When the weather starts to get nice, people like to spend more time outside. Entertaining with an outdoor kitchen can be convenient when you have some friends and family come to visit, but it’s also nice for simply using to cook during the warmer months. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and the food always seems to taste better when you are cooking outside. You have to make sure that you think about the design of your space though. It is not as simple as getting a grill and cooktop and calling it a day.
Think About the Space You Have
One of the first things that you need to consider is where you will be putting the outdoor kitchen and how much physical space you have available. The amount of space you have will determine how many different items you will be able to put into your kitchen. It doesn’t need to be a massive outdoor kitchen, but you will need to have an organized area so it is easy to reach everything that you need. When planning your kitchen, consider where the hookups for gas, water, and electricity will be and make sure that the location you choose will have easy access to everything you need. As always, consult a professional if you’re not entirely sure you can build your outdoor kitchen safely and properly.
The areas considered essential are the preparation area, the cooking area, the serving area, and the cleanup area. If you have more room, you could also have a refrigerator and freezer. You might even want to go so far as to add a tap for a keg of beer. If you are going to have a keg, or any area where the guests can serve themselves drinks, it is a good idea to put it at one end of the kitchen, so they do not need to come into the kitchen space without getting in the way of the cook. The same holds true of the mini-fridge placement.
You may also want to have a bar top in the kitchen so that your guests can sit and talk with you while you cook. They can be close without actually getting in the way.
Think about the rest of your outdoor living space, as well as the architecture of your home. You want the outdoor kitchen to match as much as possible with these other areas, so it flows from one section to another naturally.
The Right Type of Equipment
It is always important to choose materials that are able to hold up to the elements. Using high quality stainless steel for your appliances is generally a good idea, as they tend to be very low maintenance, and you will not have to worry about them corroding. They are also easy to clean when compared with other types of surfaces.
You could choose natural stone, such as granite, for some of the surfaces. However, it’s important to remember that counters made from natural stone will need to be sealed, and resealed regularly to keep them in good shape. You should use granite that has UV stabilizers added, as this will help to keep the surface safe from the sun.
You will want to avoid limestone, as it is very porous. This means it will stain easily, and it can be damaged in areas where there is a lot of moisture, particularly in areas where it freezes. In addition, if you live in an area where it freezes and thaws each year, you should avoid using tile countertops for your outdoor kitchen.
Make It Work in Any Type of Weather
What happens if it is raining or it gets too cold out? This shouldn’t mean that you can’t utilize your outdoor kitchen. You should consider adding an awning over the space of the cooking and dining areas – as long as it is not combustible – and use those to keep out any inclement weather. You can also invest in some outdoor space heaters that can help to keep the area nice and warm after the sun goes down, or even on a winter day if you like.
Consider the Lighting
You need to have plenty of lighting for your outdoor kitchen. You should have task lighting in the kitchen area so you have enough light to see by when you are preparing and cooking the food. You can also have some ambient lighting when you are entertaining and are no longer cooking. Do not make the mistake of trying to rely on the natural light, or light streaming out from the house or outdoor lights. The lights need to be specifically for your outdoor kitchen.
Think About Entertainment
Another thing to consider is having entertainment in the outdoor cooking space. Make sure there are outlets so you can bring out radios, hook up your phones and some speakers, and perhaps even add a television for watching the game. If you think about adding entertainment when you are just starting your outdoor kitchen plan, it will be easier than trying to integrate it later.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to think about when you are preparing for an outdoor kitchen. By creating a plan at the start that will work with your needs and your budget, you can have a wonderful kitchen that will provide you with many years of use.
DISCLAIMER: Readers should keep in mind that any accounts of renovation presented in this article are written accounts of events taking place at individual homes, and are not necessarily endorsements of do-it-yourself home improvement. When building an outdoor kitchen, it should always include outdoor equipment to account for the possibility of inclement weather. You proceed at your own risk if you attempt to replicate any activities described here.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.bigstock.com and www.dreamstime.com