(Reprinted in part from Professional Builder, August 2014, special edition.)

Good design can advance big ideas. And sometimes when big ideas go mainstream, they continually improve over time. Such is the case with the 50-year trend in home building toward outdoor living.

In the early 1960s, the Deane Brothers sent a shockwave through the building industry by introducing the garden kitchen — essentially a kitchen with a sliding glass door opening onto a concrete patio or flagstone pavers. Inside of a year, nearly every builder in America offered a garden kitchen. Truth be told, that big idea, the garden kitchen, was in reality an iteration on courtyards in traditional Mission Style homes, courtyards that later appeared in the midcentury modern homes of Joseph Eichler and other builder-developers in California.

The point is this: Outdoor living is a big idea that’s been a part of home building for decades. That is why today’s new homes frequently blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces like never before. And the design iterations keep coming.

Walk through a new model home today and outdoor living options abound. Appliances, pools, fire pits, waterfalls, deluxe barbecues, flat-screen televisions — the list goes on. Walk through a new model home today and you will see outdoor living spaces, small and large, throughout the plan, not just adjacent to the kitchen/great room. You see them off the master, the guest room, in entry courtyards, and adjoining upstairs landing spaces.

The benefits are well known: fresh air, comfort, sunlight, and a very tangible increase in living space. With today’s outdoor living options, a modest two-bedroom, 1,600-square-foot home lives like a 3,200-square-foot second move-up.

For builders, outdoor-living know-how translates directly to satisfied buyers and increased opportunity for sales and profit.

– Patrick O’Toole, Editorial Director/Publisher