I’m Dreaming Of An…Outdoor Kitchen!

This may be the season for holiday cheer and spending time with the family, but it’s also a great time to start planning for the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. Spring is only a few months away and there’s a lot to think about when designing your perfect outdoor space.  Of course your contractor will help with the design and site plans, but your input is invaluable since it’s you who will be enjoying your new space for years to come.

Before you get carried away picking out the newest grill on the market, you may want to first determine the size and location of your new outdoor entertainment space.  If your yard is already beautifully landscaped and/or hardscaped, you will want to define the best layout to complement the existing setting.  How much available space you have will dictate how large your outdoor kitchen will be and how many components you will be able to easily accommodate.

Consider the Type of Environment You Want to Create:

Defining the kitchen’s purpose first will greatly help you throughout the rest of the planning process.  Are you looking for a cozy place to cook & dine outdoors with small groups of friends and family, or are you looking to become the entertainment hot-spot of your neighborhood?  Will the space be used mainly for cooking or are you looking for a true extension of your indoor entertainment and dining space?  These factors will help determine size, location and functionality.

Smaller Spaces:

If you are working with limited space (and a limited budget), you may want to consider a straight line design, positioned on an open wall near the house making for easier access to utilities within your home. Running utility (gas/water/electric) lines to a location closer to your home will generally be more economical.  Keep in mind the positioning of the grill or barbeque should not be directly under a window as to prevent the house from smelling like last night’s dinner, and make sure there is proper ventilation if you have a weather protective overhang or pergola.  Placing the cooking equipment near an “end” is a good choice for this type of layout.  If your budget is already stretched too far, you may choose to use a propane tank and incorporate a large ice bin to alleviate the need to run gas or water lines altogether.

Going a Little Bigger:

If you have more room and plan to entertain larger groups, give additional thought to a more entertainment-friendly design.  You may choose to add an island where you can chat with friends and family while prepping the meal.  Especially if you plan to have your outdoor kitchen located farther from your house, you may consider adding an under-counter refrigerator and a working sink to save on running to-and-from the indoor kitchen.  With more space to work with, you will have an easier time installing an efficient “triangle” concept.  This is where your cooking equipment, sink and refrigerator form a triangular shape to create an efficient layout where you can access all within just a few steps.

Choosing your Finishes:

This is a great time to flip through a few magazines to see what you find aesthetically pleasing, and also to review your budget.  But make sure to keep in mind the climate in which you reside – different finishes will stand up to heat and/or snow differently, and will also vary in price.   Stone countertops will handle the cold much better than tile.  Steel cabinet doors will hold up to wet weather better than wood.

Rely on Your Contractor:

Now that you know what you would like your outdoor kitchen space to look like and how you would like it to function, you are best off relying on your contractor’s expertise to handle some of the details you may need help with or may not have considered at all.

  • Building codes vary by municipality, and address regulations regarding required building permits, how close to your property line you can build, fire safety requirements, etc.
  • If you choose to locate the kitchen close to (within 10’) or against a wall, you will need to protect the siding of your home from heat damage and fire with non-combustible materials.
  • If you choose to build on an existing deck, you may need to add reinforcement to support the additional weight.
  • Your contractor will be able to let you know if your outdoor kitchen design is right for your space, and if it will fit your budget BEFORE you get started.

For more information about designing & building an outdoor kitchen, contact Millenium Stoneworks in NJ at 732-519-1112 or 347-723-6990 .


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