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Front Page » March 6, 2008 » Home and Garden Focus » Three outdoor trends
Published 2,769 days ago

Three outdoor trends

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When the weather's warm, we naturally turn to the outdoors for entertaining, relaxing, cooking and dining. The spaces where we gather outside are becoming increasingly convenient and as rich in comfort and detail as the interior of our homes.

Here are three trends which are sweeping the country.

•Amenity-rich kitchens. The possibilities for outdoor kitchens extend legions beyond a basic grill and sink. These kitchens can have just as many options as your interior one, if not more. Unbound by plumbing, walls and doors, you're free to design an outdoor kitchen without restrictions.

To fully enjoy your entertaining experiences, consider elements that make outdoor cooking as convenient as possible. Seek out durable, mold-resistant, weather-proof cabinets with easy-to-clean countertops that allow you to store your dishes, cookware and utensils right where you'll be cooking. You'll spend more time with your guests, instead of running back and forth to the kitchen.

And to make sure your condiments, beverages and ice are handy, install under-counter appliances. Refrigerators, freezers, wine coolers, ice machines, coffee bars, warming ovens and dishwashers can all be installed in outdoor kitchens.

•All-weather electronics. It's now possible to watch the big game or take in a movie out on your deck. New weather-proof electronics are far superior to earlier models in both design and durability. You can choose from flat-panel LCD high-definition televisions that are designed for permanent outdoor use, or go with pop-up installations that hold plasma TVs.

Outdoor TVs are much brighter than conventional ones to enable sun-lit viewing and can be connected wirelessly to your indoor cable box or DVD player. The remote controls are sealed against rain and moisture. Home theater packages are also growing in popularity and combine a projector, DVD player and speakers with screens in a variety of styles.

For those who prefer to hear rather than see their speakers, a popular choice in outdoor electronics is surround-sound speakers that blend with the environment by posing as outdoor components, such as rocks or terra-cotta planters.

•Design-savvy elements. To create a sense of connection between indoor and outdoor areas, designers are beginning to consider exterior rooms in the overall floor plans of houses. Breaking down visual barriers between the spaces will make a house feel larger. One way to accomplish this is to install exterior railings that use clear panels instead of traditional balusters or spindles. These clear panels allow visitors to enjoy an unobstructed view even while seated. Railing systems like these can be seen at

Another method to increase the perception of flow between your interior and exterior rooms is to use similar materials in both locations. This extends the house to the outdoors.

The exterior flooring you choose can increase the feeling of continuity between your spaces. A natural-looking composite decking, such as Fiberon� Tropics, will look similar to the rich mahogany, redwood or cherry flooring inside your home. You can view sample photos at

This decking - which looks more like real wood than any other composites because of its grain variation and variety of hues - is installed with hidden fasteners that eliminate unsightly surface blemishes created with screws or nails. This seemingly small detail will make your deck look more like your interior floor.

Implementing these trends can result in a fun, comfortable outdoor environment.

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