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Pizza ovens have become very popular in outdoor kitchens. Expect to see more market entries and features in this growing category next year. As they become more widely available, low-priced imports are starting to appear. Be sure your cooking appliances are safe, properly-installed and the right price point for your home value.
The industry's first outdoor dishwasher debuted at the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. I expect that we'll see other entrants this year, as competitors have been working on these for years. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, a company known for its patio cooking prowess, beat all the big guys to market. Competition and more reasonable price points can't be far behind.
Outdoor entertainment systems are a huge and growing category for these spaces.
Like your indoor entertainment appliances, they need to be scaled properly for viewability and sound enjoyment. However, unlike those in your great room, they also need to be weather- and water-friendly. So far, this has meant higher prices than those of indoor components. Again, growing categories typically mean growing competition, which should bring lower price points later this year.
Another growing trend for appliances is outfitting craft spaces with items like sophisticated new sewing machines. Crafting has become especially popular in the recession as homeowners have stayed and played at home more. We've also sought more opportunities to save, which has renewed the popularity of old-fashioned crafts like knitting, sewing and quilting. Look for new appliances geared toward these hobbies, including potential smart phone tie-ins for patterns, designs and other fun upgrades.
Tablets such as the iPad have become major home entertainment appliances. They control programming, lighting, sound, even climate control. Expect to see more apps and offerings in 2012 as this category explodes in popularity.
One of the hottest trends in laundry appliances is steam washing. Just about every manufacturer is offering one, with more entrants likely to come on the market this year as the category grows.
What are its benefits? Chief among them are time savings from not having to pre-treat spots and potentially better stain removal. Drawbacks? Remember when a washing machine used to cost a few hundred dollars? These babies will set you back upwards of $1,000. Hopefully, more competition will result in better pricing. It usually does, but the days of $200 washers are probably as over as the days of a $2 per gallon gasoline.
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