Outdoor Kitchen Design: 9 Common Questions and Answers

Home improvement projects to add or upgrade outdoor living spaces have been on an upward trend in the last few years.

In a recent Home Design Trends Survey, 45% of the architects polled predicted that outdoor kitchen additions would become the most popular type of remodelling project in the kitchen category.

When so many in-the-know professionals believe outdoor cooking space additions will be more popular than traditional indoor kitchen makeovers, that’s saying something.

outdoor kitchen and dining space

With the pandemic dramatically shifting how we live and function, maximizing the comfort level in our homes has become even more of a priority for a lot of homeowners.

The desire to enhance our lifestyle by creating more livable outdoor space in the backyard or at the cottage has made exterior kitchens very in-demand right now.

There are a number of questions you probably have about what goes into an outdoor kitchen design, so let’s provide some answers.

1. Who should I trust with my outdoor kitchen design?

Anyone can buy a new grill and patio dining set and call it an outdoor living space, but there’s so much more the outdoor living experience can offer. Think bigger.

Hiring a skilled designer to create an outdoor kitchen and living space will result in a finished project that serves your family’s needs better and has a high-end, professional look.

As a division of the storage and organization experts at Garage Living, Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry has the same high standards for our outdoor kitchen designs as we do for our garage designs. This includes working with only the finest gourmet grills, cabinetry, and appliances.

Our skilled designers are dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind outdoor kitchens that are customized to our clients’ style preferences and functional needs.

One thing that sets Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry apart is the full-service approach we bring to our kitchen projects. From design to installation, we take care of everything with your outdoor kitchen. This includes handling all aspects related to the outdoor living space’s:

  • cabinetry
  • grills
  • appliances
  • countertops
  • LED lighting
  • outdoor audio

2. What’s the best location for an outdoor kitchen?

One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is where the outdoor kitchen will be located in your backyard.

If you have an existing deck or patio where you want the outdoor kitchen to go then it’s an easier decision, but it’s good to take a few of the following factors into consideration.

Most homeowners prefer to have their outdoor cooking area located close to the house. This makes an outdoor kitchen and dining area feel more like an extension of the living space. The house also acts as a shelter from the wind and, depending on the design of the house, can provide shade.

This type of setup may be more desirable just for the sake of convenience when you’re cooking outdoors and want quick access to anything inside. Having an outdoor kitchen within close proximity of the house makes installing plumbing, electrical, and natural gas connections a bit easier, too.

Locating an exterior kitchen and entertaining area further from the house if you have a larger backyard has its benefits as well.

A poolside area outfitted with a cooking and lounging space can make your backyard experience feel like you’re staying at a nice resort and give you more room to get creative with your outdoor kitchen design.

Nothing beats the taste of grilled foods and even during the frigid Canadian winter, a lot of us still like to fire up the grill. If you fall into this category, keep that in mind when choosing your outdoor kitchen’s location. After all, you probably don’t want to trudge through a couple of feet of snow to get to that poolside grill in mid-February!

3. Is a patio or deck better for my cooking space?

outdoor kitchen on wood deck

The deck versus patio argument has been around for ages and if you’re looking to add either one for an outdoor kitchen, there are some basic facts you should know. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Patio

Compared to wood decks, patios are a little more cost-effective because they’re less expensive to install and tend to last a bit longer. Well-maintained wood decks should last about 10-15 years and a patio that has been properly maintained will last approximately 15-20 years.

Patios provide a wealth of options in terms of shapes, designs, and colours of paver and patio stones. This can help you create a patio design that beautifully complements your home’s exterior.

While you don’t have to worry about weight restrictions with a patio like you do with decks, you are limited to having it on the the ground floor.

Deck

Decks typically cost more to build than patios, but do provide a slightly higher return on investment (around 75% compared to approximately 70% for a patio).

One advantage decks have over patios is they give you more flexibility in terms of where they can be installed. A raised deck may be preferable to you depending on the layout of your home and an elevated deck also offers a nicer view if you live in a picturesque location. That last fact can also mean less privacy if you have neighbours living right beside you, however.

One issue you need to concern yourself with when it comes to raised decks is they need to be sturdy enough to handle the weight of an outdoor living space and its occupants. Elevated decks will also require some type of railing.

Wood decks will require occasional maintenance, naturally. There shouldn’t be much of a concern with wood decks posing a fire hazard if you take the following precautions:

  • locate your grill in a safe area (not too close to wood railings or any combustible materials)
  • work with a professional who will know how to design a cooking space that’s safe
  • apply a flame-retardant treatment to the deck wood

To eliminate the need for deck maintenance, you could choose a more premium type of deck material like aluminum or composite (the latter has a lifespan that ranges anywhere from 25-50 years).

4. What type of outdoor kitchen layout do I need?

How you plan to use your outdoor kitchen should be the primary factor that determines how the layout is designed.

Do you need a large or small food prep area? How much space do you need for storage or to add appliances or a sink? Do you want to incorporate a dining area into the cooking space? Where should the grill go?

There are many things to take into consideration in order to choose a kitchen configuration that will maximize your enjoyment of the space.

