Outdoor Kitchens: Planning Tips and Tools
Outdoor kitchens and cooking spaces are appealing to homeowners because they offer a new space to cook and spend time with friends and family—all while enjoying the outdoors! It’s easy to throw some burgers on the grill and take a seat at a patio table, but more and more people are starting to create a whole kitchen experience right in their backyards. The Weber’s Grill Watch Survey shows overall spending on outdoor appliances is up more than 8 percent.
In this article, we’ll discuss important considerations for an outdoor kitchen and ways you can make it your own.
Plan before you buy.
It’s important to have the right foundation for your outdoor kitchen so you can get exactly what you want.
- Climate - What is the weather typically like where you live? Is it hot and sunny year round, or do you experience both warm and cold seasons? Building your kitchen based on weather patterns will help result in the least amount of wear and tear.
- Necessary utilities - Will you need to run plumbing and electric to your outdoor kitchen, or is there a hookup readily accessible?
- Budget - As with any home project, you can choose how complex you want your kitchen to be. Make a list of what you’d like to include, and order them in terms of necessities and extras.
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Choose the kitchen construction.
You can choose to piece different elements together yourself, create a custom kitchen with a contractor or purchase a prefabricated kitchen. Many prefab kitchens include compact fridges, stainless steel cabinets, counters and dining space, and can be delivered right to your door. This option helps you cut down on time and cost, but it may limit your options if you have a specific vision in mind.
Determine your layout.
The layout of your outdoor kitchen depends on climate and needed utilities, as mentioned earlier in the article. For example, certain countertops can reach extremely high temperatures if they’re in constant sunlight, or can crack if they’re subjected to freezing and thawing in lower temperatures. Find the right balance of shade and sun to provide comfort for you, and protection for your investment. Consider adding a pergola if you don’t have natural shaded areas.
In terms of utilities, building against the house can help simplify hookup. Otherwise, you may have to run several feet of plumbing and electric for your appliances. Other considerations include separating wet and dry, and hot and cold areas, as well as space for meal preparation and seating—and make it a point not to separate the cook! It should be a fluid, functional space where everyone can feel connected.
Choose your storage and appliances.
The most important thing to consider here is weather resistance. Stainless steel is the most weather resistant for cabinets and appliances, while counters should be easy to clean and maintain. Keep in mind convenience as well. What can prevent you from going back and forth between your indoor and outdoor kitchens to grab utensils or rinse something off? Consider installing an outdoor-rated cooktop or grill, a dishwasher, refrigerator, sink, and ample storage for trash, utensils, pots, and pans.
Add the extras.
To complete the outdoor cooking and entertaining experience, think about adding things like a cozy fireplace, LED lighting, a television and surround system, a pizza oven, or a casual seating area or bar.
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