If there is one thing that people in the Northwest love more than their coffee, it’s spending time in the great outdoors. Even better is spending that outdoor time in a place where you can cook up a BBQ feast and raise a glass with friends, in your very own outdoor kitchen. Outdoor Kitchens have become very popular these days and with the right design and plan you can create one that will expand your living space even in the rainy Northwest.
Cutting Edge Kitchen and Bath recently completed an outdoor kitchen in Everett, Washington that brings all the comforts of home to the great outdoors. Here are some design tips that were considered. These may help you when you are thinking of building an outdoor kitchen.
1. Start from the ground up
Consider what material you will be using for the flooring as well as the layout of your space. Be sure to choose flooring materials that will survive in a variety of weather and keep safety in mind when it gets wet. Consider how resistant your flooring material is to spills when your neighbor knocks over that bottle of 45 year old vino. The floor of your outdoor kitchen is not an element to be forgotten so spend some time thinking of its durability in a variety of situations.
If you are building on to existing deck or concrete slab be sure you have access to run plumbing and electrical from the house. Locating the outdoor kitchen close to the house will reduce the price of pulling electrical, gas and water lines to a more remote part of your yard. Keep in mind that you will need dedicated circuits for items like refrigerators, heaters and lights and if you’re really spoiled that 60” LCD for watching the Seahawk’s game.
2. Year-round outdoor living, or summer time fling?
You may only need your outdoor kitchen for those few months a year when the weather is working in your favor so a simple stand alone entertainment hub may be the simple solution. However, if your looking to bring more indoors to the outdoors, you will want to add a roof that protects you from the elements.
Building a tall roof or pergola over your outdoor kitchen, such as the one we built for our Everett home, will allow you to enjoy cooking outdoors, even in the rain or extreme heat. For our outdoor kitchen we used clear acrylic panels that keeps you dry but also allows sunlight to enter.
We also added outdoor heaters on both sides of the kitchen for those cooler evenings. If you like to invite the neighborhood to all your outdoor events then you’ll want to consider adding features like an outdoor refrigerator, sink, and even a kegerator. Just like your indoor kitchen, you will need places to put items on and ares for storing your BBQ and bar tools. Be sure to have plenty of counter space thats set up for entertaining and eating. When designing an outdoor kitchen, remember that counters are typically installed at a height of 36”, which is the same as indoors. However, if you want guests to be able to socialize with the cook, a split-level counter with the raised portion at bar height (42”) is especially nice.
To accommodate the grill, outdoor countertops tend to be deeper than what you may be used to indoors. Typically, the depth is between 30-36” as opposed to 24” indoors. Speaking of the grill, be sure to think about the grill placement so it has plenty of ventilation so you don’t send your guest running from all the smoke or have it go back into your home. The distance from the back of the grill to any combustible surface is also important. The entire grill gets hot, so it is very important to pull it away from anything that could possibly catch fire. Never have it to close to the house. Always follow the manufacturer specifications as to the minimum distance necessary around your new grill.
3. Protect your investment with the right materials
Your outdoor kitchen will be exposed to a variety of weather conditions so be sure to keep this in mind when selecting your materials. Using items made from natural elements, like stone and treated wood, complement the patio feeling of an outdoor kitchen and will last much longer. For your appliances and cabinets, stainless steel or ceramic work great for all weather conditions, are very durable, and require low maintenance. For your countertops you have a few options to consider. Granite, with proper sealing can be UV and scratch resistant and is nearly nonporous, so it’s very water resistant. If porcelain tile or concrete is an option, be sure to use a waterproof board rather than plywood for the base of your counters. Choose porcelain tile rather than ceramic because it’s more resistant to fading or discoloring when exposed to the sun. Be aware that grout can discolor outdoors, so be sure to choose darker tile and grout colors to avoid this. If you want a little more visual interest or are interested in post-consumer products, recycled glass countertops are available in a variety of colors and provide protection against the elements. Concrete is a popular material for countertops, but do your homework on the company you choose to install and pour them. An improperly poured concrete countertop can easily crack, compromising the cabinets and appliances underneath. Quartz is a beautiful material that works great for indoor kitchens but may discolor when exposed to the UV rays from the sun. Formica may seem like a cheap alternative but will quickly warp when exposed to the elements.
By applying some of these tips to your future outdoor kitchen, you will create that special outdoor space that will last for a lifetime of memories all while outside enjoying mother nature.
If you have any questions, or need help with designing your outdoor kitchen space, feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to help.