If you have a lot of room to work with and desire a fully-functioning outdoor kitchen, a U-shaped or L-shaped configuration are ideal.

These types of layouts will provide you with an ample amount of counter and storage space in your food prep area, as well as more room to add a sink, some appliances, and a larger grill.

Part of the countertop can even be used as a bar area with seating for guests. Another option is to incorporate an island into the kitchen’s layout, which can be used as an extra work surface (where you could put the sink), a bar area, and for additional storage.

What if you’re working with a smaller budget, have a limited amount of space, or just aren’t looking to create a large outdoor kitchen? No worries – you can still create a beautiful outdoor cooking space with a nice grill, a modest amount of countertop space, and a few cabinets and drawers.

5. Is a premium grill worth it?

Coyote premium grill

If you’re used to paying a few hundred dollars for a grill that is perfectly fine and functional, there are several reasons why you should spend a little more for a premium grill.

Premium grills are built to last. Inexpensive barbecues cost what they do because a lot of manufacturers use cheap metals and parts that rust and break quickly. Spend a little more for a grill that has higher-grade construction materials like 304 stainless steel.

A high-quality grill just looks and feels nicer. One of the first things anyone looking at an outdoor kitchen will notice is the grill. Premium grills project a professional, upscale look and that superior quality is evident when you get hands-on with one, too.

A premium grill is more reliable and safe to use. If you get more than a couple of years of use out of the starter switch on a cheap grill before it’s toast, you’re probably happy. Luxury grills will work more reliably, from starting up every time to retaining their heat effectively to distributing heat more efficiently than budget grills (which reduces the occurrence of dangerous flare-ups).

Luxury grills work better for a custom outdoor kitchen design. If you’re putting the time and expense into getting a professionally designed outdoor living space, a premium grill is a must-have. You’ll have a number of style and size options to choose from to ensure the grill effectively complements the rest of the kitchen’s stylish features.

Premium grills come with convenient high-tech features. How would you like to fire up your grill or adjust the temperature with a voice command or by tapping a smartphone screen? Wouldn’t it be nice to use a grill with sensors that were so precise they could keep cooking temperatures at the perfect level? These are just some of the available features on modern smart grills.

6. What should I know about outdoor kitchen cabinetry?

Outdoor kitchen cabinetry works hard.

It needs to look great, provide you with efficient storage space, and be durable enough to withstand the diverse weather of Canada’s four seasons.

Oh, and it would be helpful if it was low-maintenance, too.

That’s a lot to ask of one product, but premium outdoor kitchen cabinet brands like Danver, Urban Bonfire, and NatureKast are up to the task.

They offer high-quality outdoor cabinet solutions with a range of materials, colours, finishes, and styles to make customizing your outdoor kitchen design easier.

Like grills, outdoor kitchen cabinetry needs to be made from high-quality materials that won’t rust or wear down rapidly. Here are three resilient cabinet materials worth considering:

  • commercial-grade stainless steel with a powder coating finish
  • PVC (which replicates the look of real wood and is very low-maintenance)
  • marine-grade aluminum

7. What type of countertop should I buy?

Another hard-working part of any outdoor kitchen are the countertops, which need to have a high resistance to scratches, stains, and high temperatures, in addition to being outdoor-proof and visually appealing.

High-end outdoor kitchen countertops from manufacturers like Dekton and Neolith are made with the latest in countertop design technology.

A highly advanced manufacturing process that involves using sintering particle technology can create work and dining surfaces that are exceptionally strong and durable.

They are also highly customizable, giving you an endless array of options for materials, colours, patterns, and textures.

8. How can I complement my outdoor cooking space?

outdoor living space

An outdoor kitchen adds stylish functionality to your backyard, but what are some ways you can complement it to create a complete outdoor living space?

There’s no shortage of ideas to add to your outdoor kitchen design and make your backyard a more comfortable and attractive extension of your living space.

An outdoor living and entertaining space and relaxation go hand in hand, so some comfy seating like a sofa, loveseat, or recliners are a must. Get a high-quality dining set built for the outdoors to make dining al fresco more enjoyable.

Proper lighting for an outdoor living area and the surrounding landscaping also makes a big difference. Strategically placed lighting accentuates the living space, adds ambiance, and allows it to be more functional and safe.

Here are some additional things that can be included in an outdoor living space:

  • an outdoor fireplace, fire pit, or patio heater
  • ceiling fans
  • an outdoor TV
  • an outdoor bar/beverage centre
  • a hot tub
  • outdoor rugs
  • a pergola, awning, or pavilion
  • an in-ground garden or a vertical garden with fresh herbs and vegetables

9. What are my outdoor kitchen appliance options?

An exterior kitchen’s main appliance – the grill – can do a lot of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to preparing outdoor meals, but what if you want to expand your cooking repertoire?

That’s where outdoor kitchen appliances come in. An outdoor kitchen design can incorporate a number of speciality appliances that gives you more cooking options, which allows you to get more creative in the kitchen.

