Outdoor Living Tops Homeowner Upgrades

Capitalizing on Available and Unusable Yard Space

Outdoor Living tops homeowner upgrades in 2018. Ever wonder why Outdoor Living Rooms are popping up around you? Things have changed in the past 10 years. Landscaping isn’t just about being pretty to look at anymore. It’s about capitalizing on available and unusable yard space by creating multi-functional entertaining areas. Today’s yards serve to entertain and maximize lot square footage. And, from a resale standpoint, these outdoor spaces cost much less than additions while adding buyer lifestyle value. 

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* “Blending outdoor and indoor living continues to be one of the country’s most predominant home trends,” according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), a U.S. trade association that represents hearth appliance manufacturers, designers and retailers.

* Outdoor Living spaces has topped the list of most popular special function rooms since 2013, and demand for indoor/outdoor living spaces has been a headliner of the American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey nearly every quarter since.




Okay, now that we’ve uncovered the insight behind investing in an outdoor space of our dreams, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why outdoor rooms are becoming top homeowner upgrades. Indoors or outdoors? We all choose outdoors. You and I love surrounding ourselves with nature, friends, and family in the same comfort and convenience as in our living rooms. In 2018, we see outdoor designs mimicking indoor lifestyles while adding some bells and whistles only the outdoors can pull off.

Taking it outside, who isn’t drawn to both fire and water? Two elements that top the “must have” list.

Firepit in Landscape Design

According to a recent survey, firepits/fireplaces were identified by 78% of landscape architects as “Popular Outdoor Room Elements.” Becoming focal points in landscape design, many properties boast both fireplace and firepits w/seat walls. Wood-burning or natural gas, all ages become mesmerized just staring into the flickering flame. Don’t forget about the comfort, food, and fun they bring us.

Custom Pools & Spas


Water elements have been proven to relieve stress and anxiety. Waterfalls or bubblers relax the senses with their tranquil melody and cooling vibes. And, water features use less water than a lawn. The average lawn requires 2-3 inches of water per week to keep it well and alive, whereas a water feature requires half an inch for the same square footage. Think of it as less water use but triple the therapeutic benefits.






For shading, homeowners often request pergolas or gazebos, places to congregate. These custom wood structures provide covering for outdoor living rooms and outdoor kitchens. They are adaptable to each homeowner’s taste and style and the design may be round, square, octagonal, or rectangular.  In varying weather, these outdoor rooms may also boast misting systems to keep homeowners cool or sophisticated and low energy heating units embedded into the ceiling to create a year-round space for watching TV and entertaining! Visit Reser Property  (Shown below) for Custom Woodworking Ideas:

Outdoor Living Landscape Design


2018 outdoor kitchens are evolving from when cooking outside didn’t include much more than a grill. Cabinets are stylish and durable, hiding plumbing/gas hookups connecting to exterior-grade ovens, grill stations, dishwashers and sinks. Add warming drawers, microwaves and refrigerators –  a meal can be prepared, enjoyed and cleaned up, all in the great outdoors. One trend  in outdoor kitchen is a kamado-style ceramic cooker. Home Bars are also one of the fastest growing and searched type of kitchen accessories.


For uncovered spaces, retractable awnings (Kelsey Property) (Castle Property) (McFee Property) are a design element that can provide shade and weather protection when needed. Folding glass patio doors is a feature homeowners might consider visually and functionally. See the sliding glass doors between outdoor living room to convenient kitchen at top of the stairs. View the property to see the lower outdoor kitchen downstairs! Reser Property


Lighting has become essential to outdoor living spaces.  Entire systems of landscape, stair, rail and path lights offer a mix of ambient, task and safety lighting. In the green tradition, Houzz noted, almost half of outdoor projects today involve a lighting upgrade with 73% choosing LED and 41% solar. Adding lights to an outdoor living space doubles the time you can enjoy it. It allows you to highlight certain standout elements like a tree, a fountain, a statue. Almost all homeowners were requesting LED lights in 2017. The LED lights last much longer than standard bulbs and are made of a higher quality material. Kimberly Court show off pathways and highlights trees.  Nicole Ct Pool Party shows highlighted Urn.


Trending: Long gone are the days of endless lawn maintenance and pricey landscaping bills. Increasingly, contractors are noticing homeowners want “maintenance-free” designs for their outdoor living spaces. 2018 homeowners will be expecting a sustainable design with many 20 and 30-year-old homeowners preferring maintenance free landscapes to fit their maintenance free lifestyles.

Outdoor Living Design

If you’ve been thinking about an Outdoor Living space, know doubt, you’ve day-dreamed about what features and elements you would like in it. We hope this post has given you some helpful design concepts, as well as confidence in capitalizing on your available and unusable yard space. The benefits go far beyond excellent resale value . . . The immediate as well as long-term lifestyle value cannot be matched.

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Until next time . . . Get Outside Portland!

Kim Thibodeau, Exterior Design Services

Landscape Blogger




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