Stay at Home and Shelter in Place orders have made homeowners keenly aware of both their indoor and outdoor space. They are investing more in their spaces now that they are spending more time at home and traveling less due to the pandemic. And whether they are considering updating their balcony, patio, garden or large backyard, they are making one key decision first: they are deciding whether the outdoor space is a passive space for them to enjoy from the indoors or if it is a more active space.
According to Bradley Framson, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery manager - New England, “Many people began working remotely from home when offices shut down in March due to COVID. People began analyzing virtually every area of their home: their furniture, paint colors, lighting, plumbing, appliances, and more. Once the weather started to improve, and they’d made their list for indoor improvements, people immediately turned their attention outdoors. Many took this opportunity to build or renovate porches, patios, and outdoor kitchens and living spaces.”
For someone who is using the space more passively, this might be your homeowner with a home office that enjoys the beauty of a nature scene and draws inspiration from it; they may invest in beautiful landscaping and thoughtful outdoor lighting. Landscape lighting can creatively illuminate all types of exterior environments. For example, you can draw attention to your favorite botanicals by creating shadows on an adjacent fence or use an accent light to highlight trees, a fountain or the architecture of your home. Many people working from home are reporting additional working hours, so having a beautifully lit outdoor space day and night for as your muse is appealing.
For the homeowner that sees the outdoors as an active extension of their home, the possibilities are plenty. Most homeowners are looking to create a multifunctional outdoor space that allows for both relaxing, work and routine home tasks, like cooking. The grill remains the centerpiece of the outdoor kitchen. Framson says, “Many homeowners are looking at this at a time to consider more extravagant additions to their outdoor kitchens such as pizza ovens, wine fridges, ice makers, sinks, faucets, side burners, refrigerator drawers and more.
When you think about this many customizations, customers can begin to believe that a backyard oasis is out of reach. Nothing could be further from reality. Many factors go into a homeowner’s budget for renovation projects. The economic unknowns related to the pandemic have not stopped homeowners from investing in their spaces.
Kate Bailey, Senior Director of Category Management, says, “Homeowners are focusing on selecting quality lighting, outdoor fireplaces, decorative furniture and décor to make the space enjoyable year-round. The focus on quality may influence some homeowners to prioritize their wants and needs. If this involves a trade-off such as sacrificing a warming drawer for a grill with a great warranty, homeowners don’t flinch because the focus on quality ensures long-term satisfaction with their choices. It reduces the risks and costs associated with replacing substandard products that don’t stand up to the outdoor elements.”
Framson reported some people using this time to upgrade their backyard instead of traveling this summer. He says, “I can personally relate. I had a brand new patio installed at my house the first week of June, purchased new patio furniture, as well as a grill.” The idea of a “staycation” has been around for a while and referred to a relaxing time off from work and regular life duties where you enjoyed local excursions within a couple hours’ drive. When homeowners are cautious about travel of any kind due to the pandemic, they want to enjoy time in their backyard. So, where they once would travel to enjoy a luxury hotel and spa, they want their homes to reflect that same feel. Some predict the “staycation” will become the vacation of the future.
Lighting is a critical element in creating a luxury outdoor space. Bailey states, “We are stressing the importance of lighting in outdoor spaces; that way, the homeowner feels like they have a space that they can escape to any time of day. Lighting is a key element for an outdoor kitchen and having the proper lighting allows the homeowner to cook all meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner and the occasional midnight snack – outdoors.”
General lighting near the main seating area is essential; make sure it is a warm hue and a similar brightness to your indoor lighting. Lamps and chandeliers specifically made for outdoor use are a popular decorative accent to outdoor porches, pools, cabanas and other covered outdoor spaces.
Framson says, “We’re reminding homeowners that thoughtful features can be extended into the outdoor areas. Not only can you control your outdoor lighting with smart technology, but some grills offer voice-activation technology and mobile apps. These advances are helpful if you need to step inside for a business call. You don’t have to worry about overcooking your meal because your smart device will be there to give you updates. Some grills offer entertainment tech features so that you can enjoy the outdoors while listening to your favorite music.”
Finally, the mudroom, sometimes overlooked, is now getting more attention due to the pandemic. Since this is a transition space from the outside in and you don’t want germs entering your home, it makes sense to think about the functionality of this space. This is especially true for families with essential workers who are at a higher risk for COVID-19 exposure. To minimize the spread of germs, homeowners are creating inviting spaces, complete with a washer, dryer and sink, where they can carefully and safely transition from the outside world to the privacy of their homes.
Having that personalized retreat for a staycation or where you can work while watching your kids run around in the backyard elevates this difficult time. It also allows you to change your perspective. You’re able to see this as a time where you can reconnect with your family or nature. You can create a space where you embrace a more active lifestyle.