Sitting in my garden in the summer, there’s been many a time when I’ve felt sorry for whoever had been nominated for cooking duty. You can cook food outside on a BBQ but sometimes, you just fancy something that needs to be oven cooked.
An outdoor kitchen can be a fantastic way of keeping the gathering outside. Nowadays, we’ve moved on from the simple BBQ on the patio to ovens and grills with countertop food preparation, along with separate dining and seating areas for relaxing. There’s a kitchen to suit every budget depending how far you take the design and which materials you choose. If you’re considering creating an open-air dining area, following these guidelines will help you get the most out of the experience.
Address the lighting
Lunchtime summer cooking won’t cause any problems but what about evening cooking? Make sure that you can see to cook by installing lighting that won’t be blocked when your barbecue hood is up. Lanterns and walk-over lighting will allow you to safely walk from the dining or seating area to the kitchen space.
Plan for the weather
As we’re not blessed with all-round sunshine in the UK, extend the life of your kitchen cabinets by cutting drip edges into the underside of your countertop to direct the rain away. A shelter will protect you from the sun and rain but it’s worth keeping an eye on the wind patterns for a few months before you create your kitchen. If you place your oven and grill in the face of the wind, you could find yourself having to put up with a smoky dining area.
Doing away with a shelter can save time but be prepared to pay more for the best materials possible. Teak and cedar will protect you from rotting if you’re keen on wooden cabinets but stainless steel and stone countertops and sinks are the most popular and easy to get hold of. I prefer the idea of stone as stainless steel can heat up very quickly in the sun. If you do have a shelter, check that the ventilation function works on the barbecue hood to stop smoke from staining the underneath.
Match the design to your house
An outdoor kitchen is a real investment so make sure that you’re happy with it by matching it to your home’s exterior design. My top tip is to imagine that you’re creating a conservatory. A contemporary build set against a traditional, older period style home won’t win anybody over.
Provide for enough space
Kitchen surfaces come with instructions which tell you how far away they need to be from your home’s exterior wall. This can be anything from 12-36 inches to give enough ventilation space and protect your home’s exterior from heat damage. Counter electrics like those for the rotisserie grill come with individual clearance specifications. Avoid the one big no-no – the extension cord. If it doesn’t reach, it’s too far away!
If you need help creating your outdoor kitchen, post your job and up to three local tradesmen will contact you to quote. Remember to hire a qualified electrician and gas safe engineer to ensure that any electrical and gas work is up to scratch.