Living out west, you have something the rest of the country wishes it had: year-round warm weather. So why wouldn’t you want to enjoy the outdoors across the calendar?
To enjoy their patios and backyards all year long, homeowners in warm climates are creating outdoor kitchens. And they’re more than just a gas grill and a couple deck chairs. Outdoor kitchens are mirroring their indoor cousins, serving as the hub of the home.
Popular elements of an outdoor kitchen
Homeowners everywhere have a gas or charcoal grill for cooking up burgers in the summertime. For barbeques and grill-outs in every other season, an island with a built-in grill is a must. A grill island creates a natural focal point for outdoor entertaining. You can cook up a delicious meal without missing the conversation.
The cooking surface and countertops of a grill island give you everything you need to prepare a meal. Underneath the island, you can add weather-proof exterior storage where you can keep your grilling utensils, seasonings and outdoor dinnerware.
PROJECT: Ideal Outdoor Entertainment Layout
The grill island is for feeding your guests’ appetite. A fully-stocked outdoor bar can quench their thirst. With a bar, everyone has a natural spot to stand, sit or generally gather for conversation — and keep out of the way of the hot cooking area. Beverages, glassware and barware can be stored underneath the bartop in cabinets or shelving. Small refrigerators and ice makers can add a touch of luxury to your bar and limit your runs into the house.
A mini fridge tucked into your grill island or under the bar complements your hot and fresh foods with cool beverages. Nobody has to freeze their limbs plunging their hands into a cooler in search of refreshment. You can also store cold foods and condiments for your meal or use your fridge as a spot to keep it all from spoiling in the sun.
At some point you have to clean up. An outdoor sink is a major convenience if you’re a host who likes to tidy up while the party’s still going. It’s not just for washing glasses and dishes. Outdoor sinks are handy in other stages of meal prep — like rinsing fresh produce or washing your hands after handling raw meats — and can serve as a station for everyone to clean up before for dinner without having to go indoors.
For barbeque fans, an outdoor kitchen is incomplete without a smoker. You can up your grilling game and serve slow-smoked meats from a smoker built into your grill island. Other foods taste delicious when smoked — seafood, cheese, vegetables and nuts — so your meal options are only limited by your skills as a pitmaster.
Burgers, hot dogs and many other types of meat are staples of outdoor eating. With a wood or gas pizza oven, fresh, oven-fired pies are on the table. Pizza ovens are popping up in high-end homes as an alternative or addition to a built-in grill. You’re not restricted to pizza — they can double as culinary oven so you can cook whatever meal you like.
Most importantly, don’t forget to create a place to actually sit and eat. Cooking outside keeps the heat, smoke and smells from invading your home, but an outdoor kitchen is ultimately meant for outdoor dining. Reserve a section of your patio for entertaining family and friends and eating the meals you prepare for them in your outdoor kitchen.
Kitchens have evolved from meal prep stations to full-fledged entertaining spaces. They’re areas where families congregate and guests conversate. Building an outdoor kitchen on your patio lets you expand your entertaining area and enjoy the outdoors year-round.