see which birds that plant may attract. Your local university extension office is also a great resource."
Haiman advises avoiding planting invasive species and recommends Great natives for tough places and Native Alternatives to invasive Plants by Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for further study on choosing the right species.
Image credit: William Abranowicz