Top Outdoor Living Trends for 2016
Annual Forecast Offers Tips and Insights From Leading Industry Experts
(IBS Booth #C5431) No matter the season or the region, outdoor living is hot! In fact, industry analysts predict that in 2016 the market will top $5.7 billion. To help homeowners make the most of their outdoor living spaces in the coming year, Trex Company, the leader in high-performance, low-maintenance outdoor living products, teamed up with design experts Paul Lafrance and Kate Campbell of HGTV's "Decked Out" series to compile its annual Outdoor Living Forecast. Following are six trends these "Trexperts" predict will be influencing the look, feel and function of outdoor spaces in 2016.
A growing trend over the past few years, the movement toward "bringing the indoors out" will reach new heights as homeowners infuse their outdoor spaces with all the comforts and conveniences of the indoors.
"The trend used to be toward bringing the outdoors in, but many people today are doing the opposite -- bringing traditionally 'indoor' comforts out to the deck, porch or patio," says Lafrance, who designs and builds more than 100 decks each year, both for HGTV and through his Toronto-based company Paul Lafrance Design. "Thanks to advances in all-weather materials, furnishings and accessories, you can outfit an outdoor living space in much the same way that you would any room in the home."
Campbell agrees, citing increased demand for deck features including integrated benches with upholstered cushions, privacy walls and accents like ornamental post caps and railings with decorative balusters similar to those found inside the home.
"One of my favorite things to do with an outdoor space is to create a 'comfort zone,' such as a hammock area or a conversation nook with built-in lounges -- somewhere cozy with lots of pillows where you can curl up with a good book, or a good friend," she comments. "I also am a fan of defining different functional spaces outdoors. Weather-proof draperies are a great way to inject color and pattern and create distinct spaces. Another option is adding a pergola. Trex just introduced some fantastic pergola kits that are right on trend for this season."
To make an outdoor space truly feel like a "room," Campbell also suggests integrating interior-inspired accents like decorative outdoor area rugs, cushions, pillows and throw blankets made of weather-resistant materials.
"Add personality and color with plants, flowers, artwork and whimsical accessories, just as you would inside," she notes.
Railings that Rule
Another outdoor element that's being influenced by indoor styling is deck railings. No surprise, really, since that's the most visible aspect of a deck. When it comes to selecting the best railing for your outdoor space, Lafrance recommends using one of the "Three C's" -- coordinate, contrast or change it up.
"You can never go wrong by selecting railing in the same shade as your decking," Lafrance suggests, "but, if you're having trouble making a perfect match, I recommend taking a 180° approach and going with a contrasting color -- such as black or white. Both are classic options that complement virtually any outdoor setting. For design-savvy homeowners looking for something distinctive, let the creative juices flow and go for a completely customized look that reflects your personal taste."
To make the selection process even easier, Trex recently introduced a set of curated railing looks that pair beautifully with the brand's most popular decking colors, offering a variety of choices that reflect regional, architectural and personal preferences.
Cooking with Class
While outdoor cooking once meant a basic grill and a bag of charcoal, Americans have taken backyard cooking and dining to a whole new level. As we head into the 2016 outdoor living season, expect this trend to continue with BBQs and grills that maximize space but can handle more than your average steaks, hot dogs and burgers. Think whole turkeys, pizza and smoked meats.
Similarly, outdoor kitchens will get increasingly functional and more elaborate with cooking islands, pizza ovens, refrigerators -- and, yes, even the kitchen sink.
"The whole concept of outdoor cooking has grown far beyond a backyard barbecue," emphasizes Lafrance. "Homeowners are hungry for fully-appointed kitchens with features like integrated trash bins, ice chests and cabinetry that add convenience and luxury. They also help to keep an outdoor space organized and reduce all those pesky trips back and forth into the house."
One of the hottest trends -- literally -- for 2016 is the incorporation of warming features into outdoor spaces. From candles and tiki torches to fireplaces and lighting, products that lend physical and ambient warmth will be in high demand.
"Fire features not only add ambiance to an outdoor space but also provide heat and light that allows you to use your deck later into the evening and into the year," says Campbell. "Fire pits and fireplaces also provide great focal points and natural gathering spots for conversation and, of course, s'mores!"
Campbell also predicts an increase in the use of outdoor lighting -- especially when it's integrated in new and innovative ways to accent outdoor features. Spot lights highlighting a feature wall or tread lights incorporated into a bar top are both popular options.
"The right lighting can take any outdoor space from invisible to inviting," she explains. "Adding dimmable LED lighting to railing and stairs not only adds atmosphere but also enhances safety and security -- and extends the time you can spend enjoying your outdoor living space."
Another traditionally indoor convenience that's quickly making its way outdoors is automation. Today's homeowners want to enjoy their time outside while also watching the game or listening to a favorite playlist -- in high-definition and perfectly balanced surround sound, of course.
"Home automation is huge right now, so it's only natural that this trend should migrate outdoors," comments Campbell. "From lighting and music controlled from a smart phone to motorized rear-projection screens synced to outdoor LED televisions, homeowners are now able to bring their entire entertainment systems outdoors."
Leisure without the Labor
Leisure time for many Americans is a luxury. This trend will continue to drive demand for low-maintenance materials in 2016 -- especially outdoors.
"Who wants an outdoor space that they have to spend more time maintaining than enjoying?" asks Lafrance. "For me, composite decking is a no brainer. It delivers all the beauty and aesthetics of wood but without the back-breaking and time-consuming upkeep."
Unlike wood, composite decking, such as Trex, resists fading, staining, scratching and mold -- and won't rot, warp, crack or splinter. No sanding, staining or painting is required, and food and drink spills wash off easily with just soap and water. Additionally, Trex decking is made from 95 percent recycled material making it an environmentally friendly choice for eco-conscious consumers.
To view examples of outdoor living settings featuring this year's top trends, visit Trex's Inspiration Gallery at www.trex.com/inspiration/gallery. For more information about high-performance Trex products, go to www.trex.com.
About Trex Company
Trex Company is the world's largest manufacturer of high performance wood-alternative decking and railing, with more than 20 years of product experience. Stocked in more than 6,700 retail locations worldwide, Trex outdoor living products offer a wide range of style options with fewer ongoing maintenance requirements than wood, as well as a truly environmentally responsible choice. For more information, visit trex.com. You also can follow Trex on Twitter (@Trex_Company) or Pinterest (trexcompany), "like" Trex on Facebook, or view product and demonstration videos on the brand's YouTube channel (TheTrexCo.).
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