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More than ever, Canadians want to take advantage of their backyards, porches, and patios, says Matt Herbert, founder of Vancouver-based Sherwood Outdoor Kitchens, adding that the demand for beautiful, hard-working outdoor spaces has exploded in recent years.
“During the pandemic, everyone became more home-focused,” he says. “As the experience of going downtown or dining out changed, more people preferred to host small groups of friends in the comfort and safety of their homes.”
Herbert says that when he launched his company six years ago, outdoor kitchens were often an afterthought, relegated to being a landscape architect or a contractor. Now it’s considered a standard feature in more expensive builds, and homeowners expect outdoor kitchens to be designed along the same solid principles that apply to indoor spaces.
A new generation of weather-resistant materials has made that possible, says Herbert. As an example he points to Dekton, a stone-based fabricated surface from Cosentino that can be used both indoors and outdoors, where its resistance to UV, stains and heat makes it a wise choice.
“Outdoor kitchens are a very high-fat environment – lots of sauce and lots of spills, so cleaning surfaces is very important, as is using materials that can withstand an outdoor environment. We’ve been using Dekton from day one,” he says.
Since it can be used indoors or out, Dekton also allows for seamless transitions from indoor to outdoor spaces. And since the material is available in different thicknesses, it is also suitable for cladding custom aluminum frames, islands and backs to match worktops.
Ventilation systems, long a staple in indoor kitchens, are increasingly becoming outdoors. Why? Because air quality can be affected by smoke, grease and food particles released when cooking food, which can irritate eyes and lungs and affect that larger environment. For those reasons, some local building codes may even require an extractor hood over outdoor cooking centers.
As a solution, Italian appliance manufacturer Falmec has launched a range of outdoor extractor hoods made of rust-resistant stainless steel, especially suited to North American climates. The collection includes 36, 42 and 48 inch configurations and is designed for wall installation.
New textiles provide outdoor furniture that requires a minimum of maintenance and can withstand the punishing sun rays. Quebec-based furniture retailer Mobilia has launched a new line of contemporary outdoor furniture, using sturdy aluminum, teak and UV/weather resistant fibers in subtle neutral tones, making the line both beautiful and practical.
For example, the Najiza sofa has a powder-coated aluminum structure on top of a solid teak base. Plush seats are covered with a durable PVC-coated polyester fabric that can handle outdoor elements. Also made of teak and powder-coated aluminium, the Naveje dining table extends out to seat 10 people, making it suitable for a simple family dinner or weekend getaway.
Pieces are made from UV resistant, quick drying, antimicrobial fabric and FSC wood. Many would fit nicely in an indoor space, including the Naponia Swivel Armchair, which has a wide seat that would be equally at home in the conservatory, on a patio or in the living room.
The line-up also includes rugs, lighting, artificial plants, coffee and side tables and throws.
If a full backyard makeover isn’t in the cards, or you’re limited to a small balcony space, even a comfy chair and a few plants can make an outdoor living space more enjoyable.
In addition to an extensive line of outdoor furniture that includes some great swivel chairs and other occasion chairs, Home Depot also has attractive black metal planters with sleek gold legs. If you’re ambitious, you can head over to their site to get plans to create a hanging herb garden, which will come in handy when whipping up all those fresco dinners.
For more summer decorating ideas, visit www.aroundthehouse.ca