Our homes have now become our havens. As an extension of your home, the most functional outdoor kitchen designs combine spaces to cook, eat, and entertain. No longer considered a luxury item, outdoor kitchens increase the cooking and entertaining areas of the home, adding versatility and style.
THE STANDARDS STILL APPLY
Design principles for work zones and functionality are still in play when designing your outdoor kitchen. Consider the work triangle and location of any refrigeration, sink, and cooktop with plenty of adjacent countertop surfaces. Remember to separate your cooking and cooling appliances to allow for proper ventilation and increased life span.
Don’t exclude the chef from the party and consult them to create a natural flow between your interior and exterior spaces. Stay mindful of how you and your guests will move between the cooking, dining, and entertaining areas.
Complement the existing architecture of the home, and with any materials, ensure that they are tough enough to withstand the elements. Incorporate brick, wood, or stucco to tie in the building materials of the home and use durable stainless steel cabinets and appliances that are designed for outdoor use. Natural stone countertops can withstand the elements and soften the look while providing an additional link to the style and feel of the interior kitchen.
Consider the space available and the type of appliances you will use most often. Grills and smokers are the most common cooking surfaces, with side burners and frying vats providing additional versatility and keeping the mess (and smell) out of the home. Undercounter refrigerators keep beverages cool and easily accessible, but for serious entertaining cred, consider adding a built-in kegerator or ice maker.
Integrate ample task and general lighting, with options for various levels of light. Use brighter lights in cooking and prep spaces, and softer lights near seating areas. String or twinkle lights provide a subtle glow and dimmers can lessen the need for harsh overhead lighting. Additionally, pathway lighting can increase safety when walking around the property.
STAY A WHILE
Transform your backyard into a haven for cooking and entertaining and increase the year-round usage by adding a few creature comforts. Regulate the temperature by adding ceiling fans or patio heaters. Create inviting seating areas that nod towards the interior with the use of outdoor rugs and accessories. Add a television and surround sound and enjoy the game with friends and family.
You’ll find that with the addition of an outdoor kitchen, it’s easier to spend more time outdoors. As you are making decisions about layout, materials, and function, consider your audience. Kids and older adults will benefit from surfaces that are less likely to get slick when wet. Hot appliances should also be kept away from play areas. Pro Tip: if your grill or smoker is installed under a covering, make sure that you also have ample clearance space and proper ventilation.
PLAN NOW, BUILD LATER
When remodeling, it may not always be in the plan to complete the outdoor kitchen space at that time, but a few simple steps can prepare you for that eventual build. Make sure that your gas and water lines run to your cooktop and sink locations and consider electrical outlets near the ceiling for eventual TV or sound system mounting.
When you’re ready to build out the kitchen, make sure you aren’t limited to a single water source or have to incur additional expenses to run power and gas to your appliances. Plan now so that you don’t have to figure it out later.