It seems we are becoming a nation of homebodies and, with the magical mixture of near-perfect Southwest Florida weather and outdoor living areas that put the “Sweet” in “Home Sweet Home”, who can blame us?
A survey, conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects revealed that (when it comes to outdoor living), fireplaces, fire pits, outdoor kitchens, and luxurious furnishings are still as popular as ever with homeowners. Water elements, both decorative (like ornamental pools and fountains) and practical (like pools and spas) are also still considered de rigueur in today’s upscale homes.
Creating a thoughtfully planned outdoor space for relaxing, dining, entertaining, and even working has become one of the most important design trends and it is expected to continue through 2012 and beyond.
Nancy Somerville, executive vice president of the ASLA says that “Despite the economic climate, homeowners continue to reconnect with their outdoor spaces,” with people investing in “stay-cations” sticking close to their beautiful homes rather than traveling abroad.
Another factor may also be in play. With the Baby Boomer Generation choosing to keep their hands in their business ventures, the availability of Wi-Fi and mobile technologies means businesspeople and entrepreneurs are creating alternate workspaces, beyond the typical home office. Doing business around the pool or while sipping a Margarita at their own outdoor bar makes for a more relaxed “day at the office.”
In keeping with this laid-back lifestyle, outdoor furnishings, fixtures and surfaces are all chillin’ in their own way. Hard-to-maintain wood has fallen out of favor (interest in reclaimed wood is surging) and ornate wrought iron furniture is taking a backseat to chunky woven wicker.
Industry expert Chad Scheinerman says, “Customers are finding that the larger weave designs offer a more inviting look with a unique style that really stands out from the crowd.” Such weaves, he finds, better suit the scale of outdoor furnishings used in the larger outdoor areas of the luxury homes.
But buyers aren’t only interested in aesthetics anymore. Comfort is also a high priority.
Outdoor furniture manufacturers are paying heed to this need.
For example, Tropitone, a leading outdoor furniture manufacturer recently announced their new line of chairs, dubbed “URComfort.” The design of the chair takes its taking a cue from business-class airline seating, allows for articulated movement within the seat and backrest of the chair based on a series of carefully designed ergonomic fulcrums, or “pinch points.” The chair actually adapts to your body. When your body shifts, the chair shifts right along with you and essentially recalibrates “its fulcrums and density distribution” to optimize your comfort.
Mark Gorr, Troptione Vice President Product Management and Consumer Sales. “Whether you are sitting at a table or relaxing in a swivel action lounger, URComfort finds the most comfortable position for you. And it stays in that position unless you want to move. Then it moves with you.”
As a generation, we may not be ready for full-time residency in the Barcalounger, but it seems we are ready to trade in what only looks good for furnishings both gorgeous and comfortable.
By adopting these 2012 trends, we can create beautiful and welcoming outdoor living areas that express what we want out of life and where we want it: Good times with family and friends in that most sought-after location of all — our own homes.