Kitchens serve as not only a place to prepare meals, but also as a main gathering space in the home. In fact, it’s often said the kitchen is the heart of the home, and that ideal shouldn’t be sacrificed when entertaining outdoors.

In urban areas specifically, outdoor spaces are highly coveted and scarce. Nevertheless, homeowners are increasingly interested in designing outdoor spaces that maximize the footprint of the area. In fact, a recent survey from the American Institute of Architects shows that 69 percent of firms report an increase in requests for exterior living rooms.

Industry veteran and president of Dream Kitchens Inc. Rick Glickman says that in tight urban areas people are looking for a not-so-urban getaway to relax and socialize with friends and family. “Rooftops and patios are a conveniently located solution and an underutilized area where space is a premium,” he says. “Adding an outdoor living room to entertain and relax is the perfect solution.”

Interior/exterior connection

Julie deLeon, designer and owner of Groundwork Design in Chicago, has 11 years of industry experience and specializes in outdoor landscapes and roof gardens. She notes that when designing she strives for a sincere connection between the interior/exterior experiences blending into a singular, unified mood.

“Based in Chicago, I have many projects in the urban setting where the primary goal is to maximize the footprint of the outdoor space and enliven the living areas. A common request is for a lounging area, dining area and outdoor kitchen,” says deLeon.

Design + function = best of both worlds

In addition to style, a main factor in exterior kitchen projects is functionality and durability. The idea that building materials can withstand a harsh Chicago winter is a key factor for deLeon. For example, she often uses stainless outdoor kitchen cabinetry in her designs to complement a modern aesthetic and withstand inclement weather.

Mitch Slater, president of Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchens, affirms that outdoor living is about more than just personal style and atmosphere; it’s also about function and longevity. “These two ideas work in conjunction with each other to create a desired look. Stainless steel cabinets are especially designed and engineered for outdoor kitchens, transition rooms, rooftops and other spaces where durability is a concern,” he explains.

With today’s manufacturing technology, designers and consumers are not willing to sacrifice style for function because it is possible to have both. Kerrie Kelly, Zillow Digs home design expert and brand ambassador for Danver and Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, notes that anything high-maintenance, intricate or over-styled will be replaced with materials that can both withstand the elements and transition beautifully between seasons. Consumers who invest in an outdoor space want to ensure their equipment and materials are strong and stable while still maintaining style.

Spaced out?

In many instances, space and layout limitations come into play. It is always important to get a wish list from clients of the most important items they are looking for and design in a way that utilizes each inch in a meaningful way.

Designers by trade have the challenge of drawing up innovative plans that explore trends, while fitting each piece of the design within the clients’ needs and wants. Rooftop outdoor kitchens are a fast-growing trend for builders, designers and homeowners alike. Undoubtedly having an outdoor kitchen is a huge selling point for potential buyers, but it is also a luxury that is becoming widely popularized by the masses. Consumers no longer have to be limited by their surroundings because with durable and stylish building products, they can now blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living to achieve relaxation.