Some Modern Exterior Design Approaches for Outdoor KitchensApril 21, 2018
How much can you do with an outdoor kitchen? Most of us think our options are limited to installing a BBQ or setting up a canopy for the portable grill. Or maybe we think it’s about building a little nook for the outdoor wood pizza oven and stacking some chairs around it. Fortunately, with the right equipment and a little imagination, an outdoor kitchen can be every bit as elaborate as an indoors one. Here are some starting points.
Install an outdoor kitchen kit
Kitchens aren’t just about something to cook on, sit on, and eat on. They also include a storage space for cooking fuel, whether they’re chopped logs or gas bottles, and some kind of chimney system or hood for ventilation. Yes, the open air dissipates smoke and cooking fumes faster, but it’s less of a fire hazard if you can consciously direct plumes of fire and smoke. Aside from the cooktop, you need a clean-up space.
It could be a tap and a basin or something more elaborate. It’s also useful to have storage shelves for utensils and food items, as well as some kind of cooler or fridge for chilled drinks. If you’re ambitious enough – and if your budget is high enough – you can even set up an outdoor bar. Fortunately, there are outdoor kitchen sets designed with exactly these needs in mind. It’s possible to order a customised al fresco unit built to your specifications.
However, it’s easier to order pre-made Oxley, Sturt, Sustainapod, or Beefeater outdoor kitchens that have built in sinks, worktables, cupboards, shelves, and mini-fridges. Some of these units are portable, so you can shift them around to catch the sun or shade, depending on what you have in mind for your day/night of back yard dining.
Get the lighting right
Your outdoor kitchen isn’t just for day time use. It can actually be a nice change to TV dinners, and even on gloomy winter days and cloudy afternoons, it can be nice to enjoy your meal in the open air. Lighting is a big part of this. You want fixtures that will brighten up your space without becoming a beacon for bugs.
Floodlights are convenient, and your security lights can double up for outdoor dining, but if you really want to enjoy your space, install some coloured mood lights so that you can alter your ambience depending on the tone. Have candle-light effect for an intimate date with your partner, dancing disco lights for a teenage hangout, or artificial flames for a night of intellectual banter with friends. Metallic accents are great for catching the light.
You could also raise the stakes with some evening-oriented landscaping. Certain plants (like jasmine) release their sweet scents at night, so it can be a great way to give your outdoor meal a soothing touch. Of course you can also use scented candles and diffusers for this function, with the added benefit of selecting scents laced with bug repellent.
Get a little shade in
If you want to bring a little of the indoors outdoors, design a regular kitchen just as you would in a house. Put in the sink, plumbing, built-in cooktops, microwave, power sockets, appliances and everything else you need. But instead of building walls around them, keep them in the open air and erect a hood over them that’s supported with poles.
You can have half-sized walls to house the pipes, wires, and cables, but essentially your kitchen will be an open-air shed with a floor, a roof, and no sides. It gives your al fresco space a nice tropical feel while still offering the convenience and amenities of a modern kitchen.
Just make sure the roofing material is waterproof, and that your appliances and electronics are sheltered from the wind. Also, any shelving you install must be lockable to avoid access and damage by the local ‘wildlife’ including pets that roam in the yard at night, and kids that may sneak around for midnight snacks.
Think about the weather
There’s a wide range of outdoor furnaces available that make a great centrepiece for an al fresco dining area. Decide whether you want a heater with a cooktop, or whether you want one heat source for cooking and the other to relax around. You should also check that your kitchen furniture is suitable for the outdoors.
Get chairs and tables that won’t be damaged by sun or rain, and that are easy to clean. An interesting touch is to create tables, work surfaces, and seating benches out of concrete and natural stone. They’re easy to clean, they look great, and they can be easily customised with some cushioning and drapery that you can always bring inside when you’re done eating.