Outdoor Kitchens 101

An outdoor kitchen is quickly becoming a requirement of our outdoor living!  I am calling this post Outdoor Kitchens 101, as it is a primer that covers the basics for clients who are interested in having an outdoor kitchen installed.

An outdoor kitchen is an outdoor cooking space with a built-in grill, refrigerator, sink, prep area and storage.

Homeowners who have completed an outdoor kitchen installation consider the ideal skill set to be a combination landscape design and kitchen designer.

So exactly why are outdoor kitchens so popular?  My clients tell me that it adds enjoyment, luxury and relaxation.  It’s a lifestyle thing!  Cooking in an outdoor kitchen creates a sense of occassion for each meal, and the outdoor kitchen area becomes a gathering point (just as all great parties end-up in the kitchen!).

Creating an outdoor kitchen requires an assessment of your individual needs as well as a site assessment to evaluate all your property’s options.

The way you cook will vary from that of your friends and neighbours. Today’s outdoor kitchens make it easy to grill, make pizzas, boil lobsters and incorporate a bar!  A designer will help you incorporate your preferred use of the space.

We will also evaluate the scale of outdoor living you anticipate:  some of my clients need to accommodate a large gathering of family each summer while others have maximum dinner parties of 4-6.  We’re all different!

There are two types of outdoor kitchens:

  • Satellite kitchens – the bulk of the food preparation is done inside
  • Fully-independent kitchens – the bulk of the food preparation is done outside, increasing the need for refrigeration and food storage, counter space and work surfaces, storage of dishes and linens, and a larger sink.

Obviously the proximity of the outdoor dining area to the outdoor kitchen is very important!  As part of the site assessment, we will explore all of these options and look at outdoor dining furniture.

The trend in outdoor dining is moving away from dining around a formal dining table (although many of my clients still prefer this). I'm seeing more and more options for cocktail table height firepits which provide a heat source in the center, and room for a dinner setting or glass on the perimeter of the fire pit! I recommend a fire pit that is a minimum 42" square; this will accommodate two people on each side (or eight people total).

Click here for my post on outdoor dining furniture options!