2017 Home Furnishings Survey: More Americans Inspired by Outdoor Living


According to new research conducted on behalf of the International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA), many Americans plan to use their backyards, porches and patios almost every day that weather permits this summer.

The ICFA, which represents manufacturers of outdoor furnishings who are members of the American Home Furnishings Alliance, conducted the research to find out what outdoor furnishings were at the top of consumers’ wish lists for the 2017 season.

Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. households surveyed that reported having an outdoor space said they planned to use it at least once a week, and more than a quarter (27 percent) said they use their backyards and front porches almost every day in seasonally appropriate weather.

“We crave being surrounded by nature and the breath of fresh air that comes from relaxing outside,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, executive director of ICFA. “Whether you unwind alone or entertain friends, nothing beats having a beautiful extension to your home that you can step into at any time to shed some stress and feel rejuvenated.”

According to the survey conducted by Wakefield Research, change is in the air this season, as 66 percent of households said they planned to purchase new furnishings or accessories for their outdoor space this year, up from 42 percent in 2016. Priority purchases have generally stayed the same since 2016: chairs, tables, lighting, umbrellas, fire pits, pillows, sofas and hammocks. While 25 percent wish their outdoor living space was better furnished, even more (28 percent) wish it was larger. 

Highlights of the 2017 data:

• Of those who have an outdoor living space, 44 percent plan to purchase more than one piece/item, and 22 percent plan a single purchase.
• Top planned purchases include chairs (chaise or lounge, 43 percent), a dining table and/or chairs (41 percent), lighting such as lamps or lanterns (39 percent), an umbrella (38 percent), a fire pit (38 percent), pillows (29 percent), a sofa or sectional (27 percent), and a hammock (25 percent).
• 28 percent wish their outdoor living space was larger; 25 percent wish it was better furnished; 20 percent wish it was covered or enclosed; and 16 percent wish it was more functional.
• 36 percent said they want to update the deck or porch itself; 23 percent want to update their furnishings; 15 percent are focused on the garden; and 10 percent will improve the lawn.
• 79 percent use their outdoor space frequently, including 27 percent who spend time outside almost every day, 40 percent who are outside several times per week, and 12 percent who use it at least once per week.
• Homeowners said they expect to use their outdoor space to relax alone (60 percent), entertain or relax with family (59 percent), enjoy time with a significant other (49 percent), entertain friends (43 percent) or entertain children (19 percent).
• 70 percent say that a big outdoor patio is more likely to impress houseguests than a big screen TV.

Top trends consumers can expect to find when they shop this season include:

Living Large or Compact Comfort. Regardless of the size of the outdoor space, there’s a product to fit. There are lots of nice small pieces just right for downsized balconies and patios, plus giant sectionals, cabanas, tables and seating groups for those furnishing large outdoor spaces.

In a Modern Mood. As in indoor, the pendulum is swinging to the contemporary side. There are still plenty of traditional and cottage looks, but there is more of a focus on contemporary than we have seen in recent years.

Blurred Lines. It’s becoming harder than ever to distinguish where an “indoor” style ends and an “outdoor” style begins. With today’s fabric and style options, many pieces can be used either inside or out, and consumers are increasingly focusing on decorating their outdoor spaces as an integral part of their home.

“The breadth of offerings in outdoor products this year is truly amazing,” said Hirschhaut. “Driven by consumers’ growing focus on chilling out outside, manufacturers are meeting the demand with flourish.”