Appliances like a smoker, pizza oven, flattop/cooktop grill, outdoor oven, side burners, and warming drawers can, in many cases, be installed as built-in units that make efficient use of the kitchen space.

Some non-cooking outdoor appliances that also bring the amenities of an indoor kitchen to your outdoor living space include refrigerators, freezers, and ice machines.

Bring us your outdoor kitchen design ideas

Let’s talk about your outdoor kitchen and living space design ideas. We’ll work together to create an incredible and unique outdoor cooking and entertaining space for your home or cottage.

Request a free design consultation with us to start planning your outdoor kitchen project.

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Premium Grill Benefits: 5 Reasons to Go Upscale With Your Barbecue

Toronto premium grill benefits

With the right design, an outdoor kitchen and entertaining space can become a backyard oasis that expands a home’s living space.

If your goal is to create an outdoor cooking area that projects a stunning high-end look, a premium grill is a must-have.

Creating a luxury outdoor kitchen and using a cheap grill makes as much sense as wearing a pair of Crocs with a tuxedo or parking luxury cars in a rundown garage. The entire aesthetic is just plain wrong.

A premium grill does cost more, but as that familiar expression goes, “you get what you pay for”.

Here’s a more original and thoughtful way to justify spending more to get more with a grill, using the words of a writer from the 1800s: “The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

What premium grill benefits should buyers be aware of when they’re putting together an outdoor kitchen design? It all comes down to looks, functionality, and durability.

5 premium grill benefits

Many people think that a premium grill is one of those larger, fancier, more expensive barbecue models they’ve admired on display at their local big-box store.

While these types of barbecues are an undeniable step up from the inexpensive, low-quality models that can found elsewhere in a store’s grill department, they’re actually just barely scratching the surface of what is truly “premium”.

Any discussion about high-end grills involves premium brands such as DCS, Kalamazoo, Lynx, Komodo Kamado, Coyote, and Alfresco being part of the conversation.

A natural gas or propane grill is the foundation of an outdoor cooking space. Choosing the right grill model can be the make-or-break difference between being merely content with your outdoor kitchen or the area being one of your favourite home spaces.

And it’s a premium grill that is found in the finest outdoor kitchens.

These five premium grill benefits explain why it’s worth going upscale when buying your primary outdoor cooking appliance.

1. Premium grills are built to last

DCS premium grill

Even with proper care and maintenance, cheap grills are notorious for rusting after a short amount of time.

Either you or someone you know has had that frustrating experience where a relatively new barbecue is found to be showing signs of rust, despite the fact a grill cover was always used.

If any grill is kept outside, using a good cover certainly helps to prolong its life. A grill used in Canada is still going to have to contend with extreme temperature shifts and moisture that collects underneath its cover, however.

That’s one of many reasons the quality of a grill’s construction materials is so important.

Cheap grills keep costs down by cutting corners on virtually all aspects of the manufacturing process, starting with the construction materials.

Budget grills rust quickly because the metals they use (including steel, iron, and aluminum) are typically low-grade and sourced overseas. They are often made from thin steels and inferior cast aluminum, which doesn’t offer much durability.

One of the biggest premium grill benefits is that they last much longer than cheap grills because metals of a superior quality are used in the manufacturing process. Cheap steel manufactured in many countries, for example, includes a lot of recycled materials and can’t compare in quality to most North American-made steels.

Premium grills from manufacturers like Coyote and Alfresco are commonly made with 304 stainless steel (also known as 18/8 stainless steel in the commercial cookware industry). This thicker, higher quality steel provides excellent corrosion resistance and more grill durability.

Starter switches on cheap grills are notorious for how quickly they stop working. With a premium grill, you get better hardware and components that last longer and are more dependable. Lynx grills, for example, use high-performance ceramic and brass burners that won’t need replacing after only a few years.

The design and construction of a premium grill also pays more attention to important details like how the grill is welded. Cheap grills have poor designs with seams and gaps that let heat escape and cause a mess with leaking grease.

2. A premium grill just looks and feels nicer

A major incentive in taking on any home upgrade upgrade project is to make your living space look its best and be something you can’t wait to show off to visitors.

As the focal point of an outdoor cooking space, the grill is going to get its fair share of attention. You don’t want a low-end grill to detract from the high-end aesthetic of an outdoor kitchen that includes cabinetry, countertops, and additional appliances.

Even a grilling novice will immediately recognize the higher level of quality that a premium outdoor cooking appliance displays, compared to a cheap grill.

Those higher quality materials, heavy-duty construction, and the meticulously crafted design result in a sleek, finely-tuned outdoor cooking appliance.

Special aesthetic touches like integrated illumination via backlit designer knobs and high-intensity halogen lighting inside the premium grill cover not only enhance the look of the appliance, they also have practical applications. 

The “touch test” is another of the premium grill benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. A luxury grill just feels nicer to the touch and provides a more satisfying tactile experience.

Superior grill quality becomes evident in the small details like having knobs that turn smoothly and consistently, or doors and drawers that open and close easily. And one of the real tests of a grill’s quality is whether or not these parts still work perfectly after a few years of use.

Keep in mind that another benefit of buying a premium grill is that they come with better warranties than cheap grills.

