Life Alfresco

BY KIRA PERDUE | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

There’s no question that the kitchen is the room with all the action. It’s a place for cooking, eating, cocktails, chatting, family meetings and life’s special events. But move that same gathering outdoors and the ambience becomes festive.

More and more homeowners are taking advantage of backyard living and bringing their culinary skills with them. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA), outdoor rooms are a $6.2 billion industry. More than 86 percent of all households in the United States own an outdoor grill or smoker, and the majority of those owners use their grills year-round.

But backyard cooking no longer means pulling out a few lawn chairs and the rollaway cart. For those who enjoy grilling and entertaining outdoors, the new outdoor kitchens are a revelation. Suddenly, a deck or patio becomes an extension of the family’s living space. Call it a lifestyle addition to your home.

These areas can be very elaborate or quite simple, but it’s important that the space be customized to each family’s specific needs. So if you’re considering adding an outdoor kitchen, think about how you plan to entertain. Do you want your guests to dine outside or just mingle while you cook? What existing features—such as a pool or trees—will you need to work around? Do you have guests over often, or do you intend mainly to use it for family gatherings?

Ken Good and Scott Hunter, owners of Palmetto Outdoor Kitchens, know all the right questions to ask to create your perfect outdoor kitchen. After Good built his own kitchen, he realized there was a need in the Charleston market for a company that could design and install complete outdoor living spaces from start to finish.

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Established in the spring of 2013, Palmetto Outdoor Kitchens is a full-service designer and builder of outdoor kitchens. The company specializes in grills from the finest manufacturers—FireMagic, AOG, Kamado Joe and TEC. They also have distribution rights for seven counties in South Carolina for the popular WerEver cabinet line, considered by many in the industry to be the strongest, most-proven weatherproof cabinetry for outdoor kitchens.

“We are passionate about creating amazing culinary spaces and can do it from start to finish, no matter how big or small the project is,” says Good. “Our design team first meets with the homeowner to truly understand his or her vision. Then we create a design at no charge. From there, we can build the entire kitchen or simply supply the appliances, if that’s what the homeowner wants. Each design is unique.” The Palmetto Outdoor Kitchens team even pulls town permits, deals with homeowner association rules, and more.

If a customer just wants to come into the store to purchase a new grill or replenish grilling supplies, that’s fine too. Palmetto Outdoor Kitchen’s showroom offers many styles and varieties of grills, which they will deliver to your home. For those interested in designing a dream kitchen, Palmetto’s full kitchen displays and idea books inspire creative thinking.

Outdoor living is becoming more and more popular in the Lowcountry, says Good, and Charleston homeowners aren’t skimping on their outdoor kitchens. He sees homeowners opting to install both a gas and a charcoal grill, plus functional built-in features. “We are seeing sinks, trash pullouts, door banks, refrigerators, televisions, ice makers, brick pizza ovens, wine coolers, and even blenders built right into the countertop.”

Palmetto Outdoor Kitchens recently finished an outdoor living space and kitchen at the Daniel Island home of Frank Abagnale.

The company took his personal style into account, creating a room he and his family could feel at home in while they entertain.

“Palmetto Outdoor Kitchens had a great selection of grills,” says Abagnale, “and they designed the cabinetry to fit a very tight space off our pool deck.” He, like many other customers, was impressed with the staff’s delivery times and attention to detail. “The crew was onsite with the carpenters and granite people making sure everything was perfectly installed,” he said. “The designer even went out of his way to design cabinetry additions around an existing downspout.”

Investing in an outdoor cooking and entertaining room enhances a home’s resale value, according to the HPBA. During the recession, as the real estate economy slowed down, many people chose to remodel, instead of sell, their homes. And many of them, deferring an expensive vacation, invested their funds in a home- and lifestyle-enriching improvement—an outdoor kitchen fit for a chef.

And they didn’t have to go far to learn how to use their new kitchens. Palmetto Outdoor Kitchens offers cooking classes in their showroom a couple of times a month. Attendees leave with new ideas and a full stomach.

Good, who plans to expand the business to other South Carolina markets, loves the smiles he and his team put on customers’ faces. “What we do makes people happy, and that’s a great place to be every day. A beautiful outdoor kitchen and living space is a luxury that people want. I enjoy building this kind of product, because it allows people to enjoy their homes, family and friends even more.”

Kira Perdue is a public relations professional and freelance writer based in Mount Pleasant.