Being able to cook outdoors and enjoy delectable dishes on a warm summer’s day is beyond therapeutic.
Summer is a time for barbeques, when you can whip out the grill and have your friends over. For a more permanent setup, consider having an outdoor kitchen built instead. This space allows you to comfortably prepare the meals you like and treat your friends and family.
Building an outdoor kitchen can greatly enhance your outdoor living experience and is considered one of the best home improvements you can make. Imagine having your food preparation and dining spaces outdoors, where you can entertain guests and spend quality time with your family. It offers convenience and allows the chef to enjoy the company of others while cooking. Additionally, serving dishes immediately off the grill, still warm and delicious, adds to the overall experience. The delightful smells of outdoor cooking further enhance the ambiance of your landscape.
What Is an Outdoor Kitchen?
Transforming a simple patio or deck-based grilling area into an outdoor kitchen involves incorporating the amenities of a basic indoor kitchen, such as cooking appliances, storage cabinets, and a dedicated eating area. To be considered a true outdoor kitchen, utilities like electricity or gas lines are usually required. More elaborate outdoor kitchens may feature sinks and running water. Unlike basic grilling areas, outdoor kitchens are constructed with a degree of permanence, often with built-in appliances and storage features.
Factors to Consider Before Building
Several factors should be considered before embarking on an outdoor kitchen project. Your budget, yard layout, and preferred outdoor activities will influence the type of outdoor kitchen you build. For frequent entertainers with larger budgets, a full-scale outdoor kitchen with features like an outdoor sink, countertops, stove and oven, refrigerator, and a sheltered area may be ideal. However, if you only host occasional parties or barbecues, it may be more cost-effective to prioritize essential items like cabinets, counters, and a cooking area, deferring the addition of more extravagant features for later.
Building an Outdoor Kitchen: Challenges and Expertise
Building a full-featured outdoor kitchen is a major undertaking that will test your budget, DIY skills, and schedule. It typically takes two to three weeks to complete, and it is crucial to recognize that this project should be approached by experienced DIYers or professionals. Even skilled DIYers often require the assistance of contractors for specific tasks like plumbing, gas, and electrical work. The cost of materials for a basic outdoor kitchen can start at $3,000, while a full-featured outdoor kitchen with a range of appliances may cost $10,000 or more.
Choosing the Right Location
When deciding where to build your outdoor kitchen, it is logistically sensible to position it close to the house, especially if you need to run electrical, water, and gas lines. The area should be dry, level, and stable. If sun exposure is a concern, consider the use of leafy trees for shade or plan accordingly for increased sunlight.
It's important to consider any existing yard elements like pools, hot tubs, flower beds, fences, or buried lines that may impact the kitchen's placement. Additionally, check the home title for any easements that could restrict construction. While outdoor kitchens offer more layout flexibility than indoor kitchens, critical services like the sink, stove, oven, and barbecue grill should be situated closest to the house for easy access. Remember that outdoor kitchens are still subject to building codes and regulations.
Codes and Regulations
Before starting your outdoor kitchen project, consult with your local permitting department to ensure compliance with building codes and obtain any necessary permits. Installing electrical and gas lines usually requires permits. If your outdoor kitchen will have a covered structure, it may also need permitting under specific conditions, such as being anchored to the home or having poured foundations. Always contact your local utilities' damage prevention hotline to mark gas, electrical, water, and other vital lines before digging.
Selecting the Ideal Construction Time
Timing is crucial when planning the construction of your outdoor kitchen. Assuming you have a well-defined plan and the necessary materials and appliances, you can begin construction at a time that suits your schedule and weather conditions. It's generally recommended to start the project during a season when weather conditions are favorable and allow for uninterrupted work. Spring and fall are often considered the best seasons for outdoor construction projects, as they typically offer mild temperatures and less rainfall.
