In 1935, renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed Fallingwater, a residential masterpiece known for blurring the barriers between the indoors and nature. Nearly a century later, homeowners still seek a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces. The goal has traditionally been to “bring the outdoors in,” but in recent years, homeowners have begun to focus on carrying the luxuries of the indoors to the natural beauty of their backyards. The modern backyard retreat serves to extend the outdoor season, add living space to the home, and create a vibrant yet casual space for entertaining. (Source)
In today’s outdoor living environments, the life of the party is often the fully functional outdoor kitchen: a space that combines utility and aesthetics, draws together family and friends in a relaxing atmosphere, and reduces the need for jaunts to and from the indoor kitchen. The quintessential modern outdoor kitchen includes all the amenities that are found in its indoor counterpart, such as refrigerators, sinks, self-service beverage bars, and ice makers, plus some features that are uniquely suited to the outdoors, such as pizza ovens. Consumers are also requesting ample under-counter storage, such as door-and-drawer combinations, to maximize efficiency.
The complex outdoor kitchens that are increasingly appearing in backyards across the country have evolved from the humble heart of al fresco dining: the grill. Long the symbol of summer evenings spent conjuring mouth-watering aromas while casually socializing with friends in the open air, the modern grill serves as a complement, both functionally and aesthetically, to the remainder of the outdoor kitchen. While grills remain an important centerpiece, today’s consumers are trending towards shorter models that allow for more abundant room for built-ins and counter space, as opposed to the wider options that have been popular in the past. Home chefs are also favoring grills adorned with energy-efficient LED lights, which serve as optical aids in cooking and stylishly illuminate the unit, enhancing its appeal as a focal point of the outdoor kitchen. To reduce the need for trips to and from the indoor kitchen, some grills offer side burners, allowing the entire meal to be cooked outside. “Everyone, not just the grill-master, wants to maximize their time outdoors,” says Keith Richardson of Arizona Fireplaces. “Features such as side burners allow family and friends to join in the cooking process outside, creating a collaborative experience in a fun and relaxed setting.” Popular brands include Primo, which manufactures a fleet of high-quality ceramic lump charcoal grills, and Fire Magic, which offers an innovative combination charcoal-gas grill. The gas functions to enhance precision and ease of use, while the charcoal adds a distinctive flavor.
One of the primary motivations driving today’s homeowners to invest in their outdoor living spaces is the desire to extend the outdoor season. Patio heaters and cooling systems, such as misters, help to effectuate this goal. Fire pits and fireplaces are popular ways to provide warmth in cooler months and serve as alluring centerpieces around which guests may gather. “Consumers are favoring fireplaces that convey a modern aesthetic,” says Keith Richardson. “Fireplaces with traits such as a linear shape and lots of glass help to create a modern vibe.”
As homeowners add lavish amenities to their outdoor retreats, they are also paying close attention to the style and layout of their new multi-seasonal living spaces. Entering the backyard oasis from the home, consumers are trending towards large glass doors that increase the permeability between indoor and outdoor living. To allow for maximum efficiency in outdoor kitchens, a U-shape is emerging as the most popular layout. The U-shape, which typically includes one wall for cooking, one for plating food, and one for entertaining, allows homeowners and guests to flow harmoniously through the kitchen. With kitchen islands, consumers are gravitating away from the tile and stucco combination that has been popular in the past and are opting for materials such as stacked stone, plaster, and raw poured concrete. Consistent with the preference for aesthetically modern features such as LED lights and linear-shaped fireplaces, today’s consumers prefer a clean, sharp-edged design for their outdoor living spaces.
Developing outdoor areas unlocks the full potential of the home. As homeowners increasingly seek to expand their living spaces and bring the comfort of the indoors to their backyards, suppliers will continually develop innovative ways to help consumers fulfill their outdoor living dreams. See, touch and feel all of these amazing ways to enhance your backyard living space at Imagine Backyard Living in Scottsdale.