5 Outdoor Features That Will Add Value to Your Home
As any experienced real-estate agent will tell you, most home buyers have made up their minds about a house before they actually step inside. No matter how much time, money, and effort you’ve spent on designing and styling the interior, your house will be much harder to sell if the exterior has already failed to charm a potential purchaser. So we asked Jill Penman, an associate at One Sotheby’s International Realty in Coral Gables, Florida—a place that practically defines indoor-outdoor living—which alfresco amenities add real value to the luxury properties she regularly deals with. Here are five outdoor features that will make your home instantly more appealing.
Swimming Pools “Adding a swimming pool is a 100 percent sure way to increase a home’s value,” Penman says. The biggest demand today is for pools that incorporate natural elements and appear to be part of the landscape. “A free-form pool is generally more desirable than the traditional rectangular shape. And a dark interior finish, such as Diamond Brite French Gray, is preferred to cookie-cutter bright blue.” Coral stone, a quarried rock that incorporates marine fossils, is a favorite for pool surrounds, copings, and tanning ledges or wet decks—wide, shallow in-pool shelves that let you cool off without venturing all the way into the water. “They’re very popular, as are waterfalls, fountains, and other water features,” Penman adds.
Landscaping and Lighting “Landscaping, hardscaping—such as patios, walkways, or gazebos—and lighting are absolutely crucial,” Penman says. “They’re also absolutely interdependent, which is why you should hire a professional landscape architect to oversee all the different pieces of the highly complex puzzle.” Of course, the type of plants and style of garden are largely determined by geographical location. “Everything flourishes in the Florida climate,” she says, “so I advise my clients to introduce splashes of brilliant tropical color and feature rare, exotic specimen plants.” Carefully designed lighting allows for the flowers, shrubs, and trees to be enjoyed at night; it also provides safety, ambience, and security—all of which add value to a property.
Outdoor Kitchens Dining alfresco is one of life’s great warm-weather pleasures. Installing an open-air kitchen allows for entertaining on a more gracious and ambitious level than the traditional backyard barbecue. “It could be a simple and serviceable cupboard kitchen,” Penman says. “But my clients’ eyes light up at a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with plumbing, electricity, and gas.” Amenities should include grills, burners, ovens, sinks, refrigerators, wine coolers, icemakers, and, says Penman, “a wood-fired pizza oven as an added bonus.” A counter or adjacent table will allow family and friends to gather close to the chef.
Outdoor Screening Rooms While Penman has many clients who want their gardens wired for outdoor speaker systems, a few ask for open-air screening rooms. These delightful spaces combine the luxury of a home theater with the charm of a drive-in movie. Manufacturers such as SunBriteTV produce weatherproof big-screen televisions that are suitable for outdoor use. Not only do they withstand the elements, they’re also bright enough to be viewed in daylight if you want to sunbathe while binge-watching Veep.