Expert Advice

5 Outdoor Living Improvements to Boost Home Value

Revitalize your exterior space with upgrades inspired by leading market trends.

June 06, 2024
Transcend Rainier decking with Classic White railing

The hottest trends in outdoor living spaces today are also ones that can significantly increase your home’s value. They revolve around creating functional, beautiful areas that extend the living space beyond the interior of the home with a focus on comfort, entertainment, and the seamless integration of indoor and outdoor living.

Diane Morales, an agent of Home Smart Connect in St. Charles, Ill., spoke with us about some smart home additions to elevate an outdoor living space. Morales has more than 20 years of real estate experience in West Suburban Chicago and knows about the demand for outdoor living spaces among potential home buyers, especially if they add versatility and increased usability to your backyard.

Here are five outdoor enhancements that are more than upgrades—they’re transformations that turn a house into an irresistible home with a competitive edge in the market. 

1. Invest in a Functional and Chic Outdoor Kitchen

The outdoor kitchen has pivoted from luxury wish list item to value-adding essential for entertainment and enjoyment. In fact, a recent study revealed that 71% of homeowners would add or update an outdoor kitchen if they were to invest in their outdoor space. Elements like a built-in grill or smoker, farmhouse sink, and ample counter space for food preparation drive desirability, while leveraging materials like high-grade stainless steel ensures longevity and style. If budget allows, consider adding a wine cooler or fridge, or installing a pergola over your dining area to create shade and provide shelter from the elements. Outdoor cabinetry in colors that match the aesthetic of your home’s interior increase the feel of one seamless living space. 

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2. Add Warmth with a Charming Fire Pit

Fire pits anchor your outdoor living area as a year-round hub for cozy gatherings and relaxation. “When people couldn’t leave their homes during the Covid pandemic, they began to look for amenities that created an atmosphere of escape in their own backyards,” said Morales. “Fire pits still pique the attention of potential home buyers, and they are a beautiful focal point to a space.” In fact, fire pits offer a dual advantage of aesthetic appeal and functional warmth, extending the usability of your deck or patio into the evenings and cooler months, whether you want to curl up under a blanket with a book or roast marshmallows with your family. Depending on your budget and preferences, you can select from a range of options – from simple metal bowls to fire pit tables or custom-built outdoor fireplaces.

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3. Incorporate Ambient Outdoor Lighting

Lighting elevates the visual appeal of outdoor areas after dusk, while also enhancing safety and security. From a practical perspective, LED and solar-powered options are especially energy-efficient, long-lasting, and provide cost-savings over time. "Lighting is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a big impact in your yard," Morales explained. “Consider highlighting architectural features, pathways, and plants to create a more stunning space.” Lighting that is integrated into deck railing beautifully outlines the perimeter of your deck, while recessed stair lighting provides peace-of-mind. When designed thoughtfully, lighting can bathe your outdoor space in a warm and welcoming glow, and transform even a basic yard into an outdoor sanctuary.

Lighting is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a big impact in your yard.

Diane Morales, Illinois Realtor
Signature Trex Railing

4. Choose Composite Decking Materials

Homeowners are drawn to the durability and low maintenance of composite decking, such as Trex, and this material aligns perfectly with the increased interest in sustainable home features. By choosing materials that require less care and also reduce environmental impact, a home’s value can rise. “Low-maintenance options are always a plus,” says Morales. “Not having to sand, stain and seal a deck is ideal for homeowners who really value minimal upkeep and longevity in a deck. Plus, there’s a continually growing segment of buyers who value eco-conscious materials.” In fact, according to the latest “Cost vs. Value Report” from Remodeling magazine, homeowners can expect to recoup as much as 40% of their initial investment in composite decking when it comes time to sell their home. 

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5. Frame Your Space with Fencing

Fencing is more than a practical addition; it’s a trend that reflects broader market desires for privacy and security, and one that especially resonates with homeowners and buyers who have young children and pets. Quality materials and proper installation, aligned with zoning regulations, can boost both aesthetics and the perceived value of your property. “I often hear about fencing from my clients, especially the appeal of having a fenced-in yard for families with kids and dogs,” said Morales. “Fencing is another area where low-maintenance and durable materials are in demand. And if your home doesn’t currently have a fence, you can select and install the style that catches your eye and complements the overall look of your home. There is an incredibly wide variety of options on the market today!”

Transforming your outdoor living area into a stunning and functional extension of your home is within reach. By integrating these expert tips and innovative features, you're not just crafting an outdoor space—you're creating an oasis. Whether it’s hosting summer barbeques, enjoying quiet evenings by an outdoor fire, or simply admiring the beauty of your surroundings, the effort you put into remodeling will pay dividends in both enjoyment and home value.

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