Before starting the construction, it's essential to gather all the necessary materials, tools, and equipment required for the project. This includes items such as bricks or stone for the base, countertops, appliances, cabinets, lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures (if applicable), and any additional features you plan to incorporate into your outdoor kitchen.
Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen
Designing your outdoor kitchen involves careful planning to ensure that it meets your functional and aesthetic requirements. Consider the following design aspects:
Determine the layout and flow of your outdoor kitchen based on your cooking style and preferences. The layout should facilitate easy movement between different areas, such as the cooking zone, prep area, serving area, and dining space.
Choose the appliances you want to incorporate into your outdoor kitchen. Common options include a grill, side burners, refrigerator, sink, and storage cabinets. Ensure that the appliances are suitable for outdoor use and built to withstand the elements.
Countertops and Surfaces:
Incorporate sufficient storage space for utensils, cookware, and other kitchen essentials. Consider adding cabinets, drawers, and shelves to keep everything organized and protected from the elements.
Install adequate lighting to ensure proper visibility during evening and nighttime use. Consider a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a welcoming atmosphere and enhance safety.
Shelter and Shade:
If you want to use your outdoor kitchen year-round, consider adding a shelter or pergola to protect against rain and excessive sunlight. This will allow you to enjoy your outdoor space regardless of the weather.
Hiring Professionals vs. DIY
Deciding whether to hire professionals or tackle the construction as a DIY project depends on your skill level, time availability, and budget. While some aspects of the project can be done by experienced DIYers, certain tasks, such as electrical and gas line installation, may require the expertise of licensed professionals.
Hiring professionals ensures that the construction is done safely and up to code. They can also provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their experience. However, it's important to factor in the cost of hiring professionals when budgeting for your outdoor kitchen project.
Maintenance and Care
Proper maintenance and care will help prolong the lifespan of your outdoor kitchen and keep it in excellent condition. Here are some tips:
Clean your outdoor kitchen regularly, including countertops, appliances, and surfaces. Use appropriate cleaning agents and follow manufacturer guidelines for each material.
Protect Against the Elements:
Invest in covers or use built-in shelter options to protect your appliances and surfaces from rain, snow, and harsh sunlight when not in use.
If you live in a climate with freezing temperatures, take necessary precautions to winterize your outdoor kitchen. This may include draining water lines, covering or storing appliances, and protecting surfaces from ice and snow.
Conduct routine inspections of your outdoor kitchen to identify any maintenance or repair needs. Check for leaks, loose connections, and signs of wear and tear.
When you're building an outdoor kitchen, its size is the first thing to determine. Most homeowners want to have sufficient space for the cooking area, with a grill and stone oven, while preserving the most space for entertaining guests and having a garden. Don’t go too big with the outdoor kitchen as it'll become too large to maintain and reduce the space available in the backyard.
The shape of the kitchen
It’s quite common to have an L-shaped outdoor kitchen. It offers ample space to prepare the food and serve it as well. Depending on the space available in your backyard, you can choose the shape of the kitchen that best suits your needs. If you plan on having cabinetry for storage, we recommend having the kitchen built toward the exterior wall of your home for maximum support.
What type of equipment do you foresee using in the kitchen? It’s an important decision because you need to make arrangements for power outlets accordingly and need sufficient space for this equipment too. Common equipment used in an outdoor kitchen includes a grill, smoker, and stovetop. Some homeowners also have a brick oven built for pizzas.
Other than the kitchen layout and equipment, the outdoor kitchen should also have comfortable seating and a dining area too. Guests should be able to enjoy the delectable food prepared on comfortable and well-made dining tables and chairs.
Building your dream outdoor kitchen can significantly enhance your outdoor living experience. It offers a unique and convenient way to enjoy cooking, dining, and entertaining in the beauty of your outdoor space. By carefully planning the design, considering important factors, and deciding whether to tackle the project yourself or hire professionals, you can create an outdoor kitchen that meets your needs and becomes a cherished part of your home. Remember to prioritize maintenance and care to ensure its longevity and functionality.