Inside or outside? Why choose when you can have them both?
Blended living spaces, or connecting indoor and outdoor spaces, are trending, according to HomeAdvisor. Think fusing together a kitchen and a backyard patio with large glass sliding doors or roof extensions, or using sturdy-yet-stylish design pieces to bring life to an otherwise unused outdoor space.
According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of a blended living space varies greatly from a few hundred dollars for an outdoor swing bench, $8,500 for an outdoor kitchen to $20,000 for an extended roof.
“Agents can help buyers to get over the sticker-shock by pointing out the potential to utilize the backyard as a living space,” Hunter said. “This could make a 2,000-square-foot home live a bit like a 2,200 square-foot-home. That’s a 10-percent reduction in the price-per-square-foot value ratio.”
Jon Phelps of Lemke Andersen also says that agents can use the concept of blended living space to “upsell” a property by helping them envision the ways a patio or large backyard can be turned into a mini oasis.
But Hunter says there are a few things to consider before committing to such a serious investment, such as your region’s weather pattern, how much time an owner or seller is willing to maintain the space, how much it will actually be used and the return on investment (ROI) when it’s time to sell.
Can you stand the rain?
Hunter says one of the biggest things owners and sellers should consider is their area’s climate.
Areas prone to torrential rainfall or areas where a 40-degree day would be a cue to break out the shorts aren’t necessarily the ideal places to try the blended space trend, but it can be done with careful planning.
He also says areas where a blended living space seems like a “no brainer” can pose some challenges.
“In Florida, for example, the intensity of the sun’s ray’s bleaches furniture and cushions and makes rattan and wicker chaise lounges brittle and prone to splitting,” he notes.
To withstand whatever Mother Nature serves up, Hunter suggests investing in outdoor furniture that performs well in sun, snow, hail or any other kind of extreme weather.
“But homeowners should be aware that this type of furniture can have double or triple the price tag of the more widely-bought patio sets,” he says.
A little bit country, a little bit rock-n-roll
Both Hunter and Phelps say blended space styles will vary; urban areas where there’s usually less square footage have different opportunities and challenges than suburban or rural areas where there’s normally more than enough room to play.
In cities where condos and apartment buildings are popular, Hunter says playing up the balcony area is key — especially if you’re lucky enough to have a stunning view.
Chic outdoor furniture, hanging lights, a mini bonfire pit and carefully placed plants can warm up a concrete jungle.
For homes situated in suburban or rural areas, homeowners and sellers can really take advantage of all the extra outdoor space they have.
Hunter suggests installing a pergola or pagoda as a simple entertainment focal spot, or going all-out with a hardwood deck that has a bar and grilling area.
Phelps says homeowners can invest in large glass sliding doors that connect a spacious living room area to a deck, pool or full outdoor kitchen.
Get the ‘bang’ for your buck
Before jumping into a blended living space project, Hunter says homeowners and sellers need to carefully evaluate the ROI they’ll get.
“A homeowner should consider how many days a year the space will really be used,” he says. “This will help them determine whether the planned expenditure is justified by that amount of usage.”
“For example, if a homeowner plans on spending a large amount of time outdoors, they could consider bigger projects such as adding an outdoor kitchen, which costs $8,500 on average according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide, or building a new deck for entertaining,” Hunter added.
“If they won’t be outdoors as much they could make a small change, such as purchasing new outdoor furniture.”
Phelps says extensive planning will help the process go smoother as well.
During the planning stage, owners and sellers should evaluate what they want the blended living space to accomplish, the various options that can deliver the result they want, determine a budget and carefully research designers and builders who can execute their vision.