Out With The Old – Outdoor Living
No matter the landscape, patio, or pool arrangement, choosing the right type of outdoor furniture can transform an Outer Banks home from ordinary to alluring.
You don’t often hear people say, “From the comfort of your own yard,” but with advanced technology and the wide array of products and design ideas available to homeowners today, it is easier than ever to bring that familiar, indoor comfort of your home to the outdoors.
Owners of rental homes will see increased repeat guests if vacationers have made their outdoor memories in splinter-free comfort. And homeowners wishing to sell can use outdoor furniture as an eye-catching amenity to increase the curb appeal for prospective buyers.
Generate More Renters and Repeat Renters
Having an outdoor living space is crucial when renting out an Outer Banks home. According to TripAdvisor, an outdoor living area ranks as the fourth most important vacation rental amenity requested by travelers, falling just behind Wi/Fi, washer and dryer, and a pool.
In order to attract as many renters as possible, homeowners need to make their homes stand out, with eye-catching features that encourage renters to choose their home above all of the others in the area. Providing a comfortable, outdoor living space is just one of those little surprises that may not be listed under standard amenities like bedroom count and location but is sure to boost repeat rental business.
Add Curb Appeal When Selling
A local realtor says that homeowners do not have to break the bank to stage outdoor spaces, but a little guidance is all that is needed. She added, “A rusty grill surrounded by rickety chairs and pots of sun-stroked plants will not allow a prospective buyer to envision themselves enjoying the yard.” Selecting a shady spot for conversational seating or a green space for gardening will show a prospective buyer how you have enjoyed those areas. When potential buyers visualize the functionality and usefulness of an outdoor space due to the arrangement and enticing display of the current outdoor furniture, they can envision themselves enjoying that space. According to Realtor.com, 32% of buyers reported that an outdoor living area with cooking area or a bar would be among their top priorities when searching the market for upscale and vacation homes.
Aluminum and plastic outdoor furniture pieces have been widely available for many years, but every beach homeowner is familiar with the problems of furniture pieces that seem to only last one season and get thrown away each fall or get blown away during every storm. Poly-lumber materials have stepped in to solve those problems with durable and colorful options. Poly-lumber is manufactured from the same high-density polyethylene plastic that gets recycled from milk bottles and other plastic containers. Furniture made from poly-lumber is light and comfortable. Choosing it will not only benefit the environment, it will also benefit your lifestyle. This furniture is immune to the elements and is virtually maintenance free. In fact, poly-lumber furniture is such a wise decision that many state parks and schools are converting to these materials for safety, durability, and economic considerations.
Much like clothing designers, furniture designers have a wide-range of style and levels of quality all within the same company’s product lines. One set of products may focus on pastels and lighter poly-lumber pieces, while another line may focus on bright colors and heavier composites. Homeowners do not have to travel far to have their pick of locally made or regionally manufactured styles of durable composite furniture.
Poly-lumber may not even look like lumber. Next time you see what looks like a dainty wicker settee, look a little more closely and you may detect what is actually a clever use of composites made to look like natural wicker. Find what works best for the weather conditions and porch, yard, or pool deck where they will be placed at your own home. Remember, furniture that seems cumbersomely heavy in the showroom may be perfect for a wind-blown porch on the northeast corner of your home.
Natural material options include textured furniture, such as that made from bamboo, wicker, or rattan. These materials are delicate and need to be kept under covered areas to make them last longer. Preserving the natural beauty of untreated wood furniture is especially important on the Outer Banks by painting, staining, or sealing the wood regularly. Applying marine-grade varnish or paint also extends the life of naturally sourced furniture pieces.
Manufacturers of porch awnings and marine sails have been perfecting their fabrics for a half century. Now that same technology is in backyards everywhere. Acrylic fabrics like Sunbrella and Outdura are 100% acrylic solution dyed, meaning the fibers are dyed before the weaving process. Acrylic fabrics resist mildew, chlorine and chemicals and stand up to the fading effects of UV lighting. They retain their color, strength, and shape after years of normal exposure to the elements and only require spot cleaning to remain looking like new. Innovative fabrics like Sunbrella and Outdura maintain the soft, breathable feel of indoor fabrics yet allow for more creativity and versatility in outdoor furniture options. These fabrics are available in a variety of colors and textures including velvet. The fabric is so attractive and durable that many owners will use it inside for their rec room, an indoor sunporch, or any other high-traffic rooms that need to withstand the regular assault of large groups and entertaining. Consumers bent on the “shopping local” movement are comforted to know that both products come from North Carolina’s western region, nicknamed the “furniture capital of the world” by many in the industry.