3. You get a better, safer cooking experience

open DCS grill with chicken on rotisserie

Our summers in Canada are all too short. Who wants to waste the limited amount of outdoor enjoyment time the summer offers dealing with an undependable, frustrating-to-use grill?

Premium grills provide a more consistent level of functionality and dependability, which translates into a better outdoor cooking experience.

Standard features on premium grills like long-lasting ignition switches that always work and spring-assisted lids that easily open and close are the kinds of smaller user-friendly details that you’ll appreciate after years of using cheap grills.

Grills with better designs and high-quality metals do a better job at retaining heat and distributing the heat more evenly, which results in a more reliable cooking performance.

A higher quality grill is safer to use, too. In addition to the aforementioned lighting features they include, premium grills also use advanced heating systems that allow you to use different temperatures across the cooking area. This not only gives you more flexibility when grilling different types of food, it also minimizes the occurrence of dangerous flame flare-ups.

Having a grill with a reliable ignition switch naturally makes the appliance safer to use as well. You won’t need to go through the nerve-wracking experience of standing over a grill to light it with a match or stick lighter because that darn starter switch stopped working!

And let’s not forget the convenient smart features included in some models of premium grills, which simplifies the grilling process even more. Find out more about this premium grill benefit a little further on in this post.

4. A premium grill gives you the option to customize

Another reason a premium grill is a must-have for an outdoor cooking space is you’ll want to take advantage of the ability to customize it for your kitchen design.

Luxury outdoor kitchens typically don’t have standalone grills – they incorporate the grill right into the kitchen’s countertop and cabinet design.

This built-in design creates a clean, seamless look and allows the kitchen to be set up for an optimal level of convenience and work efficiency for the chef(s) when preparing and cooking meals.

Even a big-box store’s best grills tend to only come in one or two sizes. Premium grills offer many more size options and allow you to customize extras like the sizes of warming drawers and side burners.

Additional outdoor kitchen appliance options that expand the cooking space’s versatility include products like refrigerators, flat-top grills, pizza ovens, and beverage centres.

You can ensure the kitchen’s aesthetic remains consistent by choosing outdoor kitchen appliances and accessories with finishes and styles that complement each other and your grill.

5. Smart grill technology makes outdoor cooking easier

MyChef iconSmart technology has made its way into many of the appliances we use, from refrigerators with touchscreens that allow you to order groceries to dishwashers that can send a message to your smartphone telling you when the wash cycle is done.

Grills are another home appliance that have convenient smart features available. You won’t find them on grill models that can be picked up at the local big-box store for a few hundred dollars, however.

It’s only the high-end barbecues that integrate this state-of-the-art technology into their designs, such as the Lynx Professional Smart Series of grills.

These grills use Lynx’s innovative MyChef technology. Check out a few of the impressive things this intelligent tech can do when you’re grilling:

  • voice or smart device-activated commands can start the cooking process and adjust temperatures
  • sensors in the smart grill keep cooking temperatures at the perfect level
  • the grill is connected to an online database with hundreds of recipes and instructs you on how to get the best grilling results
  • updates to the grill’s learning module are made based on the user’s input and cooking habits
  • a smart phone or tablet app monitors temperatures and cooking times and sends you an alert when the food needs to be flipped or is done

Perfect your outdoor kitchen space with the right premium grill

Have these premium grill benefits convinced you that they’re worth the investment?

Enjoying a superior outdoor cooking experience starts with your grill, so don’t settle for anything less than one of the top premium grill brands.

Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry only works with the finest grill manufacturers, including Lynx, Alfresco, Coyote, and DCS.

Schedule a free design consultation with us to look at your premium grill options for your outdoor kitchen project.

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7 Smart Outdoor Home Improvement Projects That Up Your Curb Appeal

outdoor home improvement projects

Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report measures which home improvement projects retain the best value over time.

The 2020 Cost vs. Value report determined that nine of the top ten renovation projects that delivered the highest value returns were outdoor home improvement projects.

Homeowners want their houses and property to be something they can show off and be proud of. Investing in the right outdoor home improvement projects can turn an average-looking house and property into something special that can make your home really stand out in the neighbourhood.

Boosting curb appeal doesn’t just have aesthetic benefits, however. Investing in your home’s exterior appearance also enhances your comfort level and adds value to your home that can be recouped to varying degrees whenever you move.

7 smart outdoor home improvement projects

Curb appeal isn’t restricted to only your home’s street-facing features, either. Sprucing up the backyard is also important and we’re seeing more interest in this area of home improvement.

It pays to do your homework about which outdoor home improvement projects pay off and which ones don’t.

Adding a pool, for example, might provide you and your family with many hours of enjoyment for as long as you own your house. Unfortunately, pools have a notoriously lousy return on investment (typically in the 40-50% range). The vast majority of anyone buying a home views pools as the least appealing outdoor feature for a house.

Which outdoor home improvement projects are considered the smartest picks if you want to invest in your curb appeal and retain a higher amount of your remodeling investment?

Here are seven worthwhile projects that will refresh the exterior appearance of your house and add value to your home.

