With the irresistible call of coziness in wintertime, it’s easy to shift your focus to your interiors at this time of year. But if you’re able to start thinking about the outdoors (or always looking ahead to warmer months), right now is the perfect time to get a head start on your porch and patio upgrades for 2022. Whether you’re just working ahead or you’re ready to start researching patio furniture and fire features for the outdoors, there are a few trends to keep in mind in the new year.
To help you craft your perfect (and perfectly on-trend) outdoor space, we turned to the experts for their read on what to expect next in outdoor design.
Meet the Expert
- Joe Raboine is the director of residential hardscapes at Belgard, a hardscaping company.
- Scott Paterson is the director of Sumo Outdoor Limited, an outdoor kitchen company, and the founder of the British Outdoor Kitchen Association (BOKA).
- Caroline Birdsall is the marketing director for The Millboard Company, a decking company.
- Anna Ambrosi is an interior designer at Into the Garden Room, a service that designs and builds custom outdoor rooms.
Maximizing Outdoor Space—and Modernizing It
Belgard’s Joe Raboine notes that the rise in outdoor living in 2021 means homeowners aren’t just craving more space—they want to make it modern, too.
“Homeowners are looking to extend their spaces and have more areas to relax and take in some fresh air,” says Raboine. “From a design perspective, we see outdoor living spaces becoming more modern and functional to suit the taste of today’s consumer.”
Clean Lines and Geometric Shapes
As a part of a more modern space, when it comes to designing your patio, Raboine tells us that clean lines are key for 2022.
“Modular, geometric patterns are a big trend, offering clean lines and an uncluttered aesthetic,” he says. “Flooring, particularly, is becoming more geometric, with the introduction of patterns like hexagons and herringbone to make the layout more interesting. Modular materials also make installation more efficient, so you can spend less time on construction and more time enjoying a new or upgraded patio.”
Multi-Functional and Multi-Seasonal Elements
Raboine also tells us that, along with maximizing the space, homeowners are eager to maximize their outdoor season.
“[We’re seeing] the incorporation of elements like lighting, sound, and shade structures to make patios and other outdoor areas usable no matter the time of day or season,” he says. “Many homeowners are [also] seeking to create more functional spaces for day-to-day use, but that’s not to say they won’t use them for entertaining as well. Outdoor kitchens and kitchen elements, like a small grill island, pizza oven, or bar, are great to have for entertaining.”
Outdoor kitchens aren’t the only rising trend we’ll see carried through into 2022. Raboine has noticed a rise in outdoor living rooms, too. “Many homeowners are adding technology like large TVs and outdoor projectors to catch their favorite game [or] movie or binge Netflix,” he says.
Luxury Upgrades for Everyone
Scott Paterson, director of Sumo Outdoor Limited and founder of the British Outdoor Kitchen Association (BOKA), has noticed something else about outdoor kitchens. Not only are they thriving, but homeowners are also looking for major upgrades.
“A trend we can expect to see in 2022 will be big, luxury, custom-built entertaining zones,” he says. “We are already seeing a lot more demand for [huge] outdoor kitchen and bar runs that include dishwashers, beer kegs, outdoor fridges, and super-size grills. These types of luxury custom builds are sure to continue in 2022. Style and quality, along with the ambition to extend [outdoor spaces] into a complete functional ‘adults’ playground’, will be the order of the day.”
All Fire Pits—but Especially Gas
If you were worried your 2021 fire pit will be out of fashion by 2022, Raboine has good news. “Fire pits have always been one of our top selling features, and we’ll continue seeing them in backyards everywhere,” says Raboine.
But if you’re keen to upgrade your existing set-up, go gas. “Fire pits are increasingly converting to gas, which is cleaner, convenient, and easy to use, and offers many more options for style,” Raboine says.
In terms of the latest outdoor fireplace tech, Raboine has another suggestion: “An update on the classic fire pit design we see becoming more popular is the fire table. Fire tables offer a sleek, linear look, which complements the modern design trend.”
Paterson agrees. “Last year saw a big trend in outdoor fire pits, most commonly being a simple wood-burning or charcoal steel bowl,” he says. “I think 2022 will see people moving away from solid fuels and gas, looking more seriously to electric, natural gas, and biofuel fire pits.”
Along with fire pits, Paterson senses this upgrade in technology will extend to all outdoor appliances. “Until recently, electric grill technology and appliances have been limited to luxury yachts and boats, but we are starting to see manufacturers develop this type of technology for outdoor kitchens,” he says. “I think the popularity of going green and the public’s growing awareness of the impact on the environment of traditional solid fuels and gas means we will start [to see] the rise of the electric outdoor grill.”
Playing With Color
“Color will continue to be important to the overall aesthetic,” says Raboine. “Monochromatic color schemes, with varying tones of the same color, are an interesting trend we’re seeing, along with pops of color in outdoor furniture, plants, and other accessories. We also see [some homeowners] gravitating toward dark accents with hardscaping and landscaping, with tones like deep charcoal used for patio walkways, retaining walls, and more.”
Caroline Birdsall of The Millboard Company agrees, noting that color is particularly useful for creating a zoning effect in your outdoor space. “We are beginning to see examples of choosing decking boards in contrasting colors to draw attention to a focal point, such as an outdoor bar or an inviting garden room,” she says. “Two or more colors can also be used to zone an area—for example, to separate a formal dining area next to a space to relax. [Use a] complementary color for each area, or simply select a different color to cut through the space.”
“Using more than one color can be practical, too, such as creating the edge of steps in a contrasting shade to highlight the drop,” says Birdsdall.
Curated Nods to Travel and Tradition
In terms of soft goods to decorate our outdoor spaces, Anna Ambrosi of Into the Garden Room envisions a rise in curated pieces that reflect the wider world.
"We’ve been confined to our homes for so long ... that there will, no doubt, be a particular longing for traveling, driving an increase in collections of [decor] from around the world,” says Ambrosi. “This is one of the reasons I would imagine a blooming of interest toward folklore and traditional artisanal items specifically.”
This calls for the perfect mix of old and new, so consider scouring vintage stores or upcycling pieces you already have to really make the most of this rising trend.
“[One major] trend we expect to see is the blending of high-quality traditional landscaping materials, granites, and natural stone, along with the new super-tough, man-made cladding and engineered work surfaces,” says Paterson.
“There is a bit of an explosion in the outdoor arena for engineered work surfaces like dekton and infinity stone. These new surfaces are impermeable, freeze- and thaw-resistant, high-heat resistant, and scratch-resistant, So, along with a mind-blowing array of colors and textures available in large formats, you can see why they are set to grow in popularity,” he tells us.
Planning Ahead to Craft Your Dream Outdoor Space
As you’re designing your outdoor space, Raboine has one word of warning: Plan.
“Homeowners should think ahead about [their desired] features,” he says. “Adding them later down the line can be more tedious and less cost-efficient.”