Outdoor Living Trends

The swimming area of a large house with a gray and orange grill, designed to complete the overall house decor.

The grill Chef Thomas Keller uses at his restaurants can be yours. Courtesy of Purcell Murray for Hestan. Second Photo Below: Outdoor fabrics and furniture are now stylish enough for indoor or outdoor living rooms. Furniture design by Jamie Durie. Photograph by Tonya McCahon.

The Los Angeles Convention Center floor was full of gorgeous outdoor gear this year at the largest design event in the country, Dwell on Design, in Los Angeles.

TV personality Jamie Durie brought his new suite of outdoor furniture to the show, which took place in June, while other exhibitors showed off grills, lights, cabinetry and other essentials for enjoying your life al fresco. 

Durie has coined the term “transterior” for living seamlessly between your interior and exterior spaces. This has been a Southern California trend for decades that is making its way across the country — it’s just easier to achieve in an area with temperate weather where you don’t have to protect your outdoor equipment against cold and snow.

More luxury outdoors

Since we’re all spending so much more time living and entertaining on our decks, balconies and patios, those spaces have gotten more luxurious and better equipped. You see that trend in fabrics that can handle the elements while delivering comfort and style. These fabrics upholster cushions or provide shade and privacy with curtained, covered enclosures. The trend is in patio furniture that’s stylish enough to complement your great room, while hardy enough to handle a downpour or water gun fight. It’s in outdoor cabinetry with upscale styles and finishes evoking a Caribbean resort and in handsome accessories for plants and fire. 

Starting with the introduction of an outdoor dishwasher several years ago, outdoor kitchens have become better equipped, too, with pizza ovens, wine chillers, ice makers, keg tappers and fridge and freezer drawers. One Southern California architect attending the show commented that his clients have more appliances on their decks now than in their kitchens.


More technology outdoors


The increase in outdoor living popularity has led to an increase in outdoor technology. Landscape designers are building sound systems and televisions into their outdoor plans. Home automation has extended to the outdoors with security features, lighting, cooking enhancements and entertainment.

If a new landscape plan isn’t in your near future, outdoor Wi-Fi-based speakers can still bring the party to the patio and solar-powered chargers can keep it going. Some grills are offering chef-level performance or connections to phone apps that let you know when your food is ready to serve. 

Better access 

With all of the innovations in outdoor living, there’s an excellent chance that you’re accessing your outdoor spaces more easily, too. In many homes, a wall of glass panels pocket out of sight to create a wide-open transition between home and deck. One new offering operates on a remote control that you can activate with one finger, rather than putting down your serving tray to pull its weight across the room. Door tracks are often flush with the floor to make stepping across them painless in bare feet. 

Better surfaces

With enhanced outdoor countertop and flooring surfaces, you won’t be spending hours sealing or scrubbing them either. Porcelain tiles that look like natural stone provide slip resistance, low maintenance and durability in outdoor rooms, while matching your indoor floors for that seamless “transterior” style. Dekton countertops do the same on your outdoor kitchen and bar. Most engineered stone countertops are not warrantied for exterior use; Dekton’s uniquely are. 

Decks can be created from redwood for its natural beauty or from composites, depending on your needs, taste and budget. There is even coordinating storage for many of these offerings to blend into their surroundings. And if you like something softer underfoot, there is a tremendous selection of easy care outdoor rugs that look good enough to use inside, too. 

Last words

You may not be creating a new outdoor kitchen or living room this season, but you can still take advantage of the new trends and styles for these spaces. A well-chosen LED light fixture adds a festive element to your dinner party or illuminates the pathway to your house for more safety. 

A Wi-Fi speaker can serenade your sunset watching or summer soiree. A free-standing fire pit takes the chill off a northern evening and provides a place to make smores with the family. A free-standing pizza oven or chef-level grill adds a delicious element to your next dinner. 

Always work with what you have to create your best space. The finish and style of your accessories should complement the elements surrounding them so that it all looks pulled together. And any structures you add, like a covered canopy for your deck, should blend with your home’s architecture.

Jamie Gold is a certified kitchen designer in San Diego and the author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work (Taunton Press). She is currently writing the New Bathroom Idea Book.

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