7 Irresistible Outdoor Living Trends for 2015

It seems that each year, summer takes its good old time to get here, and when it finally arrives there's a to-do list of home improvement projects and recreational activities at the ready—all items that have been put on hold for months. This year, challenge yourself to move updating your outdoor living space to the top of that list.

You can treat the spaces you have for outdoor living the same way you would those inside your home. Each area—the kitchen, living room, bedroom—has a separate purpose, and are designed with that functionality in mind. Think about your outdoor spaces the same way. What do you want and need? A space to play? A space to relax? A space to entertain? Designate the best spot in your yard for each of your needs. Then, set to work designing the floor, walls and ceiling (if necessary) for each space. Grass, stone, decking, and mulch are your flooring. Hedges and fences can serve as walls. And structures like arbors, pergolas and canopies create ceilings in areas where you need protection from the elements. The choices you make in plants serve to add color and texture to each “room.”

Making your outdoor living spaces first priority will, in turn, make every next minute you're out of the house fun for the whole family. Not sure where to start? Click through for backyard inspiration from the seven biggest trends this summer.

For Your (Outdoor) Entertainment

Outdoor Movie Night

Nothing says summer like outdoor movie nights. For the most complete drive-in movie experience in your own backyard, set up an outdoor entertainment system like this one, equipped with an HD projector, electric-powered flat screen, speakers, and more. And you don't need to be a film aficionado to appreciate this system: play some music to set the mood, or hook up a Wii or PS4 for a more interactive experience. Available on Amazon; $1,699.

Related:  Weekend Projects - 5 Easy Ways to Build an Outdoor Movie Screen


Know and Grow What You Eat

Edible Gardens

For the green thumbs out there, foodscaping finds the middle ground between farming and landscaping. Growing edible plants gained popularity after the economic downturn of 2008. And why not? Most herbs, fruits, and vegetables are attractive and low-maintenance—and think of all the money you'll save on tea, seasonings, and picnic snacks!

Related:  Growing Up: 10 Inventive DIY Vertical Gardens


What a Wash

Outdoor Shower

After working hard or laying out in the sun, it's best to hit the shower—the outdoor shower, that is! Outdoor showers have been around for years, but this year they're back in the spotlight for their sheer convenience and accessible luxury. Less maintenance than a pool and more versatile to boot, the outdoor shower lets you cool down while enjoying the summer sun.

Related:  Beat the Heat - 16 DIY Outdoor Showers to Cool You Down

Design: Crisp Architects; Photo: Rob Karosis

Pass on Grass

Grass Alternatives

A lush lawn looks great but requires tons of maintenance. That's why it makes sense to trade in for a low-maintenance ground cover, like this red creeping thyme. Not only do ground covers require less water and little to no maintenance, but they can thrive in poor soil and keep out unwanted weeds. As an added bonus, when you walk across aromatic thyme, the ground cover releases a pleasant scent into the air.

Related:  No More Mowing - 10 Grass-Free Alternatives to a Traditional Lawn


The Indoors, Out

Outdoor Living Room Trend

Homeowners have always sought to live in harmony with nature. But whereas the trend used to be toward bringing the outdoors in, many today are doing the opposite—situating traditionally "indoor" comforts onto the deck, porch, or patio. Thanks to advances in all-weather materials, furniture and accessories are now available in so many shapes, sizes, and styles, you can decorate outdoor living spaces in much the same way that you would any room in the home.

Related:  5 Ways to Create the Perfect Outdoor Room


Open Fire

Backyard Fire Pit Designs

To officially kick off outdoor entertaining season, update your outdoor space with a fire pit. The right fire pit can serve not only as a potential focal point for your outdoor space, but it also creates a warm, cozy ambiance, adds lighting, and provides an adequate cooking source.

Related:  13 Fire Pits We Love

Zillow Digs home in Atherton, CA

Marsala Magic

Outdoor Paint Colors

Pantone's color of the year Marsala pairs beautifully with other earthy colors like corals, greens, and muted grays, making it a suitable color for the outdoors. Try out the trendy red in your existing outdoor color scheme by switching out something as simple (and small) as your chair cushions. Even with only a slight update, the rich red-brown color will add a great warmth to your space.

Related:  Perfectly Suited - 9 Top-Rated Color Combinations for Your Home Exterior

Zillow Digs home in Redondo Beach, CA

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