Ways to Transform Outdoor Common Areas
- May 23, 2016
By Scott Matthews
The summer months present a perfect opportunity for managers to reinstate a sense of community by bringing residents together in the patio, courtyard or other outdoor common areas. Outdoor space can serve as everything from a venue for social gatherings to a relaxing oasis for renters to recharge and dine. Use the space as a way to differentiate your property from competitors, helping to attract and retain residents. Here are a few projects to upgrade the outdoor space.
Encourage community onsite with patio furniture that allows residents to relax and dine with their neighbors. When choosing the furniture, invest in fabric material that is durable and water-resistant to withstand wear and tear. Another factor to consider is the frame material. If portability is important, choose lightweight materials, such as plastic, wicker or aluminum. For sturdier furniture that can handle strong winds, choose wood or wrought iron material.
Incorporate seating for both dining and relaxing to maximize the functionality of the outdoor space. Cozy sofas and lounge chairs are perfect for residents who want to unwind, while a dining set offers communal seating so tenants can enjoy meals together. Choose a dining set with a table that’s high enough to sit and eat comfortably, like the durable Hampton Bay Middletown collection which is UV and scratch resistant. If comfort is key, pick up a modular set like the Hampton Bay’s Spring Haven line. The furniture can break apart, so you can reconfigure it as many times as you want or mix and match for a custom style.
Update the grilling area
With summer on the horizon, grilling season will soon be in full effect. Food brings people together and grills are often a gathering point for tenants, so make sure the cooking area is functional and inviting. Explore various options, such as charcoal, gas and electric grills, or consider adding a combination to offer more alternatives. That said, be aware of local regulations and guidelines regarding fuel types.
Grills are a desirable amenity, and you may want to consider expanding the area to a full outdoor kitchen to help tenants prepare food, cook and dine all in one place without the hassle of commuting back and forth to their units. Outdoor kitchens have increased in popularity amongst homeowners, but the trend isn’t limited to single-family homes. Some managers are thinking bigger in terms of outdoor cooking spaces by adding built-in islands for additional prepping space, counters and cabinets, sinks, faucets and even pizza ovens to provide an alternative cooking method for residents who want to switch up their summer cuisine.
Renovate decks and patios
If the property has a deck or patio, make sure the surfaces aren’t cracking, peeling or fading. Consider applying a stain or resurfacing liquid to give the space a makeover. Stains are the best option to retain the natural beauty the wood.
Add pops of color with plants
Hang a few planters around empty areas by the pool, grilling area or deck to easily breathe life into the outdoor space. Low maintenance plants like succulents are great options that don’t require a lot of upkeep. For lawns and shrubbery, install a drip irrigation system or a Wi-Fi irrigation controller to give plants the right amount of water without wasting resources.
Brighten the space with outdoor lighting
Invest in LED exterior lighting to improve the ambiance, add personality and illuminate the space without dramatically increasing utility bills. Motion lights and solar-powered lighting, such as post caps and pathway lights, can help increase visibility and safety. Outdoor string lighting makes the space more fun and inviting, while lanterns and LED candles around the pool or grilling area can add the finishing touches.
Create the outdoor space that is most effective for your property. For some properties, simple swaps like new furniture or lighting can make a big impact, while others might take on more advanced upgrades like outdoor kitchens. No matter what your budget or priorities are, there are outdoor living updates that can make the community more enjoyable for residents.
Scott Matthews is responsible for managing national accounts and e-commerce while overseeing business-to-business relationships. During his 25 years at The Home Depot, he has served in a variety of roles and capacities, including regional pro sales manager, district manager and store manager.