1. A new roof

As you can see from the Remodeling Impact Report infographic below from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a new roof provides an outstanding return on investment.

home improvement projects infographic

A roof upgrade has a huge impact on curb appeal and provides a great return on investment. (Source: The National Association of Realtors)

Not only is redoing a roof a wise investment and great for curb appeal, but it also ranks very high when it comes to the satisfaction of consumers with their outdoor home improvement projects.

The NAR’s “Joy Score” measures the happiness of homeowners with their renovations on a scale of 1-10 and a new roof gets a score of 9.2.

Giving your roof a facelift isn’t cheap, so it tends to be one of those outdoor home improvement projects that get put off for as long as possible. The lifespan of asphalt roofing shingles in Canada ranges anywhere from 15-30 years, depending on the quality of the shingles.

However, waiting to replace your shingles isn’t the kind of thing you want to procrastinate on for too long, as anyone who has dealt with a leaky roof can attest. Even if a roof isn’t leaking, missing and faded shingles, along with other types of roof damage, can present your house in a poor light.

Performing annual roof inspections yourself can mitigate unexpected roofing issues in the future. Look for wind damage that may have caused some shingles to get ripped off or loosened, curled shingles, an excess of missing granules on the surface of shingles, and damage from hail. Ensure your downspouts and gutters are regularly cleaned, as clogs can potentially cause roof damage.

If you can afford it, a roof upgrade project also presents a good opportunity to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency and value. A study by Zillow (a leading real estate and rental digital company) found that homes with solar panels sold for more than homes without solar energy systems.

Some people don’t care for the aesthetics of roof solar panels, which Tesla has addressed with its Solar Roof system. It replaces the large, shiny, and futuristic look of traditional roof solar panels with much smaller high-efficiency solar panels that replicate the look of a traditional shingled roof.

2. Front door replacement

One of the more cost-effective outdoor home improvement projects worth doing is replacing your front entry door. A stylish and modern front door creates a strong first impression to anyone entering your home.

A professionally installed new front door typically falls in the $1,000-$5,000 range. Larger doors that have high-end hardware and include more intricate glass designs will naturally increase the price of the project.

New front doors provide a solid return on investment of around 70-75%. On the most recent Remodeling Impact Report, homeowners who had gotten recent fibreglass and steel front door replacements rated their project a 9.7 on the Joy Score scale.

Steel and fibreglass exterior entry doors are popular with homeowners nowadays because they cost less than most wood doors. Unlike wood doors, steel and fibreglass also requires little to no maintenance.

In addition to aesthetics, one of the reasons given by homeowners for a steel or fibreglass exterior door replacement was energy efficiency considerations. Homeowners also cited security concerns as a reason for getting a modern door that was sturdier than their old door.

If your budget doesn’t allow for getting a new front door, even sprucing up your existing door is beneficial to your home’s appearance.

A fresh coat of paint or stain for your door and upgrading hardware features like the lock, knob, handle, and knocker can make an old front door look brand new. You can also update the door by adding a smart lock system.

3. Adding an outdoor kitchen

outdoor kitchen on patio

Kitchen remodels are consistently one of the most popular home improvement projects. The American Institute of Architects’ recent Home Design Trends Survey is taking this concept to a whole new level.

45% of the 500 members of residential architecture firms surveyed predict that outdoor kitchen additions will become the most popular type of home improvement project in the kitchen category in the coming years.

Adding an outdoor kitchen gives Canadians who are looking to maximize their time outdoors when the weather is nice with another option when it comes to cooking at home. And when we say “option”, we’re not just talking about using a single grill with a side burner.

Outdoor kitchens are capable of truly bringing the indoors outside, implementing many of the amenities and features of a traditional kitchen into an outdoor cooking space.

A professional outdoor kitchen design company like Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry can create a cooking space that is fit for a gourmet cook.

From design to installation, we take care of everything for your outdoor cooking space. Our outdoor kitchens have a sophisticated, high-end look and are designed to incorporate all of the features your cooking needs require. This includes:

A creative and thoughtful touch like adding a nearby garden (or a vertical garden that’s actually right in the kitchen) with fresh herbs and veggies for your meals is also an option for an outdoor kitchen.

4. Adding an outdoor living space

To complement an exterior cooking area, adding an outdoor living space can really help you get the most out of your backyard and connect more with the great outdoors.

An outdoor living room with plenty of comfortable seating and an area for dining al fresco extends your home’s living space.

Backyard living spaces also create an ideal space for entertaining during the warmer months of the year. These attractive benefits are why many buyers of new luxury homes consider an outdoor living room a must-have feature.

Outdoor living spaces can be designed to accommodate all types of budgets and sizes of backyards. A simple design for a small patio or a larger, more lavish outdoor living space design will improve your comfort level while at home.

A talented designer will ensure your outdoor living space and outdoor kitchen blend seamlessly with your existing home’s style and décor.

