These days, outdoor kitchens are becoming staples of outdoor spaces, not just luxuries. How do you plan one? What are the key elements that define an outdoor kitchen?
Centuries ago outdoor kitchens were commonplace, and they served as the center of both home and community life. Over the years, however, both homeowners and kitchens moved indoors. Once necessary, these outdoor rooms became luxuries for those who had the extra backyard space.
Today, the demand for outdoor kitchens is returning in full force, and these welcoming backyard spaces are no longer considered rare luxuries. Discover just how attainable an outdoor kitchen is and how this 21st-century necessity can improve your home both inside and out.
Make Better Use of Social Space
If you’ve ever thought about hosting a small get-together or big bash but had to cancel due to lack of space, an outdoor kitchen offers the ideal solution. Depending on the amount of backyard space you have to work with, you have the potential to double or even triple your entertaining space without adding interior space to your home.
Even better, outdoor kitchen space can be incredibly flexible, since you can often move components depending on the event or from season to season. As you’re making plans for an outdoor kitchen, be sure to consider a few major factors first.
- Size: The available space in your backyard determines how large you can go, but knowing what you’ll do in the space and how many people you’ll typically entertain should also factor into this decision.
- Furniture: Some homeowners opt to install built-in sofas and chairs, which can do wonders for defining the space. This is hardly a requirement, though, and many backyard kitchen spaces work better with outdoor dining sets that include movable tables, benches, and chairs.
- Seasonality: Where you live has a major impact on how often you can use an outdoor space, but with the right heating and cooling components, you can extend the life of your outdoor kitchen by a few months. Consider using heat lamps or ceiling fans to make the space more comfortable in extreme weather.
- Permanence: Some outdoor kitchens are designed to be broken down and stored away at the end of the season, while others are designed for year-round enjoyment. Be sure to avoid built-in furniture if you’re planning on a seasonal space, and don’t be afraid to go big with permanent structures and equipment if you plan to use the kitchen year-round.
Keep the Heat Outdoors in Summer
No matter where you live, skyrocketing summer temperatures can be enough to keep anyone in a cool, air-conditioned home. When the mercury rises, though, the idea of firing up the oven or stove and generating even more heat indoors is rarely appealing.
An outdoor kitchen presents an easy solution to this dilemma. Not only does cooking in the backyard keep the heat outdoors, but having a great space to work with also increases your enjoyment of your home. Just be sure to vent the grill away from windows. Don’t hesitate to outfit your outdoor kitchen with top-of-the-line equipment.
- Grills: In most outdoor kitchens, the grill is the centerpiece. Select either a gas grill on wheels for a seasonal space or a built-in grill for a permanent setup. No matter how often you plan to use the grill, be sure it has a cover to keep it clean and protected from the elements.
- Cooktops: Grills work well for most outdoor cooking experiments, but sometimes you need more. Side burners and cooktops allow you to expand your cooking repertoire so you can whip up the perfect dish.
- Refrigerators: More than just beverage coolers, outdoor refrigerators make space for you to store all of your cooking supplies. If you entertain or do a large amount of food prep, this is essential.
- Sinks: Critical for cleanup — hand washing and even dish washing — a sink is an important component of any permanent outdoor kitchen setup.
- Workspace: Whether you’re chopping veggies or marinating meat, you’ll want workspace near the cooking area.
Enhance Storage Options and Keep the Indoors Clean
If you love to entertain, you’ve probably gone through the post-party cleanup process more times than you can count. Chances are you’ve also given up on finding places to store your serving platters when not in use or all the extra food and beverages you need for a typical party.
With an outdoor kitchen, you can establish either movable or built-in storage that will help keep your kitchen spick and span. For a seasonal outdoor kitchen, opt for a wheeled storage unit that you can relocate if necessary. Some even have flat surfaces on top that double as drink serving areas.
For a year-round kitchen, treat yourself to a set of stainless steel drawers. Not only will these keep your outdoor kitchen essentials organized, but they’ll also free up valuable space inside your kitchen.
Improve Continuity Between Indoors and Outdoors
If your backyard seems completely separate from the rest of your home, consider some outdoor kitchen ideas that connect the two spaces. Installing a cooking and entertaining space on your back deck creates a straightforward connection between the two spaces.
If you opt to build your outdoor kitchen several feet away from the kitchen or even across the yard, though, you’ll need to connect the two. Install stone or concrete pavers to create a walkway to the kitchen area, or build a trellis or covered walkway to improve continuity.
Add Value to Your Home
When you spend money to improve your home, you want to be sure you’re making a worthwhile investment. Remodeling most indoor kitchens results in a 70 to 80 percent return on investment (ROI). Fortunately, adding an outdoor kitchen typically results in an ROI that’s equal or greater.
Overall, the value that you’ll get back from your kitchen comes down to the quality of the work and the appropriateness of the space. Installing adequate plumbing, adding lights and ceiling fans, and getting built-in furniture for year-round spaces can make your outdoor kitchen very worthwhile. Make the space functional, welcoming, and right for the environment, and you’ll see the greatest return on your investment.
The benefits of an outdoor kitchen
From added value to improved continuity to increased comfort for the whole family, an outdoor kitchen can improve your quality of life in ways you haven’t yet imagined. Start planning your backyard cooking, grilling, and entertaining space, and find out why outdoor kitchens are becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity once again.