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Outdoor Article
Bringing indoor comfort to outdoor living
Turning a patio or yard into a haven for relaxing and entertaining is an idea more consumers are embracing, fueling strong demand for patio furniture, grills, landscape lighting and garden decor. This spring's outdoor living merchandise even has some surprising new additions--traditional indoor decor items such as rugs, lamps and room dividers.

"Outdoor living isn't just a patio anymore, it's an outdoor room. Under that kind of backdrop, anything and everything can be viewed as outdoor," said Jim Robisch, senior partner of The Farnsworth Group, a home improvement industry research and consulting firm.
Home improvement shows such as "Trading Spaces" and "Landscapers' Challenge" helped move interior design techniques outdoors, where consumers are now creating year-round outdoor living spaces just as comfy as those they've created on the interior. Unity Marketing estimated the size of the outdoor living products market at $12.8 billion in 2004, with a strong trend of sales growth predicted for several years to come.

Patio furniture continues to be the cornerstone outdoor living accessory, with sets sold by mass retailers trending increasingly upscale in design. Many of these sets now resemble an indoor living room but with an umbrella, such as the $599.96 Adagio collection from Target that includes a cushioned loveseat, two cushioned armchairs and coffee table. Optional coordinating add-ons include an accent table, serving cart, outdoor rug, wooden gazebo and outdoor lamps.

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