An outdoor kitchen or barbecue is a great way to make the most of a courtyard, garden or large balcony. But, as with most home decorating projects, it really helps to step back and look at the total design before buying anything.
This is particularly true when designing an outdoor kitchen, as you need to consider the specific practical issues of cooking, the way it works within your larger design and the way in which you are likely to use this precious outdoor space. So let's make it simple and cover the 7 steps to creating a great outdoor kitchen. Enjoy!
Have a look at your outdoor area at various times of day and note how large the shade or roof will need to be. Consider that you'll need adequate wind-shield for the preparation areas and some shading for seating areas. Then gather together a collection of your favourite colours and designs and wait!
When planning your working areas, it always helps to start with the classic working triangle. This traditionally means the pathways between your cooktop/barbecue, sink and refrigerator. Chances are that you won't have a refrigerator, but you may need to consider how helpers could work alongside you without blocking free movement between crucial areas. One important factor to consider is what direction you'll be facing when working. It's always nice to orientate your working area so you can easily make eye contact with guests in the seating areas.
Our living areas are experienced in 3D – so walk around the space and look at it from various angles. Perhaps you have a lovely corner of the garden that could provide the perfect backdrop. Maybe a corner seating area could do with a shade cloth to block a view of the neighbours.
The outdoor kitchen is a sort of transitional point between the indoor spaces of the home and the garden. So the design needs to have a careful balance of elements. Look for ways to integrate from both the garden and the main residents elements into the outdoor kitchen design. Colours, lines, textures and materials are all good points to consider. Finally, be careful not to turn it into a standard-style kitchen set-up. The best thing about an outdoor kitchen or barbecue is that it's outside and means intermingling with nature.
That natural outdoorsy ambiance is easy to achieve with the right materials. Natural materials are generally rich in variety and texture. This gives stone and natural wood materials that earthy, cosy feel. They are often quite neutral, so they can work with a huge range of colour schemes. Also, don't forget that the lines of the beams can also be used to accentuate visual links with the main residence.
Outdoor kitchens need to be hardy if they are to survive the ravages of mother nature. The essentials are good quality appliances, weather-proof seating and fire resistant materials. Everything should be easy enough to bring inside on windy days or heavy enough not to blow away.
Also, outdoor kitchens also tend to get a bit more battered than your average indoor kitchen, so look for appliances with easy to clean surfaces.
A good layout is one of the cheapest and most important ways to make the most of your outdoor kitchen. People generally like to have a variety of places to gather. This is particularly good if you have the space for people to break into smaller groups. This kitchen has a bar-style seating near the working area and a larger bench for eating.
For more outdoor ideas, have a look at How to create a beautiful garden in a small space.