The ASLA asked landscape architects across the country to identify the top outdoor living trends of 2013—and published the survey results on their blog earlier this month.

Outdoor living spaces, defined as entertainment areas and kitchens took their place at the top of the list. Gardens and landscaped spaces took a very close second—all followed by pools, water elements, patios and decks. Fire places, grills, dining areas and lighting were also highly rated across all categories.

(Click here to see the full report of Top Outdoor Living Trends for 2013. )

Over the next few weeks we’ll explore each of these trends and show you some examples of Hoerr Schaudt’s favorite designs from across the country. With warm weather on the horizon—it’s a great time to brainstorm how to optimize your outdoor space and transform it into the perfect place to entertain, relax or just enjoy the view. We’ll also share some design tips and considerations for your own home.

Let’s start at the top of the list with some entertainment and kitchen areas. I asked Abie Baldwin, a principal of our firm who handles high-profile residential projects, what the design process entails for creating a functional but beautiful outdoor kitchen and dining space. She identified four considerations that landscape architects review with clients that help to narrow choices and make them more manageable:

1. How will you use your outdoor kitchen? How frequently will you use it? What kind of entertaining will you do?

Clarifying if you’ll be having intimate dinners with your immediate family vs. holding parties for 50+ guests help determine seating area and whether you’ll want a large barbecue or need warming drawers.

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2. Where will you be eating?

The relationship between your kitchen and your reading area is critical, since you need to move food two and fro. You want to make sure your eating area takes advantage of good views, shade, sun, etc. Consider the proximity to your house, pool, fireplace.

You also need to plan for food preparation and serving space – will you need work and counter space?

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3. What materials make the most sense?

Consider durability and the characteristics of your climate: patio heaters, rolling carts, modular cooking stands, weather-proof materials. Other considerations are furniture and amenity colors: black conducts heat, white and beige may stain easily.

Maintenance requirements are also important: i.e. Cabinetry needs extra protection, and appliances like refrigerators and televisions have a life of only three to five years.

4. What kinds of amenities are you considering?

The list of choices goes on and on! Do you want a rotisserie, thermometer, warming oven? Trash shoots, trash compactors, side-burners, bar systems and infrared technologies rafter-mounted heaters, fire pits and martini-glass chilling racks inside professional-grade freezer….

What design ideas do you have in mind for your home this year? We’d love to hear them! Keep scrolling for more dining and entertaining space inspirations:

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NEXT WEEK SNEAK PEEK: We’ll show you some of our favorite pool and water feature designs and include some helpful hints to get the look you want!

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