If you are thinking about moving out of the city to Darien or New Canaan, for example, many clients primarily give us functional descriptions of the homes they are searching for. “I’m looking for 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, new kitchen, renovated home, hardwood floors, min of 2 car garage but 3 would be ideal…“ Something like this is common for us to hear when initial comments come to mind.
Look, these functional attributes are important. But as spring finally becomes summer and the rain abates, I must confess something. Truthfully, as much as I love my big kitchen and family room (let’s be really—my husband has to be extracted out of his furnished basement complete with shuffleboard and NHL games on the TV), my favorite feature of our house has become our backyard. It is a true sanctuary and the initial reason we all moved out of the city. SPACE, fresh air and tranquility; your outdoor living area provides exactly what you have been dreaming about in your 2 bedroom apartment all these years! It can be as inviting, comfortable, and stylish as your interiors, a great space to entertain, play sports with your kids, let your dogs roam with an electric fence, or just relax and lounge away from the busier aspects in the other parts of our lives.
From manicured landscapes to stately patios and paradise-status pools, take a look at our tips and ideas and make sure you don’t miss the vendors/partners mentioned in the photo captions if you are looking to bring these ideas to life at home.
So let’s talk about the outdoor space that fits your family best. Do you dream of a house on/near the water with rocks to climb on and an abundance of water sport possibilities? Are you the kind of person yearning for the family to have a football field sized yard to host BBQs or throw the electronics away and get the kids outside? These are good questions to ask yourself before purchasing a home as how you shop for a home should be dictated by how you want to live. There are a million other combinations to see out here in Fairfield County, as I find that the homes and properties have many unique and independent characteristics.
Here are some tips on what to look for and some ideas on how to deck out your existing backyard.
- Focus On Landscaping
The backyard is your space to reconnect with nature and unwind with fresh air. While looking at properties, take a close look at the exciting landscaping. Landscaping is one of the biggest hidden costs when it comes to homes and their upkeep. Removing trees adding plants and hedges, stonework, planting new grass… all of these costs can be avoided with purchasing a home that has a well-maintained property.
- Swimming Pool
Do you want a pool? If so, buy a home with a pool! In-ground swimming pools are expensive to add to a backyard. Town permits are needed and the surrounding patio and landscaping are always more expensive than initially budgeted. In most cases pools do not give you any return on investment when selling your home, since not everyone wants a pool. If a sun-dappled garden and canopy of trees is a backyard in your dream, try to make it a property search criteria.
- Consider an Outdoor Kitchen
In the suburbs we love to entertain and to be entertained. Restaurant dining is great, but cooking outside is even better. In a Fairfield County home, the outdoor kitchen is almost considered a staple.
- Consider an Outdoor Shower
“Washing off the play dust in an outdoor shower is a special treat for every child, including the golden retrievers,” and my husband.
- Optimize It for Outdoor Games
Some custom homes have built in hockey rinks which turn into tennis courts or street hockey fields in the summer. If you think this is too much, the next best thing we have seen is a built-in stone ping pong table with doubles a spacious outdoor dining table.
- Add a Studio or a Kids playhouse
Just last week I saw a listing with a sweet little garden structure. A great getaway for the kids. You could also turn your garden shed into a studio, if you have a creative side hustle or work from home.
- Hydrangea Wall
Looking for privacy, a Hydrangea wall with white-flowered salvias buffer noise and bring a Nantucket/Vineyard feel to your home.
- Offset Pavers
To cover a high-traffic area on your grass, where your grass just never grows, add stone steps and offset pavers. They provide structure and allow the garden to reveal itself in an interesting way.
- Driveway Planters
Curb Appeal! Make an impression on guests a couple pairs of oversized planters.
- Let there be light
Add landscaping lights. it can be as simple as hanging some porch string lights or use solar powered lanterns to light up the walkway.
Here’s the bottom line. A home’s interior often takes the center stage when selecting a home to buy; however, your home’s exterior is so incredibly multi-purposed that it merits strong consideration as well. A welcoming first impression to guests, an outside activity area often without some of the electronic distractions of a busy lifestyle, a pool or a sledding hill, a place to gather with friends or a place to sit and chill. “Perfect” is really in the eye of the beholder…and we’ll do whatever it takes to help.