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Homeowners want outdoor spaces to reflect personalities, lifestyles

Second edition of Laneventure Designing Out survey shows

American homeowners are designing outdoor living areas that mirror their own personalities and lifestyles, regardless of age, sex or geographic region of residence, according to a nationwide survey released by Laneventure.

More than 500 U.S. homeowners were polled for Designing Out: The 2006 Home Lifestyle Report. Respondents were equally divided geographically and by experience with homeownership, for example first-time homeowner vs. those who have owned more than one residence.

Six in 10 respondents said it is important to extend the living space and personality of their home to the outdoors. When customizing their outdoor areas, nearly 70% of homeowners said creating a comfortable space is the most important characteristic. More than half of homeowners also perceive functionality (65%) and upkeep/maintenance (62%) to be essential for outdoor areas.

"The outdoor room phenomenon is ever growing and it comes as no surprise that homeowners desire to personalize their outdoor space in the same manner as any room within the interior of their home," said Gary McCray, vice president of marketing for Conover, N.C.-based outdoor furnishings manufacturer Laneventure, which commissioned the survey. "Whether they've lived in their residence for five months or 25 years, homeowners are focusing on the outdoors and are merging personal style with comfort and functionality to create their outdoor design scheme."

Home decor and fashion trends are merging more than ever, which is why home decor ties with clothing, shoes and accessories as the top choice for how to express personal style. The same mindset applies to reviving their outdoor rooms: Nearly half of homeowners indicate their outdoor areas go through seasonal changes and close to one third (31%) of all homeowners look forward to redecorating their outdoor area every year.

While geographic region does not significantly affect most respondents' outdoor preferences, homeowners from across the country favor different design elements to customize their outdoor areas. For example, Southerners favor rocking chairs, built-in kitchens and barbecues. Homeowners in the East turn to hammocks while ornamental water features, such as fountains, are most popular in the West.

"For years I have believed in the concept of the garden home, a place that blurs the lines between indoors and out, expanding our living space into the garden and our garden into our homes," said P. Allen Smith, a garden design expert.

Other key findings from the Designing Out Report include:

Homeowners most frequently express their personal style in outdoor areas with eating or sitting areas (70%), flower or plant beds (66%) and potted plants and trees (56%). Outdoor lighting is also used by many homeowners (52%).

When it comes to entertaining, outdoor living spaces (24%) are more popular than the kitchen (12%). And while homeowners are most likely to turn to the living room (35%) when guests arrive, their next choice is a gathering in the great outdoors (35% vs. 24%).

Homeowners report outdoor areas bring great personal enjoyment (78%), provide an opportunity to bond with others (69%) and provide a warm-weather alternative to the living room for relaxation and entertainment (66%).

While some homeowners redecorate their outdoor spaces regularly, more than a third (36%) of homeowners believe their outdoor living space is "in dire need of a makeover."

Laneventure's Vintage Garden line, designed by Raymond Waites, offers outdoor living products to reflect homeowners' personal lifestyles.

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