Every Perfect Outdoor Space Has These 6 Things in Common

updated Jun 25, 2021
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It’s summertime and the living is easy. Now that the weather is consistently warmer, you probably want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. But not all outdoor spaces are created equal, especially in the real estate market.

“Homeowners should always keep in mind resale,” says Edward Prindiville, an agent with REAL New York. “An outdoor space that’s inviting is a sure way to get people looking.”

In places like NYC, where outdoor areas are few and far between, a compelling space might just be what makes a buyer or renter sign on the dotted line, Prindiville says.

So what elements add up to the perfect outdoor space? I asked several real estate agents for their must-haves.

It has views.

The first thing someone notices when they step into your outdoor space might not be the space itself — but the view it offers.

“Views will always king, and a picturesque view can be essential in marketing and renting our properties,” Prindiville says. “In today’s digital world, a strong photo op can go a long way.”

Although you can’t necessarily change the view, you can play it up. Make sure no vegetation or fencing is obstructing the vista beyond.

Credit: Anna Spaller

It has lighting.

For nighttime lounging and entertaining, lighting is essential, says Domingo Perez Jr., an agent with Warburg Realty in New York. A properly lit outdoor space will convey to potential buyers that it can be used day and night.

“The ability to string some outdoor lights to set the mood elevates an outdoor space,” Perez says.

Plugging in some twinkle lights is probably the easiest way to extend your time out of doors past sunset, but don’t get discouraged if you’re outlet-less. There are battery-operated candles and string lights of all sizes and shapes these days that are hard to tell from the real thing, he says.

It has seating.

No matter the size of your outside space, there should be a table and seating, says Perez. Without a place to comfortably sit, it’s likely your space will go unused. Bistro tables and chairs are great for small outdoor spaces, but even a small bench and side table can do. Don’t have much room for a permanent setup? Invest in some foldable chairs and tables, or even some weather-proof cushions. (Here’s our favorite outdoor furniture for small patios and balconies!)

It has landscaping throughout the year.

Whether it’s a single potted plant or a fully landscaped yard, plants of all forms help elevate an outdoor space.

Kathryn Landow of Warburg Realty says that greenery and flowers make a big difference in creating a real outdoor “destination.”

If you don’t have a lawn or garden, Perez suggests strategically placing a few green plants, perennials, and annuals in planter pots of varying sizes and shapes. This way, something’s blooming most of the year.

It has great sun exposure.

When setting up outdoor furniture and decor, think about the cardinal directions, says Matthias Fretz of Douglas Elliman in Jupiter, Florida. Everything will be properly oriented to maximize sun exposure or shade (depending on your preference), as well as protect against wind.

Look to your area’s climate, too, as a guide. For example, Fretz says his clients in the Sunshine State look for homes with a covered, breezy area as well as an accessible sun-exposed area.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

It’s tidy.

Even if your space is outfitted with all of the above, if it’s overgrown with weeds or covered in bird poop, it’s a major turnoff.

“A great space needs to be well kept and maintained,” Landow says. “Make sure you regularly tend to any plants, sweep the ground, and wipe the furniture so it feels clean and inviting.”

A hot tip from Landow: If you’re building a new home or redoing your space, consider installing a concrete patio versus a wood deck. It’s easier to clean and maintain.