There is something about cooking over an open flame that brings food to a whole new level and experience. Whether you are throwing a party or just making dinner, your outdoor kitchen and grill are a great place to prepare meals for you and your guests. Here are some ideas to consider while creating your outdoor kitchen design.
What Goes Into an Outdoor Kitchen?
Recently, more and more people are opting to design their landscapes with a culinary flare as the key element. Among the most popular items are built-in grills with searing capabilities, stovetop-style side burners, griddles, sinks, refrigerators, granite counter space for prep work, and bar-height counters for seating.
An outdoor kitchen can incorporate items that are like your interior kitchen space, such as a sink or refrigerator, and it can utilize equipment that is unique to outdoor living. Include the following essentials in your outdoor kitchen for easy prep and clean-up.
- Ample storage space. Having dishes, glassware, and eating utensils dedicated to outdoor meals stored in your outdoor kitchen reduces steps and saves time. The same goes for cookware and cooking utensils. Include at least two drawers for cooking utensils and hot pads.
- A warming drawer lets you keep food warm while the rest of the meal is still cooking.
- Adding an outdoor dishwasher lets you enjoy the party (or the sunset) while cleaning up. It’s also easier for others to help without feeling like they’re missing the party.
- An ice maker lets you serve refreshingly cold beverages along with those delicious grilled meals. You could haul ice from your kitchen or buy it each time, but an ice maker is much more convenient and surprisingly affordable.
- Adequate electrical outlets are essential for smoothie makers, immersion blenders, or other small appliances.
Incorporate items into your design that will accommodate your guests and create the relaxing ambiance that you desire. Add a pergola or pavilion to shade your backyard’s top chef and avid foodies or create an even more engaging experience with a visual and sound home entertainment system.
Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen Design
Properly planning the design and layout of your outdoor kitchen is essential to making the space work for you and your home. During the planning process, speak with your landscape architect about positioning your outdoor kitchen so that it incorporates easy access to your house and interior kitchen door. That way when you forget the salt, pepper or barbeque tongs, running to grab the item is not a marathon trek during which you burn the burgers.
Another design idea to consider in your backyard is flow. Being able to properly place a grill, refrigerator, sink, fire pit and seating for the whole family can be difficult and overwhelming.
Remember to think about the scope of your yard, layout of your home and barriers to privacy you might face. Choose a central point, such as the grill or fireplace, and build design concepts that develop your main focus.
Professional kitchen designer Dawn Whyte recommends creating four distinct activity zones:
- Prep zone
- Cooking zone
- Clean-up zone
- Serving & entertaining zone
Mistakes to Avoid in Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen
Creating the perfect outdoor kitchen can be difficult and extremely complex. Having a licensed landscape architect design and implement the project will ensure that the proper services such as plumbing, electricity, and gas supply are actualized throughout your space. A professional landscape architect will know how to attain appropriate local permits and inspections; they will have the knowledge of how to keep your home in compliance with township and city ordinances.
Learning from someone else’s mistakes is a lot quicker, easier, and cheaper than learning from your own. The BBQ Guys have rounded up some of the worst mistakes to help you avoid recreating someone else’s disaster.
You’ll also want to consider environmental factors like the prevailing wind direction and in which direction the sun sets. A breeze that’s constantly blowing smoke into the grillmaster’s face makes grilling an unappealing activity. And if you have guests sitting at a bar interacting with the chef, you don’t want it blowing into their faces either. Also consider the blinding glare at sunset. That glaring sun is a particularly important consideration during the shorter daylight hours of spring and fall.
- If you don’t properly insulate your grill, you may end up with flames where you least expect them!
- Natural gas rises, while propane gas sinks. If you don’t allow for plenty of properly placed ventilation panels, you could end up with a very dangerous situation.
- Indoor appliances can’t stand up to outdoor conditions. You’ll void your warranties and end up replacing them frequently.
- Design separate areas for hot and cold appliances.
- Design enough storage space to meet your needs. Note: Those ’empty’ spaces under the sink and grill are not the best storage options due to pipes and hoses.
Creating the perfect outdoor kitchen can be difficult and extremely complex. Having a licensed landscape architect design and implement the project will ensure that the proper services such as plumbing, electricity, and gas supply are actualized throughout your space. A professional landscape architect will know how to attain appropriate local permits and inspections; they will have the knowledge of how to keep your home in compliance with township and city ordinances. Don’t make the mistake of having an outdoor kitchen that doesn’t add value to your property because it is not up to code.
Dealing with all the design choices, possible layouts, utilities, permits, and inspections can be a lot to take on. That’s why trying to design and build your outdoor kitchen by yourself can turn your dream into a nightmare. Instead of struggling on your own, let an experienced professional outdoor designer turn your dream outdoor kitchen into a reality.
BONUS: Here’s What We’re Grilling
With the increasing interest in food trends like the Paleo diet and Whole30, grilling is becoming even more popular. Try grilling your produce for a taste sensation you just can’t get when cooking indoors:
Vegetables like corn-on-the-cob, Japanese eggplant, and even Romaine lettuce are great on the grill. Now is the time to take full advantage of your local Farmer’s Market. An outdoor kitchen with a refrigerator and large prep sink means the bounty may never even make it to the indoor kitchen!
Fruits like cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple, and plums develop a whole new dimension of flavor and succulent texture when grilled. Try combining grilled fruit with yogurt or ice cream for a simple, yet satisfying, dessert.