With spring in full swing and summer right around the corner, it’s time to plant yourself outside to soak up the sunshine, warm your bones, and enjoy some backyard fun with family and friends. One of the hottest summer trends this year is to bring your favorite indoor rooms – outside – by creating elegant and functional outdoor kitchens and family areas. Outdoor fireplaces are heating up backyards across the country and are playing a double role as a trendy brick oven for the nights (when you want to give your grill a break and treat your family to your favorite coal-fired pizza recipe), or as the go-to place for toasting marshmallows with the kids. These creative spaces bring an element of fun and character to your backyard and make your house the hot spot for outdoor summer entertaining. Whether it’s a quiet summer evening relaxing with family or a large-scale celebration, an outdoor retreat can make special times even more memorable.
Granite Transformations® offers some things to consider when planning the design of your outdoor retreat. To start, it’s always best to leverage some of the same design principles for an outdoor space as you would for an indoor space. Take into consideration how much outdoor space you have to work with, how many people you will be accommodating, your entertaining needs, and of course, your budget.
• Choose waterproof materials: Just as you would for your indoor kitchen, plan for ample countertop space, a sink, storage cabinets, and possibly a bar for your outdoor kitchen. Whether you have the space for a large full-scale outdoor kitchen or a small area for a more intimate entertaining nook, you must choose materials that are waterproof and which can withstand the elements all year round.
o Countertops: When selecting your countertop, focus on durability first. You need to select materials that are made to handle the outdoor elements. Recycled glass countertops are visually stunning when the sun reflects off of the glass. If you go with an engineered countertop, be sure that it’s made to withstand UV rays.
o Cabinets and sinks: When selecting cabinets and sinks, high-quality stainless steel provides one of the best surfaces for your outdoor kitchen. Stainless steel surfaces are easy to clean and corrosion-resistant and will provide years of low-maintenance outdoor pleasure.
o Flooring: Flooring or patio decking material should be highly resistant to grease stains and be able to withstand high temperatures. Sealed pavers or concrete are good flooring choices when designing your outdoor kitchen.
o Outdoor fireplace or fire pit: Although barbeque grills are the most popular outdoor cooking choice, today’s savvy homeowners are opting to build outdoor fireplaces to complement their new entertainment areas. Custom fireplaces add charm to any backyard and offer warmth on a cool night, and they can even double as an oven when you want to give your grill a break. Fire pits are another budget-friendly way to bring open-flame ambiance to your backyard, as they offer a fun place to toast marshmallows or relax on a cool evening.
• Functionality and utility: The placement or installation of any gas, water and electrical supplies will add to the functionality of your outdoor space. To ensure that your outdoor space continues to function throughout each season, incorporate various types of shelter to your cooking and dining areas. Installing heaters, awnings, pergolas – or even by planting shade trees – are great ways to shelter your guests from the elements as they enjoy the beauty of your outdoor living area. Experts recommend not having a ceiling or shelter directly over the grill area, as too much smoke will accumulate and there will not be proper ventilation. Cooking hoods are a good option. For smaller outdoor kitchen areas, opt for choosing a counter space that can double as a dining area. One rule of thumb is to plan for a countertop that is at least 15″ deep and approximately 24″ wide, in order to accommodate adequate space for each person.
• Other add-ons:
o TV: You may be a fabulous cook, but your guests may also want to watch the big game or listen to great music while enjoying your company outside. Plan for the installation of a flat screen television and music when designing your space.
o Lighting: Lighting is a key component to your outdoor space. Make sure you include adequate task lighting, as well as ambient lighting for those after-dark entertaining nights.
Going inside-out is the way to go this summer. Have the best of both worlds by bringing your favorite rooms outside and where you can enjoy nature at the same time.