When it comes to outdoor living, there “isn’t one size that fits the solution in every location,” according to Michael Stone, senior designer at Bassenian Lagoni. One thing that homebuyers across the country tend to agree on, though, is the need for privacy.
“In this post-COVID world, everyone’s looking for some privacy and space where they can go outside and it’s not necessarily all amongst everyone else,” he said during a session at IBSx, citing research that shows 85% of single-family home buyers and 77% of multifamily buyers want privacy in their outdoor areas.
Allison Paul, an architect with Lessard Design, agreed, noting, “When looking at outdoor spaces, one thing that we want to focus in on are what are the functions or the features of that outdoor space that are most important. When looking across the entire country, hands down, the most important feature has been privacy from the neighbors.”
Covered rooms and outdoor fireplaces are popular elements among single-family homeowners, as well as open seating areas and landscaping.
While outdoor living conjures up images of elaborate outdoor kitchens or sitting areas with integrated lighting, one of the most important outdoor areas is the front entry, Stone said.
“It’s really the statement of the house. It’s how we face the street, how people recognize it as your house from the house next to you,” he noted.
On small lots, or with attached product, builders and designers may have to fight for space. Oversized windows and stacking doors can help extend dining areas onto front porches and patios.
In dense areas or in multifamily housing, the roof may be the only option for outdoor living areas, he said. Privacy screens and awnings can help address buyers’ privacy concerns, as well as add shade and protection from Colorado sun.
Connecting with the outdoors was another top desire for homebuyers, Paul said. Homebuyers have been drawn to homes where they can access things like open spaces, trails and water.
“We’ve seen a real increase in outdoor activities. People aren’t going to gyms anymore; people are figuring out how to work out in their homes,” she said.
“It starts with having space, whether it’s a small piece of concrete on grade, or a 5-by-8 balcony … you just have to start with outdoor space and give people that opportunity” to design something that speaks to them, Paul said.
Danielle Andrus was previously the managing editor for Colorado Builder, and is currently Editor for the Journal of Financial Planning.