(Family Features) As many families prepare to ramp up their time spent outside, it can be helpful to keep the latest trends in mind while planning for outdoor living spaces.
According to research from the International Casual Furnishings Association, many people use outdoor rooms for things they can do indoors – from using cellphones for calls and games to working on computers, watching TV, eating, exercising and, of course, relaxing.
Since 70 percent of survey respondents said they enjoy spending time in an outdoor living space more than inside, it’s fitting that the 2018 furnishing trends address the outdoor lifestyle experience.
“Whether enclosed or open-air, outdoor spaces have come into their own as legitimate rooms in American homes,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance and executive director of its outdoor division, the International Casual Furnishings Association. “Today’s outdoor rooms have it all – somewhere to dine, to relax and be entertained – with furnishings that function like they would for any room in the home and with style and flair that distinctly fits outdoors.”
Dining tables and chairs top many people’s outdoor shopping lists this year, followed by lounge chairs, lighting, fire pits, umbrellas and sofas. Leading the list of trends in the dynamic dining category is ultra-comfortable seating and a wide variety of table options.
Extra-large dining tables are popular for entertaining groups and al fresco dining. Yet manufacturers understand not everyone has a large outdoor space, so they also offer selections for small spaces, including dining sets suitable for apartment- and condo-size balconies, as well as sizes in-between.
The research also shows 68 percent of people use outdoor spaces several times a week in seasonally appropriate weather. Comfort, spaciousness and style were the most important factors in encouraging people to spend more time outdoors, which is why deep-seated chairs with high backs for relaxed comfort rank high on wish lists.
Often accompanying these group seating options are fire tables or pits, which continue to increase in popularity, according to the survey.
“We are seeing that fire of some sort for outdoors is topping many consumers’ wish lists again this year,” Hirschhaut said. “You just can’t beat a fire element for creating ambience.”
Much like spaces indoors, outdoor rooms are leaning more toward mixing rather than matching, both in individual pieces and in groups of pieces. To help meet this trend, try looking for pieces that incorporate several different elements such as aluminum, wicker and teak, as well as groups that pair, for example, wicker seating with iron or wood tables.
On the color spectrum, the survey found that after years of brown as a dominant color, shades of gray are increasingly peeking through as a more popular finish.
For more tips and information about creating a stylish outdoor living space, visit icfanet.org.