Outdoor kitchens have been popular for some time now. The experience of preparing food and enjoying the taste in a backyard patio is unmatched. It’s a place to enjoy relationships as the smell of firewood and charcoal wafting through the air creates a bond that lasts a lifetime.
Even though the weather is cooling as I write this blog, we don’t see the Outdoor Kitchen trend cooling anytime soon! If you browse through Pinterest, Houzz or walk into a distributor’s showroom, the choices in outdoor kitchen appliances and outdoor kitchen materials can be overwhelming.
This is your helpful guide with 7 things you to consider when DESIGNING AN OUTDOOR KITCHEN.
1. Budget for your Outdoor Kitchen
It’s never a popular thing to discuss up front but be clear about your budget limits when discussing a project like this with a hardscape contractor. There is an endless amount of options when designing and building an outdoor kitchen. Knowing a ballpark figure of your budget will help your contractor in designing your outdoor kitchen.
Nevertheless, anticipate some changes to the budget as you go through the process. An experienced outdoor kitchen builder will be able to tell you whether your budget is reasonable for the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.
2. Appliances for the Outdoor Kitchen
For any appliance that is in your indoor kitchen, there is an outdoor counterpart. Decide what is most important for your outdoor kitchen and what is optional.
A grill is usually the center of an outdoor kitchen design. But there are a wide range of choices in that. Do you want a Green Egg or something similar? How about a pellet grill built into your outdoor kitchen? More recently, Pizza Ovens are becoming a more popular choice. Do the design well and you could include several of these!
More questions to ask when designing an OUTDOOR KITCHEN:
- Do you need additional storage cabinets?
- What about a cooler for drinks or food?
- A side burner for doing a lobster boil?
- Do you want a grill that sears steaks and grills seafood simultaneously?
- Do you want a smoker grill to cook low and slow?
- How large of a crowd might you entertain?
You need to plan enough space to work comfortably and host the people you’d like to host.
Two more things. Make sure that you use appliances that are rated for outdoor use; the humidity and wide temperature variations make indoor appliances unsuitable for outdoor use.
We would also recommend a sink near the grill just for the convenience of keeping your hands clean during cooking and a place to wash the dishes after all the fun is over!
3. Roof Cover in an Outdoor Kitchen
If you’ve been around for a while, you might have noticed the shift from backyard Gazebos and Pergolas to a Pavilion as part of the patio and outdoor kitchen.
A roof or shade structure in your hardscape patio and kitchen greatly extends grilling time, especially when there is a year with tremendous amounts of rain. You’ll get to enjoy your outdoor even when it’s raining. No more having to cancel a backyard event due to a bit of drizzle.
And since we’re speaking of extending the days we can use the outdoor kitchen. You might consider adding fans in the pavilion for the extra hot days or a fireplace for the cold season. Some even opt for electric heaters in the ceiling to keep everyone comfortable on a chilly Spring or Fall evening.
4. Bar Seating for a More Engaging Conversation
You know how it can be. You invite a backyard full of guests to enjoy time together. But then you’re so busy grilling steaks and preparing the food that you don’t get the quality time with your friends you had envisioned.
Image an extra wide countertop with bar stools on the other side. Built into the counter is the pellet grill hard at work giving the amazing aroma of pellet smoke mixed with the flavor of the meat wafting through the air. Your friends sit on the bar stools on the other side of the counter and chat with the chef while he or she is working the grill (and sneaking a few bites now and then!).
Wow! I can almost smell this! Can you see how designing your Outdoor Kitchen right is very important?
5. Choosing Materials for an Outdoor Kitchen
To be sure, the range of materials for an outdoor kitchen may be overwhelming. Added to that, you have your tastes and designs you’d like to incorporate. That is where your outdoor kitchen designer comes in.
The hardscape contractor and designer should help you mix in elements that complement your home, and if possible echo materials throughout. Design should fit with the structures you install as well.
Furthermore, choose a countertop surface that is easy to clean, and perhaps consider a honed granite versus a polished granite if you’re concerned about scratches.
6. Lighting for your Outdoor Kitchen
We can’t say too much about lighting for your outdoor kitchen. It is the icing on the cake (image cake without it!).
The subtle lights under seating areas, under the countertop and in other strategic places will make your outdoor kitchen and patio a heart-warming experience for family and friends night after night. As the sun sets, the lighting will amplify the beauty of the outdoor kitchen and patio and make you want to do this over and over again!
7. Logistics & Permitting for your Outdoor Kitchen
Code requirements vary greatly by municipality. You will likely have water, electric, gas, and perhaps cable lines. Be sure that your hardscaping contractor researches the code requirements before you commit to a project. It can make a huge difference in cost (remember the budget we talked about at the beginning J).
Some municipalities will want to inspect all the utilities, and others may only do a zoning permit with a final inspection.
You may even be required to connect to the sanitary sewer system of your home for any drain lines and depending on your site conditions this may be cost prohibitive.
Long story short! Plan well and you will have an Outdoor Kitchen Design that will be an enchanting place where friends are welcomed day after day. Not planning well might mean an outdoor kitchen with an overblown budget and a list of “I wish we had included…” after the patio is finished!