Whether it is al fresco dining, having cocktails by an outdoor fire, or spending a Saturday splashing in the pool, people are trying to make the most of their outdoor spaces. A recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects threw up some surprising statistics. 94% of the people who were questioned said that outdoor spaces – entertainment and kitchen areas were high on their list if ever they decided to go for a new house or planned to remodel their current houses in 2013.
People are spending more time in the outdoors – dining, cooking, relaxing, and entertaining, and they want to do it with as little hassle and maintenance as possible. Fortunately, everything from decking material to kitchen appliances has advanced. So if you are planning to bring some of that indoor comfort to the outdoors, you can do it easily than say, 10 years back.
Areas Where the Most Changes Have Taken Place
Slab patios and squared-off decks have transformed. They have become in function and feel, ‘rooms with no walls’. The three most popular ‘rooms’ here would be the living room, the kitchen, and the dining room. When these patios and decks are in the outdoors, they may be screened but they are not covered. Except for the walls, they have the look of an indoor kitchen, an indoor living room, or an indoor dining room, complete with the finishing and the trimmings.
Over the years, many different types of counters have been developed. For instance, granite counters have become the top choice in outdoor kitchens. It is recommended that you install matte finish counters in your outdoor kitchen and not the polished counters you will usually find in indoor kitchens. The reason is, in an outdoor environment without screenings, raindrop spots and pollen grains will inevitably show. You will have to keep wiping the counter to remove them.
Changes in the Ceiling
If you want an outdoor space that will look like an extension of your indoors, you have to pay attention to the finish. This will also include the ceiling. Thankfully, materials have advanced and it is now possible to have ceilings with luxury finishes. These materials can also bear the harsh outdoor conditions well. Outdoor paints have also advanced and they are now much more durable and fade-resistant than ever before. Such paints will help you attain the polished look of the interiors and you will not even have to spend much time giving them that look.
The flooring on such outdoor living spaces has also undergone a sea change. Now the focus is on materials with exceptional beauty and durability. Tile and flagstone, especially tough porcelain tiles, have become popular. If you like the feel of wood, you can install porcelain tiles that are wood grained. This will give you the appeal of wood, with the durability of porcelain.
Care to bring the serenity and substance of an indoor room to the outdoors? If you are interested, think about installing a fireplace. These can range from prefabricated units to complete masonry fireplaces. This will make your outdoor space more elegant and comfortable.
Changes in Pool Decking
Continuing with the transition to the outdoors, spas, pools, and decks have also gained in sophistication. Going beyond backyard barbeques, now the demand is for under-the-sun and stars environs that make you feel like you are at a resort, while keeping it carefree.
If you are looking for a durable yet good-to-look-at material for the decking, go for composite wood. It is one of the most popular decking materials. It is resistant to splintering and maintains its finished look longer. It requires less maintenance when compared to proper wood decking. Some of the latest versions are fade-resistant composite wood. Concrete pavers, tiles, and flagstones are also popular as decking material, especially around spas and pools.
The Latest Pool Trends
In pools, the latest trend is leisure. For quite some time, there was an emphasis on fitness, but the trend has shifted to relaxation features such as sun ledges, beach entries, and wading areas. Natural-looking and free-form pools have also become popular. The icing on the cake is built-in-fountains or waterfalls. Many people are also asking for water features with rock formations.
While the demand for relaxation pools is increasing, so is the desire to decrease the time on their care. Saline pools, in which chlorine generators make chlorine from salt, do not need as much attention and have therefore become popular. These are also not so harsh on the skin and the eyes. Automation is another important development. Now everything, from filtration to lightening can be controlled by remote control. As a result, the entire experience has become easier.
Lightening for spas, pools, and the outdoor space has become more sophisticated. LED systems come in several colors, offer mood lighting, and are very energy-efficient.