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The 7 best outdoor living trends

Outdoor living is in!

2020 was definitely the ‘year of the garden’, with the trend continuing into 2021 and showing no signs of slowing.

The 7 best outdoor living trends EcoSmart Fire Ark 40 - The Johnstown Estate, © @thespa_thejohnstownestate

During lockdowns around the world, our homes’ external spaces gained greater importance – as places to relax, escape, work, dine, exercise and play. With fewer places to go, we all rediscovered our backyards, patios, terraces, courtyards and balconies – and then sought to enhance them and make them more inviting, functional and for all seasons.

“There’s no disputing that our outdoor spaces are an extension of our indoor living spaces – and we’re now making greater use of them and creating backyard oases,” says Stephane Thomas, Director of MAD Design, whose brands include EcoSmart Fire, HEATSCOPE® electric radiant heaters and Blinde Design furniture and accessories. “This means heating solutions, comfy outdoor seating and multi-functional furniture that are made to withstand the weather. High on the wishlist are concrete tables, fire pits, planters and weather-resistant sofas and other types of seating.”

According to the International Casual Furnishings Association’s 2021 Trend Report, over 80 percent of Americans surveyed want their outdoor spaces to be more attractive, comfortable and functional – and they have firepits, dining tables and chairs, and sectional sofas at the top of their shopping lists. And across the Atlantic, those in the UK are yearning for gardens, courtyards and terraces that are extensions of their interiors, and they’re making a bee-line for fire pits and sofas to give them the same comforts and style.

The desire to improve the look, feel and function of our outdoor spaces to better cater to our post-pandemic lifestyle has given rise to many new outdoor living trends. Here’s our top 7 and tips for ‘bringing them home’:

1. The multi-zone outdoor spaces trend

The multi-zone outdoor spaces trend The award-winning Blinde Design Stitch Planters are a unique twist on contemporary plant pot styles.

According to online landscape design platform Yardzen, our outdoor space has morphed from a ‘single-serve space’ into a multi-functional extension of our home with distinct ‘rooms’ or zones designated for each activity, like dining, relaxing, exercising, and entertaining.

In addition to dividing up our outdoor spaces into activity-specific zones, we want them to have the same comfort and style as our indoor rooms, with furniture and accessories that are attractive, durable and eco-friendly.

“Furniture and accessories add comfort and style and also effectively create zones while maintaining an open look and uninterrupted view to the garden beyond,” says Thomas. “For example, planters are great ways to set boundaries. And according to Google, searches for planters increased by more than 5% over the past 12 months!”

HGTV’s Laura Fisher Kaiser recommends dividing your outdoor area by function – how you will use your space – and to create spaces that are “distinct yet unified, whether you have a sprawling suburban yard or a petite townhouse patio”. says Stephane. “Whether you have an existing open-plan room or are planning a renovation or new build, consider dividing or ‘breaking up’ your space with easy and stylish elements.”

When planning your multi-use outdoor space, take into consideration:

  • Function:Divide your outdoor space by function to create zones for each activity, like relaxing, dining, cooking, exercising. Gilmer suggests positioning your outdoor kitchen/barbecue zone next to the dining zone and/or near your indoor kitchen for convenience.
  • Circulation:Gilmer recommends taking into consideration the entry/exit points of your patio, particularly the external doors that lead onto your outdoor space, and to add ‘corridors’ between your zones and through to the garden or pool area beyond for easy flow of movement. Also accommodate the swing area for doors that open outwards into the outdoor space.
  • Aspect:You can position your zones to take in the view, and for maximum or minimum sunlight.

Your zone plan can change easily if you choose easy-to-move, versatile furniture and accessories like Blinde Design’s upholstered chairs, modular sofas and lightweight Fluid™ concrete coffee tables, planters, and EcoSmart fire pits and fire tables.

How to create a lounge zone for relaxing and entertaining

How to create a lounge zone for relaxing entertaining Choose any number of Modules to create your own lounge or choose from eight configuration packages that offer a variety of lounge designs.

