By Lisa Girard
Summer means a shift to patio and backyard living
For those of us who love spending time outdoors in the summer, there are some great new products that can spruce up our decks and backyards and add to the overall enjoyment of the season.
The trend of “bringing the inside outdoors” remains strong as people continue to install outdoor kitchens and create seating areas that are not only comfortable but look great as well. According to Michael Belforti of Better Housekeeping in Red Bank, with today’s vast selection of outdoor appliances, virtually anything that you do in your indoor kitchen can be brought outdoors. Homeowners in this area are willing to invest in outdoor kitchens that can be used in every season but winter.
“Specialty outdoor kitchen products enable people to enjoy cooking and entertaining without ever having to venture indoors,” said Belforti, who owns the appliance store with his wife, Diane. “We’ve seen everything from very elaborate outdoor kitchens that include stainless steel cabinetry with granite tops, a sink, dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, icemaker and built-in barbecue, to a free-standing barbecue with a grilling space and burners for conventional cooking.”
In terms of grills, the latest enhancements include halogen lighting and searing burners – particularly in higher-end models. Better Housekeeping carries a broad selection of vendors – including Viking, Lynx and Wolf – but Belforti singled out Weber grills as a “great product at a fantastic price, with the company offering everything from stand-alone small units to built-in gourmet grills.” In addition, outdoor icemakers are becoming a major convenience purchase (and not too expensive) for people who entertain a lot, while fire pits of all sizes and price points remain extremely popular as a place for family and friends to congregate.
When it comes to outdoor furniture, one of the hottest trends this year is faux wicker, which looks like the real thing but has a sturdier construction and is more weather resistant, said Donna Bain, who owns Bain’s Outdoor Living in Rumson with her husband, Tom. Also gaining in popularity is teak, which Bain said has always been a favorite near the coast because it weathers so well. “When left untouched, it weathers to a gray finish, which is very popular right now,” she said.
Bain’s carries a selection of teak outdoor furniture from Kingsley Bate, an upper-end line whose prices range from $850 for a lounge chair to $1,300 for a settee and $1,998 and up for a sofa (depending on the choice of cushions). “It’s an investment more than buying an aluminum patio set,” said Bain, who likes the fact that Kingsley Bate adds collections each season but keeps certain styles in the line from year to year. “You don’t have to outfit the whole patio in one season. Get one or two pieces at a time.”
Also trending is the Sunbrella, made from a heavy, woven fabric that’s extremely durable, water repellent and resistant to fading, Bain said. In terms of color, the previously mentioned trendy gray works well with other popular exterior colors such as navy blue, natural/canvas, green and orange, Bain said. “These can be used in cushions to spruce up the look of a sitting area and add to the overall enjoyment of your backyard space.”
Some homeowners are also adding awnings to their homes to give yet another dimension to their outdoor space, while saving energy and adding sun protection. One of the biggest awning manufacturers in the area is Opdyke, a third-generation-owned Wall-based business that sells everything from retractable awnings to fixed-frame canopies with roll-down zippered side walls at an average cost of between $4,000 and $10,000.
“People are trying to put more value into their homes and they want to utilize their patios more,” said Jim Opdyke, whose grandfather started the business in 1914. “An awning can cool down a room in your house and prevent fading of hardwood floors and furniture and, when added to the back of the house, can provide shelter from the environment, whether it be sun, wind or rain.”
Colors are all over the spectrum when it comes to awnings, but navy blue and green remain the most popular in many beach communities. Also gaining traction are subtle earth tones, and stripes make a nice fashion statement, particularly in the area’s beach communities, Opdyke said. “An awning gives some dimension to the house and adds curb appeal. It also makes an additional living space outside without going to the expense of adding a room with a roof.”