The Top Outdoor Design Element for 2016

Are you highlighting fire pits and outdoor fireplaces? A new survey shows they’re coveted amenities among home shoppers. Architects recently surveyed by the American Society of Landscape Architects pinpointed fireplaces and fire pits as the number one outdoor design element for 2016.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association say they’ve seen an uptick in the popularity among linear fireplaces – rectangular fireplaces – as well as smokeless fire pits. Linear fireplaces offer a “sleek, modern design” and gas-powered models that can span up to 12-feet wide. Also, electric-powered models that offer multicolor flames are gaining popularity and offer a “sophisticated, contemporary style,” they note.

Fire pits and fireplaces “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 designer Kate Campbell with HGTV’s “Decked Out.”

Source: “The Hottest Trend in Outdoor Living? Fireplaces and Firepits,” RISMedia (March 10, 2016)

Bet on These Home Improvements in 2015

So what seven home improvements made their list of the safest bets?

  1. Quartz Countertops: For years it was all about the granite counters, but it appears that quartz is all the rage these days for buyers. According to Redfin, quartz has experienced a huge increase since 2012, due to its durability and overall buyer granite fatigue.
  2. Smart Homes: While Smart Home design is overall still a niche with buyers, it’s a phrase that has experienced an explosion in listing mentions since 2012. Redfin agents caution that buyers really need to choose a smart home system with the most up-to-date software since smart home technology is rapidly evolving.
  3. Stainless Steel Appliances: This trend is here to stay, and it has only increased in popularity since 2011. According to a Redfin agent, stainless steel is “the gold standard for kitchens these days” and it appears to be a very safe home improvement bet.
  4. Fire Pits: Buyers are still interested in turning their backyards into relaxing areas with multiple focal points that encourages interaction and socializing, and adding a fire pit remains a popular upgrade.
  5. Tasting Rooms: In the high-end and luxury market, the term “tasting” has slowly increased in listings over the last five years. In the past, buyers hid their wine cellars away from the main focal point of the house, but these days they’re requesting tasting rooms that are adjacent to the main socializing rooms of the house, such as the kitchen and living rooms.
  6. Outdoor Kitchens: Along with fire pits, outdoor kitchens and multi-use backyard areas have only gained in popularity, especially for high-end buyers who mention socializing in the home as a priority. According to Redfin, “Backyards are becoming places to lounge during the summer, with full kitchens, fireplaces and televisions.”
  7. Freestanding Tubs: The days of the space-saving combined shower and tub are over, at least for luxury buyers. Redfin reports that the term “freestanding tub” has increased dramatically since 2011, as buyers want a bathroom that’s more reminiscent of a spa.

Source: “7 Home Improvement Projects That Are a Safe Bet for 2015,” Redfin (Feb. 4, 2015)