A few extra amenities worth considering for an outdoor living space are:

  • an outdoor fire pit or fireplace
  • a pergola or retractable awning for sun and rain protection, as well as for privacy
  • an outdoor audio system
  • lighting upgrades for more ambiance and functionality
  • a weatherproof/outdoor TV

5. Home siding or stone veneer upgrade

Appearance-conscious homeowners should consider a siding replacement if their home’s siding has seen better days.

This home improvement project can greatly impact your curb appeal. Compared to siding products from 20-30 years ago, modern siding is a lot more durable, is easier to maintain, and gives you a lot more design options with a variety of profiles and colours.

While the return on investment for vinyl and fibre cement siding is in the 65-75% range, a siding replacement left homeowners who undertook the project very satisfied with a 9.3 Joy Score.

For a different look that stands out from the long horizontal panels used for siding on most homes, you could choose textured shake siding made from engineered wood.

Another visually impressive alternative is to add a stone veneer to your home’s exterior for a distinct, natural look. While it’s not cheap, adding a manufactured stone veneer to your home had one of the highest returns on investment in the latest Cost vs. Value report at 96%.

6. New garage doors

outdoor home improvement projects garage doors

One of the home’s major focal points is the garage doors, which can account for as much as a third of a house’s front exterior. It’s a simple fact that attractive garage doors and strong curb appeal go hand in hand.

While the approximate returns on investment for various renovation projects can vary from year to year depending on trends, new garage doors are as rock-solid an investment as it gets in home improvement for the amount recouped. Year after year, they stay in the 85-95% range for return on investment.

Like front doors, garage doors offer a wealth of styles and customization options nowadays to effectively complement a house’s exterior, in addition to improving the energy efficiency of homes.

An aluminum capping upgrade is a rather underappreciated way to add to a home’s exterior visual appeal, too. Most people aren’t familiar with what aluminum capping is. It involves wrapping a garage doorframe in aluminum sheeting that is colour-matched to the garage doors and home exterior, which gives a house a clean, more finished look.

7. Upgrading or adding a deck or patio

Decks ranked number one among the features wanted most by homebuyers, according to the Homeowners’ Most Wanted survey from Porch, an online home improvement resource.

Their return on investment is in the 70-75% range, with wood decks recouping slightly more than decks made from composite materials.

It’s no surprise that a deck or patio upgrade or addition is usually one of the most popular outdoor home improvement projects in Canada during the spring and summer.

These areas are the foundation of a backyard cooking and living space. Whether you’re working on a tan, cooking for your family or guests, or just relaxing with friends, there’s a real value in having a spacious, comfortable area at the ready in your backyard.

If you already have a wood deck, giving it a little TLC every few years by spending a weekend restaining it can give this part of your home a beneficial refresh. Deck stain applications will last for about five years.

Get started on your outdoor home improvement projects!

Which outdoor home improvement projects are on your to-do list this spring and summer?

If an outdoor cooking and living space is something you’ve always wanted, make this the year your dream becomes a reality.

Request a consultation with Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry to start planning your outdoor project now so you’ll be able to maximize the use of your outdoor kitchen and living space this summer.

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5 Reasons a Pro Should Install Your Landscape Lighting and Audio

There are plenty of home improvement projects that are suited to a DIY approach, but many projects are best left to the professionals.

Complex jobs like replacing electrical wiring, plumbing fixes, roofing upgrades, or a room remodel are no place for anyone who can’t tell the difference between a wrench and some pliers.

Installing landscape lighting and audio is another type of home upgrade project that is smarter to leave for a pro instead of attempting to do yourself.

outdoor lighting and audio

A landscape lighting and audio project needs a pro’s touch

If you’re planning to improve an existing outdoor cooking area or add an outdoor kitchen, making landscape lighting and audio upgrades to the areas surrounding this space is important.

These two additions will enhance your outdoor living space with extra functionality and boost your backyard curb appeal.

You’ll want to ensure the project gets done properly, on time, and with products that will last. Most of us don’t have the time or patience to contend with the headaches a project of this nature can present to an inexperienced DIYer.

Therefore, the wise choice is to hire a professional for the job. Here are five reasons to hire an expert for your landscape lighting and audio installation.

1. They’ll use high-quality landscape lighting and audio products

There are many outdoor audio and lighting products of a higher quality on the market that are only available to professionals and not the general public.

Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry is proud to be a certified supplier of Coastal Source products. These high-end components are vastly superior to the products available in your local home improvement store.

Coastal Source products are designed to withstand temperature changes, moisture, and basically any type of weather conditions. In our challenging Canadian weather, that kind of durability ensures greater reliability and less maintenance for your lighting and audio products.

Cheaper models of outdoor speakers produce lacklustre sound and limited functionality. Premium audio products with high-performance sound and modern features that conveniently allow you to control the audio system with a mobile device will make your outdoor living experience that much more enjoyable.

High-quality LED outdoor lighting products also typically come with a better warranty and are more energy-efficient than cheaper lighting products.

2. Design and installation experience matter

Experienced lighting and audio professionals have a deep understanding of the art and science of installing these features on your property.

They know what works, what doesn’t work, and how to achieve the look you want for your outdoor kitchen and entertaining space.

The installation process will be completed seamlessly and with care, so as not to disturb your home’s existing style and outdoor décor.

outdoor kitchen toronto

3. The results will be more satisfying

Choosing a pro to handle a landscape lighting and audio installation gives a home a higher-end, more professional look that’s more satisfying than if you attempted the job yourself.

You’ll see results that you never imagined, such as how the architectural accents of your home are now more noticeable at night.

Both the audio and lighting systems will be inconspicuous and blend effortlessly into the surroundings of your outdoor living space.

Setting up an outdoor audio system isn’t as simple as placing many speakers simply anywhere. A pro will know the perfect locations to place the speakers and properly balance them for an optimal listening experience.

4. You’ll save money in the long run

Even though you might not think hiring a professional will save you money, it will in the long run.

When you buy landscape lighting and audio products online or from a big-box store, the quality of the products is typically inferior to what a professional would use.

Chances are, you will have to replace low-quality lighting and audio fixtures more often than fixtures and components of a higher quality.

DIY installation mistakes due to inexperience can also necessitate getting a pro out to your house to fix a poorly executed outdoor lighting and audio project.

An expert can help you avoid those costly mistakes.

backyard lighting and audio

5. Add to your home’s value

Professionally installed audio and lighting will significantly add to the outdoor aesthetics of your house at night, which can increase the value of your home.

When your home is properly lit and complemented by an outdoor sound system that has been professionally installed and optimized for your outdoor living space, you will boost your home’s backyard curb appeal.

Let us handle your landscape lighting and audio project

Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry don’t just design and professionally install outdoor kitchens.

We are a full-service company that can create the ultimate outdoor living space, including installing landscape lighting and audio systems to complement your outdoor cooking area.

Request a design consultation with us to take advantage of what an experienced pro brings to your outdoor home upgrade experience.

Your outdoor paradise awaits!

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7 Outdoor Kitchen Trends That Will Transform Your Outdoor Living Space In 2020

Grilling and outdoor entertaining go hand in hand, with the experience moving well beyond how things used to be with a backyard get together.

Remember when an outdoor cooking area consisted of a standalone basic barbecue and a small rickety side table overloaded with meats, condiments, grilling tools, and the chef’s open beer?

Your guests might dine at a picnic table in need of a new coat of paint and relax in uncomfortable folding or Muskoka chairs.

That has now given way to decidedly more upscale outdoor cooking and entertaining spaces and experiences.

outdoor kitchen trends toronto

Outdoor kitchens are the most popular kitchen upgrade project

Forbes recently wrote that “outdoor kitchens and living areas are trending strongly and richly, with more enhancements than ever before”. Google “outdoor kitchen trends” and you’ll be met with 163,00,000 returned results.

The American Institute of Architects’ recent Home Design Trends Survey provides further evidence of the growing popularity of outdoor kitchen additions among homeowners and design professionals.

500 members of residential architecture firms were asked about their predictions for home design trends.

45% of the surveyed architects forecast that outdoor kitchens would be the most popular kitchen product and feature in the coming years.

7 outdoor kitchen trends and essential design features

The more sophisticated designs of modern interior kitchens are being utilized in the outdoor space, whether it’s a smaller setup in the corner of a deck or a larger, more elaborate outdoor cooking and entertaining area. Outdoor kitchens typically range from 100 to 400 square feet.

We took a look online at what real estate and home design professionals are projecting to be the hot outdoor kitchen trends, as well as what essential features they believe should be included in any outdoor living space that a homeowner wants to stand out.

With the right design and luxurious amenities, you just might find that your outdoor kitchen and lounging area even displaces the living room as your home’s go-to social hub!

1. A versatile, premium grill that’s built to last

The grill is an outdoor kitchen’s centrepiece, so choosing a high-quality cooking appliance worthy of a professional chef is essential for any upscale exterior kitchen.

Premium grill brands like Alfresco, Coyote, Lynx, and DCS make fine-tuned products that are far superior to even the highest-end grill models you’ll find in your local big-box store.

It starts with the construction. Any grill needs to be able to withstand the rigours of Canadian weather, even if an outdoor kitchen and the grill itself are covered up during the winter.

Premium propane and natural gas grills use high-quality stainless steel and construction materials to ensure long-lasting durability and reliable performance.

Grills with expansive cooking surfaces and handy extras like a smoking box, rotisserie, warming and grilling racks, a warming drawer, and side burners are a must-have for anyone who takes their barbecuing seriously.

Today’s luxury grills also come with some very swanky features that would have seemed unimaginable back in the days when grease-caked charcoal grills were the standard tool for barbecuing. Here are a few examples of some premium grill features:

  • integrated illumination with backlit control knobs, interior lighting, and halogen surface lights
  • advanced electro-mechanical valves to automatically maintain the preset surface temperature
  • smart controls that respond to voice commands or a smart device
  • a heat-treated hood assist system that makes opening the grill hood almost effortless

Another of the growing outdoor kitchen trends includes incorporating a built-in grill into the kitchen’s design, as opposed to having a standalone grill. This saves space, looks professional and elegant, and makes for a more efficient workspace.

