It's official, 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 people adjusted to a new normal and in turn reimagined how to use and enjoy their spaces outside.
As a result, this year's outdoor living design trends have never been more inventive.
According to Shannon Vos (pictured), interior design consultant and past winner of The Block, COVID-induced lockdowns prioritised how we view and use our homes.
"With people spending more time at home last year, we all started to realise how outdoor space is so important," he said.
"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, the world's largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing captures input from consumers, contractors, retailers and industry insiders to compile its Outdoor Living Forecast.
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Trex and Shannon Vos have identified four trends expected to shape the outdoor living landscape for the reminder of 2021.
1. Outdoor offices
Among the top trends predicted for the coming year is the emergence of outdoor workspaces. With flexible working arrangements, including working from home and remote learning expected to continue in 2021, contractors report increased interest in outdoor spaces that can comfortably and functionally accommodate professionals and students.
Requests for stylish sheds and backyard living spaces are on the rise and pergolas are also in high demand 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 providing cool relief on hot days.
2. Take the plunge
Another trend driven by the pandemic has been the dramatic increase in residential pools, spas and water features.
With interstate and international travel plagued by uncertainty, homeowners across the country are taking the plunge and installing swimming pools and spas 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.
"This year, we completed the renovation of our outdoor space, including an artist wrapped pool for the kids to play in," says Shannon. "Surrounding the pool, we used Trex wood-composite decking. It delivers the beauty of wood without the environmental impact, the labour-intensive upkeep or the natural deterioration over time.
"I also love that it's made from 95 per cent recycled materials and only needs an occasional cleaning with soap and water to maintain its beautiful appearance for decades."
3. Luxury staycation
Fueled by the drastic decline in domestic and international travel during the past year, interest from homeowners 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-up pillows, to outdoor accents such as fire pits, water features and industrial railing, commercially-inspired designs can give any home environment the essence of an extravagant staycation.
4. Give it a try with DIY
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 for the remainder of 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 home improvement sites for inspiration, motivation and how-to tips - saving time and money, and earning serious bragging rights.