As outdoor spaces become much more inviting with the cooler October weather, we thought you’d enjoy this blog post adapted from a Lawn & Garden Retailer article, “Eight Concepts Trending in Outdoor Living,” in the September/October issue. Enjoy!

1. Fire with Form and Function

Fire Pit Art

Outdoor fire places and fire features always seem to fall into the category of trending items. Though, it is the combination of form and function in fire products that is showing itself as a new trend. Not only are fire displays being designed with the latest technology for energy efficiency, but manufacturers are also creating them into beautiful pieces of art.

Fire pits and fire tables with artistic themes can act as stand-alone items, but provide both aesthetic form and practical function. A fire feature with the union of décor style and multi-purpose use gives homeowners the opportunity to enhance outdoor environments from nuts to bolts. In addition, intricately designed fire products can also complement deep seating collections, tables and lounges to create a complete outdoor room. Examples, such as Fire Pit Art’s Third Rock Globe Fire Pit, are taking center stage.

2. Versatile Deep Seating
OW Lee

Consumers are investing in comfortable deep seating furniture with transitional styling to enhance their outdoor spaces. This allows them to change the setting from one design concept to another, for example moving from traditional to contemporary. As a result, homeowners who are still recovering from dips in the economy can benefit from the longevity of the product’s design style, without having to worry about what goes in and out of fashion.

With transitional furniture, consumers have the option to simply change out deep seating cushion fabrics, allowing them to alter style preferences. Meanwhile, the frame’s clean lines remain popular and in style. O.W. Lee’s Gios collection is a prime example of the rising transitional furniture trend.

3. Space-Saving Furniture
 Gloster Furniture
Stackable chairs for the outdoors are trending this year as well. These types of chairs are space-saving, versatile and have the ability to quickly transform outdoor areas into functional gathering areas. Many expert sources believe homeowners are purchasing smaller homes, resulting in less space outdoors. According to Small House Society co-founder, Gregory Johnson, the average size for new residential construction will move from 2,500 square feet to between 1,000 and 1,500 square feet over the next few years. Porches, patios and decks will trend towards shrinking in size along with the homes.

With this in mind, one way retailers will want to market space-saving products is through stackable chairs. They have the ability to be transported from different locations to accommodate guests during outdoor gatherings. Gloster’s Riva collection boasts one type of stackable chair with high-end styling and color options.

4. Cordless, Long-lasting Lighting

 Patio Living Concepts
Many retailers know in addition to seating and dining areas, accessories such as lighting are just as important to complete outdoor rooms. This year, cordless, energy-saving lamps are a bright new trend. Manufacturers are designing and producing these types of lights to help reduce the cost of energy bills, but also to promote “green-living” lifestyles. LED lithium-ion batteries are becoming increasingly more popular due to longer-life spans, energy efficiency and their ability to recharge. According to a recent article published by Phys.Org, a lithium-ion battery system, as compared to commercial batteries, holds seven times more energy and can be discharged and recharged five times more.

In addition, the convenience of cordless, battery-operated outdoor lighting products gives homeowners long-lasting use of their patios, decks and porches at night. This takes advantage of the trend that homeowners are spending more time at home. Patio Living Concepts, an exhibitor at this year’s Casual Market, is one of the manufacturers embracing this trend with its Moonlite LED Outdoor Lamps.

5. Outstanding Outdoor Rugs

Consumers are now requesting more durable, long-lasting outdoor furniture and accessories, as is also the case with outdoor rugs. This trend comes in the form of consumer demand, and many manufacturers are implementing new technology and advancements to address the need. With new technology, most outdoor area rugs are now manufactured to be mold- and mildew- resistant as well as UV stabilized. In addition, the latest outdoor rugs are fade-resistant and will not degrade under extreme weather conditions.

Couristan, Inc’s., Novella rug from the company’s Dolce Collection is a prime example of this new outdoor rug trend. Technologically advanced rugs aside, some retailers expect to sell more outdoor area rugs in 2013, simply because consumers are becoming more familiar with using them to mimic the look of interiors.
6. Hot Grilling Accessories
FLITZ International
Since consumers are investing in durable, longer-lasting grills, accessories are becoming infinitely more important than ever before. Manufacturers are researching creative ways and innovative products to help retailers promote customer loyalty and reoccurring purchases. This includes cleaning and maintenance care kits, grilling utensils, meat thermometers, covers, and much more.

One Casual Market exhibitor recognizing this trend is FLITZ International with its FLITZ BBQ Grill Care Kit. In addition, grilling accessories such as pizza stones, smoker boxes and rotisseries appeal to consumers who want the same quality of oven-cooking, but none of the hassle.

7. Durable, but Light
Oxford Garden

Backyards and outdoor areas are trending toward becoming more multi-purpose spaces for many homeowners. Some believe this has to do with the fact people are entertaining at home more often, as a lifestyle choice. So, manufacturers are strategically designing and producing double-duty outdoor furnishings.

This means many new furnishings are being produced with varying uses in mind. Though, when large pieces of furniture are used for several reasons and in different places, ease-of-movement becomes an important factor. Select outdoor tables, for instance, are being manufactured with the appearance of generous weight, however, they are light enough for flexible placement. Oxford Garden’s Travira Alstone Table is a case in point of this evolving trend. The table features a granite polymer finish and aluminum core, giving it a look of substance but without the weight. Many consumers are turning to this type of table because it is light enough to transport from place to place, allowing them the opportunity to plan outdoor spaces for changing needs.

8. Mix and Match
Glen Raven Inc./Sunbrella

While not a new trend, fabric collections coordinated by color palettes continues to be an evolving trend to monitor. Fabric manufacturers are designing wider ranges of prints, florals, stripes, and solids in similar color themes, giving consumers the option to customize outdoor rooms with the use of more colors and patterns. Homeowners are now decorating their outdoor havens with the same mix of varied color selections as they have been using indoors for years.

This maturing trend enables retailers to market additional textile accessories such as side pillows, outdoor rugs and shade awnings because they add depth and elegance to complete outdoor areas. Sunbrella by Glen Raven, Inc. is at the forefront when it comes to creating stylish fabric color palettes, including the company’s Sand Collection.

In addition to designing multiple color palettes and patterns, Glen Raven, Inc. is also producing sustainable Sunbrella fabrics such as the Renaissance Collection. As more homeowners are becoming aware of the advantages of investing in sustainable products, retailers can address the consumer demand by building and marketing inventory based upon products with sustainable materials.