A lounge zone is a must-have for relaxing, casual dining, and entertaining with family and friends. If your outdoor area has the space, you could create two lounge areas – one larger space and one smaller, for a more intimate retreat.

Blinde Design’s modular sofas are comprised of individual modules or sections and are a practical and versatile solution for outdoor spaces, as they enable you to create any size and shape lounge. They also give any patio timeless style with their gentle curves, low-set design and natural hues, while providing enduring comfort with soft yet supportive cushioning.

“Around the world, people are rediscovering the benefits and enduring style of this iconic designer sofa,” says Stephane. “We have improved on the original modular sofa design by making our modular sofas suitable for outdoors and indoors, giving them soft yet supportive cushioning.

“Each module is crafted from strong and durable materials, including weather-resistant Sunbrella® fabric – which is breathable, stain-resistant, moisture-resistant, quick-drying and doesn’t fade – and a sturdy aluminium frame. They look great for years – and as they’re designed for outdoor and indoor use, you can create an attractive seamless transition between your interiors and outdoor living spaces.”

Blinde Design’s Relax and Connect modular (sectional) sofa ranges include left and right-side modules, corner modules, single modules with and without back (ottoman style), enabling you to create a wide variety of configurations to suit your needs, or occasion. Each module is lightweight and easy to move, enabling you to relocate and reconfigure your lounge in minutes to create one large lounge or two smaller couches, or perhaps an L-shape or U-shape sofa, or a chaise lounge sectional sofa with an ottoman. In addition, each module and optional scatter cushions are covered in a choice of three on-trend natural hues that complement each other, enabling you to create a harmonious look on your patio or other outdoor space.

No lounge zone is complete without a coffee table – especially one that is as durable and easy to move as your modular sofa. Blinde Design’s Fluid™ concrete coffee tables are crafted from a special eco-friendly concrete that makes them lighter than concrete tables made from traditional concrete. And just like Blinde Design’s modular sofas, the coffee tables are weather-resistant, stylish and just as strong and durable as traditional concrete. There are 10 clean-lined designs to choose from, including round with straight sides, round with curved sides, rectangular, and square -all with hard-wearing smooth surfaces in a choice of three natural hues that complement any space.

Another coffee table solution is an EcoSmart fire pit table, which creates a warm and inviting ambiance while providing a place for drinks and snacks. EcoSmart Fire Pit Tables are fuelled by clean-burning, eco-friendly ethanol or liquid propane*, which means they can be easily relocated and create an alluring focal point in any lounge zone, drawing the eye with smooth tactile surfaces, sleek lines and gently flickering natural flames. Alternatively, you can choose plumbed natural gas* for a permanent outdoor fireplace.

How to create a distinct dining zone that harmonises with your lounge zone

How to create a distinct dining zone that harmonises with your lounge zone Blinde Design chairs are designed to effortlessly blend with any setting and create an eye- catching statement. Sit A28 (armchairs)

Blinde Design’s collection of outdoor chairs are covered in the same choice of three natural hues of Sunbrella® fabric as their modular sofas, making it easy to create a harmonious, cohesive look throughout your outdoor and indoor spaces.

All Blinde Design chairs share the same contemporary styling, soft yet supportive cushioning, and resistance to the outdoor elements as the modular sofas. “With their clean lines, low-set design and subtle natural hues, the chairs are both modern and classic. Their superb comfort will have your family and friends lingering longer over drinks and casual meals,” says Thomas.

The SIT range includes three chair designs: with armrests, without armrests – which save on space – and a loveseat chair for two, all with strong and sturdy weather-resistant teak frames and quick-dry molded foam cushioning covered in high-performance outdoor Sunbrella® fabric. Their timeless styling combined with high-quality materials that keeps them looking good for years makes them a cost-smart investment.

To complete your dining zone, simply pair the chairs with a Blinde Design Fluid™ concrete coffee table in your choice of size, height, and shape – round with straight sides, round with curved sides, square and rectangular.

