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The pandemic has changed pretty much everything in our lives—including what we want in a home. When COVID-19 first swept through the country last March, the top priorities of those looking for a new home were price and safety. Now a new study from Rentcafé shows a shift: Open-air amenities are house hunters’ focus. Depending on where you’re living, though, open air could mean anything from a backyard pool to the fire escape outside your window. We’ve got a few ideas on how to make either work for you.

Sail Away From Joint Backyards

City living requires pretty close quarters. Rather than stare up at a neighbor’s boring facade all day, consider covering it up. In the backyard of their Brooklyn townhouse, this couple hung a full-size windsail that hides their neighbor’s vinyl shingles and casts a big patch of shade for when it gets especially hot.

Paint: It Works Outside, Too

For a real indoor-outdoor setup, continue the flooring inside all the way onto the deck or patio—or its motif, at least. Painting underfoot in the same pattern can blend the two areas together seamlessly. Cocktails on the deck will be that much more inviting (and Instagram friendly).

Grow Up

Building a sprawling garden doesn’t mean having to give up your only patch of grass. Make the most of the vertical space available and install trellises or racks for plants to climb upward. The ground will still be freed up for lounge furniture, and the lush greenery can disguise any eyesores, like an old wood fence or siding that could use a power washing. 

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.