“Do-it-yourselfers” can create their own outdoor cushions with foam and 100% acrylic fabrics purchased by the square-yard from a retailer. This fabric is also available for outdoor sheers, awnings, and umbrellas, and can be spot-cleaned or machine washed for an even deeper, at-home clean.
100% spun polyester fabric is a more traditional approach to outdoor furniture, and while it comes in a wider variety of colors and patterns, the lifetime in the sun before fading is between 300-800 hours, compared to the 2000+ hours that acrylic fabrics offer. Those numbers are important to keep in mind when the purchase price of fabrics are tallied. It is easier to imagine spending more on the acrylic fabric options when you realize you may get several additional summers of wear and tear. If polyester fabrics are chosen, many people use spray-able fabric seals to help repel moisture and UV rays.
Outdoor Decorating Trends for 2015
To incorporate outdoor furniture into the perfect at-home retreat, focus on comfort, functionality, and versatility.
Gather ‘Round the Kitchen
In the same way that your indoor kitchen turns out to be where most people congregate, so will a covered, outdoor kitchen nook. Moving the gathering outdoors keeps everyone together while enjoying the open atmosphere. Increase the functionality of the space with well-placed appliances such as icemakers and mini-fridges to limit the number of wet bathing suits that go trekking through your house. Tiki bars are a favored amenity to include poolside because, like the covered kitchen nook, they provide the perfect entertaining space for guests and residents alike to mingle.
Durability and weatherproofing are primary concerns for outdoor kitchens; therefore, kitchen cabinets and countertops are being crafted specifically with outdoor elements in mind. Many homeowners choose tough but natural granite for countertops as it will not stain or absorb odors and is less likely to fade in the sun. Concrete and tile, when installed correctly, are also favorite and durable outdoor counter and cabinet materials.
For the style part of the equation, dining areas with lavish chandeliers, upcycled wine bottle lights, or rustic lighting are all popular fixture options in outdoor dining areas this year. Overhead bamboo fans are great additions, especially over cooking areas, and will allow outdoor gatherings during the hottest days.
Playing with Fire
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are perfect times for cozy conversations at outdoor fire pits made of concrete or stone. Outdoor fire pits are perfect for pool owners to use to warm up after a night swim and can double as a stone pizza oven for outdoor food prep.
Everyone in the Pool
Some lavish homes are adding island patios to their pools, accessible by mini-bridges, where outdoor furniture creates a personal, intimate setting for conversation and lounging.
The Do-It-Yourself decorating trend is steadily going strong, and outdoor furniture is no exception. As the need for outdoor furniture varies just as much as the types of gatherings people hold in their homes, movable (also known as modular) seating is a great way to accommodate many different types of occasions. Homeowners can also re-purpose old furniture or fixtures and move them outdoors when their indoor life is past its prime.
Wooden trellises are popular and allow the breezes to blow through while still providing a sense of protection to outdoor furniture. Weave greenery and running vines and flowers to trellises for even more appeal and privacy.
Brick wall planters surrounding seating areas are favored touches and when built knee-to-waist high can also serve as extra seating. Plant fragrant spices and herbs in the planters for a practical touch that every home chef will appreciate.
CREATE MORE ENJOYMENT AT HOME
There are many facets to consider when incorporating outdoor furniture into an Outer Banks home, including style, functionality, budget, and purpose. By using these ideas and products, Outer Banks homeowners can create an outdoor space that is as comfortable as their own living room, but out in the fresh, coastal air.
With many variables to consider, one thing remains constant: an outdoor living area is a great amenity to add or upgrade at your Outer Banks home.
Abby Stewart is a freelance writer who lives in Currituck County but has spent most of her summers on the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks.