Transitional decking and a fire pit, all in for 2014 – Trex

The outdoors is to a house as shoes are to a person.  Do you want to know what a person is like, look at their shoes, it can tell you a great deal.  Conversely, do you want to know what  a person is like, look at their front or back yard and you’ll get a good feel for who they are and what they’re like.  This is a grand generalization, but it’s a tried and tested rule of thumb.

We have seen examples of properties being bought for $100,000, which has an out of control yard and tired looking paint, being landscaped and painted for $2000, being re-listed onto the market immediately and being sold for $120,000, flipping the property instantly for an $18,000 profit.  This can be attributed, mostly, to a little outdoor TLC.

In this article, we’re delving into the top outdoor trends of 2014, looking into some great ideas that’ll transform your tired yard into something extraordinary.

1.  Inventive Lighting

If you want to make the most of the outdoors, you’ll want to use it in the evenings when it is dark, and to do this you’ll need outdoor lighting.  Opt for creative, or chic options like ambiance lighting, placed under seating or garden features, to complement well placed lamps.  Don’t just stick to one color either, versatility is fresh and having the option to change the color of the light at a press of the switch will drastically change the mood and ambiance of the outdoor area.  This’ll give a slight edge, making the outdoor escape that much more attractive in ones minds eye; hopefully coaxing you outside to use the area more and more.  The trend is timeless, and continues to be a winner in 2014 through new and inventive garden light fixtures.

Great use of inventive lighting from Harold Leidner

2.  Outdoor Saunas

For those who like saunas, this is probably one of best investments you’ll make in 2014.  There is nothing quite like heating up the sauna and escaping to the end of the garden, especially after a long stressful day.  A outdoor sauna installation like the one below (conversely, an indoor sauna installation) won’t break the bank, and it’s a wonderful way to add to the saleability of ones home, whilst also increasing the homes value, even if it’s nominal.

We’re seeing more and more demand for outdoor saunas; maybe due to economies improving, but whatever the fundamental reason, this is a winner for 2014, and it’s sure to impress anybody who visits your home; unless you live in a Scandinavian country where it’s an expected standard, where it’s reported there are more 2.5 people per sauna (the stat is valid for Finland at least).

Lovely outdoor sauna with a green roof by JP Builders, Inc.

3.  Outdoor Hot Tub

In a similar vain to saunas, one which is more broadly sensationalized and bragged about, as outdoor hot tub is a perfect way to get outside and use the outdoor area.  It’s a great place to escape to to relax an unwind, especially in today’s insanely hectic world.  We’ve heard of people using hot tubs in creative ways, for example, one business man returning from a holiday came home to 100 voice mail messages on his phone.

Quite overwhelmed and not particularly excited about answering all of them, he thought to himself, ‘How can I answer all of these messages while enjoying myself at the same time?’.  He hopped into his hot tub, laid back, and went through each of those calls, one by one, turning what would have been an ugly frog of a task into something much more enjoyable.

If you have the capital to run and invest in a hot tub in 2014, it’s a winner.  Pictured below with a fire pit, also hot for 2014.

Outdoor seating, fire pit and hot tub from Brandon Architects

4.  Natural Materials in Garden

If you’ve seen any of our other trend articles, you’ll notice there is a theme running through all of them and that’s the use of natural materials, and there are no places in the home which is more appropriate for the use of natural materials than the garden.  Slabs of stone work excellent as benches and’ll last forever.  Opt for wood and stone over man-made materials such as plastic.  Natural options tend to be more expensive, but if you were to calculate life to cost value, a natural stone option ends up winning.

Beautiful natural stone bench from Finnerty LLC

 5.  Sunken Seating in the Pool

Look past the stunning views and the infinity edge of the pool below and focus on the sunken seating.  This is architecture and design at it’s finest.  It looks good, plain and simple, and it’s sure to impress the guests.  We’re been seeing a real growth in sunken seating over the past few years and it looks like this explosion is continuing in 2014 as all the pool suppliers we’ve seen are brandishing all types of different, creative sunken seating solutions.

