If you love entertaining outdoors, how about an outdoor kitchen to make it easy? These tips will help you down the path to success.
Pick the right spot: Start by locating any utility lines, underground and overhead, and design with those in mind. You don't want to cut into buried lines during the building process, nor do you want to build directly under an overhead power line that poses a risk every time you raise an umbrella.
Next, consider the weather. You'll have more fun if you locate your outdoor kitchen away from windy or overly sunny areas. Plan to build your space within natural windscreens and shade from your landscaping. Then protect your kitchen from the elements that pose a challenge for comfort and cooking.
Traffic flow and the proximity to your indoor kitchen are also worth considering. Plan a spot that places the two kitchens conveniently close. But be sure that the proximity and placement of the outdoor appliances are oriented to prevent smoke from drifting indoors.
Choose function over form: Grill, rotisserie, oven, stovetop, brick oven, blender, wine cooler — there are so many choices. Before going overboard on the appliances, ask yourself what you'll actually use. Generally, you'll need a refrigerator and a grill or other cooking source, as well as some storage and prep space.
Embellished wood cabinetry makes a bold statement in an indoor kitchen, but exposure to the elements makes wood cabinets impractical for the outdoors. Instead, opt for stone, concrete or steel countertops and cabinets that are durable and easy to clean.
Keep it social: It's said that the kitchen is the heart of the home; when you're entertaining, guests often congregate in or near the kitchen to visit with the cook and each other. Arrange your outdoor kitchen to allow for that as well. Site your dining and lounging areas near enough that you can chat with guests while preparing the meal. (This also makes it easier to get food to the table).
Set the ambience with good lighting. Add brighter lights to pathways, cooking areas and activity areas, then go for adjustable lighting in the dining or lounging areas. Save colored bulbs for areas in which illumination isn't necessary to keep everyone safe and sound.
Add a large table, a fireplace or fire pit, an overhead fan or two and some comfortable seating, and you're ready to entertain.