Designing an Outdoor Kitchen
To cook conveniently outdoors does not require a great amount of space, but if you have room to maneuver, so much the better. Naturally you will need to consult the budget before installing any or all of the following ideas, but you may be able to use a few to make-over your space to suit your specific needs. The following is simply an overview of design possibilities and suitable features for an outdoor kitchen.
Constructing Your Outdoor Kitchen
If you are constructing a new patio or simply revamping an area of your current patio, you must begin at the bottom: the patio itself. Durable paving that is well maintained is the first step to installing your kitchen patio. Since you may be constructing above it, be sure the patio is level and in excellent repair. Next, map out the area you can give to the kitchen apparatus. Know your dimensions before you purchase new grills or contract to build an outdoor oven that takes up half the width of your house.
Once you map out the outdoor kitchen's space, consider installing an awning or partial cover for the area. This is not necessary, but if you are able to construct a roofed area, you will be able to cook and eat outdoors even during days of drizzle. You will also be protected and protect your guests from harsh direct sunlight that can easily wreck an afternoon with profuse heat and sunburn. Design for comfort - it may also add to the value of your home, so consider it an investment. A simple pergola entwined with lovely vines or climbing plants can provide the necessary shade for sunny locations.
Kitchen Fixtures and Furniture
Once you've designed the top and bottom of your kitchen, you are ready to fill in the details with items like brick ovens, grills, outdoor sinks, bars, table and chairs, etc. Once you begin to shop for these items you will discover a wide array of items to choose from. Again, your space will necessarily dictate some things like the size of your cooking apparatus for instance. Also, decide if your cooking features will be run from gas tanks or require outdoor outlets. You may want to consider your electricity needs for your outdoor kitchen. After all, you will need light to cook during evening hours.
If you plan to entertain significantly outdoors in a grand style, you may want to install bricked-in cooking features as well as bricked-in ice counters and bars. Design styles run the gamut from southwestern inspired to Tuscan villa styles. Your home may provide you with a style to incorporate. Whatever your design style, consider how you cook and what you will need to prepare the types of meals you envision - a grill, burners for sauté items and other side dishes, an oven for any number of foods, a smoker, etc.
A bar area will require the bar itself, an outdoor sink (optional, but a great option so you don't have to lug the dishes and glasses indoors for washing), storage area, ice chest, stools, etc. A bar may be large enough to accommodate several people at one time or small enough to seat one or two guests. You may also want to situate your bar near an outdoor outlet for lighting, running a small refrigerator or fan, for instance.
Outdoor kitchen furniture might be as functional as an island for chopping all those vegetables you plan to grill and for storing outdoor cooking utensils and pans, a stool for the chef to rest on and other tables and seating for guests. Your outdoor furniture should be in harmony with your climate - choose or weatherproof furniture to withstand your elements. A long French provincial table can be a rustic or elegant feature depending on the other features you plan to introduce. Chairs or benches for seating around the table come in many styles as well.
Or, consider an outdoor café effect with various small wrought iron and chair sets. If your furniture is situated beneath an overhang, you may install lighting fixtures above the table and chairs. Top your table with oil lamps or candles for lighting evening meals. If you do not incorporate a bar, a simple wheeled cart might function as a drink station or desert cart. Patio props like dishes, table centerpieces and planters can be found to match any design style for Spanish gothic to English country garden.
Designing your outdoor patio kitchen can further be enhanced by a kitchen garden planted nearby. This garden may be furnished with herbs and vegetables needed for outdoor meals. Delight your guests by retrieving some fresh rosemary during your meal's preparation. A small kitchen garden makes for a superb outdoor pantry full of nature's fresh bounty for your cooking needs.
Installing an outdoor patio kitchen will add to your home in many ways - but perhaps most important, it will allow you to enjoy your home in a novel way that affords you more time with family and friends in the comfort of your patio. Choose features that you will likely need to cook conveniently outdoors and you may prefer your outdoor kitchen to the traditional one inside!