While outdoor living rooms definitely appeal to potential buyers, they also make life better for current homeowners - so it’s an investment that pays off whether you sell or not.
When it comes to most things in our homes, trends come and go. What was popular a decade ago may suddenly become so last century for contemporary buyers that you’re almost embarrassed to show your house.
But one thing that almost never goes out of style is an attractive and inviting outdoor living space. Always popular, they’re even more in demand now, after two years of COVID lockdowns forced everyone to stay home and make the most of their own backyards.
And while outdoor living rooms definitely appeal to potential buyers, they also make life better for current homeowners - so it’s an investment that pays off whether you sell or not.
If you’re thinking about investing in your outdoor space, there are a few important things to consider.
First, the setting.
An outdoor living space will only be as relaxing as the space allows, and how you set it up. If you’ve got seriously close neighbors, for instance, you may not get the privacy you want - which can make it hard to enjoy movie night outdoors or curl up to quietly read a good book.
Lush landscaping can also make all the difference between a barren brick patio and an inviting outdoor oasis. Ditto some kind of trellis, or perhaps an umbrella. That spring sun may be warming, but at peak points you’ll definitely be looking for shade.
Lighting is an essential component. Not only does good lighting add style and make spaces more appealing, when done correctly, it also makes the space safer and more functional.
Security lights are fine for backyards, front porches and walkways, where they can be reassuring and give you peace of mind. But they’re usually too bright to create the kind of ambiance you’re looking for when you want to gather with friends in your newly-created outdoor entertainment space. No. What you want is accent lighting, and maybe something to illuminate your landscaping.
Here you get a lot of choices. You can go with a charming few strings of party lights, which you can find on virtually any hardware store shelf, or you can install some hardwired fixtures.
If you choose that option, you can direct your lights where you like - upward to cast on trees or shrubs to accentuate their shapes, or angled to highlight a particular structure, such as a garden or a fountain.
Remember - fixtures matter, but so do bulbs. A standard 100-watt bulb produces around 1,600 lumens - probably more than you need for the mood lighting you’re looking for. You might want to opt for warm-colored bulbs, which can create an inviting atmosphere that is not too bright and jarring.
And last but not least, you can also go with solar lights. They’re not as bright, and they don’t come in colors, but they’re more mobile and you won’t be using the grid to power them.
Consider the cost
You’ll need to consider what it’s worth - to you, as well as to whomever may eventually buy your home.
According to HomeAdvisor, most people spend, on average, about $7,600 on an outdoor living space. That cost can easily go up, depending on the features you want. A built-in fire pit will cost more than a free-standing one, for instance. A complete outdoor kitchen? Be prepared to spend.
When it comes to kitchens, most realtors say they’re not guaranteed to mesmerize prospective buyers. According to the American Institute of Architects, outdoor kitchens are routinely ranked among the least desirable home features, which means homeowners should not expect substantial return on that particular investment.
But that built-in fire pit? They’re much more popular. According to the National Association of Realtors, homeowners usually recover about 67 percent of what they spend.