SOCIAL SPACES

OUTDOOR KITCHEN DESIGN HAS AN EYE TOWARD ENTERTAINING

By Margaret Littman

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In recent years, the term outdoor kitchen has, perhaps, become a misnomer. While an indoor kitchen may include multipurpose features like a TV, a homework station or a dining area, at its heart it is primarily a place to prepare food. The outdoor kitchen, experts say, leans more toward an entertaining space. Indoors, one person usually is the cook. When people use an outdoor kitchen, however, it tends to be a communal event, with someone manning the grill, someone fetching cold drinks from the outdoor fridge and others gathering 'round the fire pit.

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In NKBA's 2017 annual design trends survey, outdoor kitchens were at the forefront, and one item in particular was on many respondents' wish list. "The pizza oven is something that is taking off quickly," H-Millard says. "It was a luxury for so many years, and now it has become popular."

In addition, designers are seeing wine coolers, grills with rotisseries, ice makers, kegerators, weather-proof cabinetry and fabrics designed for outdoor use.

The cost of building an outdoor kitchen can vary - depending on the size of the project and the equipment chosen - anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000. Alicia Marshall of Innovative Outdoor Kitchens in San Diego says most of her projects fall between $25,000 and $30,000. Hiring a professional designer may cost more than doing it yourself, but an expert might avoid design pitfalls like not installing a sink next to a grill without prep space in between or other basics that could cause you frustration later on if you opt to go it alone.

Kevin Guzior, vice president of marketing and business development for Pioneer Landscape Centers, with locations in Arizona and Colorado, is excited about DIY kits for building countertops and outdoor spaces. "It used to be that stone veneer and stucco required a contractor, but now there are kits that can be stacked together in any form or format," Guzior says.

Bea Pila of Miami's B. Pila Design expects the popularity of outdoor kitchens to grow.

"I love how people enjoy outdoor kitchens," she says. "There is something about a fire's open flame that brings people together. It must be embedded in our DNA."

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