Open Air Living
In recent years, the term “outdoor living” has been on the minds and the lips of many homeowners. This term once referred to backyard decks, patio furniture, pools and hot tubs. Now, the trend has grown to incorporate much more.
“The things that homeowners are used to having inside are now available outside,” says Pat Byrne from Atlantis Outdoor Cabinetry. From kitchens to entertainment rooms, outdoor living has taken a new shape, and it’s spreading like wildfire.
As the experts at the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) describe, “Sitting comfortably with friends or family in the backyard on a cool summer evening, with a warm fire and dinner sizzling on the grill, is pure pleasure. It is also the precise reason why people throughout North America are turning their yards and decks into inviting outdoor living spaces.”
Outdoor living can be broken down into the same basic elements as life in general. One very important element is food, which is why outdoor kitchens are at the forefront of the outdoor living phenomenon.
A recent study released by Weber-Stephen Products Co. show that a barbecue grill and outdoor dining components top the list of items in the average outdoor room. Ninety seven percent of outdoor rooms contain these items, and respondents report they spend 59 percent of their time grilling in their outdoor room.
While the grill is the most common appliance in the outdoor room, full outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity. “From rollout shelves, pullout wastebaskets, refrigerators, warming drawers and 30-plus cabinet cabanas—the convenience and amenities you’d find in an indoor kitchen, you can now find outside,” Byrne says.
In fact, specialty kitchen items are also finding their niche in the outdoor kitchen. “Outdoor pizza ovens have been incredibly popular,” says Pete Georgiadis, president of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. He adds, “The selection of outdoor refrigeration for entertaining is now greater than ever. Homeowners can now have outdoor-rated freezers with martini glass chiller racks as well as luxurious wine chillers they can trust with their delicate varietals. We even have outdoor keg tappers that can serve up to three different kinds of beers. This trend toward fully functioning kitchens with all the amenities will continue to grow.”
As much as humans enjoy basking in the glow of the sun, having a nice, shady area to sit and relax in is just as important—especially for roasting-hot days. Outdoor shelter options are aplenty: From pergolas and retractable awnings to glass-enclosed conservatories, sunrooms and gazebos, homeowners today can easily find shading structures to fit their budget.
For cold-weather months and cool summer evenings, an outdoor fireplace is the perfect answer to continuing the enjoyment of your outdoor living space. According to the Weber-Stephen Products Co. study tracking outdoor room trends, “Ownership of an outdoor fireplace has doubled from 16 percent in 2003 to 32 percent in 2006. The strong majority of these fireplace owners (78 percent) believe that it ‘adds value’ to their outdoor space.”
Widely known as a relaxation technique, incorporating water into your outdoor living area is essential. Whether it be a fountain, swimming pool, waterfall, pond or hot tub, options abound and price levels widely vary—every homeowner can find a water feature to fit their needs and budget.
In this day and age, when televisions populate nearly every room in the house, it is natural to also incorporate them into outdoor rooms. Weatherproof televisions are a rising trend, and they’re available in HD and flat-panel models, just like indoors.
According to Planar Systems Inc., a 2006 study was performed by Quixel Research. Its findings forecast that the outdoor television and projection screen market will likely quadruple between 2007 and 2009. This is additional proof that the entertainment extension of outdoor living is on the rise, a predictable result, as it’s well-known that Americans love entertainment.
When choosing methods of entertainment for your outdoor room, don’t overlook sound. Outdoor speakers are more popular than ever, and music is a great way to create the atmosphere of your choice.
“What makes creating an outdoor room so much fun is that it’s like taking the best from inside the house and moving it outside,” says Ernie Boys, vice president of product management at Weber-Stephen Products Co. Start planning your outdoor living area today—when summer arrives, you’ll be enjoying the great outdoors from your own backyard!