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Years before the COVID pandemic started, people have been emphasising on an outdoor space in their dream home, and with the onset of the pandemic, the emphasis has deepened significantly.

A new Freedonia Group analysis finds that demand for outdoor living products surged more than 8% in 2020. Plus, recent data from the NKBA, Fixr, Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, and Wayfair Professional reveals the majority of homeowners are now more interested—and more willing to invest—in updating their outdoor living spaces than they were prior to the pandemic.

So the following 5 features that homeowners would love to have in their Dream home in 2021.

1. Built-in entertainment: To enhance the outdoor kitchen and dining, some homeowners opt for integrated entertainment, including built-in speakers and mounted televisions. NKBA data says 48% of homeowners rank the option as a top need for their space, but also makes another interesting point: Those designing for millennials note there’s more interest for the integrated entertainment (63%) than outdoor kitchens (43%).

2. Protection from the elements: While kitchen and fire areas can help create the ideal exterior room, they can be hard to utilize in the rain, snow, or other weather-related events. As a result, 55% of NKBA professionals note that weather protection is also an important outdoor living feature. Fixr respondents agree and say 48% of outdoor spaces will be adapted to year-round use, with 27% adding hard patio covers like pergolas and 4% utilizing soft patio covers like awnings.

3. Gardens grow in popularity: Although not in the top three features, gardening and yard maintenance are also activities that have seen an increase since the onset of the pandemic. Twenty-six percent of adult respondents to the August 2020 edition of The Freedonia Group survey report they started a food garden because of the pandemic. Wayfair Professional also touches on the trend, with garden greenhouse searches nearly tripling and raised garden bed searches up 75%.

4. Outstanding outdoor kitchens: Of all the exterior home details, outdoor kitchens reign supreme. Fixr’s 2021 Trends for Outdoor Living Spaces states 61% of respondents rank outdoor kitchens as the most popular feature. The NKBA reports similar popularity with its respondents (60%), and the Brown Jordan Outdoor Living Report says 65% of American homeowners aged 35 to 44 cite a full outdoor kitchen as very important if they were designing an outdoor space.

5. Fire features are hot: Whether gas or wood-burning, fireplaces, fire pits, and fire tables are considered a must-have for today’s outdoor living spaces. The Brown Jordan report states 66% of homeowners think a fire pit is an important feature. NKBA’s outdoor living data says 60% rank fireplaces and fire pits as a top option, and Fixr’s surveyed professionals vote fire pits as the second most popular outdoor living feature, right behind outdoor kitchens.