Relax in style with sunken seating – Pasquale Design

6.  Fire pits/fireplaces

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the cold of England or the warmth of Florida, a fire pit is awesome and practical.  The warmth it gives is an outside enabler, giving people the opportunity to use their gardens when it’s cold outside.  One of the biggest factors for not using an outdoor area is either the cold or the wet; a fire pit solves one of these pickles.  Wouldn’t you like to spend more evening with your loved one, gazing up at the stars in front of a nice, bone warming fire?  It’s like sitting around a camp fire, and all the wonderful memories that come with it.  This is one of our favorite outdoor trends in 2014.

Enjoying the evening outside, possible with a fire pit – Rick O’donnell Architect

7.  Native Plants

This is all about going back to using plants which naturally occur in the region which you reside.  No longer importing plants from other countries, this is all about sticking to your roots and honoring where you live.  It also goes without saying that native means natural and natural means you’ll have a happy, well balanced garden.  The native plants which you choose will be perfectly suited to your garden (barring climate change), and will therefore flourish even more perfectly than other plants from afar.  We feel this trend is about embracing the area which you live, an expression of pride through plants!  Whatever is the underlying fuel for the trend, it’s a strong one for 2014 and it’s definitely going to grow over the next few years.

Great use of native plants from Designscapes Colorado

8.  Wall Gardens

This is especially popular, obviously, amongst home owners who have limited outdoor space or no space at all, but it’s also used by home owners who want to add a splash of natural color to their wall.  Succulents work especially well in wall gardens and are easy to maintain, as pictured below.  Be creative; design a wall garden in all kinds of different shapes, sizes and colors.

If anybody knows of any houses who has an entire side of the house as a wall garden, we’d love to see.  This is a perfect solution for apartment owners who have green fingers but don’t have a garden.  A wonderful growing trend in 2014.  Indoor wall gardens, especially in the bathroom are also a trend in 2014.

Short on space? Wonderful example of a neat wall garden – Debora Carl

9.  Herb Gardens

This is an obvious one; and it’s made our list because it’s still a monster of a trend.  Herb gardens are especially popular amonst those who appreciate the culinary arts and those who like to know where their food is coming from.  The trend has been strongly promoted by popular chefs such as Jamie Oliver, which has gained strength and momentum over the past 5 years.  Where gardening of this sorts was once widely regarded for older people over the past number of decades, attitudes are changing.  We are seeing youngsters, teenagers and young adults moving in this direction more and more, embracing this trend.

For those of you who have your own herb garden, you’ll know that there’s nothing quite like taking a sprig off a home grown herb and adding it to a dish you’re preparing: Incredibly rewarding.

Compact and practical herb garden – Aloe Designs

10.  Reduced lawn

We’ve noticed this trend developing over the past decade, where people are reducing the size of their lawn and are opting for featured gardens, patios and other non-grassy areas.  great expanses of grass are great if you have children as they can play all their games uninhibited, but let’s be honest, most of us don’t keep our grass looking perfectly cut, green and lush to warrant having a lot of it.  Landscaped gardens like the one below, which were once all grass are taking over the traditional lawn which has been popular for decades.  In the small lawns which are left, add a pattern which will add that edge of pizzazz which’ll set it apart from the next door neighbor.

A backyard with a reduced lawn, with pattern in grass – Avalon NW

11.  Synthetic Lawn

Last but not least, and you knew this one was coming: Synthetic grass.  When if first came out, most people were synics, but as the manufacturing of the artificial grass became more and more real, its use has also become more popular.  This is a great option for those who want to have a ‘lawn’ which looks well kept all the time, who don’t enjoy cutting the grass every week.  It’s especially useful in areas where grass is difficult to grow, such as underneath bushes, in dry, thin areas.  Synthetic grass is also an ideal solution for creating fancy shapes that’ll always look crisp, like the one below.  The applications are endless.

It may be a shame to use a fake option over the real thing, but it’s a good option for some and is a trend which will most definitely grow further through 2014 and beyond.

Patterned laws are easy with synthetic grass – Grace Design Associates