GUIDE FOR THE PERFECT OUTDOOR KITCHEN
Designing an Outdoor Kitchen should be easy, but can present some interesting challenges.
How big should it be?
Where should it be placed?
Where should the grill be facing?
How much space between accessories?
How high and deep should the Kitchen be?
This guide has 7 key points that will help to design the perfect Outdoor Kitchen:
– Grill position
– Kitchen Shape and Placement
– Accessories layout
– Construction and finishing materials
– Finishing touches
|GRILL POSITIONThe grill is normally the central piece of your Outdoor Kitchen. Where it’s positioned is an important decision for several reasons including the view, the direction of the wind and the course of the smoke.Grill is best located downwind from where guests will be sitting so that they away from the smoke coming from the grill.
The back of the grill is the “messy” area and less attractive. Try to position the grill so that the back is hidden to some degree. If you plan to have seats around the Kitchen, guests will not want to sit behind the Grill especially when you are grilling.
The evening breeze and wind should not blow against the back of the grill because it works like an “exhaust pipe”. Wind behind the grill makes the grilling temperature uneven.
If you have a pool and young children, positioning the grill so that the Chef can see the pool when he is grilling may be a higher priority than the other considerations.
| KITCHEN SHAPE & PLACEMENTShaping your Kitchen is a major consideration. Shape has a big impact in its functions, its cost and looks, even the overall appearance of the backyard. Some Kitchen shapes are determined by budget or by space and sometimes that makes things easier. If you have a big area and a good budget, determining the size and shape will present a bigger challenge.Creating a “wish list” for the accessories is a great starting point. The number of accessories will determine the size of your Outdoor Kitchen.
If you plan to have seats around the Kitchen, try to give your guests the best view. It is less interesting facing the neighbor’s fence than facing the pool.
If the yard or house have particular shapes you can complement or contrast those shapes.
Again, the evening breeze and wind comes into consideration. Kitchen placement should not allow that smoke behind the grill blows in the direction of the house or where guests are sitting.
Access to utilities often helps position the island. Imagine carrying a gas bottle or paying for water connections and drainage to a further distant.
Think if the Kitchen will be used to cook just for the family or used to entertain larger groups. This will help decide the size and also how close from the house it should be.
If you like to grill all year, you should consider a cover, a pergola or an awning for protection of the rain and the sun. A less expensive option is an umbrella in your Kitchen.
How appliances are positioned in the Outdoor Kitchen can make a big difference in maximizing functionality. Think about separating the Kitchen into sections: preparing, cooking and entertaining. Smaller Kitchens normally serve dual purposes such as preparing and serving food.
- Try keeping the hot appliances together (grill and side burner) and the cold appliances together (sink, refrigerator, etc).
- If possible try to have a minimum of 30cm on each side of the grill to place a plate or a platter.
- The seating is the entertaining area and it should be close to the cold appliances such as the Ice chest, refrigerator, or cocktail station.
- If you decide on an outdoor refrigerator, locate it so it’s easily accessed by others without the Chef having to move from the grill.
- Access doors are important under appliances with water or sewer connections. In the future you might need to repair a leaky drain line.
- Two items that are easy to miss, but highly valued are counter space and storage drawers. Counter space is good to prepare food and serve drinks. Drawers are good to keep the cooking accessories, the rotisserie, cutlery, etc.
Dimensions are another major consideration when planning an Outdoor Kitchen and here are some options:
- Normally countertops are 90cm high, but of course they can be made higher or lower.
- Bar stools are designed to work best when the bar top is 105/110cm and dining chairs when countertop is 70/80cm. If the counter surface is higher or lower, you will have difficulty finding stools or chairs that sit comfortably.
- The Kitchen depth needs to be deep enough for the appliances and for the opening of the grill.
This is critical when there’s a wall behind the grill. Minimum must be 70cm
- The bar top depth should be between 25cm and 35cm. Space for the knees should be a minimum of 20cm, but 30cm is preferable.
- For seating you should allow a width of 75cm per chair. For depth behind the chairs, allow 120cm from the edge of the bar-top or countertop to a wall or any other obstacle. That leaves enough room for someone to use the chair and another person to walk behind.
- If the Kitchen has a “U” shape or is closed in by the house or a wall, it’s best to leave 120cm inside it. 90cm will work too, but it will feel crowded.
CONSTRUCTION AND FINISHING MATERIALS
There are basically unlimited number of finishing materials that can be used in your Kitchen
- Normally, the structure of Outdoor Kitchens is built with galvanized steel frames and covered with water proof cement boards. It’s lighter, you gain more space inside the Kitchen, it doesn’t rust, it’s faster to build and if necessary to change it to another place, it’s possible. However, many people build their Kitchen structure in concrete but can some inconveniences. Might take more time to build, there is less space inside and has tendency to retain moisture creating a perfect environment for mold. Other than this, it is a perfectly acceptable method to construct the structure for your Outdoor Kitchen.
- Countertop finishes are almost unlimited: granite, marble, limestone, slate, onyx, travertine… and then there are different colors and finishings for each. Some stones are more porous and require sealing and others don’t. Dark colors while pretty, normally get hotter when exposed to sun light.
Another option instead of stone is tile pieces or ceramic panels, they might be less expensive but require more work and care.
- Finishes for the side panel of your Kitchen can be as simple as just painting it the color you like (less expensive), or putting stone. In stone you have manufactured stones (less expensive) or real stone (more expensive). Stone looks great, but if you want to cut cost, consider painting the panel(s) of the Island that is less visible and adding stone to the panel(s) that is more visible.
Getting the required utilities for the Outdoor Kitchen can be a little more expensive, but very useful. However just with a gas bottle you can build a fully functioning Kitchen.
- Of all the utilities, electricity is probably the most useful. Premium Grills like ours require electricity for the lights and for the rotisserie motor, but so does a refrigerator, a coffee machine, a blender, a sound system, etc.
- If you plan to have a sink, bringing water to the Kitchen is relatively easy, but you also have to think of where the drain goes out.
- Gas bottles are normally the best solution and less expensive, especially the lighter ones, but if you want you can choose to install Gas line.
You have selected the appliances, made the choices for finishing materials and colors, determined heights and depths, chose the right shape but now there are a few finishing touches that can greatly improve the use and looks of your new Outdoor Kitchen.
- Lighting can make your Kitchen more attractive and functional. Consider countertop lighting where you prepare food or make drinks, because normally grills have lights inside. Additionally, there are beautiful under counter lighting or foot path lighting for the body of the Kitchen.
- If you don’t have a source of music in the backyard, the Kitchen presents a great opportunity for it. There are weather proof sound systems that can be housed on the structure including speakers and Iphone/Ipod docking station.
- Tables are a nice addition to the Kitchen with or without additional bar seating. If you consider a table, a nice option is a fire pit in the center to extend the evenings with friends and family.
- One of the reasons to get together with friends is to watch a game. With an Outdoor TV you can cheer your team and stay outside cooking.
- With patio heaters you can extend your entertaining season. You can gain a month or two after the summer weather, and one or two more before the spring.