2021 Deemed “Year of the Yard” as More Americans Plan to Improve Outdoor Spaces
Finally, Outdoor Living is getting its due. Last year was the “Year of Home,” as pandemic lockdowns and stay-at-home orders resulted in boom in home-related spending boom. This year will be the “Year of the Yard,” says Pamela Danziger as more and more Americans turn their attention to improve their outdoor spaces, according to a new study by the International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA).
Currently, some 88% of Americans are dissatisfied with their outdoor spaces, with 66% finding its style, function (56%) and comfort (45%) lacking. Yet 90% of Americans agree that their outdoor living space is more valuable than ever before. It’s not like they ignored their outdoor living areas last year, with 78% reporting they upgraded their outdoor living areas in 2020.
But this year, they plan to add more decorative and functional elements to enjoy their time outside more. The number of people who plan to buy new outdoor furniture and accessories has more than doubled from last year, 58% this year compared to 23% in 2020.
In reading the latest study results, Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the ICFA, sees a fundamental shift in how Americans are relating to their outdoor living areas.
The patio is not just a place to retreat for an evening cocktail or a Sunday afternoon barbecue. Everything we do inside, we want to do outside and more.
“At the beginning of 2020, we were focused on creating outdoor spaces that complement our homes and lifestyles,” Hirschhaut said. “Today we are creating outdoor spaces that supplement our sense of wellbeing and transform an outdoor area into an outdoor room.”
Spending more time in our gardens and on our patios is not only desired, but the cure for what ails us. Shockingly, the EPA finds Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, threatening not just our health but also our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
“As people continue to be overworked and overwrought, they will answer the call of nature,” reports the Global Wellness Summit. “Nature Deficit Disorder has taken hold, and it’s real—this 24/7, digitally dominated, Instagram-able world is depriving humankind of some very basic, very important nourishment that comes from being outdoors.”
Top on the list of planned outdoor furniture and accessory purchases this year are firepits (35%), grills (35%), lounges and chaises (34%), lighting (34%), dining tables and chairs (28%), umbrellas (25%) and sofas/sectionals (19%).
Not only will these improvements make their outdoor spaces more enjoyable and functional, they will allow people to live outdoors.
LIVING IN THE BACKYARD & GARDEN
“The pandemic has fundamentally altered our relationship with and expectations of our outdoor spaces” says Sean Andrews of Sean Andrews Design.
“Our yards may have been the only greenspace we could access and enjoy,” he said. “The result is, the way we live in those outdoor spaces have changed, becoming much more than just a place for the kids to play, not it’s their classroom and our new work space.
“People now want an outdoor space that reflects the same thought and energy we put into the interior of their home,” he shares. “They want a styled outdoor space with multiple living areas and distinct areas for different purposes.”
And the lines are blurring between styles for outdoor and indoor. People want the same style and comfort as experienced indoors, like cushioned chairs and sofas, but with added durability so that their investment in outdoor furnishings can stand up to the elements.
“People have come to accept that you have to replace outdoor furniture regularly,” Messner says, but the throw-away nature of typical outdoor furniture is no longer acceptable. “Now they expect outdoor furniture to last and it is good to see many outdoor furniture brands doubling down on this idea of durability.”
And the New Social Front Yard
Hearkening back to a simpler time, people want to use their front yards and porches more too, not just to look good from the curb but to be another outdoor room for new uses.
“Pre-pandemic we did most of our socializing in the backyard, where we had space for dining tables and fire pits for private time,” Messner says. “But now people are looking to enhance the usefulness of the front yard where they can interact with the rest of the neighborhood and socialize while remaining
The Growing Outdoor Living Market
Messner estimates that the landscape and hardscape markets totals about a $100 billion in the U.S., exclusive of furniture, which Statista estimates reached $17.1 billion globally in 2020. And that isn’t including the expenditures for lighting, heating, grills, outdoor kitchens and all the other elements that go into creating outdoor rooms.
“Outdoors is no longer a separate space, but a continuation of what’s happening on the interior,” said a designer in one study just completed with after interviewing 200 designers. It found outdoor living projects are the fastest growing segment in their businesses.
“With Covid-19, nature has become an essential resource to stay healthy and happy and that means outdoor will be increasingly important,” the designer continued. “The line between what looks indoor vs. outdoor is becoming ever more blurred with things like outdoor fabrics becoming softer while maintaining durability and performance, colors are limitless, and the materials and shapes mimic interiors more and more.”