Warmer weather increases opportunities to entertain outside, so there’s no better season than spring to upgrade an existing setup or plan that outdoor kitchen you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you intend to host elaborate parties for extended family or casual gatherings for a few close friends, layout, materials, and appliances can make or break your cooking experience as well as the meal itself.
“Consider the vision before putting a design in place,” said Mel Bean of Mel Bean Interiors in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “A well-designed outdoor kitchen can serve the needs of both an intimate party and a large group.”
We asked several design pros for their suggestions on how to create a functional and fabulous outdoor kitchen for entertaining. Here’s what they recommended.
Think About Flow
“We like to plan out outdoor kitchens with four zones in mind: prep, cooking, plate and serve, and entertaining. There should be an ease of flow from space to space, so you can easily take something from the grill to the counter to the table without having to walk back and forth through the yard.
“We usually do a built-in stainless steel mini fridge as well as a beer and wine cooler. Most appliances that are rated for outdoor use are already waterproofed. Additional cloth covers that help to keep things clean and less dusty are always a plus too.”
— Chandos Dodson Epley of Chandos Interiors in Houston
Designate Enough Space
“Ideally you would want about 22 to 24 linear feet of space. This would allow for a 36-inch or 48-inch grill built into cabinetry or stone, with countertop space on both sides, possible outdoor sink and beverage center, seating and countertop for at least three people, and outdoor trash and storage.
“An L-shape or a “broken L”––there is a walkway or area for traffic to circulate and move about where there would have otherwise been a cabinet or an appliance––for entertaining, traffic flow, and cooking, tend to work well.
“Appliances made for the outdoors include Lynx, Alfresco, Wolf, Sub-Zero. The best way to ensure an outdoor kitchen is as waterproof as possible would be to place it in a covered setting, such as a breezeway or outdoor porch-type space. If you have outdoor plumbing, you will want to winterize it for the colder months.”
— Allie Mann, designer-senior interiors specialist, Case Architects & Remodelers in Bethesda, Maryland
Make the Outdoors an Extension of the Indoors
“Ensure your outdoor arrangement is functional and includes the same necessities as an indoor kitchen. Surface area becomes valuable real estate when entertaining, so plan for countertops near both the cooking and cleaning zones, as well as a console, bar, or island to serve cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
“Connect the indoors to the outdoors, making your outdoor space an extension of the home. This should not only include easy access between the two spaces, but also thoughtful complements to the colors and textures in the home.
“Prioritize hard-working materials and fabrics that stand up to outdoor elements, but are also elegant and inviting. We have more options than ever when it comes to outdoor furnishings with many new materials that enable an aesthetic that is decidedly indoor with outdoor durability. There are durable outdoor materials for nearly every look: woven rattan, concrete, mixed metals, wood, resin and more. It allows for tremendous creativity.”
Choose Appropriate Materials
“Stainless steel, powder-coated aluminum, or solid core (like a hard PVC) are some of the most popular materials for outdoor kitchen cabinets. Be aware that stainless steel needs to be treated with WD-40 to help protect it from the outdoor elements.
“For countertops, natural stones like granite, quartzite, limestone, onyx and marble are great for the outdoors, as is porcelain. Quartz can’t withstand extreme temperatures, so you want to avoid it.
“Outdoor kitchens are also a great opportunity to get creative with appliances that you might not typically have in your main kitchen inside your house. For example, pizza ovens make great additions to outdoor kitchens.”
Article Source: Mansion Global