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Outfitting the outdoor kitchen

I did the math until I ran out of fingers. DC’s three grown kids were coming to town for a week bringing with them two spouses, an 8-year-old, a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old and a newborn, whose baptism was behind all this. That makes nine, plus DC and me and I’m out of fingers. That’s a lot of trips to the refrigerator.
Our blended family of five grown children are doing what grown children do: finding partners, marrying, proliferating. Did I mention proliferating? Good grief.
In my plentiful experience, I have found that the key to surviving the extended family staycation is having a built-in getaway. Which is why the covered terrace off the upstairs landing was getting my full attention. The upstairs, where everyone but us (thank God for downstairs masters) would be staying, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a TV area. All it needs to make folks feel self-sufficient is a small kitchen. The terrace was the perfect place.
“Outfitting the outdoors is a huge trend,” said my friend and colleague Kathryn Emery, a lifestyle and home improvement consultant based in Laguna Beach, Calif. According to the American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey of 2017, two-thirds of architects reported an uptick in homeowners wanting to upgrade their outdoor living spaces.
“Furnishing the outdoors is getting more popular,” Emery said, “because companies are figuring out how to design better quality outdoor products for less. Look at what’s happened with outdoor cabinets,” she said.  “They’re being made out of these super durable marine-grade polymers,, so they take every kind of weather.”
She sends me a link with photos.
“Wow!” That was unexpected. I do some web surfing and see that indeed, good-looking cabinets are coming out of the house and into the yard, and they don’t have to cost as much as a car.
One leader in this category is Weatherstrong. Based in Bartow, Fla., the company launched a line of weatherproof outdoor cabinets two years ago that now sell nationwide, said Jennifer Hargrove, head designer for the company.
Hargrove agreed her outdoor polymer cabinet product would fit my terrace and budget.
After we exchanged a few sketches, we dialed in a 9-foot wall of upper cabinets with some open shelving, lower cabinets with a counter, several drawers and a niche for a small refrigerator. With an approved design, her company builds and ships fully assembled cabinets within 10 business days.
When looking to create an outdoor kitchen, bar, snack station or storage area, here are some factors Hargrove says to consider:
Longevity: Choose cabinet materials that have been weather tested and proven to withstand the elements in the extreme. When subjected to driving rain, freezing temperatures or blazing heat, finished cabinets should not warp, melt, leak, fade or rust. Brick and stone have been the long-standing favorites. However, marine-grade polymer and marine-grade stainless steel hardware, both weatherproof and rustproof, are on the rise. Style: Shop around for a product that is not only made of tough stuff but is also aesthetically pleasing. The polymer cabinets I chose come in three colors – white, sand and gray – and four door styles. I chose white with Key West doors. They are textured to look like wood. Customization: Custom-built cabinetry that is made on site is, of course, the Rolls Royce of outdoor cabinets, but you pay for them. Readymade outdoor cabinets offer a much more Related Articles





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affordable storage solution. This semi-custom option, where you design a system (with their professional help) to fit your space is a nice compromise. Cost: An outdoor cabinet system from Weatherstrong ranges from $2,500 for a basic, one-wall set up, to up to $7,000 for more elaborate outdoor kitchens, said Hargrove. While readymade, freestanding cabinet components cost less, built-on-site custom cabinets will cost two to three times more.
Join me next week as we shop for outdoor furniture.

Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of three home and lifestyle books, including “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go”. You may reach her at www.marnijameson.com.

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