Planning an outdoor kitchen can be stressful. Unless you have an unlimited space and budget, getting every single wish-list item you can think of might not be practical. But you DO want to make sure you don’t overlook something very important and later wish you thought of something during your planning. The good news is that there are no right or wrong answers here. Your outdoor kitchen needs to suit YOUR wants and needs, and not the desires of a salesperson hoping to make a sales quota. Here are some factors to consider when you are planning your outdoor kitchen. You can think of this as an outdoor kitchen checklist to guide you in making decisions that will help you plan the perfect outdoor living space for your needs:
1. Where will your guests sit?
This is perhaps the most important factor in planning an outdoor kitchen space. When you’re planning an interior kitchen, the placement of the kitchen table and bar seating are integral to the plan. So many pre-built or kit islands don’t take this into consideration. Some manufacturers assume that if your grill is awesome enough, then EVERYONE will simply want to stand around the grill in awe. Sorry, that isn’t going to happen. How many people form a circle around your stove inside your house while you’re cooking. Probably nobody but the chef stands there.
2. What happens if it is particularly sunny, or rainy?
Simply stated, you need shade or shelter somewhere. Even if the temperature is nice, sitting in the bright sun can be unpleasant. If you have a $50,000 outdoor kitchen with the finest appliances ever created in the full sun and a $100 umbrella somewhere else, your guest will migrate to the umbrella’s shade. Take this into consideration and make sure your guests have a comfortable place to get out of the elements.
3. What if it is cold?
Could your area use a heat source? Space heaters can be portable, or mounted permanently to your house. If it is cold, having a heat source will extend the season for enjoying your outdoor kitchen, or even eliminate the concept of only being able to use your outdoor kitchen during certain times of year. Fire pits, an outdoor fire place, or other heat-producing features will give your guests a place to cozy-up and stay warm.
4. What are you going to cook?
If you aren’t planning gourmet meals for large groups, you probably don’t need an $8,000 built-in grill. But also, don’t limit your cooking appliances to just a grill. Kamado style cookers (like the Big Green Egg) are increasingly popular and are capable of cooking a variety of foods including pizza, roasts, even baked goods. A dedicated pizza oven can become the center of your parties too. You may even find that it is a good idea to separate your cooking area from the main area of your outdoor kitchen. Think less “outdoor kitchen” and more “outdoor hang out spot”. Bar seating and cold drinks might be more valuable than a built in grill.
5. Are you buying a maintenance headache?
At Werever, one of hallmarks is our ultra-low maintenance products. Don’t kid yourself or be fooled by a slick sales presentation. Stainless steel doors WILL need constant maintenance. And wood cabinetry is even worse. Teak, Cypress, Cedar, and Ipe aren’t used because they don’t require maintenance. They require LESS maintenance than other species of wood. Polymer outdoor cabinetry is maintenance free and will always outperform wood or stainless doors. Anything that is painted or has grout can chip, crack, and become a mold, mildew, and contamination center. Just make sure you are aware of the level of maintenance you are purchasing. Your outdoor kitchen should be a retreat, not a work station.
6. How many people do you host?
Be realistic in the scale of your project. If 99% of the time your space is just going to host a few people, don’t spend a fortune on a space to hold twenty people. For large parties, people expect to be a little crowded, so don’t feel guilty for scaling your outdoor living space to fit YOU. It’s your space, make it fit what YOU like.
7. What happens after the sun sets?
Do you have adequate lighting to make it comfortable at night? There are countless options for lighting an outdoor living space. But hanging out in the pitch black darkness isn’t inviting at all.
8. Do you have music or TV?
There are so many options to help you bring music outdoors. Consider adding either wireless outdoor speakers, or even a portable outdoor speaker system. Music can add so much to an outdoor living area no matter if you’re hosting a big party or just sitting outside alone enjoying a drink.
9. Where are you serving food?
Do you have adequate countertop space to set the food that you’ll be serving? Even if you’re not cooking the food in the outdoor kitchen, consider where you’ll place the food to be served.
10. What do you need to store?
Take an inventory of your serving utensils, dishes, glasses, cooking accessories, decorative items, cushions, cleaning supplies, napkins & paper towels, hot pads, grill tools, blenders, ice buckets, charcoal, placemats & table cloths, etc. Make sure you’re going to have a place to put these items where they’ll be convenient to your outdoor living area. If you have to go hunt for these things in the garage or haul them back and forth from inside your house, you simply won’t enjoy your outdoor kitchen like you would if everything was stored in clean cabinetry.
And please remember, Werever Outdoor Kitchens offers a free outdoor kitchen design service. We can help you with all of this planning for free. You can benefit from our experience of planning literally thousands of outdoor kitchens and it won’t cost you any money to get our help. A little investment of your time will be well worth your while to work with our designers to get help planning your outdoor kitchen. Call today for help.