Patios, more than ever, are becoming natural extensions of a coastal home’s interior, offering options for cushy seating, warming fires, artistic focal points and building products that give new meaning to creating chic, comfortable and relaxed outdoor “rooms.”

“I’ve seen big changes in how people think about their outdoor spaces,” says Matthew Cunningham of Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design in Boston, Mass. “Terraces and patios have become essential extensions of people’s homes.”

More clients are asking for thoughtful, flexible spaces that blend ease of function with beautiful, durable materials, says Cunningham, who creates beautiful landscapes for high-end residences throughout the Northeast.

“Gone, at least temporarily, are the days when people wanted dizzying, ornate brick patterns or multicolored flagstone compositions with two-inch-wide mortar joints,” he points out.

An outdoor space that extends seamlessly from a home is on many homeowners’ radar, agrees Kriss Swint, director of interactive strategy and design at Royal Building Products, which offers a broad range of innovative products, including decking, siding, trim and patio doors. “More and more homeowners want to extend the inside of their homes to the outside to create more living and breathing space,” Swint says.

Exterior cladding in darker colors is trending this year, Swint says, especially when colors, styles and textures are mixed.

“For instance, pairing board-and-batten with a seven-inch clapboard in contrasting colors adds design to a home’s exterior,” she says. “Board-and-batten also makes a home appear taller while providing an eye-catching contrast to the horizontal lines of traditional clapboard.”

Transitioning to an outdoor patio, deck or terrace calls for consistency of style. “People want the outside to meld with the inside as much as possible, so that it doesn’t go from a contemporary look inside to rustic outside,” says Dan Essig, president of Artistic Paver Manufacturing, with factories in Florida and Arizona.

Artistic Paver’s products, including long, slim plank-style pavers – which began as a popular commercial look and are moving into the residential market – offer a fine, elegant design for a seamless transition. Cleaner-lined, polished pavers feel better on bare feet, too, Essig adds.

While Artistic Pavers offers rustic and contemporary lines in a range of sizes, Essig says that larger pavers are trending in 2016.

Also, monochromatic colors such as shades of white and gray are hot this year, he says. “The monochromatic look aligns nicely with contemporary designs and is growing in popularity,” he adds.

With leisure time continuing to be at a premium, many homeowners who love decks are turning to composite decking that – unlike wood – resists fading, staining, scratching and mold.

Decking from Trex Company, made from 95 percent recycled material, is an easy-care and environmentally friendly choice, says Adam Zambanini, vice president of marketing for Trex.

Trex teamed up with design experts Paul LaFrance and Kate Campbell of HGTV’s “Decked Out” to name 2016’s biggest trends in decks, including automation and more elaborate cooking options such as pizza ovens, refrigerators and sinks.

Add a fire bowl or fire pit to a comfortable setting and you’ll discover a brand new experience of outdoor life. “Outdoor living spaces are no longer a simple trend in the industry; they’re part of a lifestyle,” says Ramsay Hawfield, vice president of marketing and product development at Eldorado Stone. “Our Artisan Fire Bowls provide an outdoor retreat of warmth and ambience.”

Eldorado Stone now offers the Modern Collection, which incorporates new shapes with sharp lines for a contemporary aesthetic.

“We’re seeing trends in light-colored, creamy stone profiles such as the Cottonwood European Ledge cut façade,” Hawfield says. “Dark, modern stone profiles such as the Black River Stacked Stone are becoming increasingly popular in East Coast designs.”

“Everyone wants to bring the comfort of their indoor living room outdoors,” says Erik Boyer, who specializes in outdoor sectionals as a representative of Casa Outdoor Boston.

The design company offers fully upholstered outdoor furniture with a new type of foam that allows water to travel through, drying very quickly. When the colors reflect the outdoors – sky blue, for instance, or olive green – the effect can be subtle but spectacular.

Cunningham, the landscape architect, says that most of his clients prefer clean lines that grow from the geometry of their homes. When the outdoor furniture reflects the same allure, the results can be stunning.

Brown Jordan, a leading manufacturer of outdoor furniture, in collaboration with acclaimed designer Richard Frinier, announced this winter that their Connexion collection was honored with a GOOD DESIGN™ award from the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design in conjunction with The European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies.

The collection’s sectional, individual modular units, club chair and tables may be used in an array of configurations.

“Connexion seems to have arrived at the right time, when conversation areas for indoor/outdoor living are becoming the destination,” says Frinier. “The unique ways in which this collection may be stylized for outdoor spaces are limitless.”


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Image Credits: Photo credit: Vance Fox Photography for William Lyon Homes.