Outdoor Space — Not Just For Gardens Anymore.

Say goodbye to the typical backyard garden. Today, an outside space is an extension of a home — a place to relax, entertain, dine, and play. And of course, grow plants and flowers.

Perhaps the new definition of “outdoor space” is due to the growing staycay trend, as homeowners find themselves spending more time at home than on the road. Or it’s that an outdoor space offers endless possibilities to make the most of your home — and life.

“2014 is all about balance. People finally appreciate that being in nature and in the garden is true bliss. But now, they want the garden to do double duty: A Zen oasis and the social hub for entertaining,” says Katie Dubow, creative director of Garden Media.

Whatever your budget or square footage, an outdoor space is only limited by your imagination. It can be your private oasis, with patio areas, seating, planting for privacy, and soft outdoor lighting. Add gazebos and water features, a pergola, garden sculptures, a hot tub, and outdoor heaters, and this is your little corner of heaven. Even install Koi ponds — small garden ponds filled with colorful carp — to transform almost any setting into an exotic, Eastern garden.

And who doesn’t love to dine al fresco dining with friends and family? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has identified outdoor kitchens as one of its “Hot Housing Trends.” They’re not only a focal point for entertaining, they can also make good financial sense. According to NAHB, outdoor kitchens earn back up to 130% of their value. That means an overall price increase of up to 30%.

Years ago, homeowners were limited by what they could take outside, but now the cap is off. Brick-built barbecues, grills, sinks, wine coolers and refrigerators and storage areas can last outside, year after year. Seating is key to any outdoor kitchen, which can range from standard picnic tables to a full bar complete with working beer taps.

“There are so many different kinds of products out there now,” says Deidra Darsa, media relations manager for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. “Just about anything you could have indoors, now has an outdoor version.” TVs and stereos, for instance, are becoming more popular for outdoor entertaining areas, and can withstand the elements.

Outdoor fire pits and fireplaces are also becoming more common in new homes. At a recent International Builders Show, outdoor fireplaces were highlighted as a growing trend, along with double-sided, indoor/outdoor fireplaces.

If you like to converge with nature, special features like ponds, bird houses, baths and tables — and even plants such as varieties of buddleia, also known as the butterfly bush — can attract wildlife.

With organic farming all the rage, there’s no better place to grow your own fruits and vegetables than in your outdoor space. “Television chefs have influenced consumers who want to grow their own produce. “It’s not a matter of economy,” says Suzi McCoy, founder and president of Garden Media Group, “It’s a matter of taste, health and bragging rights.” The push from farm to table can begin right in your own backyard with a vegetable patch or trellis for climbing plants such as tomatoes or runner beans.

But what about the little ones? An outdoor space makes for a great play area, especially with a sandpit, and bark chippings or lawn. For the older kids, a patio area that doubles as a giant board game can set the stage for quality family time.

Undoubtedly, the outdoor space has grown in both style and function. From relaxing and entertaining to dining and farming, this isn’t your mother’s outdoor space anymore.

The OMNIA Group Architects bring talent, experience and exceptional customer service to every residential and commercial project. We call it Creativity Delivered. Our clients — in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and throughout the country – call it the perfect solution to their architectural needs. Our goal is to create home and work environments that make your life easier, more productive and more enjoyable.
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