Outdoor kitchens have quickly moved from being reserved for higher-end custom homes to becoming mainstream. And while much has been published on the growth of the outdoor segment, much less has been written on the reasons for the growth, and how consumers view, use, and purchase outdoor versus indoor kitchens.
This question prompted us at Hoffman York to conduct proprietary research to discover the “why behind the what.” We surveyed several hundred homeowners across the U.S. who either had purchased or intended to purchase an outdoor kitchen.
Here’ s a snapshot of seven key insights that came out of the research, and why they are important to builders and remodelers.
- An outdoor kitchen is viewed as an experience, while the indoor kitchen is viewed more as a room.
Our research indicated that consumers view indoor and outdoor kitchens very differently. The outdoor kitchen is all about fun, whereas the indoor kitchen has a higher focus on functionality. When planning and selling an outdoor kitchen, get the homeowner to express their ultimate outdoor experience, and design the space around their dreams.
2. There are aspects of an outdoor kitchen that make homeowners fall in love with the space.
Our research revealed that an outdoor kitchen needs to be much more than a place to cook. Homeowners want an emotional connection by including features that make their outdoor space unique, fun, and memorable—like fountains, fireplaces, and pizza ovens.
3. Homeowners want their outdoor space to feel like a room.
The research clearly demonstrated that people want their outdoor space to have design continuity with the rest of the home. It needs to be a defined living space with comfortable seating, a built-in grill, overhead lighting, a canopy/roof plus unique and fun extras.
Homeowners in the study viewed a variety of outdoor rooms. Out of 12 choices, the photo above was their favorite. It includes most of the attributes homeowners deemed important and desirable.
4. Owners who already had outdoor kitchens wished their kitchen included additional features.
Among outdoor kitchen owners who had already built their space, many regretted not including some features. At the top of the list was a built-in pizza oven. A stove, a built-in grill, and a stand-alone grill were not far behind on the list.
5. Buyers want a space that is expandable in the future.
More than 90 percent of owners stated it was extremely appealing to provide a plan that includes future expandability.
6. Outdoor expertise is considered critical to consumers when choosing a contractor.
Homeowners overwhelmingly felt that expertise in outdoor living design or construction was critical. Respondants indicated that indoor kitchen expertise was less of a concern.
7. Consumers are willing to spend big money.
When an outdoor kitchen is included in the cost of new home construction, the median investment is over $40,000. Consolidating the outdoor space into a mortgage makes it affordable, and consumers spend considerably than they do when undertaking s a stand-alone remodeling project.
View the full article, written by David Brown, in the Fall 2016 issue of Best in American Living.