For Tips on Design and Layouts For an Outdoor Kitchen

Building an outdoor kitchen is a great investment for your home. It utilizes the home’s outdoor space almost like an additional room, and it has become a top feature requested for high-end home buyers today. At Joseph & Berry, we’ve worked with clients to create custom outdoor kitchens that seamlessly incorporate both function and design. Here are a few things we’ve learned about creating the perfect outdoor kitchen.

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Choosing the right materials

Outdoor kitchens must be made with all-weather materials to increase the lifetime of the investment. If building on a wood deck or next to your home, protecting against fire and heat damage are also required. Beyond these basics, the most important rule is selecting high-quality products that are made to last. Brick, stucco, and stone are popular choices for the framework, granite, slate and stainless steel countertops are durable and easy to clean. High-quality stainless steel appliances, many which offer a lifetime guarantee, will help protect your investment and keep you from taking time out of entertaining to deal with a grill or fridge on the fritz.

How will you use your outdoor kitchen?

What is your vision for the outdoor kitchen? Is it a place to host weeknight family meals or will it be a place to entertain your 30 closest friends for the game on Sundays?

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For everyday use, a basic grill doesn’t offer enough features to complete a full meal. You will also need side burners or a built-in griddle for preparing sauteuse and sauces. A griddle gives you options for delicate items, like shrimp, asparagus, and finishing diner-style burgers.

For hosting big gatherings, consider a grill larger than 36 inches. No one wants to miss the big play while flipping the hot dogs, so to cut down on cooking time, make sure you buy a grill that fits your needs. If gas versus charcoal is a debate in your family, consider adding two grills to the kitchen. A gas grill can provide quick preparation while ribs, briskets and other types of barbecue can take up space and take hours to cook on a smoker/charcoal grill like a Weber Kettle.

Regardless of how you will use the outdoor kitchen, don’t forget about storage. A place to store paper plates, eating utensils, cling wrap, tin foil, and other tools will keep you from running in and out of the house while guests are there. Having a trash bin hidden in a cabinet by your feet while prepping will make clean-up a breeze and your kitchen tidy, and building custom accessories like a paper towel holder or utensil rack near the grill, come in handy when multi-tasking.

Location, Location, Location

Where you place the outdoor kitchen on your property will influence its overall design. Located just outside the kitchen door means you can skip adding certain kitchen components since your year-round kitchen is located just a few feet away. If the outdoor kitchen is further from your home, such as near a pool or garden patio, additional storage, a full-size refrigerator, sink, large prep area and your other favorite kitchen elements should be added to your wish list.

Outdoor kitchen layouts

Kitchen Island —  A common and straightforward option for entertaining outside. An island can be custom built to accommodate a stovetop, grill and prep area, while central to the entertaining action.

Straight Line Kitchens — This “kitchenette” style goes against a wall and is ideal for smaller spaces. Because it is attached to an existing part of the home, access to plumbing and electric utilities is likely to be easier. Attaching an awning or covering with a roof becomes easier as well, making this type of outdoor kitchen feel more like another room of the home.

U-shape Kitchens — For the home chef and serious outdoor entertainers, the U-shaped kitchen provides everything you need. This style includes a grill, refrigerator, sink and bar area, plenty of storage and can even include indoor kitchen features like a dishwasher.

Tips and Tricks the Pros Use

When creating custom outdoor kitchens for our clients, we’ve seen a few trends emerge, as well as learned a few tips to making the outdoor entertaining experience better.

If you like to chat with friends while you cook, consider a high-top bar with stools built next to the grill. You won’t feel like you’re chained to the grill and guest feel like they are part of the action, comfortable with a drink in hand.

Covering a portion of the outdoor kitchen is also an attractive option. If a summer rainstorm pops up, guests can take shelter inside while the cooking continues uninterrupted. If you like company while you cook, consider an expanded cover to keep guests dry, or keep them cool when the sun is scorching.

When we mention a full-size fridge, some people wonder why you’d ever need that much space — plus a freezer? Think about the last time you entertained and how full your indoor refrigerator was. Then remember what it looked like when the guests showed up. Keeping meats and salads fully chilled and near the action can cut down on running around and headaches. A freezer full of ice and frosted glasses is also much appreciated on the days when the cooler just can’t keep up with the heat.

It’s also helpful to think about entertaining after dark. What kind of lighting will you need to provide late-night snacks and evening cocktails? Is there a place to put speakers for music? These little details can transform an ordinary outdoor kitchen into the neighborhood’s favorite hangout.

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