Outdoor furniture & living spaces: What's trending for 2021
Kingsley Bate’s Lucia collection has a relaxed, airy style that fits in any setting for comfortable dining with family members and friends. The gracefully curved aluminum chair backrests are wrapped with weather-friendly rope in an open vertical pattern. The Avalon teak dining table is 73 inches x 41 inches. www.kingsleybate.com

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Volumes of scientific research prove the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature. And, while the COVID-19 pandemic has kept the majority of people at home for the past year, 90 percent of Americans with outdoor living space have been taking greater advantage of their decks, porches and patios, and consider their outdoor living space is more valuable than ever before. According to an exclusive January 2021 survey conducted for the International Casual Furnishings Association, people are doing more relaxing, grilling, gardening, exercising, dining, playing with pets and children, and entertaining outside.

“In normal times, outdoor spaces are areas of recreation for ourselves and our families, yet today we need them for restoration for our bodies and minds,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance and executive director of its outdoor division, the International Casual Furnishings Association.

The survey also revealed that nearly six in 10 Americans (58%) plan to buy at least one new piece of furniture or accessories for their outdoor living spaces this year. This significant and increasing percentage of planned purchases is likely due, at least in part, to the amount of time we are spending at home due to COVID-19, as well as social distancing regulations, and the proven health benefits of exposure to nature. Atop the list of Americans’ planned purchases are grills, fire pits, lounge chairs, lighting, dining table and chairs, umbrellas and sofas.

Top 2021 trends for outdoors

Youth will be served al fresco
Millennials are reaching the perfect age to entertain, and they are determined to do it in a big way, with new outdoor pieces for the new year. Over half of Millennials (53%) will be buying multiple pieces of outdoor furniture next year, compared to 29% of Boomers.

Can’t get no satisfaction
With a clear majority of Americans with outdoor spaces saying they’re dissatisfied with these spaces (88%), it stands to reason they’ll want to upgrade in 2021. Of those who have an outdoor space, two in three (66%) are not completely satisfied with its style, nearly three in five (56%) are not completely satisfied with its function, and 45% are not completely satisfied with its comfort.

The straight lines of the Lancaster loveseat from Inspired Visions styles a living room for the outdoors with special flair from hand-brushed gold accents in the golden penny finish on the powder-coated aluminum frame. The casually coordinated setting is accented with Golden Gate drum tables, and a set of triangular Charlotte nesting tables with concrete tops. From Peak Season Inc.

Hosts with the most
Entertaining-minded Millennials are selecting traditionally “indoor” pieces for their outdoor spaces. Millennials are more likely than Boomers to have a sofa or a sectional (40% vs. 17% Boomers), a bar (37% vs. 17% Boomers) and décor such as rugs or throw pillows (25% vs. 17% Boomers) on their shopping lists.

Party first, earn later
Judging by their wish lists, it is no surprise that Millennials are more likely to upgrade their outdoor oases out of a desire to entertain than their older counterparts (43% vs. 28% Boomers). What is surprising, however, is the pragmatism with which Millennials are approaching their property. Nearly a third of Millennials (32%) want to renovate their outdoor spaces to add value to their homes, compared to just 20% of Boomers.

The Addison Collection from Apricity presents a contemporary look for outdoor entertaining with a mix of deep-seating rockers and a square fire pit that provides the ambience, warmth and light of an adjustable flame to give everyone that just-right glow. The group combines rust-free aluminum frames detailed with all-weather wicker, a porcelain tabletop on the fire pit and tailored Sunbrella® cushions for comfortable seating.

Renovation nation
Those who plan to give their outdoor spaces a makeover know what they want. Outdoor lighting (52%), lounge chairs or chaises (51%), a fire pit (49%), and a dining table with chairs (42%) top the lists of those who want a refurbished outdoor living area.

The fun in functional
Americans do not just want their decks, patios and porches to be aesthetically pleasing showpieces, they want to get real use out of them. Over half of Americans (53%) want to create enjoyable and functional space. Other top reasons include the ability to entertain (36%) and to create a private retreat (34%). Only a quarter want to upgrade their outdoor spaces to add value to their homes (25%).

Create a true private retreat defined with the Vineyard Pergola by Berlin Gardens. It’s the perfect heavy-duty shade structure with optional lattice and shade slats, crafted in clear-grade Southern yellow pine that is ideal for outdoor installations. The Nordic Deep Seating Collection shown here is crafted of marine-grade poly and features crisp cushions.

Put your feet up
While building equity is great, most Americans are more interested in building spaces that work for them now. Three-quarters (74%) of Americans use their patios for relaxation, while nearly three in five use them for socializing with family and friends (58%). Over half (51%) use their outdoor spaces for cooking.

“At the beginning of 2020, we were focused on creating outdoor spaces that complement our homes and lifestyles,” said Hirschhaut, “and today, we are creating outdoor spaces that supplement our sense of wellbeing and transform an outdoor area into an outdoor room.”

The research was conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of the American Home Furnishings Alliance and International Casual Furnishings Association among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18 and older between Jan, 4 and 8, 2021.


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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]