An outdoor kitchen is often the focal point of an outdoor living space in the same way that your indoor kitchen is often the focal point inside. Think of how all of the family gathers around your kitchen- wouldn't you love it if that happened outside on a warm spring evening? Before you pull the trigger on an outdoor kitchen, here are a few do's and don'ts to inspire you:
1) Do start with well-made equipment. Some people chose to cover their equipment, but for the times when you forget, you'll be happy that you chose a well-made grill. I encourage clients to start at a showroom like Barbeques Galore where you can see a variety of brands. The ones we recommend are Grand Turbo & Lynx. They are well-made workhorses: made to last and mid to high range for price.
2) Don't overdo it with the equipment. Ask yourselves which elements you will really use so the island doesn't become a clutter of stainless steel. The most popular options are the grill, side burner, fridge, & sink.
3) Do think of your outdoor kitchen design in the same way you'd think of your indoor kitchen design. Unfortunately, most outdoor kitchens get stucco siding and a tile counter. Would you do that inside? We wouldn't! Think about stone counters, a creative backsplash, or granite countertops. Consider the style you want and then worry about picking materials that will hold up outdoors.
4) Don't skimp on counter space. A great outdoor kitchen can serve so many roles if you design it to be flexible: It can be a bar or buffet for serving at a party, it can be slightly raised to accommodate bar stools and even replace the dining table. It can be extra storage space for outdoor cushions. But for all of these things, it needs to have enough free space. Think about the things you might want on the counter while grilling like tools, ingredients, or platters. Make sure you'll have enough counter space!
5) Do make sure that the outdoor kitchen fits in with your house. Don't design the outdoor kitchen to look like an afterthought on the property. If the kitchen is located away from the house, think about the home's sight-lines; design the kitchen as a visible destination. Use materials that complement the architecture of the home. If the kitchen is against the house, create an architectural transition such as a pergola, which adds height to the kitchen.
6) **Do give yourself plenty of room to work.** Most outdoor kitchens suffer from insufficient counter space. Even the smallest outdoor kitchen needs at least 3 ft. of open counter space and proper landing zones next to the grill, sink, pizza oven and any other equipment. Avoid placing the grill or sink at the end of a counter run.
7) Don't forget about shade. If the kitchen is going to be located in a hot part of the yard, consider a shade arbor or shingled patio cover to protect you from the elements.