Winter is finally winding down and we can see outdoor living season on the horizon. We don’t know about you, but after a season filled with snow, ice and bitter cold temperatures, we’re ready for sunny days spent on the deck!

As folks begin to plan for spring and summer, we are shedding some light on the top outdoor living trends we’ll be seeing across the country this year. For the next couple of weeks, we’ll highlight influential national and regional trends from coast to coast.

Nationally: Right now the biggest trend in decks is increasing square footage. Today’s decks are expanding both horizontally and vertically with demand for multiple tiers on the rise along with requests for finished space below the deck. Contractors also are reporting increased interest in special features such as pergolas, integrated planter boxes, ornamental post caps and decorative balusters.

According to the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey (conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects) – 98.3 percent of respondents rated lighting as somewhat or very in-demand for 2014, which bodes well for our newly available landscape lighting options and upgraded deck lighting.

Low maintenance and sustainability also continue to be key factors in the materials Americans are choosing for their outdoor living spaces. And while Americans may share a penchant for high performance and personalization, design and color preferences tend vary by region.

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Northeast: Residents along the East Coast tend to stay true to tradition when it comes to deck designs, opting for lighter decking colors that fit the region’s coastal themes. Case in point, the most popular shade of Trex decking in the Northeast is Gravel Path, a light, coastal gray. Coastal proximity and unpredictable weather are major contributors to another Northeastern trend: steel decking substructures, which require fewer posts, offer longer spans and are a preferable alternative to wood in the wet and rocky soils of New England. Steel framing like Trex Elevations® won’t warp, rot, twist, or split like wood, and Trex backs the performance of its system with a 25-year limited warranty.

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To see examples of Trex outdoor living settings reflecting each region’s distinct tastes, visit the Inspiration Gallery at trex.com,  where images are sorted by region and environment.

Next week, we’ll be serving up top outdoor living styles for Southeast and Central regions in our second installment.

We’d love to hear what trends you’re looking to incorporate into your outdoor living space this year. Share with us in the comments below!