10 Tips for Designing an Outdoor Kitchen
Design tip from Kristy Kropat, Allied Member ASID
Kropat Interior Design
Kropat Interior Design creates unique spaces, customized to the client’s preferences and budget. “Functionality is as important in my design philosophy as appearance. Excellent design is a weaving of the visual with the practical. A well-designed space will stand up to the test of time in style, durability and function. To achieve these goals I carefully consider the interplay of shape, color, lighting, texture, material and style to create a design for your life.” — Kristy Kropat
In San Diego, we love to enjoy our meals al fresco, and an outdoor kitchen is a wonderful convenience for doing just that. Designing an outdoor kitchen, though, can take as much planning as a main indoor kitchen. It’s always a good idea to hire a licensed general contractor and a designer with experience in outdoor kitchens to ensure a functional design and implementation. Here are 10 tips to help you create an outdoor kitchen that works for you:
- Decide how many guests you will be entertaining and cooking for on a regular basis to determine the outdoor kitchen size that’s appropriate for your needs.
- Plan ahead for the placement of space heaters if you will be using your outdoor kitchen in the cooler months. If you are confined to a smaller area, wall-hung heaters are a great option to help save space.
- Determine which appliances you will need by asking yourself these questions: What type of things will I be cooking? What types of beverages will I be serving? How far is my outdoor kitchen from my main kitchen, and which appliances can I easily use from my main kitchen?
- Choose the type of grill you want: wood-burning, charcoal, electric, gas or a combination grill (one that provides different types of heat sources within the same grill). If you opt for one of the bigger, more powerful grills, be sure to install a ¾-inch gas line or it won’t work properly. The length of the gas line run also is critical.
- Install an outdoor vent to safely dissipate dangerous grill gases if you plan to enclose your outdoor kitchen in a structure.
- Position the grill away from prevailing winds or build a wind block behind it. Heat escapes from the back of the grill and prevailing winds constantly blowing into the back of the grill will cause the heat to move to the front of the grill so food will not cook properly.
- Reduce labor costs when building your main structure to hold your grill and other appliances by installing modular blocks that have a rough surface, already able to accept mortar for your stone or tile veneer.
- Include sufficient storage and counter space. Many companies make cabinets specifically for outdoor kitchens and they come in many colors, materials and styles.
- Opt for a lighter-colored countertop material. Since the surface absorbs the sun’s heat, a darker color could be a potential burn threat to you and your guests.
- Select a countertop material that is resin-free. Materials with resin — such as engineered stone and even some types of granite — discolor in the sun. A great outdoor countertop material is non-porous and resin-free porcelain, now available in slabs. (The same product in different thicknesses also can be used for siding and flooring.)