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"The outdoor living space in general is easily the second most important space in someone's home," according to Kevin Guzior, vice president of marketing and business development at Pioneer Landscape Centers.

For years, the kitchen was followed by the home office as the most important room to homeowners, Guzior told Colorado Lawn & Landscape. The kitchen still reigns supreme, but the outdoor living area has supplanted the home office.

The outdoor areas follow the kitchen in consumers' design priorities is not surprising because, "from a trend standpoint, it's really another kitchen," Guzior said. Grills and smokers are popular additions, as well as combination units that include grills, smokers and pizza ovens.

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What's remarkable is how much homeowners are willing to invest in their outdoor areas.

"One of the largest trends I see is that people are spending more money out there," Guzior noted.

Over the years, homeowners have been working with smaller spaces, building compact and intimate areas. "Now spaces are getting bigger. They're getting more elaborate. They have more items and accouterments that they're adding," he explained.

People are essentially extending their indoor space outside, he said.

"Part of it is the economy - home values are obviously very strong in Colorado - but people aren't afraid to spend money out there. They're seeing the return on their investment."

Obviously, that doesn't mean that every design client will be ready to drop $50,000 on a new project. However, the popularity of outdoor living design has increased the availability and variety of products.

"There's almost an item for every price point," Guzior noted, so regardless of how much a homeowner is willing to spend, designer can usually find something to please them.

Style-wise, sleek and simple are the most popular looks, Guzior said: "modern designs, clean lines, a lot of hardscape." Porcelain in particular is popular.

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CM2 porcelain is scratch- and weather-resistant, and easy to install. "It looks like everything from wood planks to high-end stone and travertine," he said.

As Colorado grapples with drought conditions across most of the state, the benefits of artificial turf are harder to ignore. Although 2017 brought an abundance of water, water-savvy Coloradans are increasingly choosing to install fake grass, and the product "has seen huge growth in the last two years or so in Colorado," Guzior said.

"People love their lawns, but I think people are beginning to not love watering their lawns and all the maintenance," he noted.

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View the article online, here.