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Outdoor Entertainment

When the sun shines, most of us like to fire up the barbecue and eat outside. But, this summer, it’s taken to a whole new level with high demand for outdoor kitchens and stunning entertainment areas.

“The UK is finally catching up with its Scandinavian counterparts in realising that more time outdoors equals better mental health. The average Brit spends just five percent of their time outdoors. The best way to increase your exposure to the natural world is to create a garden area you can enjoy all year round,” says Anna Howell, interiors editor at luxury furniture company Chaplins.

Making our gardens inviting with chic furniture, heaters and lighting is key, and designers are responding with stylish looks. High-end brands like B&B Italia have created weather-hardy versions of its bestselling indoor pieces, while Swedish brand, Röshults, has released outdoor barbecues and kitchens designed for spontaneity – and unpredictable weather – such as a Booster Grill, which uses infrasound technology to heat up in six minutes so you can catch the sun while it lasts.

Daniele Brutto, co founder of Hub Kitchens, notes that people are starting to expect the same level of comfort in their gardens as they do in their homes. “When planning outdoor space, consider your wi-fi coverage, charging and aerial points, as well as suitable shade for sunny days and cover for when the days are less sunny.” Other considerations include outdoor-rated audio speakers, televisions, fans, gas heaters and wine fridges.

The trend also allows us to extend our entertaining space. Gatherings that would be too large to take place indoors can be a practical reality when the weather is warmer. “Using your outdoor space for entertaining large groups of family and friends is the perfect way to create additional room. However, entertaining large groups requires large amounts of food, which makes multiple cooking surfaces a must. Options can include both charcoal and gas grills, standard cooking burners, fryer burners, brick ovens and standard ovens,” says Daniele.

Smokers, pizza ovens and tandoors are also becoming popular. The Big Green Egg has been going in the US for 40 years and is now catching on here, with its ability to smoke, grill and roast, as well as bake pizzas. In the US, super-sized grills costing thousands of dollars are common, complete with rotisseries, infrared cooking, prep areas and integrated sinks, fridges and bar areas. David Ezrine, director of Alfresco Concepts Ltd, the UK distributor of the Big Green Egg, says of the increased interest across the UK: “If you look at the TV and lifestyle trends over the past ten years, they have moved from the British love of gardening to renovation and DIY programmes and onto cookery and food nutrition. It was only a matter of time before consumers wanted to merge all three genres.”

Entertaining outside brings with it several challenges you’ll need to consider – will you need a sink and running water for food prep and washing utensils, do you need an area for rubbish, and how will you light both the cooking and dining area at night? Cooking by candlelight won’t cut it when you are trying to chargrill a nice cut of rib-eye to perfection! Also consider how to shelter guests from strong sun or an unexpected rain shower, and whether you prefer everyone to be sat formally at a table or on sofas with low tables. A firepit is an ideal way to extend the use of your entertainment area so you can stay outdoors when the evening turns chillier – some even function as a table on which to rest your post-dinner drinks.

 The Jewel Bridgman www.bridgman.co.uk Solus Hemi Fire Bowl www.solusdecor.co.uk Ozone outdoor kitchen Record e Cucine Hub Kitchens www.hubkitchens.co.uk