Outdoor Kitchens: Maximize Your Backyard Living

Imagine a warm sunny day. A cup of coffee by your side, you’re making omelets in your outdoor kitchen. You reach over and snip a few fresh herbs from the garden to delicately sprinkle over the dish. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? Well, moving the most-used room in your home to the great outdoors doesn’t have to remain a daydream. More and more homeowners are maximizing backyard living, and bringing their culinary skills — along with the high-performance indoor kitchen experience — with them.

According to the 2016 NKBA Design Trends Report, 69 percent of the designers surveyed recently created an outdoor kitchen and 43 percent saw an increase in requests for alfresco living spaces from their customers. “This year I already have three outdoor kitchens scheduled,” says L.A.-based Karl Champley, AKBD, and NKBA K+B Insider. “I think the trend will continue to grow as an extension of the indoor cooking and dining experience. More projects are including a fire pit as a feature and pizza ovens are becoming more popular as well.”

Homeowners are not only bringing the entire kitchen experience outside with weatherproof cabinets, refrigerators and music systems, but also the comfort of the dining and family rooms. Indoor-style furniture and lighting are migrating to the wilds of the backyard, creating a haven from the rest of the world while substantially increasing living space.

“Outdoor kitchens are an extension of the interior and it is important to treat an outdoor space as an indoor space when it comes to design,” says NKBA K+B Insider Alberto Villalobos of Villalobos Desio based in New York City. “It has to be well-thought-out with an organic transition between the two.”

Russ Faulk, marketing manager with Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, a maker of high-end outdoor ranges, grills and appliances based in Chicago, agrees. Faulk, who is the instructor for Outdoor Kitchen Design Principles on March 28 (see description below), says to consider the relationship between the indoor and outdoor versions when planning the outdoor kitchen. It’s important to take into account how will they be used together when cooking or entertaining. This is just one of the tips he recently shared with HGTV on creating the best outdoor kitchen and entertaining areas.

While outdoor kitchens are popular all across the country, there are regional preferences. “Because of the L.A. weather, I’m seeing seating layouts that are more circular and integrated into the landscape,” says Champley. According to Jennifer Bertrand, AKBD, and another NKBA K+B Insider, “There has been a huge surge in fire pits and ‘chillax’ areas in the Midwest. So even if you don’t do the whole kitchen, you can still get the ambiance of an outdoor hangout.”

“The importance of the outdoor space has really evolved along with the concept of home,” adds Bertrand. “It’s about reconnecting with the outdoors and having experiences outside of technology.”

For the latest on these and other kitchen and bathroom design trends, purchase the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Report or to download the executive summary of the report (free to NKBA members). If you’re looking to add outdoor kitchens to your business repertoire, sign up for one of the courses below:

  • Profiting from Outdoor Kitchens will teach you how to increase your profit margins by incorporating outdoor kitchens into your offerings.
  • Learn how educating yourself on what’s happening in the outdoor room market can lead to increased sales and satisfied clients in How to Make the Outdoor Kitchen a Part of Your Business.
  • Outdoor Kitchen Design Principles will educate kitchen designers on the specific considerations for creating outdoor kitchens that are both safe and meet the needs of their clients.

To view all virtual instructor-led courses & webinars, visit the NKBA Certification + Design Calendar.