By Sean Lewis, Houzz
With many of us now staying cozy indoors, winter is a great time to start planning your outdoor space for next year. That way you have plenty of lead time to dream up what you want, as well as to find the right professionals to hire, should you choose to get help with your project.
You don’t need a lot of ingredients to get an outdoor eating setup. Something to cook on and somewhere to eat should cover the basics. But if you’re lucky enough to have the resources for a more involved project — or if you just want to dream about the day you do — here are seven elements to consider for an outdoor kitchen with all the bells and whistles.
Coyote Outdoor Living, original photo on Houzz
1. Built-in grill. Creating an outdoor kitchen should, of course, start with the grill. First things first: You must position your grill out of the way from where kids play, as well as away from things that can catch fire.
Once you’ve covered safety, then you can think about style. In contrast to the old standalone grill, many homeowners are building outdoor kitchens to look like sleek versions of indoor kitchens. A built-in grill looks clean and professional, with lower cabinets hiding propane and charcoal. This photo shows an outdoor kitchen with a built-in gas grill and, on the right, a ceramic smoker.
2. Ceramic smoker. These heavy-duty smokers are gaining popularity among grillers, who are buying smokers in addition to their regular grills. Ceramic smokers are better-suited than metal ones to burn wood and slow-cook meats. Most outdoor cabinetry companies offer units that accommodate a range of smoker sizes. Ceramic smokers come in many colors and are available at local hardware stores.
K&N Sales, original photo on Houzz
3. Outdoor cabinets. If you already have a grill, try turning it into an outdoor kitchen by adding cabinetry to surround it. Outdoor stainless steel cabinetry looks great and holds up against the elements. Consider wrapping the sides and back in wood, as shown in this outdoor kitchen. This will decrease your cabinet cost and add sturdiness to the cabinetry.
The RAM Group, original photo on Houzz
4. Upper cabinets. This kitchen takes advantage of an exterior wall to hang upper cabinets outdoors. Outdoor-rated cabinets will keep items dry, even in harsh conditions. Never use indoor cabinets outside.
Airy Kitchens, original photo on Houzz
5. Shade sail. If your outdoor kitchen is scorching in summer, consider a shade sail. Installing a shade sail is an inexpensive way to add comfort and style to your space. They can be bolted to walls, strung from trees, or attached to support posts. In this photo, shade sails are attached to steel poles that also hold string lights, lending daytime shade and evening light to the kitchen.
Stuart Sampley Architect, original photo on Houzz
6. Outdoor television. For a really luxurious feel, you could consider turning your outdoor kitchen into a sports club. Adding an outdoor television can bring the fun and excitement of a televised game to a boring day.
In this kitchen, the television is mounted to a wood-wrapped wall that hides the wires. A large roof keeps the screen in the shade. For sunnier spots, choose an anti-glare outdoor television.
7. Outdoor heater. A gas or electric heater can help you use your outdoor space year-round. Heaters can be mounted on walls, fences and ceilings. Most mounted heaters direct the heat in just one direction, making them safe to mount on flammable materials like wood. However, mounted heaters have to be hardwired electrically or to a gas line. You may want to hire a professional electrician to make sure you get the wiring right.
Michael Norpell’s Wall to Wall, original photo on Houzz
Alternatively, freestanding heaters let you bring the heat with you. Use it in the kitchen for cooking, then bring it to the dining table for dinner. The heater shown in this photo stores a propane tank in the base, so you don’t have to worry about installation. Freestanding heaters can blow over, so avoid using them on windy rooftops.