Nothing says spring like spending more time outside. Dining in the open air is one way to bring the family together or entertain friends. An outdoor kitchen keeps you in the middle of all the action and allows you the ability to socialize when working culinary magic. There are many designs and styles to choose from when planning an outdoor kitchen. Below are some ideas to consider when thinking about the project.
Grilling and Cooking
The equipment you grill and cook on while outside is the most important party of an outdoor kitchen. Some combine a grill with a cook stove for sauces and other items that go with the grilled items. Others go all out with a full-size smoker to create full meals with natural flavors. This is serious business and deserves utmost consideration. Some people, who are handy, opt to build their own cooking island from the ground up. Others take a conservative building approach and get an assembly kit or a previously constructed cooking island. Be sure whatever you use is safe and food safety compliant. The other part of the cooking equipment to consider is the facade for the grill island. Most have stainless steel elements to the grill, but some opt to create a tile, brick or stone facade. While some can do this themselves, it may serve you well to hire a professional to do this type of tile or stone installation. Stone and tile make for great facades for grills. They give it an upscale look and increase safety because they are heat resistant and don’t catch fire.
More Cooking Space
After decisions about the grill are made, you will need to decide about the rest of the cooking area. There are some homeowners that create a true kitchen outside, complete with refrigeration, sinks, cabinets and countertops. Some options to use in this design plan could include granite, reclaimed or recycled stone. Granite has a number of finishes that can look more natural in an outdoor kitchen, is durable and comes in a number of colors. The one piece of advice experts have about using granite outside is to find pieces that don’t have a lot of veining. Heavily veined granite has a lot of epoxies and fillers that make it vulnerable to UV rays. Reclaimed and recycled stone has interesting patterns but are a little cheaper.
However, most experts recommend that homeowners use tile to stone, or concrete for outdoor use rather than a manufactured countertop. That’s because popular pigments in quartz or glass don’t hold up over the years when exposed to constant sunlight. Concrete is a popular option for countertops. While this may not be an obvious option, it can be smoothed to look as polished as tile or stone.
Installing a Bar
Homeowners sometimes install a bar as part of their outdoor space. The bar can be themed to add a special touch to the area, but you should make sure the theme matches the rest of the area. Whether you have a tiki bar, an Irish bar or a sports bar theme, make sure the tile, stone or other material used is the same as what is used for the cooking area in order to pull both areas together.
The next thing to consider is flooring. Most want a solid, defined space to entertain outside. That could be a wood deck or a patio. Patios can be created in a number of ways, depending on your budget. The cheapest option is pebble stone or something similar, but they can get messy and travel into the grass over time. Pebble stone can damage your lawnmower. Plus, those with children don’t see this as a valid option.
Other options include concrete, brick, tile and natural stone. The way concrete is laid for a patio is different than for a driveway. Patio concrete can be crafted to look like tile or even flagstone. All have different looks and installation costs but tile is going to be one of the most affordable choices, especially true if it’s re-purposed tile. Another advantage tile and stone have over concrete is that they can be more easily repaired if they become chipped or damaged. Concrete has to be re-poured to fix breaks, cracks or chips. Tile is the most popular option for flooring and overall outdoor kitchens. The reasons are that tile can be simple or ornately patterned. It can resemble stone and even wood and is also the most affordable. The only drawback is extreme cold weather can cause the tile and grout to crack.
Most say that those using tile in an outdoor kitchen should use freeze-proof tiles and dark grout. They also recommending hiring a qualified installer to ensure the right products for your climate are used. An important aspect to remember about outdoor flooring is to keep it durable as well as beautiful. Tile and stone also come in many colors, so it’s easy to create patterns that are attractive to the eye.
The third aspect to consider when you are designing your outdoor cooking space is overhead cover. You will want some type of shade. That can come in the shape of dining umbrellas, an outdoor awning, a pergola, or a completely roofed patio. The type of covering you install sets the tone for the rest of your outdoor space. Finally, add plants, furniture and lots of color to make your outdoor dining space your own. Many of these projects can be done on a budget over a couple of days, and will give you a space your family will enjoy for years to come.