How to create a trans-seasonal bar zone that complements your lounge and dining zones

How to create a trans-seasonal bar zone that complements your lounge and dining zones Combining the functionality of a bar-height table with an integrated, elongated flame, EcoSmart Gin 90 Bar fire table is ideal for encouraging casual conversation.

A bar zone is ideal for casual meals and enjoying drinks and cocktail hour with family and friends. EcoSmart Fire has ingeniously combined a bar with a fire pit: the EcoSmart Fire Gin 90 Bar fire pit table, which creates the ultimate inviting outdoor bar.

“This stylish, slim-line, bar-height table is fitted with a central fire pit, shielded by a toughened glass screen, and a surround that accommodates drinks and snacks. The two durable and weather-resistant materials it is crafted from – eco-friendly Fluid™ Concrete in three colours and natural teak – are strong and durable, which is perfect for outdoor living,” explains Thomas.

EcoSmart’s Triple Fuel Fire Technology means the Gin 90 (Bar) Fire Pit Table comes in clean-burning ethanol, natural gas or liquid propane*.

Complete your bar zone setting with Blinde Design Sit bar stools, which provide hours of comfort with their soft supportive cushioned seats and backs. And unlike many other bar stools, they are strong and sturdy and retain their quality for years they are crafted from naturally weather-resistant teak and upholstered in high performance Sunbrella® fabric that’s moisture, UV light, mold and stain-resistant.

“Blinde Design bar stools are crafted from the same natural teak as the Blinde Design chairs, and are covered in the same three colours of Sunbrella fabric as the chairs and modular sofas, which makes it easy to create a harmonious look throughout your entire patio, terrace, and courtyard and porch,” says Thomas.

2. The multi-purpose outdoor furniture trend

The multi-purpose outdoor furniture trend Blinde Design collection

Multi-purpose outdoor furniture is a must-have for creating a versatile outdoor space and is particularly essential for small patios, courtyards and porches, as one patio set can serve as both a dining and lounge zone.

Blinde Design’s outdoor living range has been designed to be practical and versatile, from their clever design to their lightweight construction that makes them quick and easy to relocate and rearrange.

  • The natural teak chairs and loveseat can be used to create a lounge setting, a dining suite or patio set for casual meals
  • Blinde Design modular sofas are designed to withstand the demands of outdoor (and indoor) entertaining and everyday life
  • The Fluid™ concrete tables can be used as coffee tables and benches
  • The Fluid™ concrete rope-embellished planters are both decorative and functional, accommodating real and artificial plants
  • The natural teak chairs with armrests can be used to create a dining setting, lounge ensemble, or on its own, it’s a stylish and comfortable occasional chair
  • The lightweight yet sturdy Fluid™ Concrete stools double as side tables

3. The outdoor fireplace trend

There’s nothing better than gathering around an outdoor fire – whether it’s for family enjoyment or outdoor entertaining. It creates a superb ambiance, mesmerising light and a warm, cosy atmosphere. Here are some of the options:

Fire Pits

Outdoor fire pits EcoSmart Fire Stix and Stix 8

It’s easy to see why fire pits are one of the biggest trends in outdoor living! They’re an easy, affordable way to create an inviting ambiance for any backyard, patio, courtyard, terrace and porch.

The International Casual Furnishings Association’s 2021 Trend Report has revealed that over a third of Americans surveyed plan to purchase a fire pit, while in England, Country Living magazine has declared “Fire pits are hugely popular right now… people are rushing to make their lawns and patios warm, welcoming and full of friendly atmosphere.” And there’s countless celebrities, including Kendall Jenner, Celine Dion and Patsy Palmer, who are adding fire pits to their resort-style outdoor living spaces.

With their alluring flames and sculpture-like designs, fire pits are often the centrepiece of outdoor lounge and dining settings – in homes and commercial premises – instantly transforming the space into a round-year inviting retreat. Not surprisingly, fire pits are a feature in other outdoor living trends, including the divided patio trend, as they help define and enhance the lounge, dining and bar zones, and the year-round-use trend, as they make any outdoor space more inviting during cooler months.

