The heat is on when it comes to al fresco trends for 2015. Think commercial-grade grills in expansive outdoor spaces, chef-quality outdoor kitchens, cutting-edge tools, luxury materials and products that provide both increased comfort and durability in all coastal climates.

And yes, it’s still all about the great American grill. Brian Eskew, head of marketing for Twin Eagles, believes one of the top trends is larger-than-ever-before grill models that are loaded with the latest performance and convenience features.

“When consumers are upgrading to a premium grill, must-haves are lots of temperature controls, internal halogen lights and LED accents for grilling at night, reliable hot-surface ignition systems, as well as plenty of grilling space to prepare food for larger groups,” he says.

Adventurous outdoor foodies can also take on new culinary pursuits in the coming year. The president of Coyote Outdoor Living, Jim Ginocchi, reports a growing trend is grills that have evolved past cooking traditional American fare, like hotdogs and hamburgers.

“Home chefs now want to use grills for a variety of cuisines and gourmet barbecues, and so special attachments, such as a power burner with a wok and a teppanyaki (a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle) surface are now being offered.”

Beyond grill attachments, outdoor kitchen design enthusiasts will be excited by all the new options, says Russ Faulk, vice president of design, marketing and product development at Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

“The trend of restaurant-quality cooking capabilities in the indoor kitchen is migrating outdoors in 2015,” he adds. “Not only can homeowners craft old-world pizzas, explore the flavors of a wood-fired grill or even make naan in a tandoor, there is improved design flexibility created by new styles of countertops, such as porcelain slabs for modern homes or durable concrete that looks and feels like wood for traditional homes.”

Brown Jordan outdoor kitchen

Outdoor entertainment is also expanding further than cooking alone, and ocean homeowners want to use their properties in much more imaginative ways.

Mitchell Slater, president of Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, believes that transition rooms – roof-covered outdoor entertaining spaces leading to a home’s pool and garden – is a top trend for 2015.

“These rooms are incorporating sophisticated lounge- type seating versus typical bar stools, as well as more color than ever before in places like cabinetry,” he says.

Naturally, along with the investment in more sophisticated spaces comes cutting-edge tools to make them more usable during all four seasons.

“Design and construction of many new homes in 2015 will include automated home-management systems,” says John Mazzotta, the president of Infratech.

“New and exciting to the industry, they offer the ability to control our electric, flush-mount outdoor heaters on your devices, including iPhones.”

Beyond tools, materials have also evolved to blend aesthetics with practical durability. According to Louis-Philippe Viens, professional landscape architect at Techo-Bloc, this best-of-both-worlds scenario is another hot trend.

“Travertine and wood are among the most well- known luxury materials in the outdoor living world,” he says. “Unfortunately, these are not the most practical or resistant materials in freeze-thaw climates, and do require a lot of maintenance over the years.

“To avoid trading beauty for practicality, Techo-Bloc has created the Travertina and Borealis concrete stone products to look like the real thing.”