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Hearth & Home April 2020

Outdoor Living Suite with grill, power burner, beer dispenser, and bar with “Lush” purple accents by Hestan.

Grills of Many Colors

By Lisa Readie Mayer

Stainless steel is not the only option in the Outdoor Room, and consumers are getting bold enough to try it.

For years, silvery stainless steel has been the gold standard for outdoor appliances. Sleek, sophisticated, and neutral, the metallic finish adds elegance to outdoor spaces, and coordinates with other elements and furnishings.

When first introduced, stainless-steel grills were a welcome upgrade from the basic black, powder-coated grills that outfitted early patios. Although stainless steel remains the most popular grill and outdoor appliance finish, today’s consumers are definitely adding more color to the Outdoor Room.

Like most outdoor living trends, this one originated indoors. Houzz reports that consumers are developing “stainless-steel appliance fatigue” and increasingly opting for color finishes in indoor kitchens. The design website even calls colored appliances a top indoor design trend for 2020.

According to an article on design trends in Country Living, “Plain old stainless steel has its merits, but is ‘on the way out.’” As evidence, it points to a growing number of manufacturers that now offer appliances in sophisticated, more easily maintained shades of black and slate, as well as a host of bold colors. One premium indoor appliance manufacturer has even launched a color-matching system that allows homeowners to match appliance finishes to cabinetry, wallcoverings, or backsplash tiles.

In addition to appliances, designers and homeowners are incorporating color on indoor kitchen cabinetry. Some flood the kitchen with color on all cabinets, while others limit color to the base cabinets, or introduce a pop of color on the island. Natural woods also are on-trend, and being used to add warmth, texture, and color to interior kitchens.

As the distinction between interior and exterior living environments blurs and the Outdoor Room becomes an extension of the home, interior kitchen design aesthetics are migrating outdoors. Color is a way to provide continuity and link the indoors to the outdoors.

Danver outdoor kitchen in Pearl Night Blue.

Outdoor Kitchens: Coloring Outside the Lines

“Homeowners and designers are seeking seamless flow between indoor and outdoor spaces,” says Mitch Slater, president of Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchens, Trex Outdoor Kitchens, and Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens. According to Slater, the company’s Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens 2020 State of the Industry research report (BJReport) found that more consumers are embracing color in outdoor kitchens, just as they are in their indoor spaces.

“Thanks to industry and material advancements, people are now able to create outdoor living spaces that look, feel, and function like what they have inside, including the bright, saturated colors that more and more homeowners are experimenting with,” he says.

According to Slater, over 90% of the company’s three lines of outdoor kitchen cabinetry is now sold with a powder-coat finish. Customers can choose from more than 60 colors, as well as realistic wood-grain or stone finishes, and industrial-inspired finishes. “Powder coating allows a range of unique aesthetics and design options, while preserving the durability and low-maintenance benefits of stainless steel,” he says.

The BJReport reveals neutral colors, such as beige, tan, and white, are designers’ most popular outdoor kitchen selections. Nature-inspired hues, such as deep blues and greens, including Juniper, Fog, Tardis Blue, Beetle, and Pearl Night Blue, are some of the company’s fastest-growing colors and expected to continue gaining popularity in 2020.  

ELEMENTS by TECNO, an ongoing collaboration between Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, Dekton by Cosentino, and Daniel Germani Designs.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) reports the color blue is trending in outdoor spaces, with more blue sculptures, water features, plants, and other outdoor elements expected in backyards in the coming years.

Slater says “moody” colors such as black, as well as metallic finishes, also appeal to homeowners. “Outdoors, people are becoming more inclined to opt for saturated colors such as black, which is quickly becoming the new go-to neutral,” he says. “Drift, Night, Nu-Black Hammertone, Gray, and other industrial-inspired color offerings are among our most popular finishes.”

Finishes that mimic wood grains are trending as well, according to Slater, with a growing demand for warmer woods in particular. The company offers multiple, realistic, wood-grain powder-coat finishes, including Teak, Dark Walnut, Chestnut, Cherry Flame, Burlwood, and Mahogany.

Slater says color cabinetry is being used for outdoor applications beyond outdoor kitchens, such as satellite bartending stations, outdoor coffee bars, and storage for garages, boat docks, horse barns, pool houses, and tennis courts.

“In addition, we’re seeing new interest in powder-coating the interiors of cabinets and drawers,” says Slater. “Some people choose to match the cabinet or drawer interior to the exterior finish, while others create a contrast with a pop of a different color, a black finish, or woodgrain look. This helps to further elevate the look of the cabinetry, and to personalize the design.”

Arcadia outdoor kitchen in charcoal from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet is seeing increased interest in color finishes for its modular outdoor cabinetry, as customers look to create one-of-a-kind outdoor living space that coordinates with the home’s interior décor. Its Arcadia Series Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets are available in charcoal-gray, powder-coated stainless steel, and oiled ipe wood, as well as more than 250 RAI custom color options.

