Tip Sheet - Evolving Outdoor Kitchens
It started as little more than a grill and a counter top set somewhere on a patio. That’s what once defined an outdoor kitchen. Over the years that definition has changed. Rapidly. Homeowners want more out of their outdoor spaces and those who design them.
Kalamazoo polled design professionals during 2011 and found three big trends that are likely to carry through 2012.
Sheltering structures over the outdoor kitchen are becoming increasingly popular. Forty five percent of those responding said that more often than in the past their clients are requesting a sheltering structure over their outdoor kitchens. These can range from pergolas to full ceilings and roofs. They present those designing outdoor kitchens with new knowledge challenges. With a roof overhead, lighting becomes more important, as well as knowing the difference between ambient and task lighting, and how much of each are required.
Rocks rule. Fifty seven percent said they design outdoor kitchens to be built into masonry. This means homeowners are eschewing the prefab and framed designs for the durable, timeless design aesthetic that comes from stone. Knowing when and where bluestone or flagstone should be used is now more important than ever. Some rock is going to be more durable and “stain resistant” than others.
Sputnik and outdoor cooking. They have something in common - satellites. Sixty six percent of responding designers said their clients are asking them to create satellite kitchens – those that rely on the indoor kitchen for some part of the cooking or prep process. It’s more critical than ever to ask the right questions of the client and know what the various pieces of outdoor equipment can and cannot do.
Another trend we are seeing is the incorporation of televisions, speakers, iPod docks and wireless router signal amplifiers that keep homeowners connected while outdoors. Connectedness means a variety of things to different people. For some it could be keeping the kids entertained with cartoons on the television while they eat outdoors, or it could be a sound system capable of keeping up with teenagers and their parities and the soundtracks they carry in their iPods. For others it is watching the big game with friends or keeping up with the stock market.
To effectively design an outdoor kitchen requires more than just a working knowledge of which piece of cooking or storage equipment does what. Now you need to be an expert who can confidently talk about all facets of the outdoor cooking and entertaining lifestyle.