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Top Home Improvement Trends of 2014: Outdoor Living Spaces

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Outdoor Living Spaces in High Demand


gazebos and pergolas for backyardsAccording to the recent Home Crush survey, outdoor living spaces have continued to evolve into the most enticing property features for home owners. What’s better is that these features also add value to your home. This article will help you discover the seven top outdoor design trends of the year, and the ‘hot’ home improvements that can deliver twice the value of a home office remodel.



U.S. Housing is Rebounding, but…


The big picture shows that the U.S. housing market is steadily improving, but moderated growth suggests it’s time for some home upgrades to boost value.


According to Bloomberg News new home sales rose in April 2014. The first time in 3 months. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that existing homes sales increased 1.3%, from March to April 2014, but remained down almost 7% from a year earlier.


A May 15th, economic and real estate forum in Washington, DC saw NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, detailing a forecast of moderate, but sustained growth in the American housing market.


Predictions call for median home values to see a $40,000 increase in appreciation for the 3 years through 2014. Median home prices are expected to reach $219,000 by 2015.


For many homeowners, and the ‘Futon Generation’, including 3 million new under 35s living at home, selling or moving up and out isn’t viable, or financially wise. Yet, they are under more pressure than ever to improve their living areas, create more room, and desperately seek to create relaxing spaces.


Those flush with income from new tech startups, or needing to move for work, and needing to sell or rent existing homes fast, and for top dollar still have their work cut out for them. There is a lot of competition in the market, and it can take a little more magic to encourage potential buyers and renters to take the leap today.



Outdoor Improvements are Hot, But Which Home Improvements are Best


Whether staying put or prepping a home for a fast and profitable sale, it pays to know what’s in, what adds value and which home remodeling trends are going to stay hot. So should you be building an outdoor basketball court, yoga pavilion, a resort sized swimming pool, or installing a new hot tub?


Data from the Home Crush survey and several other sources continues to show that outdoor living spaces are surging in demand among both home buyers and homeowners looking for value added renovations. All of the above mentioned outdoor living space improvements plus several others are decent investments. But, which features are most in demand, and which improvements provide the best returns?



Hot Trends in Outdoor Living


On the hunt for ideas to improve your home or investment property’s appeal, or just want to create a new Zen space to enjoy where you live even more? Is a hot tub, full-size pool, building an addition, or a garage conversion the best move?


Peaking behind the glossy magazine covers and media headlines, the real data shows that just about every popular interior home improvement may be less profitable than previously believed.


According to the latest 2014 COST VS VALUE REPORT every single one of the 35 popular interior home remodeling projects reviewed actually loses money for homeowners. Upscale, higher quality improvements are shown to lose even more money.


10 popular remodeling projects, and how much homeowners can expect to recoup of their costs:

  1. Garage addition 69.3%
  2. Home office remodel 48.9%
  3. Major kitchen remodel 74.2%
  4. Roofing replacement 67.6%
  5. Siding replacement 78.2%
  6. Two story addition 71.8%
  7. Bathroom addition 60.6%
  8. Bathroom remodel 63.6%
  9. Window replacement (wood) 74%
  10. Window replacement (vinyl) 76.6%


Instead of helping property owners add tangible value to their homes, and pocket more money, this data suggests these home improvements mean instantly burning 30% to 50% of the amount spent.


Fortunately, with the exception of ‘chefs’ kitchens’, none of the above are actually making it onto today’s top lists of what home buyers want.


One recent survey places the top 3 wants of both average and high end home buyers as:

  • View
  • Outdoor living spaces
  • Chefs kitchens



Proof: Outdoor Living is IN

  1.’s Home Crush survey shows 54% of women, and 46% of men say “outdoor living spaces make them fall in love with real estate” (the most popular feature by both sexes)
  2. Landlord Station’s Landlord Blog claims 85% of Americans own a smoker or grill, and reveal outdoor construction and landscaping as an $80 billion plus annual revenue generating industry
  3. Casual Living magazine’s Chief Editor delivered a May 2014 presentation on outdoor living as the ‘Fastest Growing Room in Your Home’
  4. The National Association of Home Builders reveals outdoor decks, swimming pools, and hot tubs as 3 of the top 9 features New Home Buyers Want
  5. 63% of American Institute of Architects members cite “outdoor living spaces as the most popular special function room”, and anticipate coast to coast growth to being a $5.7 billion market by 2016
  6. American Society of Landscape Architects conducted a recent survey to chart the latest statistics of outdoor design trends for 2014. Spas, swimming pools, tennis or sports courts and TV or movie viewing were all shown to be in high demand.


Seven Inspirational Ideas for Designing Your Ideal Outdoor Space:

There’s little doubt that today’s homeowners want outdoor living space. But which projects should you decide to tackle first? Well, in many ways they are all good investments as long as they make the outdoor portions of property more liveable. So, it depends on what appeals to you the most. Here are 7 great ideas for backyard design inspiration.



