Outdoor rooms: The latest Westchester design trend

For luxury home buyers in the Lower Hudson Valley — and even those looking for more down-to-earth properties — what’s outdoors has become just as important as what’s indoors.

According to local real estate experts, the newest trend is outdoor rooms, especially in the luxury market — and they’re not talking about the typical grill and patio furniture.

“Westchester home buyers are looking for full outdoor kitchens with a wide range of upscale appliances, high-tech sound systems, fireplaces and fire pits, and eco-friendly composite decking,” says Joseph Houlihan, managing partner of the Residential Sales Group at Houlihan & O’Malley. “Outdoor rooms are huge.”


One Westchester backyard, shown off by Houlihan during a tour, had distinct rooms with many luxury amenities — granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, including an outdoor refrigerator, rotisserie grill and bar area in the outdoor kitchen; all-weather furniture, outdoor fireplace and a weatherproof, flat-screen, 50-inch television in the outdoor living room.

A new trend that home buyers are looking for is having

“It’s an outdoor man-cave with the ease of entertaining,” says Houlihan.

The 2,500-square-foot area has intricate stonework and travertine flooring that stays cool even in extreme heat. The high-tech speakers that look like rocks are strategically placed throughout the outdoor space and controlled remotely.

“When you have an outdoor space like this, summer doesn’t end in August,” says Houlihan. “You’re still using your outdoor space into mid-October.”

But it’s not enough to have an ordinary outside kitchen when you’re working with a $5 to $6 million price point, adds Realtor Fiona Dogan, from Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. Doogan covers Rye, Harrison and Purchase

A state-of-the-art outdoor room is “the icing on the cake and definitely important for second homes,” says Dogan. But make sure it’s done professionally for more savvy buyers.  “It has to be extremely good quality to last —as high quality as inside.”

Houilhan says outdoor rooms are also attractive to buyers from New York City and millennial buyers who don’t necessarily want to do a big renovation. “Not too many people want to do things over,” he says. It’s a big trend now in Westchester; what people want is everything done because they are intimidated by the renovation project.”

Twitter: @krhudsonvalley