9 outdoor living trends that will make your backyard the place to be this year

With warmer weather here, the great outdoors invite themselves. And we’re guessing that in the last year you’ve already heard the siren song of your backyard, using it as a local watering hole, training studio and school.

Either way, being stuck at home staring at four walls for months during the pandemic may have you thinking about ways to improve your garden, side yard, front yard, or patio.

But where to start ? For inspiration, we’ve consulted top designers from coast to coast to discover the hottest outdoor living trends – what you need and totally want. And let’s just say: we’re completely blown away. Prepare to spend as much or more time outdoors than you do inside with these cozy and chic ideas.

1. More comfortable outdoor furniture

Photo by authenTEAK Outdoor Living

Of course, creating an outdoor living room has been popular for quite some time.

“But now there is also outdoor furniture made in the style of indoor furniture,” says Marc Cutler by Los Angeles-based Mark Cutler Design.

Gone are the days of limiting yourself to wicker and metal; now you can snag a comfy couch or even a side chair you’d swear would never withstand the elements. (You would be wrong.)

And furniture that feels more comfortable indoors than outdoors allows for more relaxed interactions outdoors.

“Furniture like this also allows people to mix and match styles in a way that has never been done outdoors before,” Cutler adds.

2. Improved lighting

Photo by Victoria D. Hibbard Landscape Architect LLC

Avoid the purely functional lights of yesteryear and instead look for fixtures that are stylish enough for inside your home but durable enough for outdoors, says Andra DelMonicointerior design expert at Next Luxury.

To make your outdoor living space cozy, place a few vintage lamps around it and hang string lights in trees or shrubs. Or use LED light strips to create accent lighting for a stunning effect after the sun goes down.

3. Dedicated potting areas

Photo by VPC Builders, LLC

Interest in growing plants and vegetables has exploded. And so the potting shed, or even just a potting table, has become a popular addition to many backyards.

“It gives a dedicated space for replanting, storing supplies, and a unique talking point in the garden,” Cutler explains.

4. Birds and bees

Picture of Salt Lake Woodworks

Backyard chicken flocks are now increasingly common for city and suburban dwellers.

“Chicken coops are a source of fresh eggs and a fun addition for a family with children,” says Cutler. “Backyard hens are the new pot-bellied pig.”

An ever-increasing number of people (including Chris Hemsworth) are also entering the world of beekeeping motivated by sustainability.

“Bees are champions of the environment and play a crucial role in pollinating our food crops and other wild plants,” says Rita Tennyson of Hive Stream, which sells domestic hives. “And they bring us honey.”

5. Welcoming Porches

Photo by Dalrymple | Architecture of Sallis

“From drive-in celebrations, cocktails and general neighborhood camaraderie, the porch steals the show and emerges as a new entertainment space,” says Mark Feldmanhome chef at Riverbend Home, an online home decor marketplace.

Whether you have a wraparound porch, corner porches, or a half-width porch, make your porch more attractive by adding an outdoor rug, hanging hammock, or bench and planters.

6. All-weather upgrades

Photo by KD Landscape

Your large spaces are no longer reserved for summer. So look to warm up those chilly days and nights with all-season upgrades.

“For those with more space and flexibility in their backyards, custom-designed fire pits surrounded by benches or Adirondack chairs are in demand,” says Tim Bakkehome design expert at The Plan Collection, an online destination for home design plans.

If you are limited by space and budget, fire pits now come in all shapes, sizes and prices. And if you’re short on space, heat lamps are an affordable solution for those chilly spring, fall, and even winter evenings.

7. Garden igloos

Move over, Sunbrellas: there’s a new kid in town.

“A frequent request from my friends and clients in recent months is for a garden dome igloo,” says New York Gina Harperwho runs Harper’s Nurseries, a site dedicated to urban gardening.

Although there are still those who love the typical umbrella shade, many people want to set up a stylish igloo in their backyard. Why? You can still enjoy the view from inside the igloo, and it can withstand rain, strong winds and all seasons of the year.

Bonus: igloos are a great place to hang out with family and friends, or fulfill your ultimate glamping dream. Just add a sofa, table and decorative plants inside.

8. Outdoor office spaces

Working from home has become the norm in 2020 and could be here to stay. As spring arrives, many workers further sever ties with cabin life by moving their indoor workspace to the backyard to work outdoors. (WFO is the new WFH!)

Whether it’s your porch, patio or garden, keys to a successful outdoor office include shade to limit glare on your computer screen and decorative screens or planters to create separate workspaces, says Feldman.

9. Entertainment improvements

Photo by RSU Contractors

Another big trend in outdoor space this year is to add technologies such as hidden speakers, flat screen televisions or LED lighting.

“With the rapid evolution of technology, we will see more elaborate systems outdoors, such as televisions, projectors and outdoor sound systems,” says Alan Wienermanaging director of Elegant Strand, a luxury decoration site.