Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Building "Family Ties" With Your Landscape Project

Here is an article that is likely going to be in two publications this spring, in some form. One is a smaller local publication and the other is a larger, regional publication.  I will leave the "Family Ties" photograph out.  :-)  

Bringing the Family Together in Your Landscape

By: David Sonka, Landscape Designer
Landscape Design Studios

As the past couple of years have shown, there has been a trend for homeowners to renovate and renew their current home rather than look for that next, new home.  In most cases, opting to renovate will save an immense amount of time, money, and stress from dealing with the uncertainties of the current real-estate market.  Rather than take the risk of going after that next home --which hopes to "have it all" at be a great value, while you pray that your current home has maintained its appeal and held its value for the next home buyer to make a swift, generous offer--people have been inclined to stay settled in and renovate their current home up to its full potential.  This trend is supported by the National Association of Home Builders' Remodeling Market Index (RMI), which has tracked remodeling sentiment to its highest level in 5 years in the fourth quarter of 2011. (National Association of Home Builders, January 26, 2012) 

After all, your home is where you have felt comfortable before, and where you have already decorated and personalized it to be compatible with your tastes and all of your "stuff."   Perhaps this is where you have seen your children grow, where you have seen important milestones happen and cherished memories being made.  Perhaps there are just some renovation projects that will adapt your home to the needs of your family, and enable you to fall in love with your home all over again.  In many cases, a landscape renovation is the perfect improvement to bring your home to its full potential, and to bring the growing family closer together.

According to U.S. News and World Report ( Rachel Koning Beals, January 30, 2012), "Booming economic times led to luxury outdoor living . . .The recession may have dinged this corner of the remodeling industry, but the concept survives. In fact, investing in outdoor living spaces has been a major part of even budget-minded upgrades within existing home footprints. Consumers may be scaling back their wish list, but they're not cutting back on outdoor entertaining and family time. After all, if families are traveling less, they're playing more at home."

This is precisely what I have heard in the interview process of several landscape clients from last year.  While their family's employment and income have persevered nicely through the recession, they have elected not to put their current home on the market and look for that new, ideal home, but rather they have decided to reinvest in their current home and renovate it to their ideals.  This so commonly includes some home remodeling and a robust landscape project with outdoor living features for their family to enjoy.  The new landscape will add outdoor rooms and virtual square footage onto the home that the size of the structural footprint cannot offer.  

In most all of these cases, the rationale was to "bring the family together" as their children are getting older and their family needs have changed.  Just like they have changed the wallpaper in their children’s bedrooms, and converted the playroom into a more grown-up space, they need to convert the play areas of the yard into more suitable play areas for older kids and socializing.  They can envision new outdoor rooms where they can cook, dine, and sit by a fire, and having new recreational activities that they can bring into the back yard, such as a pool, spa, putting green, or sport court.  

"Our kids are getting older," says Kendall, who has enjoyed living in his home for over 12 years with his wife and three active kids.  "We like the idea of spending time in the back yard together, and having the kids bring their friends over here, rather than have them always leave to go somewhere else . . .We would love to have our home and back yard become 'the hang-out' place."  

After all, with their oldest son getting ready for high school, it has certainly sunk in to them that they will be down to two kids living at home in just a matter of a few years.  As a family, these next few years are going to be precious time together.                      

(David has a degree in landscape architecture from Iowa State University and has been a professional landscape designer in Minnesota for the past 14 years.)

1 comment:

  1. Landscaping ideas at their best include your entire scenery as the canvas. Of course you mainly have some background already that will indeed direct a lot of your landscaping ideas. From there though, you need to think hard on what you will do to fill it in making the scene that which you will view for sometime to come.

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