An outdoor kitchen is a space that used to be thought of as a luxury, but is now regarded more as a must-have amenity in many areas. Even if you only have a small space and a not so big budget, you can plan for a small outdoor kitchette. An outdoor kitchen will increase your home’s value, so it’s a great investment. This week, we’ll discuss some outdoor kitchen design features— some are practical and for almost any budget and some are more luxurious.
Let's get right into it.
Outdoor kitchens come in 3 main varieties: Portable, Prefab and Custom
Portable outdoor kitchens (or kitchenettes) are a smart choice for small spaces that need to be used for multiple things. A portable kitchen can be moved out of the way whenever extra space is needed. The simplest portable kitchens are comprised of a movable grill with small attached counter shelves or a grill with a separate rolling cart with shelves. Cost: $300 to $3,000
Prefab outdoor kitchens are all-in-one options that are a little bigger and more expensive than portable kitchettes. Prefab kitchens are comprised of a stationary island, usually around 5-6 feet wide, although they can be bigger. The island has space for a drop-in gas grill and doors beneath the grill where you can store and access a propane tank. But you can also have a natural gas line run to the area. These units usually have a stainless steel, stone or tile countertop. If you pay a little extra you can get an undercounter fridge and LED lighting.
Cost: $2,000 to $30,000
Custom outdoor kitchens are built-in-place and have integrated appliances, storage, and counter space, as well as lots of flexibility with style and layout. You can basically design it exactly the way you want it. A larger layout, extensive lighting, in-ground utilities, and a roof add convenience but also increase the price. If you plan on installing your outdoor kitchen under a structure, be sure you allow plenty of clearance space between the grill and the ceiling, and design the space with ventilation. It’s recommended that outdoor kitchens that have a covered roof also have a professionally installed ventilation hood. According to kitchens.com, ventilation is the most neglected component of outdoor kitchen design. When choosing that ventilation hood, make sure you get one that can be used outdoors.
The cost for custom outdoor kitchens: $3,000 to over $50,000
If you decide on a custom, built-in outdoor kitchen, there are 10 quick tips you may want to consider when designing your space, even if you decide on a relatively small custom space.
10 OUTDOOR KITCHEN QUICK TIPS
1. Plan for electrical wiring. It may cost you many hundreds of dollars to have an electrical line run to your outdoor kitchen area, but it's worth the cost for most people. That electrical line will allow your outdoor kitchen to have outlets for appliance like a blender and a countertop burner. Plus you’ll want that wiring for outdoor lighting so you can see sufficiently to grill after the sun goes down.
2. Include outdoor water lines and a sink. If you don’t have an indoor sink very close to the outdoor kitchen, you’ll want to have your plumber install a cold water line and a waste line for an outdoor sink. Having to walk more than a few steps to get to your indoor sink can be a pain, especially if you cook out often. For those with a tight budget, there are sinks that can be hooked up to a water hose instead of a dedicated water line.
For larger, fancier outdoor kitchens, consider having a hot water line installed outdoors too. That way cleaning up dirty dishes in the outdoor sink will be easier. For the most luxurious of outdoor kitchens or for those used for a lot of outdoor entertaining, an outdoor dishwasher can be installed if you have an outdoor hot water line installed. And the cold water line can be used for an outdoor ice maker.
3. Purchase an outdoor, undercounter fridge. The further your outdoor kitchen is from your indoor kitchen, the more you’ll need an outdoor fridge. You don’t want to have to run from outdoors for indoors to grab uncooked meat, vegetables and condiments. You’ll want to look for a fridge that is outdoor-rated. It should be made with materials like rust resistant stainless steel, that are can stand up to outdoor elements The same holds true for any other outdoor fixtures you purchase, such as a sink or ice maker.
4. Don’t forget shelter from the sun and rain. Locating your outdoor kitchen under a covered patio that’s attached to your house and integrated into framing of your house is a great option that will provide shelter for you and your guests. But even if you don’t have the space or budget for that option, you can add a permanent pergola, a retractable awning or a budget friendly extra wide, 11 foot outdoor umbrella to provide shade from sun and a little protection from the rain.
5. Consider a pizza oven. If you and your family are big fans of pizza, you might consider an outdoor pizza oven. Larger wood fired ovens might cost you a couple thousand dollars, but you can find smaller countertops or portable units for well under a thousand dollars. A pizza oven a definite splurge, not a necessity, but it can be great fun for your family and guests to make homemade pizza.
6. Look into a hybrid grill. If you like the convenience and ease of a gas grill, but the smoky flavor of a charcoal grill, look for a hybrid grill that can be used with either gas or charcoal. Some units can be used as a smoker too. These hybrid grills can save you money and space. Instead of buying 2 or 3 separate units, you’ll only need to buy one.
7. Add a side burner. If the grill that you purchase doesn’t come with an attached side burner, you should plan to have a side burner installed. That way you can conveniently heat sauces and side dishes while you are grilling.
8. Include utility drawers. Typically made of stainless steel, built-in utility drawers can be used for utensils, hand towels, trash, and extra storage. Drawers aren’t a necessity but it sure is nice to have a nearby place to store all your grilling tools and accessories.
9. Remember countertop space. Even for the smallest of outdoor kitchens you’ll want no less than 15 inches of counterspace, preferably on each side of the grill. That way, you can set plates down with less chance of having something fall off the counter. Of course more counter space is better, but 15 inches is the minimum. Countertops should be made of durable, weather resistant materials such as stone, and concrete or non porous tile or stainless steel.
10. Add a nearby outdoor dining space. Although you can take your grilled food inside to enjoy, if you have the space, it’s nice to have an outdoor dining option for when the weather is not too hot and not too cold. A 4x4 foot table is about the smallest you should consider to seat 4 people. If you need a larger table, keep in mind that you’ll want 3 feet of width for each chair at the table and 3 feet of space behind each chair so family members and guests can move about comfortably. Make sure you buy furniture that’s made specifically for the outdoors since it can withstand the elements better. And purchase only outdoor chair cushions and fabrics since they are fast drying and many are resistant to mold and mildew.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast and post is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete and it is subject to change. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so it may not apply to your project. Always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by Build Your House Yourself University --BYHYU. Happy Grilling!
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