The Top Outdoor Living Trends of 2017

From modern fire pits to high-tech lighting, these five design elements will revamp your space.

Summer is here, and by now you’ve refinished your deck, invested in some new outdoor chairs and potted some colorful flowers to refresh your outdoor area. But it’s likely that those last few items to complete your outdoor living space still evade you. To provide some clarity and creative input, ESTATENVY spoke with the owner of Reveal Design, Sean Kelley, and vice president at Erdmann Exteriors & Construction, Kyle Erdmann, to get their advice on some of the hottest outdoor trends of 2017.

Outdoor Heating

From rustic fire pits to sleek stainless-steel patio heaters, outdoor heating is essential for consumers who have to deal with a chillier weather for several months out of the year.

“I think people have started realizing that fall and spring seems to be getting longer and longer, so they really want to extend the use of their outdoor area and their rooftop decks,” said Kelley.

Adding a fire pit to your outdoor space creates an extra level of ambiance and an inviting setting where guests can gather to enjoy the space year-round. While round fire pits used to be favored, consumers are now leaning towards rectangular, modern designs. Kelley says high-end fireplaces from Restoration Hardware have gained a following amongst clients this year, as well as hand-made fire pits from Ore, a Utah-based commercial landscape architectural design firm that specializes in outdoor elements. The manufacturing firm allows designers to customize fire pits based on client preference, offering finishes like hammered bronze or natural rust patina.

Built-in Kitchens

Summer means peak grill season complete with burgers, chicken wings and smoked ribs. Rather than grilling outside and plating inside, more Americans are incorporating built-in kitchens into their backyards so they can cook and entertain without having to step back inside.

“For patios, retaining walls have always been popular, but the demand for built-in spaces like grill surrounds with prep space, built in smokers and wood fire pizza ovens is rising. With the jump in the amount of people who enjoy cooking as a hobby, everybody wants to incorporate some kind of cooking appliance in their patio designs now,” said Erdmann.

Green Accent Walls

To block out the traffic and sounds of the city, adding greenery throughout your space can act as both a distraction and natural decor. Kelley says that faux or real greenery as an accent wall is in high demand; the natural cover-up helps to draw attention away from unsightly garages or alleyways and provides a boost of color and texture to an otherwise flat cement surface.

Water Features

Modern sheet waterfalls or bubbling fountains over rocks can make for great focal points for any outdoor space, providing a relaxed environment and soothing landscape.

“Adding a standalone bubbling water feature with surrounding gravel is coming back into popularity. Some clients are looking for items that give calming sounds and help distract from all of the noises of the city,” said Kelley.

Modular Construction & Design

Kelley says ceramic tile is very popular this year. The interchangeable decking requires little maintenance, is easy to install and is long-lasting. In terms of color design, consumers are choosing more neutral palettes and swatches so that they can let their furniture pop instead of the wood.

“I’m seeing a lot of grays, whites, browns and then people accentuating colors with throw pillows, flowers, lights, etc. People are being bolder, but it’s not as permanent because the items are less expensive and can be switched up depending on the trend.”

Manmade decking materials that can provide the benefits of wood without the added costs, as well as illuminated decks to help light up steps are both gaining ground this year.

“I’d say the biggest uptick has been in lighting options. Riser lights and cap lights have been a huge request from homeowners lately,” said Erdmann. “Materials like cedar, vinyl and aluminum are still seeing a downward trend in my market while materials like fiber cement siding, PVC and composite decking and fiberglass windows continue to rise. Getting the rich look and durability of wood, without the maintenance of wood, is something I can’t see going anywhere.”

 Smart Lighting

Advances in lighting technology has led to greater energy efficiency with the conversion to LED lightbulbs over the last five years. More so, lighting advances are making it easier for consumers to access outdoor lights remotely to brighten, dim or even change the color of lighting based on personal preference.

“In the last year or so, there are a few companies that have popped up where people can control their rooftop lights from their phone through an app. One tap and you can completely change the ambiance of your outdoor space,” said Kelley.

Photo courtesy of Reveal Design.