Contractors of all stripes have been busy since the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns gave homeowners time to think about all the things they’d like to change in their homes.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook ever since the stay-at-home order started last year,” Tim Lindgren, owner of Lindgren Landscape, said. “A lot of people are spending a lot of time and a lot of money updating their outdoor living space so that they’re not trapped in their house.”
Outdoor kitchens are “a huge area of growth in the market,” according to Georgia Perry, director of design at Lindgren Landscape. Perry designed an outdoor kitchen at Lindgren headquarters as a demonstration space for homeowners to imagine what they’d like in their own outdoor living areas.
“This space is probably a really cool one that’s in the vein of where things are headed,” she said of the design. Cohesion and smooth transitions are a hallmark of the demonstration kitchen.
She uses wood texture porcelain tile in exterior and interior areas to smooth the transition between those spaces.
“The interior tile is the same texture and finish, although the exterior rated tile is thicker, and is ADA-compliant. There are differences, but the aesthetics of the tiles are identical so it flows straight out from our indoor and outdoor living space.”
She also uses color to create continuity between spaces. “Our color palette from interior to exterior is pretty fluid so the language of the design from the studio into this outdoor living space is continuous,” she explained. Steel I-beams are matched to window casings to add to the feeling of cohesiveness, and juxtaposed with wood beams as a contemporary take on the humble pergola.
Perry and her team are getting more requests for pizza ovens, fireplaces and fire pits. Smokers are also grabbing homeowners’ interest. “People are home, and smoking is something where you invest a number of hours,” she explained.
Integrated units from Memphis help create the same aesthetic in a homeowner’s kitchen, Perry said.
Perry designs landscapes for privacy, using columnar plants to create an attractive screen from neighboring properties, without taking up too much space. She mixes evergreen and deciduous plants to create texture in the landscaping.
Whatever homeowners decide they want in their outdoor kitchen, Lindgren said that it’s essential for contractors to manage their expectations up front, especially in today’s market.
“Pricing is going through the roof, and availability of subcontractors is really bad right now. It is difficult to get even loyal subcontractors; everyone is so busy right now,” he said. “Get in front of your client and set the expectation early that it’s going to take longer to get a project turned around, to get it designed, to get estimating. It’s going to take longer to build it, … and it’s going to be more expensive than you think.”