Outdoor Living Design Focuses on Functionality and Efficiency
By Joe Raboine
It is no secret we all spent a lot of time at home over the past few years. Homeowners sat in their usual spaces more than ever before, ideating their dream homes and the projects it will take to get them there. Homeowners showed a strong intent to renovate in 2021, the highest it’s been since 2017, according to a recent Houzz study. Moving into 2022, outdoor projects continued to heat up. With this increased demand, contractors can use the shift in trends to guide customers as they look to upgrade their outdoor living spaces.
Focus on health and well-being
Homeowners are placing higher value on their outdoor living spaces, specifically related to health and well-being. Science shows that quality design not only provides a better environment, but can improve our health as well. This can be achieved through thoughtful design that helps us better connect with nature – or biophilic design. Pinterest sites biophilic design in its 2022 trend report, noting significant spikes in search interest for the term. It is a buzzword now and will continue to gain traction in home design.
Contactors should look through the lens of biophilic design, encouraging clients to prioritize connecting with nature for spaces that are not only great to entertain, but also to nurture and relax.
Intentional use and functionality
Sparked by similar motivators, homeowners have a new need for increased functionality in their outdoor spaces. As more time is spent outside, homeowners want to better utilize this area daily rather than only for entertaining on the weekends. Contractors can lean into this trend by thinking ahead as customers approach them to create outdoor living spaces. Incorporating features such as lighting, electrical outlets, WiFi, sound and shade structures can easily enhance the functionality of any design, creating a space that can be used any time of day, year-round.
Large format expansion for efficiency and aesthetics
Large format expansion with narrow joints is rising in popularity, as it makes installation easier and more efficient. The large format trend fits well within the clean, modern aesthetic that is popular among many homeowners today. As our industry continues to innovate, we are seeing pavers with increased scale, as larger pavers mean more surface area, which helps crews install a higher amount of square footage quickly – cutting down on time and labor.
With this shift in trends to larger pavers and other large materials comes the discussion around how equipment also needs to adapt. Investments in new tools can significantly increase installation speed and reduce muscle strain and other jobsite injuries.
Simplicity through modularity
Modular, linear design is a preferred design style among today’s homeowners, which has benefits to contractors and crews. Modular design uses individual parts to create a holistic plan more efficiently, and outdoor product manufacturers and contractors have adapted the trend to bring innovative and fresh styles to their clients, while making installation easier and faster.
Modular, geometric standard patterns comprised of clean lines and simple formats create an uncluttered aesthetic for the homeowner, allowing them creativity while decorating. Plus, modularity aids designers and contractors in designing and installing various features efficiently. As projects become more complex, customized and specific, increasing efficiency is more of a priority than ever before.
An example of recent innovation in modular design for outdoor living – pavers, which work off common nominal sizes, allow contractors to play more with shape, size and texture within the design. The modular fashion makes integration easier, as less installation time is required. Contractors can maximize their time, while customers can enjoy their outdoor space sooner.
Defined rooms outside
With health, well-being and functionality in mind, outdoor spaces are morphing into what we traditionally see in interior design with defined rooms or zones. Whether it’s an outdoor kitchen, office or living room, homeowners are eager to create a space that is functional and complete for their family’s everyday use.
Contractors can source templated design approaches to help map out the design of one or multiple outdoor living spaces. Tools like this can be beneficial for the contractor and homeowner alike from the perspective of timing and installation. Contractors have the option to offer homeowners a templated design that can be further customized to fit their needs and design style. This equates to time savings during the design and installation process.
Joe Raboine is director of residential hardscapes at Belgard.