Outdoor Aspirations: 8 Trending Ways To Elevate Outdoor Living

Cheers to entertaining in style and in good health this summer. Shown is the timeless Club Aluminum Collection from Summer Classics. It’s made of premium wrought aluminum with a powder-coated Chalk White finish.

As we emerge from a global pandemic, emphasis on outdoor living has never been greater. Ninety percent of Americans view their outdoor living space as more valuable than ever, according to a 2021 trend report from the International Casual Furnishings Association.

While outdoor kitchens may top many homeowners’ wish lists, “fire pits are extremely popular,” says Panatda Hengboonyaphan, owner of The Wickery in Toms River, a family-owned, outdoor-furniture destination since 1986.  “As I always tell customers, “Get a fire pit. All the cool kids are doing it.”

At Portside Luxury in West Long Branch, a resource for top luxury outdoor furniture brands, “shade and shade structures are extremely popular,” owner Ralph Hanan says. Not just umbrellas, he says, “but full walled and louvred roof systems both custom built and ready-made.” Fashionwise, “nautical looks continue to inspire with teak and textured rope” offerings, Hanan says, while “neutral and creamy shades dominate” in upholstery. The company also sees a return to more traditional outdoor style. “Think wrought iron and wicker looks that hearken back to simpler times,” he says.

At The Wickery, the interest is also in the mix, Hengboonyaphan says. “People are now OK with mixing various materials” — such as teak, aluminum, polymer and rope — “as opposed to having their backyard look like they ordered from one catalogue.”

Take a look at these and other inspiring outdoor amenities:


Sixty percent of homeowners are looking to add an outdoor kitchen this year, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

TOP LEFT | This fully equipped outdoor kitchen is ready to handle a variety of meals and gatherings at a moment’s notice with a variety of Kalamazoo appliances: K750HB Hybrid Fire Grill with Built-In Double Cooktop, an Artisan Fire Pizza Oven for quick pizza nights, and the under-counter Smoker Cabinet for its sleek, space-saving format. The kitchen is also outfitted with weathertight Signature Series cabinetry and refrigeration as well as a warming cabinet and pull-out waste/recycling bins. TOP RIGHT | Crafted of ultradurable stainless steel, the Trex Outdoor KitchensTM collection rivals cabinetry found indoors in a wide range of powder-coated colors and styles. BOTTOM LEFT | The ultimate barbecue and entertainment accessory, Liebherr’s 24-inch RO 510 outdoor under-counter beverage/wine cooler adds elegance to your patio design with space for all your favorite fair-weather beverages, wine, beer, condiments, charcuterie and treats. BOTTOM RIGHT | Urbane, the newest collection from Danver outdoor kitchens brings timeless, sophisticated design to the outdoors in a blend of traditional stainless steel and powder-coated panels. The color palette spans neutrals, bright colors and wood-grain inspired finishes.


Well-equipped open-air bars also kick entertaining up a notch.

Bar stools from Port 1920’s Weave Collection — furnished by Portside Luxury in West Long Branch — pull up to an elegant bar situated in the cabana of a luxury home in Oakhurst.


Fire features rank right behind outdoor kitchens in popularity, according to industry reports.

The Darien Rectangular Gas Fire Pit Table from Outdoor Great Room embraces the elegance and durability of Grade-A teak along with a durable and textured Everblend™ concrete top. The Wickery in Toms River.


The Newport Collection from Telescope Casual hints at a traditional Adirondack style, updated with clean lines and the best possible materials to survive the outdoor environment. Ski Barn NJ-based retail locations, Seashore Ace in Stone Harbor, The Wickery in Toms River or Telescope Casual Furniture.


Photo by John Ferrentino | A custom stone fireplace cozies up an outdoor room in Essex County designed by Tracey Butler of b. home interiors.


Pergolas, cabanas and other shade structures reinforce a room-like feel, increase leisure opportunities and enhance privacy.

Structureworks, the makers of Trex® Pergola™ and Trex® Lattice™ have created Trex® Privacy™, a new series of sturdy, stylish and low-maintenance aluminum privacy wall panels. Offered in permanent and movable options, these decorative panels are available in multiple patterns and colors to complement the aesthetic of any outdoor setting and are ideal for enhancing privacy around decks, patios and pools.


Tuuci’s Solanox cabana with an automated aluminum louvered roof automatically adjusts for wind and rain to provide optimum shelter while creating a luxurious, open-air room with an abundance of comfort and outdoor accessibility. The louvers are also operable via remote control. Portside Luxury in West Long Branch.


Photo by Tom Feis | A custom roof structure establishes a designated seating and entertainment zone in a Princeton backyard designed by Freehold-based Elite Landscapes. Furniture in a varied mix of materials is from The Wickery in Toms River.


Sustainability matters in our quest for eco-conscious options for outdoor living.

Photo by Murphy Foto Imagery | Adjustable for a hot dip in the winter or cool, refreshing plunge in the summer, space-saving Soake plunge pools are energy-efficient and designed to be used year-round.


Modular seating from Polywood’s Edge Collection is constructed from sustainable material that includes landfill- and ocean-bound plastics. Backyard Living in Ridgewood, Blufish Designs in Avalon and Surfside Casual in Manahawkin and Somers Point.


Built on green values, Trex® composite decking is manufactured from 95% recycled materials and has a 56% lower carbon footprint than pressure-treated lumber.


Blurring the line between indoors and out has never been easier with innovations in comfort, style and durability.

FBC London’s new luxurious outdoor collection is also uniquely suited for indoor living. The collection features sofas, armchairs, stools, tables and more that are as durable as they are elegant. Can be purchased through FBC London’s showroom at the New York Design Center.


Kravet Furniture brings high-quality comfort outdoors with the new Panorama Collection, created as a luxurious extension of the home. The collection includes seating options to outfit any space, including sofas, swivel chairs, sectionals, chaise lounges and ottomans.


Barlow Tyrie’s Cocoon Three-Seater Settee is crafted from high-grade teak, quality cord and luxury Sunbrella fabric. Available in Nov. 2022 at Garden Cottage in Fairfield or Morristown or The Wickery in Toms River.


Outdoor fabrics go chic in stunning patterns, weaves and textures.

TOP | Elaine Smith’s luxurious indoor/outdoor pillows are elegantly chic and take inspiration from fashion runways. Bain’s Outdoor Living in Rumson, Garden Cottage in Fairfield and Morristown or Opdyke Furniture in Point Pleasant. BOTTOM LEFT | Wendy Jane’s curated collection of indoor/outdoor performance pillows and rugs for Summer Classics uses trend-forward fabrics durable enough to withstand weather, pets and whatever else life brings to the table. BOTTOM RIGHT | Photo courtesy of Michael Tavano | Mokum’s South Beach fabric is outdoor velvet! The texture is soft and plush and still maintains high-performance standards. James Dunlop Textiles.


Advances in outdoor lighting illuminate in style.

Photo courtesy of Capital Lighting at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery | The Corbin 6-light Outdoor Chandelier by Capital Lighting creates an airy umbrella-like silhouette as it supports a circular arrangement of hanging lanterns with industrial flair. Suspended from a single loop and chain, this chandelier fills covered porches and patios with a warm and welcoming layer of light.


Augustine Outdoor Pendants from Regina Andrew feature a white-washed woven wicker basket and blackened metal detailing. La Jolla dining chairs, Tybee dining bench and Tybee rectangle table are from Universal Furniture.


Allegri by Kalco Lighting introduces Esterno Cristallo, a contemporary collection of outdoor crystal wall sconces in a modern silhouette. They feature precision-cut Firenze crystal and advanced LED technology.