The outdoor kitchen, a great place to cook-up some tasty treats and enjoy the wonderful sub-tropical weather that is quintessential Sarasota. There’s nothing like being able to entertain and spend time with family and friends near the pool or alongside a decorative landscape. Having the convenience of a fully functional kitchen means being able to cook a great meal, with plenty of sides, without having to track back and forth into your home.
Many homeowners would love to have an outdoor kitchen, but too many believe that it’s simply too expensive. The reality is, an outdoor kitchen, by-and-large, is only as expensive as you want it to be. With a few simple design ideas, a bit of DIY work, and a few tips and tricks, you can have an outdoor kitchen that accommodates your needs nicely. The real challenge is not so much about the “build out,” but mostly the planning. Like practically any other project, having a plan to follow makes the venture a lot easier and keeps you from overspending.
To get the most out of an outdoor kitchen, you really need to thing about its functionality. If you don’t put enough forethought into your project, you’ll be unpleasantly confronted with problems, which can range from annoying to outright dangerous. Layout will be the key to making the most out of your new cooking space and to getting the most enjoyment from it with as little maintenance as possible.
Top Outdoor Kitchen Mistakes to Avoid
Before you begin sketching ideas onto a sheet of paper, start with some solid numbers. Pickup a tape measure and take down the footage you have to work with. It’s best to clear the area first, if there’s furniture or anything else occupying the space. Once you have your square footage noted, you can then start to plan your new outdoor kitchen layout.
Outdoor kitchen design requires as much consideration and planning as the design of an indoor kitchen. A properly thought out and implemented outdoor kitchen is not only great for BBQ parties or family get-togethers, it provides you with a comfortable and convenient place to prepare meals when it’s nice outside. —Do It Yourself.com
What you should avoid is some common outdoor kitchen mistakes, which often include the most frustrating of problems. Chief among these is lack of working space. This includes meal preparation space, landing spaces to set plates, ingredients, and so on. Speaking of space, you ought to opt for function, that is to say, room to maneuver freely so you aren’t tripping over yourself or your guests. Speaking of guests, you’ll also have to take into consideration the sun and wind direction. Your guests, as well as you, should be well shaded and not have smoke blowing in their faces.
You also should consider how much cabinet space you’ll need. Think about what you will store and the necessary space to accommodate same. Last but certainly not least is lighting–you’ll need plenty of light when cooking during the evenings. Place lights strategically so you don’t have shadows over your work space. It’s also best to work with a professional to get the results right and stay under budget.
Best Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas
When you have a workable layout to start your project, you’ll be ready to add an outdoor kitchen to your landscape. Here are some ideas to consider incorporating into your design:
- Built it to last a long time. The weather elements and use will take their toll on your outdoor kitchen, so build it to last. Brick is usually the material of choice because it’s durable and easy to clean with a quick pressure washing. Stone, granite, or concrete countertops are also ideal for aesthetics and because each is very sturdy.
- Plant a vegetable garden. You might have wanted to plant a vegetable garden before but just never got around to it or you weren’t sure you’d really eat what you grew. With an outdoor kitchen, you’ll have fresh ingredients right at your fingertips and guests will certainly be impressed with the freshness.
- Add a focal point. Every design needs allure and a focal point is a great way to set a scene. A fire pit is one such idea, particularly one that has “table seating” around it so family and friends can sit and enjoy their meals without having to juggle plates, utensils, and cups.
- Include cold storage. You don’t need a double sided refrigerator, just enough space to put your meat, vegetables, fruit, and drinks. If you need to keep your budget low, simply layout your design so you don’t have far to go into your home.
Finally, have a dedicated space for backup fuel. You should design your outdoor kitchen with a space to put an extra propane tank or bag of charcoal that’s right next to your grill. This will make it a cinch to keep the grill powered while you’re cooking.
Make the most out of your yard by bringing the inside out! An outdoor kitchen is a great way to expand your living space and add value to your home, while providing a perfect opportunity for entertaining in the fresh air. You don’t need a ton of space to have a functional kitchen outside, but there are some things you should keep in mind when designing your ideal outdoor kitchen to make it the best it can be.
Plan for all kinds of weather.
You don’t want to be limited on when you can use your outdoor kitchen, so make sure your design includes shelter, shade, and even heat sources. Depending on the style of your kitchen, you can incorporate trees and bushes, awnings, or patio umbrellas to provide some shade and shelter, and consider installing a fire pit or outdoor heater to stay cozy even on the chilliest nights.
Stay safe, too – get a smoke alarm and keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach of your grill or fire pit, and use fans to ensure proper ventilation.
Make it functional.
Choose appliances that suit your needs – refrigerators, ice-makers, sinks, and grills and smokers. Think about the kind of cooking you do and the tools you need, and build your kitchen around that. Consider traffic flow, your view, and the other activities that are likely to take place in your backyard.
Make sure your layout is conducive to your style of cooking and food preparation, and arrange your appliances in a way that makes sense. Keep your fridge or ice-maker away from your grill or fire pit, and make sure that anything that will generate smoke or steam is placed away from your windows.
Choose the right materials.
While you want your outdoor kitchen to look stylish and complement your home, keep in mind that the materials you use for your surfaces and appliances will need to withstand all kinds of weather conditions – heat, rain, wind, and possibly even ice and snow. Don’t invest a bunch of money into a beautiful outdoor kitchen that will fall apart with the first big thunderstorm of the summer.
Materials like stainless steel and concrete are durable and can be customized to suit the style you’re looking for, but these may not be practical as flooring – if they’re wet, they’ll be slippery, making your kitchen impractical for regular use. Textured tile or stained wood can make a solid floor that will hold up against the elements.
Include storage options.
If your outdoor kitchen isn’t convenient to use, you’ll probably just end up cooking indoors – even on the most beautiful of summer evenings. Give yourself enough space to keep the essentials in your outdoor space so you don’t have to waste time running back to your kitchen inside. Make sure you have enough counter space to do your food preparation outside, too.
Leave yourself sufficient space to store some of the things that can’t be left out during inclement weather, like cushions and decorative items. It should be easy and convenient to winterize your backyard.
Keep it comfortable.
Your outdoor kitchen should be an extension of your home – so make it feel like one! Decorate your yard with cozy chairs, sturdy tables, and decorative accents that will allow you to enjoy all the comforts of your inside space while experiencing the fresh outdoors. Lighting can play a huge role in creating the right ambiance for your outside space, but make sure your kitchen is safely well-lit. If mosquitoes and other pests are a problem, consider setting up some netting around the areas you’ll be cooking and eating, or use citronella candles to keep the bugs away with a little mood lighting.
Now that you’ve got your perfect outdoor kitchen ready to go, think about planning a dinner party and using this new space to entertain your family and friends. After all your hard work designing and building the very best outdoor kitchen, you deserve to kick back and enjoy it with a well-earned celebration.