Column: Stay home, be moved


Commentary by Randy Sorrell

A Q&A on outdoor living spaces.

Q1: What’s your most frequent outdoor living space request?

It’s a demand, actually! Low-maintenance landscapes and patio surfaces.

Q2:  Any other frequent conversations?

Shade and privacy. Boomers are “booming” and becoming smart consumers of sun. The joy of outdoor living is driving more people outside,  which is fueling privacy needs. Amazing how often I hear, “I love my neighbor, but I don’t necessarily want them to see my business.”

Q3:  What should we be discussing that hasn’t made the public’s radar?

Our Zone 5 planting area is morphing toward a Zone 6.  Don’t know if we attribute that to global warming or Amazon taking over the world, but 4-foot-6 Judd viburnum and oakleaf hydrangeas are suddenly growing to taller than 8 feet.  Similar examples are endless.

Q4:  Do people really use their grill stations in the winter? 

Absolutely! It’s certainly homeowner-specific, but for most “grillheads,” nasty weather serves as a dare and fabricates ambitious storytelling.

Q5:  It seems crazy ambitious that big dollars are being spent on patios and landscapes. Tell me about Return on Investment. Isn’t it kind of a  wasteful investment?

First, these aren’t simply patios and landscapes. They are incredible outdoor living spaces. BIG difference. Recent trade association studies show that typical ROI on professionally designed and installed outdoor living spaces have an immediate ROI of 85 percent-plus.  Pretty impressive.  Couple that with a little bit of inflation and getting a complete return is realistic. Perhaps more relevant is ROE, or Return on Enjoyment. Life is short. Let’s enjoy it!

Q6.  Tell us about the featured project photo.

A lovely Carmel family imagined a compelling outdoor living space for all to gather. This limestone fire feature and sitting wall, exposed aggregate floor with a travertine edge, custom ipe grill station and cedar pergola delightfully exceeded their hopes!