Outdoor Kitchens: What You Need to Know About Design and Landscaping
An outdoor kitchen is a kitchen built in an outdoor living area. It can be as simple as a barbeque and benchtop or as complex as a fully functioning kitchen with appliances, storage, lighting, heating and plumbing.
Having an outdoor kitchen means you can cook and dine al fresco all year round and it’s a trend that’s growing in popularity in Australia, with the humble bbq giving way to fully equipped outdoor kitchens with all the mod cons.
If you like the idea of outdoor entertaining through the summer months and beyond, here’s how to design your own outdoor kitchen space. There are a few design considerations that you wouldn’t encounter in a normal kitchen and as long as you get these right, you could soon have a fun new area of your home that adds value and has your guests lining up for more.
Outdoor kitchen design considerations
The first consideration when planning an outdoor kitchen is where to locate it. This will depend on factors such as:
- The size of your backyard – if you don’t have a lot of room, your kitchen will need to be built in whatever space is available.
- How often you plan to use it – if you intend to cook outside in all weathers, you will want to locate it close to the house.
- Where your utilities are located – if it is to have electricity and plumbing, the further it is from the house, the more it will cost you.
- Which way the wind blows – you’ll need to locate it where prevailing winds will 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 to one side so it doesn’t block the view.
What size do you want your outdoor kitchen to be?
The next decision is how big you want your kitchen to be and 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 are affordable.
- Your local by-laws – if your kitchen is to be a substantial construction, you may need a building permit from your local council.
Choosing hard-wearing materials
Your outdoor kitchen will be exposed to the elements so it will need to be made from durable, hard-wearing materials including:
- Benchtops – choose stainless steel or granite for work surfaces.
- Cabinetry – glass or stainless steel make durable doors or treated timber such as jarrah (rated for outdoor use).
- Other surfaces – stone cladding looks great and is extremely hard wearing, ideal for splashbacks and feature walls.
The number and type of appliances you choose will depend on whether your kitchen is plumbed and wired. If not, you may need to rely on a gas bottle and extension cords from the house, so your appliances may be limited to a barbeque and bar fridge.
If you’re going all out though, the sky’s the limit on what you could incorporate into your kitchen, with everything from a pizza oven and eye level grill with rotisserie to fridge, freezer and dishwasher. These are all possibilities providing you have room for them.
The layout and dividing your kitchen into zones
When designing your outdoor kitchen, you should follow good design principles used in indoor kitchens. These involve dividing your kitchen into zones including hot zones (cooking), cold zones (refrigeration), wet zones, (sinks) and prep zones (storage and benchtops). Ergonomic kitchen design depends on having a good triangle of access between these zones to allow for an uninterrupted workflow.
How many mod cons do you need?
How many mod cons you have will depend on how elaborate you intend to make your outdoor kitchen, but some options you might want to include are:
- Lighting – essential if you plan to entertain at night, with task lighting over work and traffic areas, ambient lighting to light a defined area and accent lighting for visual interest.
- Climate control – if you plan to cook outside in the cooler months, gas heating or a fire pit is a good option, while ceiling fans and mist sprayers are ideal in warmer climates.
- Furniture – even though you are outdoors, seating for your guests still needs to be comfortable. Luckily, there is a huge range of quality outdoor furniture available these days made from durable all-weather materials.
Landscaping your outdoor kitchen
Because your outdoor kitchen will be a prominent feature, the way it blends in with the rest of your backyard is important. Just as you don’t want it blocking the view from the house, you also don’t want it to be an eyesore that doesn’t fit with the overall look and feel of the space.
If your backyard has a patio or paved area, you can incorporate similar landscaping materials into your outdoor kitchen design. Stone pavers make ideal flooring as they are strong, durable, weather resistant and stain resistant when sealed.
Stone feature walls and countertops can also be used to pick up on the aesthetic of the main house and hardscaping, making your outdoor kitchen feel like an original part of the overall design. Check out 10 more great outdoor stone bbq ideas.
A few more tips on planning the space
Finally, a couple of important points to keep in mind:
- All electrical wiring and plumbing must be done by licensed tradespeople, so check with your local council first.
- Make sure your kitchen has shelter from the elements, including shade from the sun and protection from wind and rain.
- If building your kitchen close to your house, keep cooking areas a safe distance away from vegetation or overhanging eaves.
To find out more about building your dream outdoor kitchen, contact your local supplier. For ideas and inspiration on landscaping and materials, talk to Armstone, the natural stone expert.