Out­door Kitchens Are Cookin’

The cen­ter­piece of back-yard liv­ing, what’s trend­ing in Florida

Gulf & Main - - News - BY ANN MARIE O’PHE­LAN

"Out­door lanais aren’t what they used to be,” says Ben Poul­ton, pres­i­dent of El­e­gant Out­door Kitchens in Fort My­ers. Be­fore the ad­vent of un­der­truss lanais, Poul­ton ex­plains, there were sim­ply slid­ers sep­a­rat­ing a home’s in­te­rior from the pa­tio or back yard. While those ear­lier spa­ces were en­joyed to some de­gree, they were of­ten hot and buggy, and some­times they were soak­ing wet, es­pe­cially dur­ing the rainy sea­son. Nowa­days, cov­ered lanais al­low for more en­joy­ment more of­ten, as they are out of the sun and pro­tected from the el­e­ments.

Along with swim­ming pools and spas, lanais now fre­quently in­clude fully equipped out­door kitchens, as well as din­ing and liv­ing ar­eas. With built-in gas grills, full-sized re­frig­er­a­tors, wine cool­ers, cock­tail sta­tions and even kegera­tors, the mod­ern lanai makes entertaining fam­ily and friends eas­ier than ever, all un­der a cool and cov­ered space.

“Peo­ple move to Florida to en­joy the weather, and hav­ing an out­door space, es­pe­cially with a kitchen, helps them en­joy it a whole lot more,” adds Poul­ton.

Cook­ing out­doors has a few ben­e­fits. The heat of the oven is kept out­side, and some­times the task of cook­ing be­comes a group ac­tiv­ity be­cause, as any cook knows, oth­ers like to pitch in.

Hav­ing an out­door kitchen also makes cook­ing more con­ve­nient. “You don’t have to drag out the charcoal and your cooler, as ev­ery­thing you need is right on hand,” ex­plains Bob Knight, pres­i­dent of Paul Homes in Cape Coral.

When it comes to re­sale value, an out­door lanai with a kitchen is of­ten a ma­jor sell­ing point of a home. “It’s got­ten very com­mon to stay in one’s home longer than ex­pected, and so many home­own­ers are in­vest­ing in the home they own rather than mov­ing into a new home,” says Chris Baker, pres­i­dent of Tri County Land­scape in Cape Coral. Ad­ding an out­door kitchen also in­creases the amount of avail­able liv­ing space in a home, which may well in­crease its value.

As with any type of home de­sign, there are trends with out­door kitchens. These in­clude larger coun­ter­tops that al­low for plenty of food prepa­ra­tion, and sub­stan­tial bar top ar­eas for serv­ing bev­er­ages. These coun­ter­tops and bar tops are of­ten made of high-end gran­ite. While tile and stucco re­main good choices, nat­u­ral stone is be­com­ing pop­u­lar. For ex­am­ple, split­faced ledger pan­els are be­ing used for façades, back­splashes and out­door walls. En­ergy efficiency is also a con­sid­er­a­tion, so LED lights are fre­quently in­stalled on the grills and in and around the out­door kitchens. Also pop­u­lar are fire pits, fire­places and wood-fired grills.

Those who par­tic­u­larly love to cook some­times re­quest spe­cial grills and ovens. “Out­door-rated tep­pa­nyaki grid­dles

When it comes to re­sale value, an out­door lanai with a kitchen is of­ten a ma­jor sell­ing point of a home.

(flat iron grid­dles) and pizza ovens are pop­u­lar right now,” says pres­i­dent John Hull of John J Hull As­so­ciates in Fort My­ers.

Dura­bil­ity is a ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion when it comes to out­door kitchen plans. That’s why items such as high-qual­ity stain­less ap­pli­ances and weather-re­sis­tant cab­i­nets are in­stalled. Mul­ti­me­dia op­tions such as out­door tele­vi­sions and sound sys­tems are also de­signed to hold up to the weather.

When mak­ing plans to up­date an out­door kitchen, or add one, the process gen­er­ally starts with meet­ing clients at their homes to find out what they are look­ing for. “We also find out how they’re plan­ning to use the space, and find out what type of cook­ing they pre­fer. We then come up with a plan to­gether,” ex­plains Hull.

Out­door kitchens are not just about cook­ing and kick­ing back. In­stead, they of­fer a deeper pur­pose. “They are de­signed to bring the whole fam­ily and friends to­gether to en­joy and share their Florida life­style,” adds Hull. Ann Marie O’Phe­lan is a South­west Florida res­i­dent and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to TOTI Me­dia.


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