South Floridians are moving out.
That is to say they are moving outside, extending family living spaces into their yards, patios, decks, lanais, verandas, porches, balconies, courtyards and terraces.
And patio furniture no longer looks like patio furniture. So-called "outdoor rooms" are befitting from design that more closely mimics indoor looks, blurring the line between the two with deep-seating sectionals, full-on kitchens, larger dining sets (8 to 10 people) and fire pits.
"So many Floridians are taking advantage of their patio or balcony space," said
Marian Wikenczy, West Palm Beach-based district manager for
"What we are seeing the costumers really respond to are chat sets," said Wikenczy. "Or they can have the whole dining room outside; with some additional seating, maybe a chaise lounge and a bistro two-seater."
Vastly improved technology has allowed for more diversity in outdoor materials, from cushion fabrics to aluminum die casting.
"With outdoor furniture there is so much technology involved," said Josh Fein, director of marketing for the Design Center of the Americas in
You can thank improved wood composites and polycarbonates for that said HGTV star David Bromstad, who lives in Miami.
"The manufacturing companies are offering outdoor furniture that feels like an extension of your home so that's it's not just a pool or barbecue area. Sombrero fabric, for example, feels like indoor fabric. They are using wood composites like teak and eucalyptus. And vastly improved polycarbonates where an outdoor couch can have elegant arms and legs with a resin that looks and feels like wood."
Sears/Kmart spokeswoman Wikenczy agrees and added, "One of the things we are seeing is mixed-media like wicker with stone or tile. Customers are beginning to respond very well to that."
Her company is also predicting that outdoor lighted features - from chandeliers to lighted gazebos - will be popular going forward. Other retailers told us that accessories popular this winter will include modular tables (expandable), decorative pillows, trash receptacles, storage and tabletop.
"I think people are going to do a lot more dining outside," said Joyce, the zone manager of the South East market for Tuesday Morning stores. "So we have a big variety of umbrellas. We are really going to see a big push this fall for things like that and acrylic dinnerware."
Plantation-based licensed contractor Sivan Kathein said that his Complete Home Improvement business, which specializes in remodeling and additions, now does about 20 outdoor kitchens a year.
"We have noticed an increase in outdoor kitchens as of late as people are trying to make the exterior of the house and extension of the interior," said Kathein. "Our clients express the need to feel a sense of comfort with their outdoor spaces."
And while a customized outdoor kitchen can run anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, outdoor furniture comes in plenty of price points. HGTV's Bromstad said he found a wide variety of affordable pieces recently when he designed an outdoor space for his parents, who now live in Central Florida.