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Summer lovin and the livin’ is easy

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Summer lovin and the livin’ is easy

Since the beginning of time, humans have been cooking food over an open fire. There’s nothing like the taste of a freshly grilled steak or salmon smoked to perfection. The fire sources that we now congregate around have been tailored to fit in urban living environments, as well as for ease of operation.

Seasonal sensations

And while our seasons may be short, we Canadians know how to make the best of each, and every, one of them. Come summer, we’re not only firing up the grill, but we’re fixing feasts in fully loaded outdoor kitchens, paired with incredible furniture. From impromptu picnics to appetizers on the patio, we’re eking out every possible warm weather moment, which is why outdoor furnishings and appliances are the fastest growing categories in the home improvement industry.

Do it in style

Outdoor kitchens can be as functional, and as impressive, as you want them to be with cocktail prep areas, built-in grills, weather-resistant cabinetry and refrigerators. Gone are the fold-up chairs and the wobbly table. Instead, cosy seating areas are not only comfortable, but well designed for group gatherings and conversation. Add an outdoor carpet and you have an alfresco vignette that may be more appealing than your living room.

Photography, Gillian Jackson

Design details

Similar to planning an indoor kitchen, you’ll want to customize an outdoor one that suits your cooking preferences and entertaining needs. As an extension of your indoor living environment, consider an outdoor layout that will complement your landscaped backyard or a rooftop patio.

Bells and whistles

As part of the outdoor plan, consider where you’ll require running water, gas lines and electrical wiring. Multiple stove top elements and varied grill levels can help to facilitate cooking different food items at once. Cabinetry options are stylish, functional and weather resistant. Counter tops come in natural or man-made materials, and can be designed to include smokers or other specialty appliances. Refrigerator drawers, and separate, temperature controlled bar fridges, eliminate the need to run back and forth into the house.

Photography, (right top and middle) courtesy of Outdoor Kitchens and Cabinetry

European influences

Our mood is boosted when we’re outdoors. As soon as the weather warms up, restaurants set up their patios, and patrons spend leisurely hours soaking up the sunshine. When we envision outdoor dining, we conjure up visions of a long wooden table in Tuscany ladened with fresh food, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. With Italy in mind, consider an outdoor brick oven, complete with chimney, to make handcrafted pizzas.

Let there be fire

In the centre of it all is the fire pit. This, too, has evolved from a circle of rocks to a design feature. No matter how it’s fuelled, people naturally gather around a fire. Its hypnotic dance is comforting and meditative. Intimate conversations and story telling are natural conclusions to a perfect summer evening.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality. janelockhart.com

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