Staycations are the new vacations, and that means more people are spending time and money on their own outdoor living spaces. An outdoor kitchen is the ideal place to host a dinner party, spend quality time with the family and chill out with a cool drink on a warm evening.
A lot of thought and planning goes into setting up the perfect outdoor kitchen, and there are more than a few factors to keep in mind as you plan the project. Whether it’s a simple BBQ setup or an elaborate culinary workplace, the more time you spend creating the space, the more everyone will love it.
It’s important to give careful consideration to the ways that you plan to use your new outdoor kitchen. If it’s strictly for the enjoyment of you and yours, it’s probably not necessary to go all-out with a professional range and optimized prep areas. Alternatively, if you’re planning to host important events and hire professionals to do the cooking, you’ll want to cater to their needs.
You’ll also need to consider your budget. Elaborate investments should not only include the price of construction and high-quality appliances, but also the fee charged by a designer. Creating the layout of a large kitchen for use by professional staff is no easy task, and there are knowledgeable outdoor architects that do it for a living.
Where are you going with this?
In a perfect world, your outdoor kitchen will be located in close proximity to your indoor kitchen. Not only will this decrease the costs associated with electrical and gas connections, but it will also make it easier to cook in both locations simultaneously. The added storage space and seating locations don’t hurt, either.
If you’re just going for a simple outdoor BBQ setup, you’ll still want to be careful with your choice of location. The smoke from the grill will typically head downwind, and you could be headed for trouble down the road if a neighbour’s window happens to lie in its path.
Ambience is Everything
You’re creating an outdoor kitchen for a reason. Anyone can throw a card table on the lawn and grill – you’re creating a purpose-built space for your family and friends – perhaps even your clients and colleagues – and that means you’ll have to consider things like shade, lighting, seating and shelter.
Since you’ll likely use the area during afternoons and evenings, you’ll need to consider the location of the sun during those times. Trees provide excellent natural cover, and if your outdoor kitchen is connected to your home, an eve or an awning can help out as well. If need be, you can put in a shade trellis to enclose the space, and a built-in umbrella is a good thing to have earlier in the day.
The sun will eventually go down, though, and you’ll need to consider the lighting of the space. Your cooking area should, of course, have lighting that allows the cook to work safely and efficiently. You don’t want too much of that light to spill into the dining area, though – subtle ambient lighting is the best way to create a relaxed atmosphere.
Materials are More than Just Looks
Choosing the right materials for an outdoor kitchen isn’t an easy thing to do. They need to look good, of course, but they also need to endure the weather of the region while standing up to stains, spills and frequent cleaning. Unlike indoor components, outdoor kitchen elements need to be sturdier and weather proof.
Image courtesy of www.baysideoutdoorcentre.com.au
Natural stone countertops are a popular choice, but if not properly sealed they’ll be susceptible to a variety of contaminants. Granite is an excellent alternative, but they have downsides as well – their colour and gloss will fade over time if they don’t contain a UV stabilizer.
Tile is a good choice for regions with consistently warm weather – you can choose from a variety of colours and finishes, it’s easy to clean and – if properly cared for – resistant to damage. Unfortunately, they’ll eventually crack if subjected to the frequent thawing and freezing of harsher climates.
It’s easy to get lost in the details as you design – or work with a designer – to plan your outdoor kitchen, but try not to lose sight of your vision for the space. An outdoor kitchen can truly enhance the enjoyment you take from your home, and you needn’t make it any more complex than your needs require.