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Designing the Great Outdoors

Tips and Trends for Creating Your Ideal Outdoor Living Space

Article by Angel Fuchs

Photography by Christine Andert—Picture Lady Photography LLC

Originally published in North Peoria Lifestyle

Here in Arizona, where sunshine abounds and temperatures are moderate the bulk of the year, creating an outdoor living space is paramount. Backyard renovations top the list when it comes to home improvement projects. In fact, according to a recent Houzz & Home report, outdoor renovations increased 57 percent, up even from 2020, and the trend continues. 

We reached out to area experts to find out what the hottest trends are for designing an outdoor living space that will please the entire family and offer great space for entertaining. 

Eric Noyes, owner of Arizona's Greenest Grass Turf Co. ( suggested the first step is determining how you want to use your outdoor space. There are several things to consider when you think about designing a great outdoor space here in Arizona. 

Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Even though many homeowners prefer to have someone else do their landscaping maintenance, trend forecasters at the Freedonia Group see more homeowners investing in low-maintenance options. See more about xeriscaping using drought-tolerant plants on page xx.

One way of creating a low-maintenance yard with maximum impact is installing turf. Artificial grass comes in varying degrees of quality and requires very little maintenance.

“Caring for turf is pretty easy,” said Noyes. “You just need to use a blower or rake to remove any debris and wash it down once per month with a hose to get rid of any dust."

Water Features

Adding water features to an outdoor area can transform a yard into an oasis. Waterfalls, stream beds, bubbler rocks and other water features usually require professional installation. They can boost the aesthetic and add to the atmospheric qualities of outdoor space with tranquil sound. 

For those who want to include a water feature in a low-maintenance yard, a recirculating water feature is an attractive option. Another great advantage here in Arizona is that colorful birds, hummingbirds and even honey bees love water features. 

Outdoor Kitchens and Dining Spaces

Outdoor kitchen equipment has also seen an increase in sales during the past year. Built-in grills, stoves, ovens, sinks, refrigeration units and outdoor storage that resemble kitchen cabinets have become increasingly popular. Look for furniture designed for the outdoors to withstand our intense Arizona sun. Downeast Home ( in North Peoria offers some great options with durable fabrics and materials such as long-lasting teak.

An outdoor kitchen can transform how you use your space and how much time you spend in the space. To extend the usefulness of your outdoor kitchen and dining room, consider adding ceiling fans, misters and heaters. 

Jacinthe Soloman, the co-owner of Brass & Ivy Interiors (, recently designed her dream outdoor space working with Dave Hollof, owner of Elements of Nature, LLC. One of the major factors for the Solomans was bringing the outdoors inside.

An intimate inner courtyard is one example of how they accomplish that. The dining room opens to the inner courtyard, which uses pavers and turf in the center, with chairs grouped around an outdoor fireplace. Tucked under the awning, and open to the dining room, is a massive dining table. 

"When family comes over, we can open the doors and have meals that extend inside and out," says Soloman. 

Creating Play Spaces 

Every family plays in different ways, and your outdoor spaces can capture what matters most for you. Pools are a major part of Arizona life, so choose one that best fits your family's needs. Consider a zero-entry pool if you have young children. If diving is your thing, there are now options that let you put your diving board flush with the pool deck. 

But play is about more than pools. Add a playhouse for the kids. Install a putting green for the adults. In-ground trampolines let the kids have fun without the added worry of a tumble off the side. Ball courts, games areas...let your imagination create fun outdoor spaces.

Comfortable Seating Areas

Sitting outdoors around a fire pit on a starry night or lounging poolside in a chaise is what brings resort living home. Think about how to embrace your surroundings. Set up a small table and chairs where you can enjoy a quiet cup of coffee each morning. While the outdoor dining might be close to the kitchen, you can add a small seating area for intimate gatherings in a more out-of-the-way area. 

Think about adding shading that can shelter you from the sun but still let you enjoy beautiful views. Umbrellas and shades offer temporary shelter that you can raise or lower, while covered patios and pergolas are more permanent fixtures.

Working with Existing Elements

A fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference. Refinishing a pool or adding travertine tile to an existing area can transform a space entirely. Consider adding colorful outdoor pillows, long curtains around patios, pops of color from accent chairs and outdoor rugs. A few flameless candles on a remote timer with some overhead lights can instantly create a warm, inviting space. 

“If the homeowner has existing landscaping, we can usually work with that," explains Noyes. "We can redistribute rock, transplant plants, reuse and move pavers or elevate a planter to add depth.” 

According to Noyes, other common trends are paver areas for gazebos and pergolas, as well as for walkways, patios and even driveways. "We start by asking homeowners how they want to utilize their outdoor space rather than start with design elements. We fit the design around their lifestyle."

PULL QUOTE ON PAGE 3: "For me and my family, outdoor space is extremely important. This is why we moved to the southwest—to be outdoors. Bringing the indoors outside was our goal." — Jacinthe Soloman

PULL QUOTE ON PAGE 5: "Design your outdoor living space with your intended usage in mind." — Eric Noyes

  • Jacinthe Soloman of Brass & Ivy Interiors, uses her outdoor space to extend the living area.