It is a beautiful evening, you are gathered outside with family & friends, relaxing on the patio and cooking a meal. Since everyone tends to congregate in the kitchen, when the weather is nice why not take that experience outside to enjoy the fresh air and scenic views. Add an outdoor dining space and you are ready for an entire evening of outdoor entertaining or just relaxing with family. Does this sound like a dream come true to you? If so, it’s time to start asking yourself the questions that get the project started.
The first questions are where you would use an outdoor kitchen and how you would use it. Do you imagine a simple grill station near the indoor kitchen or a fully outfitted kitchen out by the pool? Do you want a dining area for a family of four or large enough to entertain fourteen? What types of materials and styles to you tend to prefer? And most importantly, what is your budget? The sections below will help you start answering those questions.
How do you imagine using an outdoor kitchen? What do you need and want to make that happen? These are questions to ask yourself in order to establish your kitchen design ‘program’. How often will you cook outdoors? What will you cook? Will a grill station with countertop accommodate your needs? Or do you desire a fully outfitted kitchen with a refrigerator for food & beverages, a sink for food prep and cleanup, a side burner for stovetop cooking, a grill and more? ELA’s first role as kitchen designers is to help our clients establish a successful program that fits their needs and the budget.
Once the program is established, the next question is where best to locate the kitchen. The program will influence that decision. A person who wants a simple grill station may prefer that be conveniently close to the indoor kitchen. A fully outfitted kitchen with a dining space could be located a little further from the house as it will function more independently from the indoor kitchen and dining. The homes architecture can influence the location choice. Does the homes footprint provide a convenient spot to nestle an outdoor kitchen? The site itself may dictate the right location. Is there an area of the property with privacy and wonderful views of the surroundings where you may want a destination outdoor living space? Are there environmental constraints such as existing trees or steep hillsides? Is the kitchen intended to supplement activities by a pool? The program, the site and a families projected patterns of use will determine the right location for your outdoor kitchen.
Kitchen Form & Style
Good kitchen design form starts with a focus on the work triangle that facilitate the flow from cooking surfaces (grill & cook top) to prep & cleanup surfaces (the sink) to food storage locations (the fridge). The four standard layouts are the galley shape, the L shape, the U shape & the G shape. Establishing a clear program will help determine the appropriate form. The style of your kitchen stems from your personal preferences and the style of the home. You might prefer Tuscan European design stylings with stucco and travertine detailing. Or, you may live in a farm house and want a more rustic stone kitchen. ELA will help you transform your preferred forms and styles into a timeless design.
Appliances & Accesories
The grill is the first and foremost appliance in an outdoor kitchen. If you are building a permanent outdoor kitchen, stick to quality grills with high grade stainless steel, large cooking surfaces and outputs of 50,000 BTU’s or more. You may also want to add features like infrared searing or rotisseries. If you prefer BB-Q flavor you could augment your grill with a smoker or kettle type ‘charcoal’ cooker. Add a side burner for indirect cooking (i.e. stove top) and you can cook a variety of skillet, sauce pan, or deep pot dishes. Warming drawers, refrigerator, sink, storage drawers, and the list goes on. Be prepared to pay more for quality outdoor appliances than you would for indoor appliances. ELA has worked with a variety of outdoor appliance brands and will help you decide which brands are right for you.
Use this list of links to help you learn more about outdoor kitchen designs and appliances. It inlcude links to some of ELA's favorite vendors and reference sources. Happy brousing.
Kitchen Aid ♦ Wolf ♦ Viking ♦ Lynx ♦ FireMagic ♦ Kalamazoo
Granite ♦ Marble ♦ Soapstone ♦ Zodiaq ♦ Silestone ♦ Icestone