An Interior Designer’s Guide To The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen
Our summers are short. From March through to July and into November, an outdoor kitchen allows us to share our food experiences with family and friends extending our outdoor playtime. More people are choosing to invest in their homes and backyards rather than vacationing elsewhere.
Before planning and spending on this space, ask yourself some simple questions:
How much time do I want to devote to maintenance? What’s critical-to-have, must-have, and nice to have? Knowing this will save you a lot of grief and disappointment.
Critical To Know
Safety first! Make sure you meet your region’s building and fire codes. There’s a difference between a code for building a house and a code for preventing open flames, and in-and-near a building. They are two different things. Protect combustible materials.
Choosing Cabinets and Materials
Cabinets and counters need to be corrosion and weather resistant, low maintenance and made with stable materials. ALL materials expand and contract with temperature change and moisture. The sun fades colours and natural materials breakdown over time. There are 3 types of cabinetry-based kitchens for outdoor use: HDPE/Polymer, Wood and Stainless Steel.
Polymer: Waterproof, sun-safe, available in a variety of solid colours, lower maintenance, plastic, and of variable durability.
Wood: Flexible design requires some maintenance, most affordable, and it is not fire-resistant.
Stainless Steel: Heat and fire-resistant, non-corrosive, easy to clean, available in powdered-coated colours. It does need to be covered up to protect it from soot, soil and environmental pollution.
Things to Consider
Appearance: What do I want to see when I look outside my kitchen window? Choose your landscaping and furniture for that perfect outdoor style.
Clean-Up: Install a sink with water. You may not want to use your indoor kitchen to clean greasy, sooty stuff. Plan ahead for plumbing.
Heating and Electrical: Layer your heat sources. Consider heat lamps, fire pits or a built-in infrared heater. Make sure you put in multiple outlets that meet the fire code pertinent to your municipality. Plan ahead for electrical.
Shade: Create shade from the sun and protection from the rain with pergolas, retractable patio covers or tents.
Stay Cool: Cool yourself off with fans, misters or rugs to shield you from the hot floor, and use light-coloured furniture.
Layout and Seating: Transition your rooms with removable screens, doors and walls. Offer a variety of seating – low Muskoka chairs, chaise lounges, stools and benches.
Storage Space: The ultimate amenity. Think of what else needs to be stored - like equipment, furniture, sports and hobbies. You don’t want to run back and forth from the house or garage to the outdoor living area.
Small Spaces - Condo Balconies and Terraces
Electric grills make outdoor eating possible despite strict fire and safety codes. Brown Jordan has fully assembled kitchens for terraces, to be lifted by a crane, or custom units transported by a service elevator.
Nice To Have And Trending
Specialty right-sized appliances replacing mammoth grilles. These can include: Argentinian grills, smokers, side burners, pizza ovens, fridges, dishwashers, beer on tap, espresso machines, ice makers and Kamado-style grills (a.k.a. “ eggs”). Lighting schemes, TVs and sound systems can also be a great addition. Treat this space as another room of the house.
Adding Value To Your Home
Outdoor kitchens seem to be replacing the pool as an add-on feature. It increases your competitive edge when selling because people will imagine themselves having great times in their new backyard.
Good design blurs the lines between the indoors and the outdoors. What creative ways do you use to create your very own private outdoor oasis?
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