With warmer weather kicking in and the pandemic ebbing, many people are looking for fun outside this summer. From inexpensive mood lighting to luxury items, those looking to embrace alfresco entertaining are investing in their backyard spaces.
Last year, Marisa Pollak of Nashville, Tennessee, began hosting weekly musical jams with 25 people on a stage and a dance floor in her backyard. She strung mood lights from the trees.
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The jams have grown to include up to 40 people this year, prompting Pollak, 56, to invest about $6,000 in a bigger, enclosed stage for year-round use. “I created a magical fairyland for adults,” she says. “If you create something that's fun, other people want to come over. It was a way of creating community” during COVID-19.
Many consumers like Pollak are continuing the outdoor living trend into summer in an even bigger way. As more people get vaccinated and restrictions lift, “we have a need to socialize and the safest way to do it is to entertain outside,” explains Howard Wiggins, an interior designer in Nashville. People want to beautify and upgrade their backyards, patios and decks and extend their interior living space outside.
If last year saw more home DIY efforts, this year is all about comfort and luxury, according to the inaugural summer trends 2021 report released May 18 by Riverbend Home, a furnishings website. From simple decorations to big-ticket purchases, people are making their backyards, patios and decks more inviting.
"I'm stunned by how much people are willing to spend,” says Mark Feldman, chief home officer and general manager of Riverbend Home. “People are saving money as they work from home — they don't have to commute, pay for gas or buy work clothes — and they're investing in higher-end furnishings. They're looking at it as an investment for the long term."
Here are nine ideas to enliven your backyard, patio or deck this summer.
1. Outdoor televisions
People are amping up their outdoor entertaining with big-screen, weatherized TVs. When Riverbend Home added these to its offering this year, Feldman wasn't sure they would sell, but these TVs are flying off the shelves even at a cost of between $2,200 and $5,000, he says.
2. Yard decorations
Inexpensive items — from wind chimes to copper birdbaths to rooster weather vanes — can add a personalized touch to a backyard.
3. Fire features
Fire pits are still popular but now there are a whole slew of other fire products for backyards as people opt to entertain at home and at night when it may be cooler. Options come in various sizes and prices, including table-top fireplaces (using liquid fuel), tall outdoor patio heaters that warm up a large area and tables with a fire pit in the middle.