warm thoughts


Written on: July 30, 2023

From the Propane Education and Research Council

Outdoor living spaces are becoming nearly as common as kitchen islands, walk-in showers, and other mainstays of newly constructed homes. In other words, this space isn’t an extra – it’s expected.

As with any room in the house, the outdoor living area has seen trends come and go. Because it takes more to impress today’s buyer, builders need to step up their outdoor offerings.

Here’s what’s out in outdoor living.

1. Single cooking appliances: Home chefs like options. Sometimes you feel like sizzling up something with propane, other times, a choice cut calls for pellets or charcoal. That’s why luxury outdoor kitchens are often equipped with both a propane grill for fast, precise temperature control and a smoker for low and slow cooking, and larger side burners. Even pizza ovens have gotten in on the dual-fuel action. Outdoor pizza oven makers offer versatile multi-fuel options, allowing homeowners to bake a pie with wood, charcoal, and propane.

2. Minimal storage: An outdoor kitchen should function as well as an indoor kitchen. When it comes to storage, don’t skimp. Outdoor kitchens need more than a place to stash tongs and grill brushes. Consider also ample access doors to fuel lines, burners and plumbing, storage doors, warming drawers, and a pull-out trash can underneath the countertop. Bonus points for sealed storage where homeowners can keep pellets, brickettes and other dry goods out of the elements.

3. Lo-tech: Modern indoor kitchen utilize wireless controls and smart technology. Many of those same features that make cooking more convenient can be integrated into outdoor kitchens, as well. Customers are impressed with digital pin pads for easy temperature control and Bluetooth operation. Just make sure a wireless signal can reach the grill, cautions Robert Harris, director of business development at Premier Outdoor Living & Design in Clearwater, Florida.

4. Little to no customization: Modular outdoor kitchen kits allow for a fast installation but what buyers want more than speed are options. The what-you-see-is-what-you-get approach isn’t going to fly for many. “Those old modular units with no flexibility, those are going away,” Harris says. Builders who give buyers a choice in materials and configurations could have an edge.

5. Few amenities: A grill does not make an outdoor living space. Consider offering amenities beyond the cooking station. Propane is a clean-burning fuel option that can efficiently power multiple features, such as in-ground spas, patio heaters and fire pits. Harris estimates that 75 percent of outdoor living projects his company installs utilize propane. “They’re installing propane tanks underground for tiki torches, grills and other appliances,” he says.

Propane is an environmentally friendly fuel that can transform any backyard space into a showcase. Just ask HGTV personality Matt Blashaw.