Outdoor living hotter than ever according to ICFA survey

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Note: This story first appeared on our sister website Casual News Now. Check it out here and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.

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 us at home for the past year, 90% of Americans with outdoor living space have been taking greater advantage of their decks, porches and patios, and consider their outdoor living space as more valuable than ever before. That’s according to an exclusive January 2021 survey conducted for the International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA), which found 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 ICFA.

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 because of 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.

The ICFA also identified these outdoor trends for 2021:

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 areas (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.

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.

Emu Americas

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.

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%).


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 January 4 and 8, 2021.

Jennifer Bringle

Jennifer Bringle is the executive editor of Casual News Now. She has served as editor-in-chief of Casual Living, the leading trade publication covering the outdoor furnishings and accessories industry. She also served as managing editor of Designers Today, a trade publication focused on the interior design community. Prior to that, she served as editor-in-chief of Kids Today magazine, the leading trade publication of the infant and juvenile home furnishings and accessories industry. Jennifer also has been featured on Good Morning America, The Plum and the Associated Press.  Jennifer is a 2001 graduate of North Carolina State University with a B.A. in mass communication with a minor in journalism.

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