The National Kitchen and Bath Association listed "outdoor cooking and cooling equipment" as one of the hot trends for 2002.
The trend, which began with pricey stainless steel grills that looked as if they were on steroids, has morphed into a desire for self-sufficient outdoor cooking areas. Options range from burners and a mega-BTU stainless grill on an island to full-fledged kitchens with everything from refrigerators and sinks to ice makers and warming trays. California foodies have upped the ante with wood-burning pizza ovens.
Although the trend has been growing a few years, Eliot Sefrin, publisher of the trade publication Kitchen & Bath Design News, says outdoor kitchens have really taken off the past 12 months.
"I think it's probably, to some degree, part of a larger trend," Mr. Sefrin says. "People are devoting more time, money and attention to their homes. It's partly in the wake of the unfortunate tragedy of 9-11 and part of the desire to grow equity in their homes. People are entertaining more at home and spending more time at home. There is also a desire to vacation at home because people are afraid to travel."