Outdoor Kitchens: What You Need to Know About Design and Landscaping
An outdoor kitchen is quite simply a kitchen built in an outdoor living area.
The set up can be as simple as a barbeque/benchtop or as complex as a fully functioning kitchen with appliances, storage, lighting, heating and plumbing.
The benefit of having an outdoor kitchen means you can cook and dine al fresco all year round. Quite nifty right?
So if you want to join the growing Australian trend of outdoor entertaining through the summer months and beyond, we collated this article to help you design your own outdoor kitchen space. Unlike an indoor kitchen, there are a few specific design considerations you need to consider and get them right, and so long as you do, you can soon have a fun new area in your home that adds value to your garden and has your guests inviting themselves over all year around.
Outdoor kitchen design considerations
The first (and probably most important) point to consider when planning your outdoor kitchen is: location, location, location! Choosing the ideal location for your outdoor kitchen depends on a few factors such as:
- The size of your backyard – if you don’t have a lot of room, you’ll need to build your kitchen in whatever space is available.
- How often you plan to use it – if you intend to use the kitchen for meals and entertainment for all seasons of the year, we suggest that you locate it as close to the house as possible.
- Where are your utilities located – if your outdoor kitchen requires electricity and plumbing, the further it is from your home, the more it will cost you.
- Which way the wind blows – yes this seems like a strange consideration however you’ll want to locate your outdoor kitchen in such a space where the prevailing winds do not blow smoke and kitchen odours back into the house.
- The outlook from your house – if you have a garden or other features in your backyard, you might want to position your kitchen in such a way that it doesn’t block the view.
What size do you want your outdoor kitchen to be?
The next decision is choosing the size of your outdoor kitchen. This will depend on factors such as:
- How many people you plan to entertain – the number of guests you expect to cook for will determine not only the size of your kitchen but also the size of the entertainment area around it.
- Your budget – building a kitchen from scratch and filling it with the latest appliances can be an expensive business, so make sure your plans meet your budget.
- Your local by-laws – if your kitchen is to be a substantial construction, you may need to obtain a building permit from your local council.
Choosing hard-wearing materials
Your outdoor kitchen will be exposed to the oftentimes unpredictable environmental factors, so it’s imperative to build it using durable and hard-wearing materials. Some things to consider:
- Bench tops – choose stainless steel or granite for work surfaces.
- Cabinetry – glass or stainless steel make durable doors. Alternatively, treated timber such as jarrah (rated for outdoor use) is ideal.
- Other surfaces – for flooring: Durable Stone-look Structural Porcelain Pavers to handle the oil staines, food and alcohol spillage. these pavers never required to be sealed and you will never have any permanent stains.
Choosing your appliances, and the quantity, largely depends on whether your want to include plumbing and wiring through your outdoor kitchen. If you don’t want to extend the plumbing and wiring outdoors, you may need to rely on a gas bottle and extension cords from the house. In this case, your appliances may be limited to a barbeque and bar fridge.
On the flip-side, if you choose to go ‘all out’ with your outdoor kitchen design, then the sky’s the limit on what appliances you can incorporate into your kitchen, with everything from a pizza oven or eye-level grill with rotisserie, to a full sized fridge, freezer and dishwasher. Providing that you have the space, these are all possibilities you can consider.
The layout and dividing your kitchen into zones
One commonality you can apply when your outdoor kitchen design that is used for designing indoor kitchens is creating ‘zones’. For example hot zones are for cooking, cold zones for refrigeration, wet zones for sinks and washing up and prep zones with bench-tops and storage for cooking. An ergonomically designed kitchen allows for an easy and uninterrupted flow between all these zones and creates an almost triangular point of access.
How many mod cons do you need?
The number of mod cons (modern conveniences) you choose to install, largely depends on how elaborate you intend to make your outdoor kitchen. Some options you might want to include are:
- Lighting – this is essential if you plan to entertain at night. Important considerations include task lighting over work and traffic areas, ambient lighting to light a defined seating and entertaining area and accent lighting for visual interest.
- Climate control – if you plan to cook outside in the cooler months, installing gas heating or a fire pit give warmth and comfort. Meanwhile, ceiling fans and mist sprayers are ideal for warmer climates.
- Furniture – even though you are outdoors, you want your guests to feel comfortable when seated. Luckily, there is a huge range of quality outdoor furniture available these days made from durable materials that are ideal for all weather conditions.
A beautifully designed stone feature wall adds a rustic appeal to your outdoor kitchen.
Landscaping your outdoor kitchen
As your outdoor kitchen will be a prominent feature, the way it blends with the rest of your backyard is important. Just as you don’t want it blocking the view of the garden from the house, you also don’t want it to be an eyesore that doesn’t fit with the overall look and feel of garden aesthetic.
To create a seamless design between your garden and your outdoor kitchen, consider incorporating similar landscaping materials used in your patio or paved area. Natural stone pavers are an ideal flooring solution because they are strong, durable and weather resistant. Add sealing and they’re also stain resistant!
If you want to go the extra mile, you can install stone feature walls and countertops to complement the aesthetic of the main house and hardscaping, making your outdoor kitchen feel like an original part of the overall design. If this idea tickles your fancy, check out our blog featuring 10 more great outdoor stone bbq ideas.
A few more tips on planning the space
To finish up, here are a few more important points to keep in mind:
- All electrical wiring and plumbing must be done by licensed tradespeople, so check the requirements with your local council first and then hire a licensed tradesperson to complete the installation.
- Make sure your kitchen is sheltered from the elements, including shade from the sun and protection from wind and rain.
- If you are building your kitchen close to the house, keep cooking areas a safe distance away from vegetation or overhanging eaves.
We hope you found this article insightful and helpful.
To find out more about building your dream outdoor kitchen, contact your local supplier.
For ideas and inspiration on landscaping and materials, reach out to our experts at Armstone.
We would love to answer your questions and help you bring your dream outdoor kitchen, to life.