“The key to life is being able to barbecue outside,” says Michael McCarty, chef and owner of Michael’s in Santa Monica and New York City.
Indeed, McCarty gets his grill on 12 months a year in one of two outdoor cooking areas at his Malibu home. He’s even grilled lobster for 80 on a 98-inch-wide, high-tech Thermador — what he calls his “big, beautiful barbecue.”
Want to live the al fresco lifestyle of superstar chefs? Being handy in the kitchen is no longer a prerequisite. “Some clients, and it’s usually a male client, will insist on putting in a Viking barbecue even if they don’t cook,” says Steve Straughan, partner in KAA Design Group.
And why not? Not only do they get to throw around terms like “Btus” and “one-touch electronic ignition,” they add to their home’s value. In the same way that a pool pays off when it’s time to sell, adding a great outdoor cooking and dining area is a bankable investment.
Spend $20,000-$150,000 on a custom barbecue station and you could increase a property’s value by $50,000-$300,000. However, since outdoor dining upgrades aren’t considered part of a home’s square footage when it’s time to sell, they’re often commissioned by homeowners rather than by speculators.
Brent Watson, an agent with deasy/penner & partners, says clients show growing interest in outdoor rooms. Sixty percent say it’s a priority; 15 years ago, he says that figure was perhaps 5%. “A great outdoor space can sell the house,” he says.
This was the case in a recent Doheny-area home sale. With a $100,000 designer poolside pavilion tricked out with a commercial-grade ice cream machine, icemaker and outdoor cooking area, the outdoors more than made up for the ho-hum interior — and helped justify its $3.8 million pricetag. Without outdoor-dining additions, Watson estimates it would have sold for $300,000 less. “People will sacrifice house to have outdoor space,” says Watson.
And, as with so much in Los Angeles, appearances are all-important. “At night, it’s nice to look out and see an outdoor room that’s all lit up, with an outdoor fireplace,” Straughan says. “It’s romantic just to see it.”
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
|A Manhattan Beach courtyard from KAA Design Group.
||Recessed heaters in the ceilings make for year-round use at a loggia in Brentwood, also from KAA Design Group.
|The Gaggenau Vario VF 411 electric deep fryer
||Thermador’s Char-Glo Outdoor Barbecue
|McCarty uses a deep-fat fryer to prepare soft-shell crabs or tempura. Frying alfresco means your drapes don’t smell like fried food. The Gaggenau Vario VF 411 electric deep fryer can be installed outdoors as long as it’s protected from rain. MSRP: $1,749
||Thermador’s Char-Glo Outdoor Barbecue like the one McCarty uses to cook lobster for 80, has a large grilling area with up to 80,000 Btus of power plus a heavy-duty rotisserie with a 12,000 Btu burner. MSRP: $2,699-$4,399