This Summer’s 3 Fastest Growing Outdoor Room Elements

This Summer’s 3 Fastest Growing Outdoor Room Elements

Summer has always been the peak season for “outdoor living”, but this phrase has taken on new meaning in the last decade. Homeowners increasingly expect as much comfort, convenience, and style in their outdoor spaces as they have inside their homes. The back yard is seen more and more as an “outdoor room”, to be decked out with extensive fixtures and furniture to match those of the indoor living room or kitchen.

Although it can be a sizable project to create an outdoor room, homeowners are buying in: they want to establish their outdoor spaces as places where they can conveniently cook, eat, and entertain. Three types of design elements for outdoor rooms are seeing especially rapid growth as the outdoor living market evolves. As consumers ramp up their summertime outdoor activities this year, expect these features to post significant sales gains.

1. Outdoor Kitchens & Dining Sets

Whether for family meals or social gatherings, cooking and dining outside is a central part of outdoor living. And homeowners are increasingly replacing lower-value setups (e.g., a cart grill, portable coolers, and folding tables and chairs) with higher-value fixtures and furniture devoted to making outdoor cooking and dining convenient.

Outdoor kitchens represent a major upgrade: installing even a basic one generally costs at least a couple thousand dollars, while a higher-end installation can easily exceed $10,000. Nevertheless, homeowners are increasingly interested in the conveniences an outdoor kitchen has to offer, which often include:

  • a built-in gas grill hooked up to the home’s natural gas line
  • a side burner or another type of secondary cooking fixture
  • plenty of cabinets, drawers, and counter space
  • an undercounter refrigerator or drop-in cooler
  • a cocktail/bar center or built-in sink

Sales of outdoor kitchen equipment are forecast to grow 6.2% per year to $735 million in 2022, excluding the value of any site-built versions of cabinetry, countertop, and masonry veneer. Prefabricated islands (e.g., Bull Outdoor Products’ Master Q) and modular fixtures (e.g., a new Char-Broil line offered exclusively at Lowe’s) are boosting sales especially, as they simplify and reduce the cost of installing an outdoor kitchen.

Dining sets are more traditional elements of an outdoor dining area, although these, too, are seeing upgrades as these areas are increasingly seen as dedicated outdoor dining rooms. Outdoor kitchens are especially likely to be accompanied by high-end dining sets. High-value aluminum, all-weather wicker, and teak materials are gaining popularity as durable and stylish options.

2. Chat Groups with Fire Features

Casual outdoor seating is also seeing significant upgrades as the concept of outdoor living evolves. Where folding chairs or low-grade plastic furniture used to suffice, consumers increasingly want the comfort and style of furniture made of sturdy aluminum, all-weather wicker, or polymer-based wood alternatives like POLYWOOD. Such upgrades are driving new sales of chat groups (also known as conversation sets), as is homeowners’ growing interest in having part of the back yard set aside for entertainment or family lounging.

Fire features are also common upgrades to outdoor seating. Fire pits, fireplaces, and fire tables are always popular for both social and family gatherings, providing a focal point for guests to mingle around as well as a place for making s’mores and other campfire snacks. Fire features are also good for extending the outdoor living season beyond the summer, allowing for fireside activities when it’s a little colder outside.

3. Lighting, TVs, & Other Electric/Electronic Fixtures

Lighting has always been necessary to make the most of outdoor areas, but as outdoor rooms become larger and more regularly used, sales of outdoor lighting are also seeing significant gains. Not only can more extensive illumination be required in an outdoor room, but it often serves a decorative purpose as well, as illustrated by the vintage string lights offered by PartyLights.com.

And as the line between indoor and outdoor living spaces is increasingly blurred, consumers have also come to expect some of their electronic conveniences for their outdoor rooms. TVs and sound systems are widely popular, since these are central to any indoor living room, and Wi-Fi routers and phone charging stations are important to those who want to be connected to the digital world at all times.

Learn More

For more insight into the state of the outdoor living market, see Outdoor Furniture & Grills Market in the US, Outdoor Kitchen Equipment in the US, and Landscaping Products Market in the US, by the Freedonia Group. These comprehensive reports provide the following:

  • Historical demand data and forecasts
  • Consumer survey data
  • Industry structure
  • Company market share

About the Author

Matt Breuer is an industry analyst at the Freedonia Group, where he writes industry studies focused on the US consumer goods markets.

  Consumer Goods      Industry Studies