With spring just around the corner, many homeowners start daydreaming about backyard barbecues and garden parties … at least here in Southern California! We’re lucky to live in a place that allows for virtually year-round enjoyment of outdoor living. Is your home maximized to take advantage of our enviable climate? An outdoor kitchen is one of the best ways to appreciate and share the pleasures of outdoor living.
The term “outdoor kitchen” used to mean Dad making hamburgers on the grill. Well, no more! Outdoor kitchens have become just as multi-functional and attractive as their indoor counterparts. Here are five ideas to consider when designing your outdoor kitchen:
1. The Hot Zone: A grill – gas, charcoal, wood, electric or a hybrid of these cooking methods – often remains central to an outdoor kitchen design. The current deluxe built-in or free-standing grills are remarkably versatile, with options for custom griddles, side burners, roasting spits and more, transforming the traditional concept of backyard barbecuing. Another option is a wood-fired pizza oven, a food-lover’s choice for baking bread or roasting meat in addition to making authentic gourmet pizzas. Of course, heat in the outdoor kitchen isn’t just for cooking. Fireplaces or fire pits keep the elements from sending you and guests indoors after the sun goes down.
2. Practical Considerations: Think about how your indoor kitchen and outdoor kitchen will work together when you plan your space. Do you want to keep some tasks indoors? If so, the placement of your outdoor kitchen in proximity to your home will make a big difference in how much you enjoy using it. If you plan for an outdoor kitchen that is completely self-sufficient, then placement matters less and the appliances you choose matter more. The materials for an outdoor kitchen are essential. They must be durable and safe and should be compatible with their surroundings. Natural stone is a popular choice. Also, keep in mind that outdoor kitchens are subject to specific city planning codes. Be sure your contractor researches and follows the codes for your area.
3. A Natural Fit: Your outdoor kitchen should seem like a natural extension of your home, with compatible scale, elements and design. When you plan an outdoor kitchen in harmony with your home’s natural surroundings – considering landscaping, views and privacy – the result will be considerably more appealing.
4. Details Matter: Despite the longer days of spring and summer, it will eventually get dark outside – remember to plan lighting to accommodate both tasks and mood. Consider a water feature, such as a fountain or waterfall, to add an element of cool serenity to your backyard space. A thoughtfully placed stone walkway or wall in the landscaping brings additional texture and harmony to your environment.
5. Pictures and Sound: Adding video and audio options to your outdoor living area can make the space more welcoming, flexible and livable. Watch the big game or a classic movie, or listen to your favorite songs from an iPod docking station – just remember that the design should be carefully planned so that cables and wires don’t detract from the natural aesthetics of your space. When deciding where to place a television, study where the sun hits during the day to make sure your screen will be visible.
However you choose to customize your space, adding an outdoor kitchen to your home expands your living space and inspires new ideas for entertaining and outdoor living.