Noticing consumer preferences moving in this direction, Kalamazoo recently teamed with some of the nation’s top interior designers to identify color trends for outdoor living environments. According to the designers, color palettes in various shades of blue, green, red, orange, white, black, and gray are popular because they work well in outdoor living spaces, and harmonize with surrounding seasonal landscapes.

“These unexpected pops of color in outdoor palettes reflect colors found in nature, such as the dancing firelight, a breeze of fresh air, and the allure of a bright green lawn,” says Alexis Hiller, head of Marketing at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. “This connection to nature is welcoming and inviting and represents the lighthearted and relaxed feeling people experience in outdoor living. It encourages people to savor these moments, which is the experience we want people to have when they are cooking with Kalamazoo.”

Urban Bonfire went with four neutral powder-coat finishes – gray, creamy white, metallic, and matte black – for its modular outdoor kitchen systems. While these finishes are standard, the cabinetry can be upgraded with a wide variety of other color options. The cabinetry line also can be personalized with wood handles for a warm contrast.

The Firepod portable pizza oven and grill in lava and azure.

Appliance Shades Beyond Stainless

Color in the outdoor space is not limited to outdoor kitchen cabinetry. Consumers are increasingly interested in more colorful alternatives to stainless-steel grills, both for the ease of maintenance and the design aesthetics. In response, more and more manufacturers are now offering gas and charcoal grills, kamados, and pizza ovens in a much broader host of hues.

A 2015 “Weber GrillWatch Survey” found that 50% of grill owners are looking for more color on their grills. According to the survey, interest in color is particularly strong among Millennials; 60% of those under age 35 say they would like a grill with color.

“Like interior kitchens, an outdoor kitchen, and especially the grill, is often the focal point of an outdoor space,” notes Mary Douglas Drysdale of Drysdale Design Associates, Washington, D.C., a designer who collaborated with Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet on the company’s outdoor color trend report. “By adding in unexpected colors such as blue, a practical (appliance) is transformed into an artful presence,” she says.

“Color is very hot,” says Ellen Carr, director of Marketing for Hestan. “It is a major driver and attracts a lot of attention on the sales floor.” According to Carr, about 20% of Hestan grills are purchased in one of its 12 exclusive, glossy color finishes. While Citra (orange), Prince (blue) and Stealth (black), are its most popular options, the company also offers red, eggplant, white, turquoise, yellow, green, brick, fog-gray, and steel finishes.

These bold color panels can be added to Hestan grills, warming drawers, sideburners, and keg refrigerators, and to the door and drawer fronts on the company’s outdoor kitchen island suites. The company’s lower-priced Aspire by Hestan line is offered in five color options.

“Color makes a statement,” says Carr. “People love the color options. You can choose to outfit an outdoor kitchen all in one color, or mix and match colors to have a unique look, or show pride in your school or sports team.”

While ceramic kamados have always been offered in color (case in point: green Big Green Eggs, blue Saffire Kamados, and red Kamado Joes), historically, most companies stick with one signature hue. Other kamado companies, however, are broadening their color offerings.

Grill Dome offers the opportunity to customize any of its kamados in dozens of rich, glossy colors – even mixing-and-matching two different colors on the lid and base. Vision Grills’ ICON kamados are available in red, white, and black, and Everdure by Heston Blumenthal’s 4K kamado-style smoker is offered in fun, attention-grabbing matte colors, including turquoise, orange, brick red, black, and white.

Caliber Appliances’ Caliber Pro Kamados come in glossy red, black, and turquoise, and its gas-powered Rockwell by Caliber Social Grill can be customized in any RAL color.

Weber has expanded color offerings on its gas grills and charcoal kettles in a wide range of designer shades that go beyond the basics, including copper, slate blue, deep ocean blue, spring green, ivory, smoke gray, crimson, and more. Compact Weber Q grills, targeted to Millennial first-time grill buyers and folks who like to take their grill on the go, are available in bright, fun colors such as lime green, orange, red, blue, titanium, and black.

The iconic, cast-aluminum PK (Portable Kitchens) charcoal grills now come in matte red and black finishes, in addition to the original silver. Firepod tabletop pizza ovens sport turquoise, eggplant, red, and black finishes, and Gateway Drum Smokers are offered in glossy or matte black, charcoal, red, and royal blue.

This, of course, is just a sampling; the number of brands offering grills in color increases every year.

The Infinity X2 by Grill Dome is available in a rainbow of custom colors.

Why Should Retailers Show Color Grills?

Displaying grills in color on the sales floor is a smart move, even if most customers ultimately opt for a stainless-steel finish. For one thing, according to Carr, the bold color attracts attention and is a conversation starter.

“In most cases, it is something the customer has never seen,” Carr says. “In the grill and accessory category, most other offerings do not come in color. It is one of the many things that separates Hestan from other grills, and can also differentiate a retailer’s store from other stores. Plus, it is an upcharge to have color, so retailers can make more margin and revenue by offering color.”

Carr says customers who do opt for color are looking to make a statement in their outdoor space, and have it blend seamlessly with their interior color palette.

“Color is a differentiator,” Carr says. “It stands out, while also blending in to the surroundings. It is all about the customer being proud of what they have bought. Homeowners want to have something unique and color helps achieve that.”

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