Each year, while the rest of the country is buried under a blanket of snow, leaving many hidden inside and wrapped in a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate in hand, Valley residents are boastfully enjoying the great outdoors. And why shouldn’t we? The winter and spring months are our haven here in the desert.
With six to eight months of glorious outdoor living opportunity (depending on who you ask) and the unmatched views the desert landscape has to offer, our outdoor living spaces have become treasured focal points for design.
Outdoor living and landscape trends come and go just as quickly as those inside of the home and often follow along with technological advancements and movements in society. Scottsdale area designers shared with us some of the current trends in outdoor living design.
A reflection of your personality
The idea is to have the elements of an outdoor living space reflect who you are, explains Julie Crone with Bobé Water and Fire Features. “Perhaps a tranquil zen pond, elaborate fire features that catch the eye and entertain, a cabana decorated with your travel souvenirs or a pizza oven to enjoy wood roasted creations.”
The backyard has become an illustration of who you are and what you like to do. Whether it be entertaining large parties gathered around a bar while barbequing for your guests or enjoying a peaceful sunrise while meditating on a yoga terrace.
Chad Robert with Exteriors by Chad Robert explains that his approach to designing a backyard for his clients involves learning about the family – the ages and hobbies of each family member, activities they wish to use the backyard for, how many visitors they like to entertain and what types of parties they wish to have. He says, “It really becomes an extension of their personality and their needs and wants.
Thinking green in more ways than one
Our society has slowly but surely entered the realm of green living, and it’s about time. We are becoming more eco-friendly, health conscious and energy efficient, and this is reflecting in the elements we are choosing to include in our outdoor spaces.
We may not be the farmers that many of our ancestors were, but we are learning to get back to basics. “As the local food movement continues to grow, edible landscaping can be seen by way of herb gardens, citrus trees and vegetable planters,” Crone says.
Vegetable gardens and compost areas were commonly mentioned among designers as a popular outdoor element. Besides the obvious green benefits, cooking with home-grown produce is convenient and inexpensive.
According to Clay Scrivner of Scrivner Design, “With the ‘going green’ movement, the latest outdoor living design trend I see with my clients is a heightened awareness of utilizing natural design concepts.” People are choosing to forgo the luxuries of heating and air conditioning in their outdoor living spaces, turning to fire features for warmth during the winter and pools as a retreat from the summer heat.
Fireplaces and fire pits are commonly used as a gathering centerpiece. These beautifully and often intricately designed elements serve not only to impress, but also to keep guests warm. Likewise, water features such as fountains, pools and ponds give the sense of tranquility, offer entertainment and serve as design accents. According to Crone, a growing trend is the mixing of fire and water in accent elements, such as fire and water pots.
Bringing the indoors out
“In designing my clients homes, I try to incorporate a spill out space,” Scrivner says. He describes this as an extension to the outdoors from every room possible. This strategy in design helps to encourage the use of outdoor spaces, gives a welcoming flow for gatherings and allows clients to enjoy the elements in their outdoor spaces at all times of the year.
Crone says that the use of indoor design staples are increasingly making their way outside, such as sectional sofas and rugs. Fabric companies offer products that can withstand the harsh climates and hold up through the wear and tear and washing that indoor fabrics cannot. Bringing the comforts of inside the home out allows for a more liveable and restful outdoor space.
Light it up
Why put an end to the outdoor entertainment when the sun has set? Arizona nights offer some of the most beautiful temperatures, especially as we near the summer months. Just like indoors, outdoor spaces should be liveable at all times of the day for maximum enjoyment.
Let There Be Light has transitioned to using 100 percent LED lighting for their outdoor landscape designs. Bryan Gold, owner of Let There Be Light, explains that LED lighting is 87 percent more efficient, uses less energy and emulates halogen lighting flawlessly. He says, “If people were reluctant about LED in the past, they should have no more concern.”
Areas of an outdoor living space can become artistic focal points at night with the correct lighting design. Gold says the use of green-filtered spot lights on saguaros and other greenery has become a common trend for a fresh and luscious look.
Lighting can set the scene for a relaxing and safe outdoor evening sipping a glass of wine, or it can entertain a crowd with color filters for the perfect party platform. It all ties back to creating an outdoor living space that represents who you are and what you like to do.
When embarking on the task of designing an outdoor living space, Crone recommends, “Live in your space for at least six months and then create a look book of the pictures and design ideas you like. Local magazines as well as online resources such as Houzz and Pinterest are great for inspiration.”
Once ideas are gathered, a professional designer can help pinpoint the style and element objectives for the space and bring your outdoor design dreams to fruition.