Has the warmer weather got you thinking about warm summer nights and entertaining friends and family on the back deck or patio? Have you been king or queen of the barbeque for years, and now you’re ready to step things up to the next level. Perhaps this is the year that you finally install that outdoor kitchen that you’ve been dreaming of?
But where to start?
Outdoor stoves, smokers and pizza ovens are a big step up from your propane grill; and outdoor refrigeration is somewhat more complex than the old cooler filled with ice and beer. Outdoor kitchen design takes some careful planning if you want to get the most bang for your buck. But don’t worry, at Envision Landscapes we have helped many customers design and build their perfect outdoor kitchens.
Start by analyzing the space
The first thing that we do when designing an outdoor kitchen is to have a good look at the space in order to see what is possible. Things we consider are:
- Proximity to an indoor kitchen
- Is the area protected from the elements?
- Is the area on a level surface?
- Does the area have an overhang where smoke might build up under?
- Will any special building permits be required?
- Proximity to home utility hookups (water, gas, etc.)
Designing the space – Four elements of an outdoor kitchen
Once we know what we have to work with, we can start the design of your outdoor kitchen. Typically, outdoor kitchens have four main elements including:
- Cooking elements – these may include grills and stovetops, smokers, pizza ovens, etc.
- Preparation and storage areas – such as countertops for preparing food and cabinetry for storage.
- Refrigeration and other cold storage.
- Water areas – you may wish to incorporate a sink, wet bar or even an outdoor dishwasher so you won’t have to travel so much between your indoor kitchen and your outdoor kitchen.
In designing all four areas, it is important to make sure that you have all the room you need for preparing and cooking food, as well as clean up. Your outdoor kitchen should be just as functional as your indoor kitchen.
Other considerations for your outdoor kitchen
Unless you have a huge outdoor space and an unlimited budget, you might not be able to have everything on your outdoor kitchen wish list. It is important to consider, therefore, how you will use the space and how many people you will likely be entertaining at a time. This will help in choosing your must-have appliances and features.
For example, outdoor grills are versatile and convenient. Pizza ovens and smokers can add a “wow factor,” but you’ll have to consider how much you would actually use them.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve taken the proper safety precautions. Appliances should be at least the manufacturer’s recommended distance away from each other and gas shut off valves should be easily accessible. You’ll also want to make sure that you have good lighting if you intend to use the area at night.