With summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to think about expanding the exterior of your home. Unique outdoor features are great for relaxing, entertaining and other summer shenanigans.

When done right, they have the added effect of increasing your home value! Potential buyers see these improvements as unique features that set a home apart. Check out outdoor home trends for summer 2016 ideas for your next project.

Gather ‘Round the Fire

Everyone loves a good fire on a chilly night! Fire pits can be easily DIY’d with ordinary stones and shovels, but a professional job will integrate much better into your landscaping. Intricate stonework and quality masonry make it much more than a hole in the ground. Professionals can also hook it up to a gas line for easy use and cleanup.

Permanent seating is also a great way to class up a simple fire pit. It can be as simple as a stone bench or as upscale as a recessed couch, complete with weather-resistant cushions. Pre-existing furniture looks great and saves buyers from supplying their own.

Next-Level Outdoor Dining

No home is complete without a grill. But why not take it further?

Fully featured outdoor kitchens – stove, fridge, the whole shebang – are growing in popularity. They are an ideal accompaniment to a pool or big yard, and streamline party logistics. A simple shelter can keep it useful even on dreary days, and allow electronics like televisions to be installed above a bar.

An outdoor kitchen is even better when paired with a permanent dining table. This can be a small installation in the kitchen itself or an entirely separate part of your setup. Either way, future buyers will see it as an attractive, upscale bonus!

Advanced Lighting

Go beyond the porch light! Your outdoor entertaining can carry on late into the night with proper lights. Imagine a peaceful glow over your outdoor bar, or colored lights in your pool. Lighting integrated into construction – rather than standalone lamps – is a permanent and valuable addition to your home.

Aside from lighting’s obvious entertainment uses, lighting is an important part of home presentation. This drive-by appearance – called curb appeal – is key for drawing prospective buyers. Carefully placed lights in your yard breathe life into your landscape, and highlights around the home can emphasize unique architectural features.

The Hazards of Customization

When you cater you home to your taste, consider how a buyer would see it. Your Panthers logo-shaped stonework is great for you, but what about for someone else?

This is more of an issue with interiors, where a person’s room can be very individualized. However, it’s still worth considering neutral and practical improvements to your exterior space, ones that the home’s next owner will love.

In other words: go nuts, but be sensible!