Outdoor kitchens come in as many options and looks as indoor kitchens. And if a picture is worth a thousand words when figuring out what your preferences are, the designers at the newly opened Livio Designs in Lacombe — an all-in-one destination showroom specializing in everything from interior/exterior design and construction to furnishings and decorative items — are banking on the philosophy that a hands-on, in-person look is even better.

“We’re a lifestyle and entertaining brand focused on modern livable spaces,” said Lauren Yarbrough, Livio’s Director of Design. “We’ve streamlined the buying experience for our clients.” 

Livio will soon include four fully furnished outdoor kitchens plus one demo kitchen and Yarbrough advises turning to a resource where the experts (those who design, those who execute the building etc.) and the products are in one place. 

“People struggle with where to begin,” she said, explaining that many customers need to be educated about such things as what kinds of materials are best for standing up to the elements. “We can help clients not to make big expensive mistakes.”

Yarbrough recommends customers sit down with a designer to devise a plan and look at materials (granite and quartzite are good options for outdoor kitchen counters for example) and products. She regularly goes to market and stays up to date on what’s trending. High-end grills, including pellet grills — which use wood pellets made of compressed sawdust (vs. gas or charcoal), griddles, dry agers for drying meats, beer kegs, wine and liquor dispensers, user-friendly wood burning ovens, halogen and LED lighting, and smart technology are among the items in demand.

“As if people didn’t already love to live outside, since COVID there is even more of a push to be outside and to eat outside,” said Yarbrough. “It’s about entertaining and bringing the indoors out.”

Beverage centers, small refrigerators and dishwashers are also popular choices for those looking to make a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living.

Trending colors at market include greens – mineral, emerald and Kelly, and warm navy blues. 

“The same colors you see trending indoors are being shown for outdoors,” said Yarbrough, who recommends that locals who tend toward whites and light colors for their overall color scheme bring in pops of the latest colors with accessories like pillows, rugs and art, all of which are available with outdoor ratings. 

Because homeowners want to be able to use their outdoor kitchens all year, Yarbrough advises making use of the cooling and heating amenities available at Livio: fans, misting fans, motorized screens, firepits, built-in heaters and freestanding heaters. And to put the finishing touches on outdoor kitchens, she suggests taking advantage of indestructible offerings like melamine serving ware.  

“We make sure it all works together and it’s right for you and your home,” she said. 

  1. Align your design with how you plan to live in and use the space (will it be used for entertaining, dinner parties, or family gatherings?).
  2. Always choose comfortable, durable seating.
  3. Integrate products that allow you to use your space for as much of the year as possible, like retractable screens, misters, fans, and built-in heating.

Native North Shore resident Lauren Yarbrough brings 15 years of experience in the field of home design to her role as design director at Livio, where customers will find everything from model kitchens to cooking and cocktail making demonstrations. She says her favorite part of helping design outdoor kitchens is seeing it “pulled together at the end,” art hung and appointments like urns and olive jars in place.