Outdoor Living Preferences: Then and Now

Outdoor Living Preferences: Then and Now

COGNITION Smart Data tracks changes in homeowners’ outdoor living priorities.

During the pandemic, outdoor living areas became the ultimate sanctuary spaces for many homeowners, positively impacting their mental health by connecting them with nature.Outdoor Living Preferences

According to COGNITION Smart Data, Green Builder Media’s market intelligence division,  nearly 75% of homeowners claimed during pandemic lockdowns that their outdoor living areas played an essential role in maintaining peace of mind and a sense of normalcy.  

Today, interest in outdoor living spaces hasn’t waned. In fact, quite the opposite—a recent COGNITION survey shows that nearly 90% of homeowners consider their outdoor areas to be important to their health and wellbeing.

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During the pandemic, homeowners reported that they were using their outdoor spaces several times per week mainly for gathering and entertaining.  Now, they’re using these private spaces mostly for relaxation.

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Homeowner preferences have noticeably flipped: during the pandemic, the majority of homeowners reported that they wanted open outdoor living spaces that allow for interaction with neighbors, whereas now 80 percent of homeowners are looking for secluded outdoor living areas that offer privacy and zero sight lines.

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One thing hasn’t changed, however—the majority of consumers still list gardens as the most important landscaping element to them, which has been a consistent response for several years.  And nearly 47 percent claim that having plants and greenery is an extremely important outdoor living upgrade.

The top consideration when planning outdoor spaces: low maintenance.  Over 40 percent of homeowners report that they don’t want to spend a lot of time maintaining their outdoor areas.

What’s the least important outdoor living upgrade (as reported by 70 percent of respondents)? Swimming pools.

Permeable pavers and composite decking are both on the rise.  Over 60 percent of respondents said that they would invest in permeable pavers to manage stormwater more effectively, and nearly 50 percent report that their ideal deck is made of composite material (as opposed to natural wood)—a number that has grown over the past few years as awareness has increased about composite decking’s durability and use of recycled plastics.

Consumers are also acutely aware today more than ever that investments in outdoor living spaces don’t just enhance their enjoyment—they also increase the value of their homes, corroborated by a recent study by the National Association of Landscape Professionals that revealed that landscaping, outdoor kitchen, and deck upgrades yield a 100 percent return on investment upon resale.

Publisher’s Note: This content is made possible by our Today’s Homeowner Campaign Sponsors: Whirlpool Corporation. Whirlpool Corporation takes sustainability seriously, in both their products and their operations. Learn more about building and buying homes that are more affordable and less resource intensive.