How to plan the perfect outdoor kitchen
Whether you’re lounging around the pool or telling stories around the fire pit, you love entertaining outdoors. So why wait to design and build the outdoor kitchen you’ve been dreaming about? There’s no time like the present. And these tips will help you down the path to success.
Pick the right spot
Location is everything when it comes to planning your outdoor kitchen. Not only will placing it in the wrong spot be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but it could also be dangerous. Start by locating any utility lines, underground and overhead, and design with those in mind. You don’t want to cut into buried lines during the building process, nor do you want to build directly under an overhead power line that poses a risk every time you raise an umbrella.
Next, consider the weather. You’ll have more fun in your outdoor kitchen if you locate it away from windy or overly sunny areas. Plan to build your space within natural windscreens and shade from your landscaping. Then install elements to protect your kitchen from the elements that pose a challenge for comfort and cooking.
Traffic flow and the proximity to your indoor kitchen are also worth considering. Plan a spot that places the two kitchens conveniently close. But be sure that the proximity and placement of the outdoor appliances are oriented to prevent smoke from drifting indoors.
Choose function over form
Grill, rotisserie, oven, stovetop, brick oven, blender, wine cooler — there are so many choices. But if you aren’t using them regularly, they’re needlessly taking up counter and cabinet space. Before going overboard on the appliances, ask yourself what you’re going to be cooking and what you’ll actually use. Generally, you’ll need a refrigerator and a grill or other cooking source, as well as some storage and prep space.
Embellished wood cabinetry makes a bold statement in an indoor kitchen, but exposure to the elements makes wood cabinets impractical for the outdoors. Instead, opt for stone, concrete, or steel countertops and cabinets. Not only do they give your kitchen a modern appearance, but they’re also durable and easy to clean. Investing in practical kitchen elements from the start will render savings in upkeep down the road.
Keep it social
It’s said that the kitchen is the heart of the home; when you’re entertaining, guests often congregate in or near the kitchen to visit with the cook and each other. Arrange your outdoor kitchen to allow for that as well. Site your dining and lounging areas near enough that you can chat with guests while preparing the meal. (This also makes it easier to get food to the table).
Set the ambience with good lighting. Add brighter lights to pathways, cooking areas and activity areas, then go for adjustable lighting in the dining or lounging areas. Colored bulbs help to set the mood, but save them for areas in which illumination isn’t necessary to keep everyone safe and sound.
A large television designed for outdoor use is a great addition for some gatherings; turn your kitchen and lounge area into an outdoor movie theater or mini sports arena. Add a sound system for background music or for amplifying the television’s sound. Add a large table, a fireplace or fire pit, an overhead fan or two, and some comfortable seating, and you’re ready to entertain.
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