Outdoor living spaces, mudrooms, and home offices currently top the list of special-function rooms popular with American homeowners. This is the conclusion of the latest Home Designs Trend Survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects, which focused on emerging home features, systems, and technologies. “Heavy investment in outdoor living spaces, mudrooms, and home offices indicate consumers are placing a premium on practicality and functionality,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. This is a marked change from a decade ago when home theaters and exercise rooms were among the most popular special function rooms in homes.
Heavy investment in outdoor living spaces, mudrooms and home offices indicate consumers are placing a premium on practicality and functionality
Outdoor living spaces rank the highest among special-function rooms
Perhaps this is because a renewed focus on entertaining is redefining how both indoor and outdoor spaces are defined, with better integration between the two. Many designers are designing outdoor kitchens to complement their indoor counterparts. This is especially true in the American West, where outdoor living can be enjoyed year-round. “Many of our clients have moved beyond the patio or outdoor room to just room,” says architect Dean Larkin, AIA, of West Hollywood-based Dean Larkin Design. “This is not a seasonal or special-use space.”
Many of our clients have moved beyond the patio or outdoor room to just room
Outdoor barbecue pits are morphing into complete outdoor kitchens. Outdoor appliance lists are matching or exceeding their indoor counterparts. Homes are being remodeled to allow easy passage of guests and hosts between indoor and outdoor living areas. For example, shared surfaces are being developed with porcelain tiles from the same flooring series. Outdoor-rated tiles on the patio and their indoor counterparts on the other side of a movable glass wall.
Additionally, outdoor living spaces are getting zoned like their indoor counterparts. Like your interior space, “you might have an [outdoor] living area and dining area,” notes Larkin.
Smart Home moves outdoors
The home’s Wi-Fi network also needs to extend beyond the inside area. Appliances and equipment are increasingly having the ability to connect to the internet and they need to maintain their connectivity outdoors. Grills now have smartphone apps that let users know when their food is ready. With external sound systems, your favorite playlist is just an app away. Smart lighting systems such as Phillips Hue will allow you to set the mood just right.
As the kitchen moves outside, it is seen as another workspace. Like with the indoor kitchen, each zone specializes in a different aspect of food preparation. The outdoor space needs a zone for the grill, the smoker, the pizza oven. Often, the grill becomes the entertaining social center. Bar seating integrated into the grilling area has become a popular planning aspect.
Ultimately, the outdoor living area is a reflection of the homeowner’s tastes. Whether they’re interested in massive entertaining feasts, or simply want to make sure they don’t run out of ice and cold beverages by the pool, the design of a homeowner’s outdoor living space needs to accommodate their lifestyle.