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Key outdoor kitchen trends for 2022

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The UK outdoor kitchen market has changed a lot over the past 7 years. Ever since CENA was launched in 2015, we’ve seen first-hand how the demand for outdoor kitchens here has matured. 7 years ago, customers were happy with more limited choice and off-the-shelf builds, no doubt partly because outdoor kitchens were new to the UK and there was little variation in the market.

But now that they are an outdoor living must-have (and they are only set to become more popular - Country Life, House Beautiful and countless other press articles list an outdoor kitchen as a key garden trend in 2022), our customers are on the hunt for a more sophisticated product. Some customers want sleek and contemporary, some love a traditional timber aesthetic and others desire bold and ostentatious. What they all want is choice - a choice of layouts, appliances and material options and the design features to make their kitchen truly unique.

In this article, we’re sharing some of the data we’ve gathered over the year and using it to inform both consumers deciding what their outdoor kitchen will look like, and our landscape architect, garden design and property developer partners. For example, it might surprise you that 12% of CENA customers aren’t particularly interested in cooking outdoors. They simply want to spend time outside and see food as a necessity to keep friends and family comfortable and happy! So, let’s take a deeper dive into the outdoor kitchen trends and what they tell us.

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Why do people want an outdoor kitchen?

As we often say to clients, an outdoor kitchen is about fun and happiness, not necessity. There are lots of limitations to an indoor kitchen, such as the wall placement and size of the room, the cooking mediums available and the materials which can be used, but these barriers simply don’t apply to an outdoor kitchen.

We start our design consultation process in the same way as an architect or designer, considering how the customer and their household sees themselves using the space. That way the imagination can run wild before it needs to be constrained with dimensions and aspects.

As we mentioned when sharing that 12% of our customers aren’t that interested in cooking outdoors, not everyone is keen to focus on appliances. And we agree that an outdoor kitchen can be so much more than a cooking space. It can be used as a bar, for cocktail making and seating as well as for food prep, cooking and dining. In fact, by making sure it’s a multi-functional space it becomes a far more sound and usable investment.

That’s why 74% of our outdoor kitchens now include room for seating. Whether that’s a dedicated alfresco dining space or countertop/bar height stools, it allows the space to be a gathering spot for friends or an intimate dining area when it’s just the family.

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Just 8% of our customers have a defined vision 

It’s interesting to note that while consumers now have a greater expectation of what an outdoor kitchen can offer them, we have found the average consumer still needs a lot of guidance about their options. And even the most informed household will need a steer on the right appliances, materials and layouts for their project.

Just 8% of clients contact us with a clear vision of their space. This means our expert guidance is essential to make sure they explore the opportunities that best suit their needs and aspirations. 39% of our clients have engaged a designer before contacting CENA, which means we are either working within a predefined scheme or can support the designer with ideas around what is possible with outdoor kitchen design. In a fifth of the project where we work alongside a design business it is the designer who has engaged our services in order to fit within their scheme. Working with a designer from the very start ensures the kitchen forms part of the natural flow of the garden and complements their chosen aesthetic.

61% of kitchens required precisely fitting into a surround demanding a bespoke build, whether it be walls and corners, garden building footprints or other landscaped features. And 63% of projects require some form of canopy or structure for waterproofing or shade!! We are operating in the temperamental British climate, after all…

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What's the must-have outdoor kitchen appliance in 2022?

At CENA our motto is ‘anything is possible’ and we are proud to share the widest range of appliances and materials for our customers to choose from. But interestingly, when it comes to appliances the gas grill remains king, with 92% of our projects incorporating this as their main cooking appliance. Only 10% of people opt for charcoal as their main heat source, normally selecting the ceramic Kamado-style ovens for a long, slow cooking style.

The next most essential appliance is a fridge which features in 71% of our kitchen designs, closely followed by 68% of outdoor kitchens now including some form of side burner (we also offer induction hobs!). Plumbing remains a less essential element, often due to the cost of providing a feed or drainage as the cause, and 55% of our kitchens feature a sink and tap. Finally, 39% of CENA kitchens include a wood-fired or gas pizza oven and interestingly, they never feature as the main cooking appliance. Everyone wants a gas or kamado grill as well as the oven.

If you would like to chat to our expert team about your outdoor kitchen please drop us a line - you'll find all our contact details here


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