*Chef's kiss* to the alfresco season.
Friends, we're officially entering alfresco season. If you live in or frequent a destination city, you probably get your year-round fill, but outdoor living isn't exclusive to or solely coveted by those in warmer cities. For those of us who live through four distinct seasons, summer's start is a cue for outdoor living, from backyard barbecues to lounge or work sessions poolside and cocktail parties on the terrace or patio.
"Outdoor design is becoming much more of a focal point, and outdoor entertaining spaces are in high demand," says New York–based designer Courtney Sempliner. "Many people plan to host outdoors as much as possible moving forward, all year round. I only see this trend continuing and more interesting outdoor furniture and decor options being introduced."
New York City and Litchfield, Connecticut–based designer Kevin Dumais tells Coveteur, "Our clients are looking to invest in patios, terraces, and yards more than in years past" due to the pandemic. Even more, he says they're a much-needed "space for adults and children to take a break from their screens" and "a vital extension of the home."
"The indoor-outdoor living style has been popular in L.A. for a while, but with the pandemic, the popularity has grown tremendously," says Los Angeles–based designer Rydhima Brar of R/terior Studio. "After a year of confinement, our outdoor spaces have become sanctuaries of solace and sanity. Everyone is trying to find ways to utilize the outdoor space, whether small or big, in every way possible."
The 24/7 at-home lifestyle of the past year has pushed families—including multigenerational ones living together—to get creative and use every single square foot of space to the maximum, too. Which, according to Brar, has resulted in an increased interest in outdoor kitchens and backyard herb and vegetable gardens. "With ideal weather conditions [in L.A.] almost all year long, the ability to enjoy this lifestyle while slowly beginning to host small occasions, making the most [of] outdoor dining, has been a big request from many of my clients."
Ahead, keep reading to discover seven outdoor furniture and decor trends on the rise, according to Sempliner, Dumais, and Brar—and shop the edit for items that strike a chord.
Multifunctional Furniture for Outdoor Dining Spaces
With the necessity of cooking at home over the past year, Brar says outdoor dining spaces and kitchens are two on-the-rise trends she loves for 2021. "Having a fully functional kitchen with prep space, refrigerators, and sinks make it an all-year-round activity and not just during the summer barbecues," she tells Coveteur. If shelling out on a fully decked backyard space or renovation isn't feasible—or you're without a backyard at all—Brar suggests making the most of any outside square-footage by creating a living or dining experience with multi-purpose furniture, which Sempliner echoes.
"Multifunctional pieces come in handy, such as ottomans that can hold a tray for drinks but also serve as additional seating when you need it," Sempliner says. "Having some transitional items will make hosting and entertaining more effortless." The designer also predicts a focus on outdoor accent pieces and accessories to complete said living spaces, such as decorative baskets, pots, and serving ware. "The outdoor space will become an extension of the home instead of just an afterthought," she says.
Comfy Lounge Furniture
As fashion trends evolve from the comfort-first looks of the past year, Sempliner says cozy lounge furniture is in for 2021. "More lounge-like outdoor furniture, such as cushy loveseats and sofas, will be trending, as opposed to wicker or metal options," she says. Inviting and stylish sectionals are among her top picks for backyards, though you can get a similar look for a balcony or terrace with a pouf or cushioned armchair. "[The] more time spent in these pieces, comfort is key," she adds.
"Outdoor lighting is something that tends to get ignored when it comes to the backyard and landscape design," Brar tells Coveteur. "Since most backyards get used during daylight, the need for lighting becomes an afterthought." When you invest in good lighting, the designer says it helps create ambiance for the "anytime outdoor experience." "Whether it's lanterns to border the pool, up-lighting that spotlights special architectural features, or a fun statement fixture or fan, updating your outdoor lighting will open new doors for living and entertaining," she says.
Sempliner agrees, telling Coveteur, "A focus on lighting for outdoor living spaces will be a big trend. Having an appropriately lit space will allow for evenings spent outdoors in addition to hosting during the daytime. I love these hurricane lanterns to add to the ambiance and these orbs to add a soft glow to an entertaining outdoor space."
Herb & Vegetable Gardens
Besides being one of the most popular hobbies during the pandemic, Brar says the gardening trend boomed as a way to supplement fresh fruits and vegetables, especially when restaurants closed and grocery stores emptied out. "Many of my clients are utilizing their backyard for gardening their favorites, cooking homegrown organic herbs, plus enjoying the added benefit of de-stressing," Brar says. "I do not see this trend going away anytime soon."
Dumais also highlights vegetable-garden design as a top request this spring. "People are looking to have fun with them," he says. "Our clients want simple, easy-to-maintain gardens that also serve as spaces in which they can live and entertain." The designer says creating small-scale seating areas between raised beds or a potting station are stylish ways to give garden areas more of a designed feel, suggesting French bistro furniture and outdoor farm tables.
Outdoor Work Stations
"Traditionally, lounging and dining were the primary focus when designing exteriors," Dumais tells Coveteur. "For 2021, we're seeing trends that focus on creating other spaces such as workstations for those wanting an outdoor option for working from home." His biggest tip for creating a pleasant outdoor office: "Source comfortable chairs and a good umbrella for shade."
In agreement, Brar says outdoor technology will become increasingly popular for outdoor homeschooling and workouts, too. "This means making sure the technology works well outside, whether it's streaming movies or taking conference calls; most people have had to amplify Wi-Fi signals outdoors," she says. "[This] has encouraged many to create entirely new spaces like outdoor theaters and home offices."
It's a no-brainer to reserve more delicate glasses and dishware or fine china for inside. But Sempliner says, "Durable outdoor entertaining accessories, like melamine dinnerware glasses, pitchers, and barware, will be trending. There are so many fun patterns, colors, and options that look exactly like their glass counterparts without the shatter risk."
Outdoor Kid Zones
Kids are one of the biggest reasons people crave a backyard, and Dumais says dedicated outdoor play areas for children are another trend on the rise. "A fun way to do this, especially if you are limited with space, is to build a treehouse," he suggests. A timeless outdoor trend the designer also favors for kid spaces: "We always love to include a good hammock."
Top photo: Eric Piasecki
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