2. Stylish, yet durable built-in cabinetry

You can’t call a space a kitchen without cabinetry. Naturally, an outdoor kitchen requires a special type of cabinetry.

It must be durable enough to handle being outdoors, while still maintaining the exterior cooking space’s stylish aesthetic. It needs to maximize your storage space as well.

Stainless steel is the material of choice for custom and semi-custom built-in cabinet systems used in the majority of outdoor kitchens.

Brands like Brown Jordan and Danver are made with commercial-grade stainless steel for superior durability. Powder-coated finishes ensure the cabinets stay rust-free for many years.

Stainless steel cabinets have a sleek look that can be customized to match your style preferences and to conform with your grill system and other outdoor kitchen features.

Another weatherproof cabinet option is a hi-density resin cabinet system, such as what NatureKast offers. Their cabinets replicate the texture and natural colour of real wood remarkably well.

Marine-grade aluminum kitchen cabinets are also engineered to withstand harsh weather and climates. Quebec’s Urban Bonfire is one of the leading manufacturers of this type of outdoor cabinet.

outdoor kitchen with grill and grey cabinets

Danver cabinets were used for this outdoor kitchen.

3. A resilient outdoor kitchen countertop

An outdoor kitchen countertop has three main functions. It has to:

  • have a resilient surface that can handle the requirements for a food prep area
  • be engineered for long-lasting structural and aesthetic integrity in an outdoor environment
  • visually complement the kitchen’s other stylish features

Some of the more common types of countertop materials include marble, granite, porcelain, soapstone, and concrete.

One of the outdoor kitchen trends we’re seeing more with countertops is to use surfaces made with sintering technology. This high-tech manufacturing process produces extremely durable surfaces that are highly customizable.

Any higher quality outdoor kitchen countertop will be non-porous and provide strong resistance to abrasions, stains, chemicals, and ultraviolet light (which will prevent the surface’s colour from fading over time).

4. An efficient, full-service food prep area

A well-designed outdoor kitchen should include a full-service food prep area. A practical layout for everything facilitates an efficient workflow.

The need for good lighting and an ample amount of counter space are a given.

Having all the amenities you’ll need to handle all of your food prep within easy reach is helpful, too. With so much to do getting your guest’s meals ready, there’s no time to waste shuttling in and out of the house to retrieve a needed item!

There are a full complement of interior kitchen amenities that can be added to an outdoor kitchen. Here are a few examples:

  • faucet and sink
  • built-in countertop side burners, flat top grill, and fryer
  • outdoor pizza oven and countertop oven
  • built-in countertop steam table
  • pullout electric warming drawer
  • refrigeration and ice-making appliances

5. Plenty of refrigeration

Let’s look a little closer at refrigeration in an outdoor kitchen. After all, ice and keeping things cool go hand in hand with cooking and lounging outside when the weather warms up.

Ensuring an outdoor kitchen is fully equipped to take care of both the host’s and guest’s refrigeration needs is the ultimate in convenience for an outdoor entertaining space.

Once again, having enough refrigeration in your outdoor cooking area saves you from making trips to your indoor fridge or freezer to restock on meats.

It saves guests from needing to make trips inside to get a fresh cold drink. You also won’t have to keep coolers or tubs of ice filled with bottled beverages scattered around your outdoor entertaining area.

There is no shortage of outdoor kitchen refrigeration options available. Top outdoor appliance brands like Alfresco and Lynx offer under-grill refrigerators, wine fridges, built-in under-counter fridges, and professional fridge/freezer combos.

How about adding an outdoor ice machine? Lynx has an energy-efficient luxury appliance that can produce almost 40 pounds of ice and provides audible alerts and programmed cleaning reminders.

6. Décor that coordinates with your home’s interior

The attention you pay to the design and décor of an indoor living space should extend to the outdoor living space as well.

The modern trend of “style continuity” in the home (where there’s a natural decorative flow from room to room) drives another of the outdoor kitchen trends gaining traction with designers.

More and more, the décor of outdoor kitchens installed on decks or patios is coordinated to align with and complement the style of the interior kitchen or the closest room to the outdoor kitchen.

Decorative flair can also be added to the already-impressive looks of a premium grill, cabinet system, and countertop in the form of cabinet backsplashes and decorative moulding elements.

7. Add-on features that elevate your outdoor living experience

We’ve covered a lot, but there’s still more you can do to elevate your outdoor living experience. Some add-on features and design elements to consider are:

  • an outdoor fireplace or fire pit
  • a TV mounted in your cabinetry
  • an integrated sound system with hidden speakers and wiring
  • high-end outdoor furniture
  • landscape lighting to boost the ambiance in your outdoor lounge area
  • a herb garden close to the food prep area
  • an outdoor kitchen island that has multiple uses as a supplementary food prep area, extra storage space, and as a flat surface for guests to use

Start adopting these outdoor kitchen trends for your cooking space

All of these outdoor kitchen trends and essential features will contribute immensely to the enjoyment of any outdoor cooking and entertaining space.

If you’re planning to upgrade or add an outdoor kitchen in your home, request a design consultation with Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry today.

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