EcoSmart Fire is leading the outdoor fire pit trend with its wide choice of stylish, ventless fire pit designs, plus size and eco-friendly fuel options, including ethanol, natural gas and propane*. While connection to natural gas means you don’t have to refill your fire pit, ethanol and propane-fuelled fire pits don’t require costly hard utility connections, which means they can be more easily relocated.

Fire Tables

Outdoor fire tables EcoSmart Fire Ark 40

Fire tables play a dual role in outdoor spaces: they are a portable heat source, and they can accommodate drinks and small plates.

EcoSmart Fire has a wide range of multifunctional fire tables in different shapes, sizes and heights – depending on the style and size of your outdoor area, the décor, and your individual requirements. There are coffee table styles, bar style and height – even a fire table / dining table. Available in a choice of materials including beautiful, warm-toned teak or sleek, industrial-style EcoSmart Fluid™ Concrete in natural, graphite or bone colours, EcoSmart Fire Tables have a stainless steel burner at their core, ensuring a soft, alluring flame.

As with EcoSmart’s fire pits, the fire tables are available in ethanol, natural gas or propane*, depending on whether you’re after an outdoor fire that can be easily relocated, or prefer a built-in fireplace.

Outdoor Fireplaces

Outdoor fireplaces EcoSmart Fire XL700 Burner - Longitude 131º, © Julian Kingma

If you prefer to install a permanent, built-in outdoor fireplace, you can work with a designer, architect or builder to create a tailor-made fireplace that suits your outdoor space and needs.

EcoSmart Fire’s range of stainless steel ethanol burners and Flex fireplace inserts provide residential and commercial creative design freedom. The eco-friendly, ventless ethanol burners mean you don’t need cumbersome utility connections – and you can install them just about anywhere. They have been used in a myriad of outdoor installations including as a stunning entrance statement at a builder’s own home, where fire and water have been combined for a dramatic effect; to create a cosy, intimate yet open space on the terrace of a high-rise apartment; the backdrop for a private pool pavilion, where the EcoSmart Fire is strategically placed above a water feature of the same length and makes the pool house the aesthetic feature of the outdoor entertainment area; to provide a trans-seasonal heating feature for the renovation of a 30-year-old garden in Western Australia; for an award-winning show garden; to create two architecturally-designed focal points for a restaurant on South Australia’s Murray River; for a contemporary water feature in the beautiful Kent countryside in the UK, where fire and water have been blended to create a stand-out garden feature; and to create a balcony feature in the luxury Longitude 131° resort overlooking the World Heritage listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Flex by name and flex by nature, EcoSmart Fire’s Flex Fireplace Series also provide endless design flexibility and installation freedom for interior designers, architects, builders, landscapers and homeowners. The zero-clearance models are ventless, don’t produce smoke or soot and are eco-friendly. And you can choose from a variety of configurations to create a stunning custom outdoor fireplace for residential and hospitality/commercial premises alike. All the fuel is safely housed within the self-contained burner, which frees you from installation restrictions and costs associated with utility connections.

4. The sustainable outdoor furniture trend

The sustainable outdoor furniture trend Fluid Concrete Technology

Not only do we want outdoor furniture and accessories that are stylish, comfortable and functional, but are kinder to the environment too. According to Yardzen, homeowners are choosing outdoor furniture brands that ‘care about the earth as much as they do’.

All Blinde Design furniture and accessories and EcoSmart fire pits, fire tables and fireplaces are sustainable, as they are crafted from durable, long-lasting materials like teak, stainless steel and eco-friendly concrete.

“Many of our furniture pieces and fire models are crafted from eco-friendly Fluid™ Concrete, a special high-tech type of green concrete that is made from 95 percent recycled natural materials that absorbs CO² during the curing process. All tables are 100 percent recyclable and release minimal greenhouse gas,” explains Stephane.

5. The front porch/garden trend

The front porch/garden trend Blinde Design concrete planters.

