Design Trend: Give Me Shelter

Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, Grillmaster | 02/20/2011 | Design, Outdoor Kitchen Design Trends

Outdoor kitchens began as a trend of taking the indoors outside; homeowners are now putting a roof over their outdoor kitchens. A sheltering structure provides a location for lighting, ceiling fans and helps retain heat from radiant heaters on cool spring and fall evenings, among others. More than 50 percent of designers attending Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet’s kitchen design classes report seeing an increase in the number of outdoor kitchens being designed under a roof. Kalamazoo believes this trend will continue to strengthen and become more elaborate as more people combine their outdoor kitchens with outdoor living spaces. Below are some best practices to keep in mind when installing an outdoor kitchen under a sheltering structure:

  1. Extending a home’s living space. Shelter over an outdoor kitchen has grown to be an important addition to today’s increasingly sophisticated kitchens. It has been adopted most readily in the northeastern United States. The main thing to keep in mind when considering structure: it is an architectural element and it must blend in with the exterior of the house. Clients are starting to build shelters that often require an architect’s skill to ensure it blends well.
  2. Ventilation. Once a structure goes over a grill, the need for ventilation increases. While a grill’s job is to produce smoke, you want to keep it and grease spatters contained. Vent hoods can be mounted on a wall, or suspended from the structure to service cooking islands; performance varies by manufacturer. Kalamazoo builds ventilation hoods to a commercial standard and six inches wider than its grills to ensure smoke and some grease are captured. The hoods are designed from the ground up to include a vertical capture area that is 30 inches tall.
  3. Keep a light on. Lighting is always important in an outdoor kitchen, but it becomes doubly important when a kitchen is under shelter. It is probably the least understood element in outdoor kitchen. Two types of lighting, task and ambient, have distinct jobs. Task lighting makes the work area more visible. Make sure that each work station (grill, sink, cooktop) and at least one prep area are well lit. Ambient lighting ends drama and atmosphere to the outdoor kitchen. Make it indirect, but provide enough for the entire kitchen and dining area.
  4. Don’t forget the cable, as in cable TV. TVs and audio equipment are gaining in popularity as a “must-have” in outdoor kitchens. There’s nothing like watching the big game outside while the grill cooks your favorite food. When placing the TV, keep in mind the movement of the sun. The last thing you want is the sun in your clients’ eyes or shining directly on the television. Consider the placement of cables and outlets so the TV’s appearance is kept as clean and simple as possible. Many TVs are being placed into the roof structure to keep them off of work surfaces and conceal wires, cable boxes, DVD players. Keep the same considerations in mind when placing speakers, docks for iPods or stereo equipment.


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Innovation is at the heart of every Kalamazoo product. Each part of the collection – from grills and pizza ovens to refrigeration and cabinetry – represents a significant departure from the established norm. Our passion for outdoor cooking and our fiercely independent design philosophy drive us to establish new industry benchmarks. Consequently, our list of exclusives and innovations speaks for itself.

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