A struggling economy isn’t stopping homeowners from transforming their backyard patios into fully furnished outdoor rooms, complete with propane-fueled kitchen appliances, dining areas, and open-air home theater systems.
A May survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects found that outdoor living features are as popular as ever. The centerpiece of nearly every outdoor room is a grill, rated by 97.4 percent of the landscape architects who responded to the Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey as “in demand” this year. Not far behind are fireplaces or fire pits, at 95.8 percent, and lighting features, at 93.1 percent. Pools and spas – often available with propane heaters – also rank high on the list, along with other water features, such as waterfalls and bubblers.
And while the traditional focus of the landscape architect’s business is gardens and landscaped spaces, the survey shows that outdoor living spaces, such as kitchens and entertainment spaces, are requested from these pros almost as often.
“It starts with the grill,” Shreveport, La., remodeler Jeb Breithaupt of Jeb Design/Build says. “Everyone wants the grill and the smoker.”
But while many homeowners clamor for outdoor kitchens, they may not know the extent of the options available. Larry Smith, a marketing manager for grill manufacturer Danver, says that the only reason many homeowners hold back when it comes to bedecking their outdoor rooms is that they don’t know enough about the array of high-powered grills, fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens, and other cooking appliances designed for safe outdoor use and storage.
Smith notes that all of Danver’s fueled outdoor appliances are available for use with propane.
Aside from installing grills, fire pits, and fireplaces, homeowners continue upgrading their outdoor kitchens with propane cooktops and extra burners, patio heaters, pool and spa heaters, generators, and lighting.
Indeed, Somerville notes, appliance choices can overwhelm homeowners, who are turning to design professionals for their outdoor projects. “This is not a design-your-own area anymore,” she says.
Builders and remodelers interested in expanding the list of features in their outdoor living rooms and kitchens can find free online training courses at the Propane Training Academy.