I have a talent for stating the obvious, so I might as well tell you right now that when I visit a well-designed community, it just feels right.
Designing for the Barbecue Nation
Just like everyone else, new home buyers want to be outside as the weather turns warm.
Just like everyone else, new home buyers want to be outside as the weather turns warm. Make it easy for them to head out without leaving home by building great outdoor rooms.
"Living rooms aren't what they used to be," Heat-N-Glo president Dan Shimek says. "Outdoor living spaces are in high demand. And compared to finished interior space, outdoor living rooms cost much less to build yet add more livable space to the home."
Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association CEO Carter Keithley agrees. He says buyers are realizing they can get outdoor space for $10 or $20 per square foot, compared with $100 or more for interior space.
Cal Spas' Cal Flame Outdoor Cooking Islands
What it is: Three levels of grills in customizable islands.
What's cool: The Sports Bar and Grill has a metal canopy with four automatic awnings; track lighting; three 9-inch, flat-panel, flip-down monitors; a DVD player; and a CD stereo system with marine speakers.
Price range: $3,000 to $27,000
More info: www.calspas.com
Lennox Hearth Products' Oasis
What it is: Wood-burning outdoor fireplace with stainless steel construction, optional bifold glass doors and two interior brick patterns
What's cool: Large, 43-inch viewing area Price range: $1,780-$2,390
More info: www.lennoxhearthproducts.com
Travis Industries' Ring of Fire
What it is: Outdoor gas fire pit
What's cool: It's also a fountain - three tiers of water jets encircle the flames for a multimedia show.
More info: www.avalonstoves.com/whatsnew.asp
Heat-N-Glo Builder Sets
What it is: Modular, pre-fabricated, components including fireboxes, fireplace surrounds, grill islands, tables and fire pits. All come unfinished.
What's cool: One-stop shopping
Price range: The Dakota (gas fireplace and surround) starts at $4,799.
More info: www.hearthnhome.com