On the top of the wish list for most homeowners and home-hunters is an outdoor living space. As we’ve spent much more time in our homes over the last year, an outdoor space that goes beyond the traditional outdoor furniture and a large umbrella has become a necessity.
“Being outdoors has always been a huge draw to living in Central Florida,” said Al Villamil, Founder and CEO of Orlando Outdoor Living, “and now, with much more of our lives being at home, transforming your backyard into an area to cook, dine, work, relax, or as a sanctuary has become critical.”
As of last month, year-over-year Google searches for outdoor living terms has increased over 450%. Wayfair reports searches for “outdoor kitchen” and “outdoor dining” rose 130%, and searches for “outdoor bars” increased 155% during the period.
Russ Faulk, Head of Product at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, says that consumers are taking the opportunity to learn new grilling and outdoor cooking techniques and hone their skills. “They’re learning to use a kamado and cook with charcoal, or to master wood-fired grilling. Trying to master that perfect pizza dough and pizza-making skills with new pizza ovens… All of these things are great ways to enjoy extra time with family, and the newfound skills will pay dividends, in the form of great meals,” he says.
“Across social media, we’ve seen a huge increase in pictures and posts from home-cooks of their latest pulled pork and smoked ribs that’s spent hours in their new smoker or teppan-yaki style dinner crafted in their backyard on a new outdoor griddle,” said Chef David Betz of Smoking Soul BBQ. He added, “cooking at home, and especially outdoors, has become the new form of ‘Dining Experience.’”
Gary Klein, a local Real Estate Agent with Level Realty, shares, “homebuyers rank additional square footage, the backyard, and neighborhood as the top three considerations when looking for a home... The outdoor space is equally as important as the indoor space, especially here in Central Florida where it’s truly additional and usable living space.”
It’s not just outdoor kitchens that are in demand for outdoor living spaces. Consumer reports indicate sales of fire pits, trampolines, backyard games, gardening supplies, pools, and outdoor living structures top the list as families search for new ways to entertain themselves at home.
“People are looking for livability and private outdoor space that goes beyond the traditional outdoor kitchen and caged-in pool,” said Villamil, who specializes in building luxury outdoor living areas and is the only authorized agent for StruXure Pergolas in Central Florida.
Villamil adds that people are looking for their outdoor spaces to be multi-functional, “they want formal adult spaces, kid spaces, areas to be covered and sheltered from the Florida elements with others being open to the sun. Cozy nooks and intimate spots for relaxing and conversation and larger entertaining (when we are able to do that again) and outdoor dining spaces.”
Pergolas and pavilions are trending in outdoor living design. A study by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) cited 52% of outdoor living space projects now include a fixed overhead structure; 30% of those structures are pergolas. Another study also revealed that over 25% of homeowners regret not “spending more time/money” on a shelter or shade enclosure for their outdoor space.
People recognize that an outdoor structure is worth the investment because it extends the ability to use the space and allows the normal indoor living to transition seamlessly outdoors. The home design website Houzz.com notes that pergolas and pavilions help to maximize usage of outdoor space, especially when the structure is customized. Features such as automatic louvered ceilings, integrated lighting, water features, outdoor audio/video, and retractable screens.
“We are also seeing a trend in outdoor living for homes with pools, away from the typical ‘pool cages.’ Outdoor spaces are becoming more flexible and open; that means finding creative solutions for mosquito and pest control,” said Dustin Condos, Operating Partner at MosquitoNix. “As an example, residential mosquito misting systems are highly effective, nearly invisible, and can be easily added to existing outdoor living areas or integrated into outdoor structures allowing you fully enjoy your outdoors nearly free of mosquitos, no-see-ums, and other unwanted bugs.”
Fueled by the drastic decline in domestic and international travel over the past year, homeowner's interest in replicating the sophisticated style and comforts of a luxury hotel or resort in their homes has continued to grow.
Villamil adds, “Finding new ways to maximize your living spaces and new forms of home entertainment have always been important, even more so now. With more of our community spending a majority of their time at home and even working at home, our backyards have been transformed into a true space for living and a choice destination for the staycation.”