According to Yardzen, a new outdoor living trend is creating a functional front yard, which includes porches, verandas, and courtyards. By making your front outdoor space as inviting and usable as your backyard space, you increase your total outdoor living space, which can enhance your lifestyle and your property’s market value.

With the right furniture and accessories, your front yard can be transformed from the domain of delivered parcels, rusty old chairs and sagging couches, into an attractive, comfortable and inviting zone for relaxing, enjoying alfresco meals, a drink with family and friends – and one that also improves the look of the front of your home – or as some say, its “curb appeal”.

“As many porches and front yards give you less space to work with, you could create a small setting with two or three weather-resistant Blinde Design teak upholstered chairs, a Blinde Design Fluid™ concrete coffee table, and modern rope-embellished Blinde Design concrete planters filled with no-care artificial plants or real plants,” suggests Thomas.

“And if you’re really short on space on the front porch, add a rectangular-shaped Blinde Design Fluid™ Concrete coffee table as a bench and a compact and sturdy teak Blind Design Bar Cart, the perfect mobile bar that you simply wheel back indoors at the end of the day or evening.”

6. The edible gardens (also called gardens with purpose) trend

The edible gardens (also called gardens with purpose) trend Blinde Design Stitch crafted from durable lightweight FluidTM Concrete.

A current trend, according to Yardzen, is creating gardens with purpose or a theme. These include ‘immunity gardens’, which have herbs, fruits and vegetables to support the immune system – e.g., garlic, berries and ginger – ‘kid friendly gardens’ with patches for easy-to-grow edible plants, and ‘cocktail gardens’ that are planted with popular drink ingredients like basil and mint.

“Blinde Design’s Fluid™ concrete planters are perfect for creating a cocktail garden,” says Thomas. “The on-trend plant pots come in three different sizes and natural hues and can be planted with a variety of herbs and clustered in a group or lined up to create a zone divide on your patio, positioned next to your bar or dining zones to put herbs in easy reach. Aside from providing fresh herbs for your drinks and meals, potted plants add fresh, cool tones, help marry the patio or courtyard with the garden beyond, and beautifully complement hard surfaces like stone, timber, concrete and terracotta.”

Each concrete planter makes a decorative style statement, with their sculptural curves and side rope stitch embellishment. As the plant pots are crafted from durable lightweight Fluid™ Concrete, they can be easily relocated to create new looks and can also be filled with no-care artificial plants. They come in the choice of the same three hues as the Blinde Design’s Fluid™ Concrete coffee tables, ensuring complementary looks.

7. The ‘year-round yard’ trend

The ‘year-round yard’ trend HEATSCOPE® Vision 3200W radiant heater.

This trend has also been flagged by online landscape design service Yardzen and is being driven by our desire to use our outdoor spaces all year, not just in the warmer months.

“More than ever before, we’re enjoying our outdoor spaces year-round,” says Thomas. “People are investigating ways to make their patios, yards and porches more comfortable and inviting so they can enjoy them throughout the year. The most effective way to entice your family and friends outdoors is with effective heating. For example, by combining an EcoSmart Fire with an award-winning HEATSCOPE™ electric radiant heater, you can create an inviting ambiance plus everyone feels comfortably warm, whether they are near the fire pit or not. We call this concept ‘Better Together’.”

HEATSCOPE® infrared radiant heaters are an effective yet gentle way of heating any outdoor space, as they create a sun-like warmth. They are a smart choice for outdoor space, because they are positioned on the wall or ceiling, which frees up floor space and keeps them out of reach of children and pets. They’re also energy smart and eco-friendly.

“With HEATSCOPE® heaters’ discrete slimline and low-profile design, above eye-level positioning and quiet emission-free operation, your family and friends rarely notice where the heat is coming from. They simply enjoy feeling comfortably warm on your patio any day or night of the year,” adds Thomas. “They’re aesthetically appealing and can be incorporated into any décor.”

*Fuel options vary depending on country regulations.
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