Tips On Creating an Awesome Outdoor Kitchen
Outdoor kitchens are perfect for sprucing up your backyard oasis and entertaining your friends and family during the warm summer months. Enjoying the fresh air along with some quality food is fun for everyone, and having an outdoor kitchen saves you from having to run back and forth constantly from your indoor kitchen to get a meal prepared and served.
If you’re planning on adding an outdoor kitchen to your backyard or garden area, there are certain aspects you need to be aware of before finalizing your plans. You should carefully consider aspects such as location, design and materials to ensure that your outdoor kitchen is convenient, is fully equipped and can withstand all types of conditions throughout the year.
Where Should You Build Your Outdoor Kitchen?
Placement is very important when you build an outdoor kitchen because you need to ensure that you do not restrict any views, that the placement is convenient for you to use and that you locate the kitchen in an area where the weather is not going to affect it adversely. Ensure you consider all of these things when choosing your location:
- Wind – You can’t control the elements, however you can place your grill accordingly so smoke doesn’t billow into your neighbor’s gardens or disrupt your guests. Smoke will usually blow downwind of the grill so if you can, try and make sure patios or decks upwind of the smoke. In addition, refrain from placing your outdoor kitchen near windows or doors that are downwind because then the smoke will flow inside the house.
- Vision – Place counters in such a way so that every view is taken into account. For example, the main thing you need to think about it is whether your neighbors can see you. You will probably want some privacy when you are working and entertaining in your outdoor kitchen, so consider placing it where hedges or trees block the view to the neighbor’s house. This will not only benefit you, but your neighbor’s privacy as well. Moreover, you must consider what your guests will be seeing when they are sitting at the counter or table, as well as what view the person has that will be cooking at the grill.
- Keep cool – The outdoor kitchen will be used on many a warm sunny day, but to refrain from getting yourself and the appliances too hot, make sure the area around the kitchen is shaded so that it stays cool. The cheapest option is to build the kitchen under the shade of trees, as it will block out the harsh sun to prevent electrical equipment from overheating and will also keep the rays of sun out of your eyes while cooking without it costing you anything extra. If this option doesn’t work for you, or you don’t want to deal with falling leaves or acorns from overhead, then you can always purchase patio umbrellas which can provide some shade near the cooking areas and also by outdoor dining room sets, or you can build a covering or trellis overhead. You can also install a rollup awning or motorized blinds for coverage.
- Stay close to your house – Having a kitchen area in close proximity to your indoor kitchen is a good idea because then you only have a short distance to walk if you need additional supplies. Moreover, you will still need to store and prep the majority of the food indoors, so it makes sense to build the outdoor area near the back entrance to your home. Also, you will most likely have electric and gas lines located near the home, which is vital in order for your outdoor kitchen to run. Not having to run these lines too far from the house will limit your installation costs.
Outdoor Kitchen Design
The design of your outdoor kitchen is pretty much up to you. However, there are three main layouts that you may want to consider adopting for your backyard kitchen.
- Basic – This style is best suited for people that will be using the outdoor kitchen on an occasional basis rather than more regularly. It features a grill, a sink and a counter used for prepping food, as well as a small storage space. This design leaves out many extras but is also usually the most affordable.
- L-shaped – This layout consists of two separate units. The base of the ‘L’ shape will contain the grill along with the storage compartments, whereas the other counter will provide a preparation area as well as a small space for dining. You will be able to place stools underneath this counter to allow people to sit at the counter for dining and entertaining purposes.
- U-shaped – This design is the most popular among those that intend to use the kitchen on a regular basis. It provides a larger dining space for a number of guests, as well as all the necessary areas for the grill, the prepping station, storage compartments and any other extras you desire. It is also the most convenient, as the chef can place all of the cooked food straight onto the dining area.
Using the Right Materials In Your Outdoor Kitchen
One of the major things you need to consider is the types of materials you are going to use to construct your outdoor kitchen. You want to make sure you have materials that are made to withstand food use in order to ensure that food will not be contaminated. Moreover, if you choose the right materials, then you can prevent too much wear and tear or corrosion throughout the year so you want to make sure the materials withstand outdoor use as well.
When it comes to outdoor kitchen materials, consider these points:
- Ensure it’s easily manageable – There is nothing more frustrating than having to clean a surface that requires a lot of work, so make sure you use stainless steel on your units and grill. It is the most sanitary material and it is very easy to clean. It also maintains its condition well even in various types of weather.
- Install counters that can handle the heat – Despite shading your kitchen, it will at some point be in direct sunlight, which on a very hot day, can heat up surfaces very quickly. Make sure you find heat durable materials. You also want to make sure that any materials near grills or other cooking surfaces are heat resistant.
- Consider natural stone – Installing stone counters may be the best way to go, as they are easy to clean as well as looking stylish. However, keep in mind that they may need to be sealed on a regular basis, especially since they are outdoors.
- Be aware of grease – We all know that cooked meat straight off the grill is accompanied by unsightly grease stains so make sure that any of the furniture you locate near the outdoor kitchen contains materials that don’t stain. This is especially important for any patio cushions, stool cushions or other materials on your outdoor dining chairs.
Appliances for Your New Space
No kitchen is a “kitchen” without the right equipment. This can be anything from having some solid sharp knives around to having Japanese rice cooker or an espresso machine. Just follow a few guidelines to make sure what you decide to include isn’t overkill or a potential hazard!
- Outlets – Are there enough outlets for all of the appliances you’re looking to install? Running extension cords in an outdoor kitchen can be very dangerous if it starts raining or there is grease or other conductive material around. Don’t crowd the plugs you have.
- Materials – Stainless steel may be the best option for outdoor appliances like refrigerators or slow cookers. They resist staining and rust better in an environment that will always be changing. Remember, unless you’re going to be bringing these in every time, they need to last in outdoor conditions.
Additional Items To Consider For Outdoor Kitchens
If you’re hoping to get a lot of use out of your new outdoor kitchen, then you will probably want to consider adding some extra goodies to give the outdoor space the right ambiance and design. If you’re aiming to throw a lot of parties, then music is a necessity for creating a fun and social atmosphere. You may also want to consider amenities such as lighting and other forms of entertainment.
- Music – There are a number of types of outdoor sound systems that you can incorporate into your outside space which can be installed so that loose wires aren’t in view and the speakers are nearly hidden. Make sure you make your decision before the outdoor kitchen is installed so you can incorporate the speaker setup into the overall outdoor kitchen design.
- TV – You can also incorporate television sets and screens into your outdoor area if the electrical wiring allows it. However, ensure that you place the screens in an area that will not encounter direct sunlight or rain, otherwise they could overheat and become damaged and it may be difficult to see the screen.
- Lighting – If you’re planning on using your outdoor kitchen in the evening, then having the correct lighting is vital in setting the perfect atmosphere. Consider low lighting around the dining area (LED lighting kits work great for this); however you will need a brighter light by the grill. The types of outside lighting you can use are endless, however a good idea is to purchase solar lamps that can soak up the energy throughout the day and then light up in the evening. This will save you in energy costs and from having to install additional electrical wiring, while still creating a comfortable and ambient dining experience for you and your guests.