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The guide in planning and building your dream outdoor kitchen

There’s something about eating outdoors that feels more special than dining inside. Whether you’re grilling burgers, cooking BBQ, or making s’mores, the food somehow tastes a lot better while you’re soaking up the summer sun or having a dreamy picnic under the stars.

It’s even easier to bring the fun outdoors when you turn your patio or backyard into an outdoor kitchen. This can make al fresco dining a regular part of your routine.

What is an outdoor kitchen?

An outdoor kitchen is an extension of the indoor space designed for doing cookouts, holding picnics, and entertaining guests. Whether you want it to become the focal point of your backyard or the centrepiece of your outdoor entertainment space, you can do so with the right plan and design.

What are the benefits of an outdoor kitchen?

  • Extends the living and entertaining spaces

An Outdoor Kitchen Contractor in Catonsville MD can be the perfect solution if you love entertaining guests but have a cramped indoor space. This can make throwing parties a breeze and take your outdoor dining experience to the next level.

  • Makes cooking more convenient

An outdoor cooking area makes it much easier to grill food. Since you can store, prep, cook, and serve meals in the same space, you can save time and energy. This means you can focus on cooking and spending time with loved ones.

  • Increases your home value

This space can provide you with a maximum return on your investment. It can make your home stand out and appeal to potential buyers, especially if an outdoor kitchen is not commonly found in houses in your neighbourhood.

What are the drawbacks of an outdoor kitchen?

  • Cost

This outdoor feature can be expensive, depending on the kitchen design, layout, appliances, furniture, and additional features to be installed. It must be designed and built with safety in mind, often requiring splurging on higher-quality materials and products.

Appliances can account for a huge portion of the total cost. In particular, stainless steel appliances are excellent since they hold up well to the outdoors. They are naturally more expensive, so they might not make your priority list if you’re on a limited budget.

Note that the high initial cost doesn’t necessarily make an outdoor kitchen a bad investment. Using premium-quality products and materials for this feature can save you on maintenance costs and other unnecessary expenses in the long run.

  • Maintenance and upkeep

Since an outdoor kitchen is exposed to the elements, it’s prone to wear and tear. Dirt and grime can also build up over time. For these reasons, you have to make time for regular cleaning and maintenance. Ignoring upkeep means running the risk of damage to your investment.

  • Not suitable for every backyard

An outdoor kitchen requires the right location. It needs the right building design and enough space for appliances, furniture, and other essentials, so take those into account during planning.

What to consider when building an outdoor kitchen

  • Purpose

Determine how you intend to use your outdoor space. When assessing its purpose, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will the kitchen be used as a regular second kitchen or a cooking area for special occasions?
  • How many will cook and dine in the area?
  • What types of food am I planning to cook in the outdoor kitchen?

After deciding how you intend to use your outdoor kitchen, consider seeking drafting services. Draftsmen can provide you with technical drawings that can bring your project to life.

  • Type

Outdoor kitchens come in many forms, varying depending on one’s needs and preferences. These are the types to choose from if you’re planning to build one:

  • Basic outdoor kitchen: This kitchen type is primarily used for grilling. It has just enough space for cooking simple meals, dining, and storing cookware and utensils.
  • Partial outdoor kitchen: This type of outdoor kitchen is ideal for those with a mid-range budget. It includes the essentials, like a grill, storage, sink, and benchtop. However, it excludes a refrigerator and other appliances.
  • Full outdoor kitchen: This is a full-blown kitchen ideal for those with a big budget. It has the essentials and additional features, meaning it can serve as a second kitchen for everyday use.
  • Modular outdoor kitchen: If you want a fully customisable cooking space, then choose this kitchen type. It has partially built pieces sold as kits, which you can mix and match to create a kitchen that perfectly fits your needs.

3. Location

Location is important when planning. To decide where you’d like to build the kitchen, consider these factors:

  • Privacy
  • Drainage
  • Existing plumbing and fuel lines
  • Code requirements
  • Protection to the outdoor elements
  • Ability to attach or extend a shade structure, like a roof
  • Ability to install appliances and other features
  • Accessibility to the indoor kitchen and other living spaces

4. Size

A good outdoor kitchen size can accommodate the basics, including a sink, stove, grill, and counter space. When deciding how big yours should be, think about your culinary needs, budget, the space you will work with, and the number of expected guests. 

5. Layout

The suitable layout for your outdoor kitchen depends on your needs and available space. 

Go for a single-wall layout if you have limited space and require basic cooking and preparation spaces. Meanwhile, opt for L- or U-shaped arrangements if you want a cooking area with a seating space.

Regardless of your preferred kitchen layout, it should have enough space for food prepping, cooking, serving, and cleanup. Ideally, an outdoor kitchen has these functional zones:

  • Dry zone: This area is allotted for storage and food preparation. It includes cabinets and benchtops.
  • Cold zone: Freezers, refrigerators, and other cold storage options can be found in this zone.
  • Wet zone: This spot houses the sink for easy cleanup and handwashing.
  • Hot zone: Grills, pizza ovens, and other cooking appliances are placed in this zone.

6. Utilities

A functional outdoor kitchen typically requires gas, water, and electricity. Because of this, take note of the utility lines you already have and those you may need to be installed. 

Remember that the location of your kitchen and equipment can also affect the placement and installation of the fuel, power, and water lines, so plan accordingly. Work with a professional for assistance.

7. Lighting

Lighting can make your kitchen not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. That said, buy the right lighting options for your space and place them strategically. Put task lighting for cooking and work areas, ambient lighting for seating areas, and safety lighting for stairs and paths leading to the kitchen.

8. Appliances and furniture

No kitchen is complete without appliances. Furniture is optional, but it can be ideal if you would use your outdoor space as an entertainment area.

Before building your outdoor kitchen, list down the features you would like to install. These are some appliances and furniture that can make your al fresco cooking experience more convenient:

  • Grill
  • Side stove burner
  • Griddle
  • Pizza oven
  • Conventional oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Benchtop
  • Bars, bar tables, and bar stools
  • Dining table and chairs

9. Storage

The right storage for your outdoor kitchen depends on what you want to store in it. Shelves are great for holding cookware, serving ware, and grill accessories, while drawer units are best used for storing flat items. 

Meanwhile, kitchen cabinets work perfectly for integrating appliances and trash bins into the cooking space. Combination door-and-drawer units, on the other hand, are excellent for maximising limited space. 

Besides storage type, pay attention to quality. Choose easy-to-clean, weather-resistant storage options, such as those made of stainless steel and aluminium. They can withstand outdoor elements, give easy access to cooking tools, and keep insects and animals away from food.

10. Additional features

An outdoor kitchen is usually equipped with just the common features, like the grill, sink, and benchtop. However, more components can be added if you want to create more attractive and functional cooking and dining outdoor spaces. 

Your kitchen has to fit your lifestyle and aesthetics. So if you want a luxurious look, move beyond going for a simple grill with a small cooking space. Instead, install granite benchtops, multiple grills, or a stainless steel refrigerator.

Plan and build your ideal outdoor kitchen

A well-designed and properly built outdoor kitchen can make backyard celebrations even more memorable. To start enjoying sunny days and warm evenings cooking and dining in your backyard, follow this guide to create your dream open-air kitchen.

April T

Content partner at Superdraft, a project coordination platform enabling customers and industry professionals to plan, design, and build dream projects.

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