Homeowners looking to make improvements have an easier decision to make this year. Where should you put your money if you aren't sure if you'll stay for the long run? The answer is your outdoor spaces.
Ingredients for a great Outdoor living room:
Perhaps more than ever before, the outdoors will become an extension of your living spaces. Welcome friends, you are invited over for a glass of wine in my outdoor living room. Bundle up, buttercup. It's February in Seattle (substitute the name of your presently frigid city here). The cold is fine, but you will need to do something about the rain. A stadium tent will do in the interim, but you may want to upgrade if a tailgate isn't the vibe you're going for. If it is, I commend you. I'll be inviting myself over with my red solo cups.
You don't need to install one of those swanky restaurant-style yurts a la Canlis...(I mean it would be pretty sweet though, right?) But the reality is restaurants and bars may be opening and closing for a while. Parties remain on hold. If you're like me, you're dying to see some friends about now, even if it's a socially distanced backyard soiree.
Hopefully you landed one of the outdoor propane heaters before they sold out everywhere.
You didn't? That's ok. You can hand out some good old fashioned blankets. Pretend like you're at a posh ski resort and turn your patio into marshmallow roasting haven with a fire pit.
Warm your guest(s) on the inside too with something delightful to drink. Support your neighborhood brewery or regional winery and think small. An actual business owner will do a little happy dance when you make your purchase and can tell you about what you're about to drink. Something to tell your guests about!
Now about that fire pit
There is an outdoor fire pit for every budget. You can pick up something simple or even deluxe at the Home Depot, or you if you are feeling ambitious, you could have something designed by a landscaping company. You'll need to choose between a standalone unit with a tank, something plumbed and wood-burning. (Make sure to check your local rules and regulations related to wood burning and always check for burn bans.) I recommend something big enough to make the cold tolerable. Moveable is also a bonus if you aren't sure you're current place is your forever home - you might want to take it with you.
And yes I know...I know. You and I have both been meaning to string those cafe lights in the backyard for some time. I love the way they twinkle and make any outdoor environment fee charming. Now is time to do it. Don't wait until it warms up, even you also have winters where you live. Even better if you live somewhere perennially warm and dry. With a few small changes, your backyard will be more welcoming. Like Christmas lights, they are sure to brighten you spirits.
What if I am thinking I might sell?
Even with vaccines right around the corner, this is the year of outdoor entertaining. You will be able to use this space year-round. When the pandemic shutdowns swept the world, we didn't think it would last this long, amiright? But here we are planning cold winter get-to-see-yous in the cold and dark. Buyers are looking for extra space right now, including spaces where they can be outside in light of gathering restrictions. A curated outdoor patio will be highly marketable. Improvements to your patio and landscaping will go a long way, and you can enjoy the space in the meantime.
I recommend striking a balance between personal enjoyment, return on investment, and resale value. Big home improvement investments are often more about cost recuperation than return on investment. So don't assume you'll get all your cash back if you spend lavishly on home improvements. Be strategic.
Do: make your outdoor living room welcoming and enjoyable, improve your landscape and your home's curb appeal and express your personal taste.
Don't: spend a fortune on custom outdoor fire pit and assume it will automatically increase your home's value by the same amount.
Remember: Your personal style is uniquely your own, so be strategic if marketability is an important focus of your improvements.