Kick Off Summer in Style

by Lauren Busser Direct from the Designers™ Editorial Director

Memorial Day is less than a week away, and then we are off into barbecue and cookout season. Whether you are looking to entertain your friends or you are looking for a place to get some sun, you want your outdoor space to be an on-trend, comfortable and relaxing oasis.

Perhaps you envision an extension of your home’s living space with an outdoor living room and kitchen so that you can make the most of bright summer days, or maybe you want an elegant pool space where you can take a dip late at night, or you might like to start a small vegetable garden. Whatever your desires, here are the latest outdoor living trends that will make you feel at home in the outdoors.

Let your backyard chef go to town with this Wood-Fired Gaucho Grill from Kalamazoo™ Outdoor Gourmet.

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet Wood-Fire Gaucho Grill

Restaurant Style Grills

A great grill is the perfect addition to any deck, patio, or outdoor kitchen. Grilling has always been popular and with exposure on cooking shows like the Iron Chef and the increasingly-wider variety of recipes, it's getting more love than ever. Many homeowners own at least one type of grill, the most popular being a gas grill but many also own other outdoor cooking equipment such as a smoker or fryer.

There are lots of grill options out there but a big trend in today's outdoor cooking is the restaurant-style grill. One new product for the summer of 2014 that you're going to love is the Kalamazoo™ Outdoor Gourmet Wood-Fired Gaucho Grill. The Gaucho is wood-fired in the Argentinean way. Controlling the heat intensity of the Gaucho is done by raising and lowering the grilling rack with a 30-inch spoked wheel. This allows the chef to place the food high above the fire to infuse smoky flavors or low in the heat for a blazing sear, with a spin of the wheel. Neat!

Not to be overlooked are the modern conveniences that you won't find in your garden-variety wood grill. For example, getting the fire started quickly and easily is accomplished by its slick, gas-fired starting system. And the motorized rotisserie spit is raised and lowered by the same chain-drive spoked wheel used for the grilling rack, and an easy to use ash collection system means hassle-free cleanup before the next party.

Outfit your kitchen with cabinetry, grills, and more from Viking’s® Outdoor kitchen line.

Viking Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens take on many forms but they are a growing trend especially in new homes. When looking at an outdoor kitchen it can feature anything from a grill and some cabinetry, to being fully outfitted with an island, sink, and refrigeration.

A really key benefit in having an outdoor kitchen is that it actually gives you more time to spend with your friends while you’re entertaining. Simply having a grill is great, but the storage and conveniences provided by an outdoor kitchen mean that you can stop running back and forth to your main kitchen and instead spend more time hanging out and enjoying your guest's company.

This LAMPS PLUS® outdoor dining area features a beautiful Song Birds Pendant Chandelier as the perfect lighting accent. The song birds featured on the bronze birdcage add a magical look to the space that mimics nature. The chandelier holds three candle-like lights that make for great mood lighting.

LAMPS PLUS Outdoor Dining Area

Elegant Lighting

The days get longer in the summer but you'll want to keep the ambiance long after dark. That’s why outdoor lighting, particularly in your living spaces, is so important. Outdoor lighting means that you can enjoy your outdoor living space in style, long after the stars come out.

Opt for light that creatively accents your space. Landscape and pathway lights can add a sense of safety and an elegant look to your lighting. Pendant and task lighting for covered porches adds an inviting splash to dining spaces. Outdoor lighting is a timeless trend and now, more than ever, you'll find new and inventive light fixtures for your spaces. With everything from lanterns to wall lights and string lights, there are plenty of inspiring ideas.

Get the best of both worlds with the Twilight Modern Gas Fireplace from Heat & Glo™. The revolutionary see-through design lets you enjoy the fire whether you are indoors or out.

Heat & Glo Twilight Modern Gas Fireplace

Fire Pits and Fireplaces

Fire is an element that is nudging its way further into outdoor spaces this year. Whether you are looking for a basic fireplace, a fire pit, or a full-on wood-fired pizza oven you'll be rewarded to find space for this element in your design in some form. Fire pits and fireplaces in particular are great because they enable you to go outside even when it’s a little chilly, providing a perfect spot to share a drink or cigar after dark.

Depending on the layout and design of your house, you might install not just a fireplace but an indoor/outdoor fireplace, where you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Heat & Glo™ introduced the industry’s first indoor/outdoor fireplace, called Twilight II, and then revolutionized it with the Twilight Modern. The see-through design of these fireplaces allows you to enjoy beautiful views whether you are sitting outside or relaxing inside.

Whether you are looking for a great place to spend a private romantic evening, or you want the ultimate outdoor party spot for your next big gathering, looking to some of these outdoor living design trends can help insure that you'll get the most out of your spaces. So as the summer starts to roll in, think about your porch, patio, deck or yard and see how you can design a comfortable space where you can fully enjoy the great outdoors and a bit of fresh air, with all of your favorite comforts.

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