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Outdoor Kitchen


(image: Exscape Designs)

An outdoor kitchen isn’t just for summer. Here’s how to create an outdoor kitchen that is versatile and comfortable enough to serve you all year long.

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One of the most unique and fun things you can do with your outdoor space is to create an outdoor kitchen. Entertain guests or make cooking and eating outside a family tradition, no matter the season, with the right design considerations. Use this list to guide you towards finding appliances and materials that will stand up to the weather in your area so that your outdoor kitchen will last a long time.

Install sturdy cabinets and walking surfaces

The first thing you’ll need for your perfect outdoor kitchen is the right walking surface and cabinets. Go for a walking surface that’s treated for outdoor use and that can support the weight of your kitchen. Composite or wood decking are useful for outdoor kitchens on raised platforms. Deck tiles on a concrete surface can add to the aesthetics and practicality for surfaces underfoot. Stone pavers like slate and travertine are great choices for look and slip-resistance. It all depends on your taste. But, there are plenty of options that serve the need for durability as well as look.

For your cabinets, buy some that are made especially for being outdoors. That way they won’t get damaged in the rain or cold, and they’ll stay sealed so your items inside don’t get damaged either. These days, it’s possible to get a fitted outdoor kitchen just as you would an indoor one. And because these products are designed for outdoor use, seeking out outdoor kitchen products that include cabinetry is a great place to start your research.

Get a canopy

Outdoor kitchens imply outdoor eating, too. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a meal when it starts to rain, or to be under the beating sun in the summer time. If you opt for a canopy or pergola, you and your guests don’t have to run inside just because of a little drizzle, or because of the sun’s glare.

Plus, leaving the canopy covering the kitchen whenever you aren’t using it will minimize precipitation damage and will reduce sun damage as well. You don’t want to have to cook in the rain or the beating sun, either. Just like in your main kitchen, comfort is key. Shelter from the elements is going to be paramount to achieving it in your outdoor kitchen and dining space.

Outdoor kitchen dining

 

Embrace the light

During a beautiful summer day, the sun will provide all the lighting you could want, stretching late into the day and evening. But don’t forget that you might want to use your outdoor kitchen in an autumn or winter evening or on an overcast day. And even in that summer context, quiet after dinner conversations after the sun goes down is one of life’s simple pleasures.

There are all kinds of options for lighting in an outdoor setting. LED lighting, solar lighting, gas lighting, and even candles are all viable options, particularly in combination. Focus on warm and inviting lighting options the main cooking and eating areas, to enjoy the preparation experience and the eating experience. But, not everyone is invited to dinner. So, you might want to think about installing screens and/or citronella candles to keep bugs away.

Weatherproof your appliances

Wherever you can, go for stainless steel. A stainless steel grill and refrigerator will be easy to clean and will hold up well in outdoor weather. If you have other built-in items, like a range or a microwave, think about covering them when they aren’t in use to keep any weather damage to a minimum.

Beyond that, always open a dialogue with your proposed vendor of choice when it comes to appliances. Ask about climatic conditions and how it relates to warranties. The information that comes out of these conversations can be vital to the long-term success of your all-season outdoor kitchen.

Add heat and electricity

Firing up the grill may keep the cook warm, but anyone else outdoors might get chilly if it isn’t the middle of summer. Install heating options to keep the entire area toasty so that you can utilize it throughout the year. Same with electricity.

outdoor living space deck lighting umbrella

You never know when you’re going to need another outlet, so make sure to place a few strategically throughout your outdoor kitchen. It also makes plugging in fans or space heaters easier if the temperature still gets the best of you!

Adapt your plan according to your local climate

Adapt these tips to specifically fit the area in which you live. Someone in Florida or Southern California, for example, may not need heating options but will probably want to install fans! Those who get a lot of snow in the winter and spring months will need options to completely enclose the area during inclement weather.

Once again, thinking about your environment when you’re at the planning and budgeting stages is the smartest route to take when planning an all-season outdoor kitchen. So is working with the experts who will help you with the answers to your questions, and often provide answers to questions you didn’t know you had to ask!

Have fun personalizing the details and designing this new exciting space to serve you all year long!

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.