The pandemic’s craze for outdoor living is here to stay. A 2021 survey found that 82% of homeowners are more interested in investing in exterior rooms than they were before the pandemic. Once considered a pleasant convenience, space for meeting and cooking outside has become a priority for many.
But there’s more to creating an outdoor kitchen than just purchasing a barbecue and patio furniture set. Materials are even more important in this space than indoors, as they need to withstand sun, rain, wind, and whatever else might come your way. Here’s everything you need to consider when designing an outdoor kitchen, from lighting and seating to appliances and countertops.
1. Protection from the elements
The best outdoor kitchens are those that can be used most of the year, not just when the weather permits. An absolute necessity, whatever your climate, is an overhead cover like a pergola or awning that will keep the sun’s rays away and add a layer of protection when it rains.
From there, consider add-ons that meet specific needs. If wind is a problem, add screens or make a barrier with tall bushes. If the temperatures are cooler, opt for wall heaters or umbrella. Ceiling fans can do double duty, providing additional relief from the heat and keep mosquitoes away.
2. The right materials
Durable materials are crucial for an outdoor kitchen, which will be subjected not only to the wear and tear of a busy space, but also to the whims of Mother Nature. Choose materials that can handle temperature fluctuations without warping or cracking.
Dekton by Cosentino is a composite surface composed of virtually indestructible minerals and raw materials, making it the ideal material for countertops and flooring in an outdoor space. It can withstand extreme temperatures and UV exposure without fading, it is highly scratch and impact resistant (you can cut directly on the surface) and the non-porous design makes it easy to clean and maintain .
It is also a carbon neutral line that uses a manufacturing process that is 100% powered by renewable energy sources, and all water used in the production processes is treated and reused to remove waste. Plus, a few of his more than 50 styles, such as Oxidized Steel Inspired Trill, are made with up to 80 percent recycled materials.
3. Balanced lighting
Without adequate lighting, an outdoor kitchen is rendered useless when the sun goes down. You will therefore need to add working lighting above the preparation and cooking areas.
Avoid harsh spotlights when it comes to illuminating the entire space and instead opt for in-ground landscape lighting or dimmable lights that can be hung from a pergola roof or awning. The candles on the table are always a nice touch. Another option: solar-powered tea lights that light up automatically at nightfall.
4. Appropriate devices
With hundreds of sophisticated pizza ovens, smokers and grills on the market, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to choosing appliances for your outdoor kitchen. But think about how you cook and what will serve you the most: if you’ve never made a Margherita pie inside, are you really going to use a $ 1,000 wood-fired pizza oven? outside?
On the flip side, if you always serve a signature cocktail while you cook, make room for a mini-fridge and ice maker. If you want space to boil shrimp and grill a dozen burgers at the same time, you’ll need enough burners.
5. A functional layout
The space you work in will dictate the layout of an outdoor kitchen. L-shaped kitchens with a bar are ideal for large patios where you plan to entertain frequently, but a simple set of one or two cabinets with a grill can be just as functional in a smaller space.
Plan appropriately for utilities like gas, electricity, and water. A typical kitchen has four zones: hot for cooking, dry for preparation, wet for the sink, and cold for refrigeration and ice. But if space is limited, you can forgo the last two by locating your outdoor cooking space in the immediate vicinity of your indoor kitchen in order to use its refrigerator and sink.
6. Plenty of seating
The purpose of an outdoor kitchen is to entertain, so make sure your guests have a place to sit. A sturdy dining table, large enough to hold your delicious toasted spread and a hungry crowd, is a must.
Consider a custom piece designed specifically for your space with a Dekton top; the same reasons it’s top notch for countertops and floors make it ideal for a busy table. And it comes in styles that mimic the look of marble, concrete, wood, and various types of stone.
If space allows, create a more relaxed nook with a few plush armchairs or lounge chairs that you can use for morning coffee or after dinner cocktails.
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