Sooooo….Spring is a late bloomer this year (pun intended). But even though the forecast shows winter, I’m thinking spring. I’m getting my 2017 design season started, and I’m excited to incorporate this year’s design trends into my customers’ projects. The workshops and seminars I attended over the winter all seem to be showcasing the same themes and I’m guessing we will be seeing these pop up throughout homes and outdoor spaces because 1. They’re a trend, and everyone loves a good trend 2. They’re practical 3. Professionals are going to push them because they make sense, and that makes our job easier.
The industry seems to finally be leaning toward my way of thinking (and I’m sure/I hope others are thinking this way as well), which is better products with less “bling,” if you will. Over the top landscapes that rung in our millennium are out. Instead, invest in quality, timeless materials. Never underestimate a solid, albeit plain, bluestone patio.
Keeping in tune with this theme of less is more, there is a push to bring our landscapes back to nature for both economic and environmental reasons. Low maintenance gardens, drought tolerant plants, and sustainability have become a major design feature, as they should be. Utilize native plants. Not only will they be more likely to survive and maintain themselves, but they will look like they belong because, well, they do! They are specific to your region, and have adapted to your site’s conditions. For example, hydrangeas (which if you follow me, are a staple in my designs) can be tricky. Everyone loves the blue, showy macrophylia species, but a native white Annabelle will look nicer, especially if the blue doesn’t bloom because of the harsh winters we’ve had. Think “right plant, right place” when choosing. Planning around our environment is going to save you money on watering, fertilizing, energy, and replacement costs, which is better for the environment as well.
A continuing trend that is picking up speed over the past couple of years is the notion of attainable resort style living in our own backyards. For the cost of a cruise or a visit to Disneyland, you can invest in a project you can enjoy for many years to come. To achieve this, aspects of the indoors are moving outside. Outdoor kitchens are becoming ever popular. Sitting areas utilizing new technology outdoor fabrics are even more comfy than indoor living rooms. Techo Bloc has an awesome, relatively new product that resembles interior wood floors, but are a durable, concrete paver product. I love the earthy texture in contrast to traditional pavers. Fire pits and heat sources have extended the time we can use this investment, as we can venture out earlier in the spring and still enjoy a chilly fall night by a roaring outdoor fire. All of these aspects pull together to create a useable space that you can steer in the direction of your interests, yet travel no further than your own backyard.
While most of these aforementioned trends are heading in a more low-key, money saving direction, the opposite is true of incorporating technology into your outdoor space. Sound systems, lighting, voice control, etc. are taking our landscapes to the next level.
So how does this apply to a small Connecticut town? Well, you don’t need to incorporate every element into your design. Even bringing in one or two trends can update your space and give that resort feel. Utilize native plants and materials. Connecticut has some beauties to choose from. Take your favorite indoor feature and bring it out. Mimic your indoor style outside so you’re more apt to use the space. I like cozy, rustic interiors, so I tend to bring this to my spaces with the use of native stone and small, defined spaces. But if you like minimal, contemporary interiors, play around with a large, bold slabs for a patio material. Utilize uplighting to highlight a special tree in your yard. Incorporate edibles into your space. A blueberry hedge is so much fun for little ones to pick from.
Hopefully this talk of being outdoors gets you excited for warmer weather, gathering with friends and family, and really loving your outdoor space this season.