With warmer weather heading our way, thoughts of outdoor entertaining are on many of our minds. Creating an outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a grill, table and chairs, or as extravagant as a fully outfitted kitchen complete with built-in appliances and seating.
The following design tips will help you create an amazing outdoor space to host your family and friends for years to come.
Lighting serves two purposes. First, it creates light needed for a multitude of tasks and secondly it creates atmosphere and sets the mood for entertaining. Lighting should be designed to illuminate the kitchen prep area as well as the dining and outdoor sitting areas. For safety, adding ground lights, such as solar lights on pathways to and from the main house can help guide your guests and keep a visual connection between the two areas.
A properly designed outdoor kitchen layout will have a cold area (refrigeration), hot area (grills and cooktops), wet area (sink) and dry area (prep counter and storage). All of these areas must work together effectively in a close vicinity, each with enough allocated space. It is always a good idea to design your outdoor kitchen and ensure that you separate your cooking appliances from your cooling appliances. For example, you should never install a refrigerator directly underneath or next to your grill. Because both elements put off heat, cooling the internal parts of both appliances can easily become an issue and cause them to fail sooner.
Building a tall roof or pergola over your outdoor kitchen will allow you to enjoy cooking outdoors, even in the rain. In rainy and cold climates, structures such as an arbour can be topped with panels or a solid roof for added protection from the elements. Retractable awnings and patio umbrellas offer simpler, less expensive overhead shelter for dining areas. Heat lamps can be provided as either freestanding or can be installed onto the structure. Overhead style gas or propane radiant infrared heaters offer the most area coverage, most heat and also free up an area where floor heater can take up space.
As you design your outdoor kitchen, select materials that are tough enough to withstand the elements while still being low maintenance for easy care. Because of its durability and toughness, stainless steel is a great option for outdoor countertops, as well as for appliances. Solid or veneer brick, stone and stucco are great and can be added as a decorative finish to the exterior walls of a built-in look. Think about matching your stone to the exterior of your house or elements in your yard.
Appliances and Storage
Many outdoor kitchens include a grill, a sink, and a small refrigerator. Some kitchens even include specialty appliances like a wood or gas fired oven (pizza oven) beer tap, soda fountains and warming drawers. Purchase appliances that are rated for outdoor use by the manufacturer as appliances that are only rated for indoor use are not made to withstand an outdoor environment. Over time, the appliances may become discolored, fail, and you can bet that your warranty will be voided.
Just like your indoor kitchen, you will need places to put items on and plenty of storage. Keep in mind they must all be waterproof and durable to temperature changes. Also make sure to properly ventilate your outdoor kitchen with vent panels. Insulated grill jackets surround your grill, keeping your outdoor kitchen structure cool, preventing any burning or warping. Also, insulated grill jackets support and protect your grills undercarriage from weathering and corrosion, which will help it, last longer.