1. Backyard Fire Pits


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Fire pits are one of the new must-haves for outdoor areas. This can range from digging your own pit and adding a few decorative bricks, to springing for a Martha Stewart branded outdoor fireplace patio set with a gas fire pit for under $1,000, to a deluxe custom built glass enclosed wall of fire to frame your ocean view.


2. Spiritual Places to Escape


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The Wall Street Journal recently ran a feature describing ‘spiritual places’ as one of the top home design trends. These can range from bohemian yoga pavilions to full on chapels, right in the back yard.


3. Outdoor Kitchens


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Outdoor kitchens have become slightly controversial after two sources claim they have become among the least desirable home features for new buyers. However, they could certainly offer a better return on investment than tearing out an existing indoor kitchen, not to mention being far less stressful to install.


4. Sustainable Gardens


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Sustainability and environmentally friendly features now top many lists of desirable elements in a home. From water features to butterfly and organic vegetable gardens there are many ways to inexpensively green any outdoor space, even in the city.


5. Sports Facilities


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Another recent feature from the Wall Street Journal highlighted just how much money some high end home owners are spending on the construction of tennis courts, basketball courts and more. However, if you’re planning to sell, make sure you know who your next buyer will be or you could turn them off in a big way.


6. Shipping Containers


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Shipping container architecture is getting smaller. While it has recently been applied to entire malls and multifamily apartment buildings, new architectural firms such as Bento Modular Buildings in Miami have been delivering creative art and music studio units made from recycled shipping containers to homeowners looking to expand square footage with private spaces.


7. Spas & Swimming Pools



Contemporary-BackyardObviously swimming pools and spas continue to top countless wish lists of homeowners, home buyers and hopeful renters. This just leaves the question of which option to go with…


Swimming Pools vs. Spas


Swimming pools and hot tub spas can complement each other very well, but if you’ve got to choose one, which is the best way to go?


The argument for going all out with a resort style swimming pool for some homeowners is understandable. Swimming pools have proven to add tangible equity to appraised values of homes in the past. This may be less true today, when home buyers and renters are in frugality mode, and don’t want the maintenance bill, but they can add value.


The ego boost from a full sized pool, complete with grotto and waterslides can’t be denied. Few might ever actually use them for much beyond the occasional evening dip, and to show off to friends, but the cool factor is definitely there.


In terms of the negatives, the three main concerns for most today are probably space, time and cost involved in building a swimming pool. Depending on where you live, obtaining permits can take months. This isn’t a viable option for those looking to sell any time soon. Even a modest pool will normally come with a price tag in excess of even the most high end spa.


The case for choosing a hot tub or spa is easy to make. For a start hot tubs are far easier and faster to install. Yet, they are no less luxurious. Beyond personal use, backyard and even condo terrace spas have now taken over the high profile imagery being used to promote the most exclusive new home and condominium developments by leading builders. This has ingrained spas as a must-have feature for today’s more style conscious house hunter and affluent tenant. Units without them now just seem a little inferior.


Hot tubs can add the perfect finishing touch to all property types from waterfront homes, to rural ranch properties, golf front retreats in the mountains, and city condos.


A spa can make a great first impression, and increase the aesthetics of real estate, as well as the practical usability and spectrum of potential buyers and renters. They offer low maintenance costs, with many companies offering energy efficient hot tub options for the budget and eco-conscious.


Weighing water feature options, the choice between swimming pools and spas really boils down to how long owners plan to hold onto properties, and personal choice. A pool lasts for decades. But, when it comes to hot tubs, the real icing on the cake is that homeowners can pick up, and take their spas with them when they move, retaining 100% of their investment, to enjoy the best of all worlds.



Boiling Down the Best Home Improvements of 2014


The numbers clearly show that outdoor spaces are in. Whether putting the finishing touches to dream homes, or staging properties for rent or sale, the data suggests property owners’ money could be better invested outdoors. The seven outdoor living space trends covered here can add to home appeal independently, or be combined to create even more fashionable and functional spaces. Additionally, there are many more exterior design trends to consider that can all add value.


These in demand home additions make outdoor spaces pop, and afford owners many relaxing afternoons and evenings while they own them. Use them to escape the hectic indoors, take the edge off from the office, and to provide practical therapy. This boost to property appeal comes with a natural, and pleasant bonus.



AUTHOR - Bullfrog Spas

Bullfrog Spas is a premier brand of personalized premium hot tubs. With proprietary hydromassage technology and an eye for contemporary design, Bullfrog Spas is revolutionizing the concept of the portable hot tub and providing a relaxation experience unlike any other. Discover the award winning spa of the future today.

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