Now, more than ever, outdoor living is in! While homeowners have increasingly invested time and money into their yards in recent years, 2020 saw interest in outdoor living spike to unprecedented levels as homeowners everywhere adjusted to a new normal by reimagining how to use and enjoy their exterior spaces. As a result, the outdoor living design trends forecast for 2021 have never been more inventive.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has prioritized how we view and use our homes,” said Leslie Adkins, vice president of marketing for Trex Company, the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing and a leader in high-performance, low-maintenance outdoor living products. “With people spending more time at home, outdoor space has never been more important. It’s where we start our days with a morning cup of coffee, where we enjoy some much-needed fresh air over an al fresco lunch break, where we relish a change of scenery after a day of screen fatigue, and where we can visit safely with friends and family.”
Each year, Trex captures input from consumers, contractors, retailers and industry insiders to compile its annual Outdoor Living Forecast. For 2021, the brand teamed with celebrity designer Alison Victoria, star of HGTV’s “Windy City Rehab,” “Rock the Block” and “Ty Breakers,” to identify five trends expected to shape the outdoor living landscape in 2021.
Among the top trends predicted for the coming year is the emergence of outdoor workspaces. With working from home and remote learning expected to continue well into 2021, contractors report increased interest in outdoor spaces that can comfortably and functionally accommodate professionals and students. Requests for stylish sheds and backyard cottages are on the rise. Pergolas, too, are in high demand. In fact, leading home design site Houzz is calling 2021 “the year of the pergola” due to their versatility and affordability. A relatively easy addition to any deck or yard, a pergola creates the look and feel of an outdoor room while adding a distinct architectural element. Of course, its main purpose is providing shade – essential for enhancing visibility of laptop screens and devices, as well as offering cool relief on hot days.
“When it comes to backyard design, pergolas remain on-trend due to their limitless design possibilities,” notes Victoria. “They are great for adding definition – and drama – to any deck.”
During the past year, our homes have become offices, classrooms, fitness facilities and rehearsal spaces. It’s no wonder many homeowners (and occupants) find themselves suffering from cabin fever and desperate for some extra elbow room. One simple solution is to optimize the space beneath an elevated deck, an often overlooked area, by adding an under-deck drainage system. Designed to divert water away from the foundation, systems like Trex® RainEscape® protect a deck’s substructure from moisture and create dry space underneath the deck surface that can be used for any number of purposes – from storing seasonal items to serving as bonus living space outfitted with everything from furniture, accessories, lighting and entertainment components to workout equipment, toys and games for at-home “recess,” or even a dance floor, mirror and ballet bar!
Another trend driven by the pandemic has been the dramatic increase in residential pools, spas and water features. Between travel restrictions and indefinite closings of community pool facilities, homeowners across the country are taking the plunge and installing swimming pools, hot tubs and ponds in their backyards. To give these additions a finished look, surround them with high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking. Unlike wood, composite decking won’t rot, warp, stain or fade and never needs sanding, staining or sealing.
“Trex is my go-to material for outdoor projects,” says Victoria. “It delivers the beauty of wood without the environmental impact, the labor-intensive upkeep or the natural deterioration over time. I also love that it’s made from 95% recycled materials and only needs an occasional cleaning with soap and water to maintain its beautiful appearance for decades.”
Fueled by the drastic decline in domestic and international travel over the past year, homeowner interest in replicating the sophisticated style and comforts of a luxury hotel or resort in their homes has continued to grow. From plush towels and perfectly plumped pillows to outdoor accents like composite cladding, fire tables, water features and industrial railing, commercially inspired designs can give any home environment the essence of an extravagant staycation.
“Homeowners are finding inspiration in commercial settings like upscale hotels and restaurants,” Victoria comments. “Outdoors, this trend is seen in modern railing styles, such as Trex Signature® Railing. The durable, low-maintenance aluminum railing collection delivers sleek sophistication in a range of designs, including horizontal rods, mesh panels and glass inserts.”
The DIY category exploded in 2020, encouraging homeowners to roll up their sleeves and tackle even the most challenging projects – a development experts expect to continue in 2021. Industry analysts are predicting DIY home projects and repairs will shift from a trend to long-term habit with ambitious DIYers turning to YouTube and sites like Decks.com for inspiration, motivation and how-to tips – saving time and money, and earning some serious bragging rights.
“If you can use a hammer and a saw, you can upgrade your backyard with composite decking,” states Victoria. “Building or resurfacing a deck with Trex is a doable DIY project that can be completed over the course of a weekend or two with just a little know-how and the help of a few friends.”