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Outdoor Living Matters More Than Before Pandemic, New Report Says

The 2021 Outdoor Living Report issued by Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens makes it official: 82% of American homeowners recently surveyed reported that they are more interested in updating their outdoor living spaces than they were prior to the pandemic. 

With data gathered from over 2,000 adults by The Harris Poll, the survey shows that, since Covid-19 has kept us isolated at home, our outdoor space has become living space in a number of ways. The report was released exclusively to Forbes and will be available to the general public on March 29.

“Outdoor space is more important because public spaces have been closed to us,” says Fernando Wong, principal of the eponymous Palm Beach-based landscape design firm. An immigrant from Panama, he now employs 12 people and is in the process of launching a new TV show with Martha Stewart on the Discovery Plus Network. “An outdoor kitchen is now very important, a good way to socialize and get together.”

The report findings agree: 65% of American homeowners aged 35-44 cite an outdoor kitchen as very important if they were designing an outdoor space.

“In this new landscape, people are committing larger budgets for a comprehensive outdoor experience that caters to cooking, entertaining and everyday living. Kitchens are now a necessity in these spaces, rather than an element saved for an update later on,” says Phil Kean, architect, builder and interior designer at Phil Kean Design Group in Winter Park, Florida.

A full outdoor kitchen can include any element found in an indoor kitchen, says Daniel Germani, creative director of Danver Outdoor Kitchens, which also manufactures Trex Outdoor Kitchens and Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens. 

“Whatever you dream, we can design. You can weatherproof water lines, have soft-close cabinet doors, install fridges, icemakers, cooktops, have sophisticated lighting – anything you have or want in a kitchen, can be done outside.”

The new report finds that 53% of the respondents said that outdoor heating is very important to them. 66% found that a firepit matters a lot; 42% quoted the importance of an outdoor bar. But most important of all is simply getting outside: 83% of those surveyed were clear in stating that seating is, in itself, primary.

“If they do nothing else, homeowners can put a comfortable chair where they can get some fresh air,” says Fernando Wong. “While a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, bar, fire pit and living room is the dream for many homeowners, sometimes there is only space for morning yoga or a cup of coffee.”

“That kitchen may only be a grill with storage and shelving to one side,” Daniel Germani states.

Wong and Germani agree that materials have progressed to make outdoor life easier.

“Composite is the new lingo for plastics,” Fernando Wong says. “It is being used in rugs, fabrics and furniture that not only are weatherproof, but look fantastic. For example, what used to be called Astroturf is being made for homes, and it’s very beautiful to look at.”

“All of our kitchens, including the new modular outdoor kitchen, the Elements Collection, is constructed from ultra-durable powder-coated stainless steel, designed to beautifully withstand exposure to the elements with minimal maintenance,” he adds. “The cabinetry comes in lots of colors — neutrals and wood grain-inspired finishes, as well as bright, fun hues like Chili, Mint, and Clementine. And we use hard-wearing man-made materials like Dekton for countertops. You can even have outdoor velvet and outdoor leather. Truly, every detail and finish available inside is now available outdoors.”

Early indicators point to the new color choices as the must-have consumer trend for 2021. 

When polled, homeowners want durability over bargains when making outdoor kitchen purchasing decisions. 66% of homeowners cited durability to everyday wear and tear as important; 65% of homeowners cited resilience to the elements as very important. Cost came in third, with 58% citing it as very important.

“No longer is cooking outdoors about the Dude grill,” Germani says. “It can be luxurious.”

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