Outdoor living spaces with an outdoor kitchen area have become very popular and can expand the overall living area of your home significantly, so a properly designed outdoor kitchen is an essential part of the equation, and it's not so difficult that you have to bring in a professional to design it for you. A bit of thought and research goes a long way!
- Budget. Naturally, the first thing to decide on is your budget. Just as the kitchen and bathroom inside your home are the most expensive rooms in the house to design and build, the same can be said for an outdoor kitchen, so you want to get it just right first time around.
- Location. Look at your outdoor space and decide where is the best place to locate the kitchen area. Ideally, the kitchen should be under cover and on the sheltered side of the yard so that you can use it year round whatever the weather, and it needs to be close enough to the house to get access to water and electricity.
- Materials. Stainless steel looks fantastic and is an obvious choice for an outdoor kitchen as it will withstanding the elements well, however, it's also an expensive option. No need to fear. Concrete is a great choice for the countertop area - it's silky smooth so easy to clean, and it can be stained to match your decor. Concrete can also be tiled, in which case the finishes are limitless, or various natural stones can be used for the counter, such as granite. Think of the style of your home and pick something that will blend with that.
- Function. A functional kitchen is important. Get the basic essentials in, such as a sink, fridge and barbecue, and then think about the extras that you may want. Most outdoor kitchens will either be an L-shape or a simple straight line. You need to make sure there is a bit of counter space, and a great way to set it up is to have the kitchen work area on one side of the counter with a bar counter on the other side so that the chef can be part of the party when entertaining. If you opt for a concrete countertop, the sink can included in the mould, which is a great idea as there are no seams to collect germs or to leak. The same applies to a stainless steel unit.
- Layout. Something to remember when designing the layout of your outdoor kitchen is where the services (water and electricity) are coming from - it makes sense to have the sink and fridge located within a reasonable distance of these services. If you plan to have an electric barbecue, the same applies, but there is more flexibility in the location of a propane gas barbecue. Do you wish a built-in barbecue, do you want a mobile barbecue but that looks built-in or do you want your barbecue to be fully visible in all it's glory?
- Appliances. A fridge that is designed specifically for outdoor use is a must, and there are many to choose from, so whatever your budget and taste, you will be able to find one that fits all your requirements.
Anything else that is incorporated into your outdoor kitchen is an extra - get the basics in first and then see what else you have room for and add accordingly.