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Tips on Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen
It used to be that outdoor entertaining conjured up the familiar image of the picnic lunch at the park. You only needed a picnic basket, thermos, paper plates and plastic utensils.
Or if you wanted to be able to host an outdoor luncheon or dinner you would toss some items on a barbecue pit out in the backyard and flip burgers and hotdogs.
Cooking on a grill is a great way to entertain outdoors. However it is a nuisance to have to go back and forth from the kitchen to the patio. That is way outdoor kitchens have become more and more popular.
Preparing and enjoying meals outdoors along with casual entertaining has in recent years really taken off as homeowners have come to see just how appealing these alfresco preparation areas can be. Having originated in the southwest, outdoor kitchens are now to be found all over the country.
So just what kinds of foods can be cooked outdoors? Actually any type of food that can be prepared in an indoor kitchen can be prepared in an outdoor kitchen.
Today's outdoor kitchen designs can include such items as: sinks, cabinets, and cutting boards. They can be fully featured areas, which offering a covered bar and buffet area.
In planning your outdoor kitchen you will need to consider how much you will use your outdoor kitchen and whether it will be just a small part of your deck or patio or a fully functional outdoor kitchen.
Today, however outdoor kitchens have made entertaining more convenient as well as luxurious. Now you can have all the accoutrements of any indoor kitchen all year around no matter what part of the country you live in. The latest products on the market include luxury grills equipped with all the capabilities of stovetop cooking. Outdoor kitchen setups include kitchen islands, sinks, refrigerators, wet bars and dishwashers.
Outdoor Kitchen Design Factors
An outdoor kitchen design can include different components and styles and there are many factors in deciding on the right outdoor kitchen design. One of the factors is just how much space you have to work with. Will it just include a small grill island or will your outdoor kitchen be as big as your indoor kitchen? Will it be the place where you and your family will spend a considerable amount of time?
It is important that for an outdoor kitchen to work you must be able to provide adequate seating and dining areas. If you want to be able to enjoy your outdoor kitchen when the weather turns cooler it is a good idea to also have an outdoor fireplace to keep everyone warm and toasty.
Custom or Prefab Grilling Islands
Next, you will need to determine whether you will want your grill to be freestanding or built into an outdoor grilling island. Custom grilling islands can help provide your outdoor kitchen with a more upscale look. Just like an indoor kitchen island, the outdoor grilling island includes masonry with cabinets. Many experts agree that custom masonry grilling islands can add tremendous value to your home. You can also go with a prefab grilling island. These prefab islands come in a variety of configurations and exterior finishes. They cost less than more custom islands.
Building Materials For Your Outdoor Kitchen
You should select sturdy and durable materials that can stand up to climate changes. Many building experts agree that Polymer is the perfect material for the construction of outdoor kitchens. It can withstand outside elements and unlike wood, concrete or stucco it does not absorb moisture. Polymer is a solid material not a laminate or layered material and it will not warp, crack, or split. Countertops can be made from ceramic tile, granite, marble, slate and other natural stones.
Another area just as important is designing your outdoor kitchen is outdoor lighting. This can change and improve the overall feel of your outdoor kitchen. There are many types of lighting to choose from including: ambiance lighting that can include soft white lights or colored bulbs. Solar lights can be charged during the day and turn on automatically as it gets dark.
About the Author: James Mahoney is the author of many kitchen design articles and has a site about kitchen design ideas at Kitchen Designers Ideas.com.
He also publishes a newsletter on kitchen design.