Whilst progress has been made, Covid clearly isn’t going away anytime soon and as such, homeowners are increasingly embracing a new way of living and entertaining. According to specialist outdoor living spaces firm, Outdoor Kitchen Expert, that means creating a year-round entertaining area that allows for safe outdoor socialising, whatever the weather.
Duncan Aird, co-founder and designer at Outdoor Kitchen Expert, said: “Our gardens have taken on such a greater importance since the pandemic. During 2022, we expect to see a more sophisticated approach to outdoor entertaining, as families increasingly embrace their outside areas as permanent socialising spaces, rather than temporary ones. There’s a focus on outdoor ‘living’ rather than simply cooking or dining.”
This emphasis on outdoor living means that families are looking at the overall entertainment experience. A barbecue, table and chairs might once have sufficed, but homeowners are now looking for fridges, pizza ovens, state-of-the-art barbeques, hot chocolate stations, ice machines, AV systems and more, according to the Outdoor Kitchen Expert team.
All of this means that practical considerations are a top priority, with heating and seating coming under as much scrutiny as eating. Heat is top of the list for UK homeowners looking to create a space that can be used year-round, closely followed by protection from the elements. That means patio heaters, remote controlled electric heaters, fire pits and the like, along with appropriate coverings.
Duncan explains: “Coverings require careful consideration, as they need to provide shelter from the rain and wind in the winter but also be suitable for the sunny summer months – and allow for plenty of fresh air to flow through the space. Pergolas and awnings are popular choices, while marquees and retractable canopies can also serve well.”
Furnishings also need to be practical year-round, balancing style and comfort with weather resistance. Again, it’s not just about the basics in 2022. Homeowners are now increasingly looking for outdoor rugs, water resistant cushions and blankets too, in their quest to create an outdoor living space that’s suitable for every season.
This is where AV systems come into play as well. The Outdoor Kitchen Expert team is advising clients on everything from hidden TVs and water-resistant projects to surround sound systems connected to streaming apps. The English weather is, of course, always an important consideration for such systems, which need to be well protected from the rain in winter and shaded sufficiently that screens are still easily visible in bright sunshine.
Finally, lighting needs to be given plenty of consideration. LED, solar lighting, smartphone-controlled mood lighting… the choice is seemingly endless and decisions around how to illuminate an outdoor living space can have a huge impact on its overall feel.
Duncan explains: “The right lighting can transform an outdoor entertainment area into somewhere that feels cosy and welcoming as darkness falls. This is important in the winter months due to the shorter days but also in the summer for long, lazy evenings spent enjoying good food and good company.”