Outdoor kitchens are examples of what we might term "upscale outdoor living areas." While any area outdoors can easily be transformed into an outside living area, in the broadest sense (a simple chair under an awning goes a long way!), these open-air meal centers are meant to provide the same functionality as their indoor equivalents. In addition to the present article, which provides an overview on the subject, you may access resources targeted to more specific aspects of creating cooking and dining areas in the yard by clicking on one of the links below:
Well-planned designs can be a boon to homeowners for whom entertaining and al fresco dining are of not inconsiderable importance. I conducted an interview on design considerations with Steve Cafiero, Co-owner / General Manager of Habersham Gardens. Below are the contents of that interview.
Q. To what extent can outdoor kitchens mimic the design of their indoor counterparts? That is, what components that we find in indoor kitchens are also found in areas outside designed for cooking and dining? Is there a component of the latter that you’d be unlikely to find in an indoor kitchen?
A. They're generally considered to be “extensions” of homeowners’ interior kitchens. Components generally designed for areas outside include ovens (sometimes pizza / brick ovens), refrigerators, sinks, prep areas, bars, and plenty of storage spaces customized to the house and designed to protect the appliances, etc.
Outdoor kitchens should bridge the gap between the house and landscape. From a design standpoint, the building materials and appliances should coincide with the indoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens closely matched with their indoor counterparts serve as an extension of the home; they are usually designed to mimic the style and flow of an indoor kitchen to enhance functionality.
Obviously, a grill would not be used indoors. Also, outdoor pizza ovens or open-flame cooking ranges would not be used in an indoor kitchen. Other than grills, pizza ovens and open-flame cooking ranges, there are no components used outside that you’d be unlikely to find in indoor cooking areas.
Items such as appliances, sinks, bars, storage, etc. help to create full and usable spaces outside that allow homeowners the ability to prepare gourmet meals without ever setting foot inside their houses. While its design is often an extension of its interior counterpart, the functionality of an outdoor kitchen can and should allow it to act independently. With proper design and installation, homeowners should not have to move back and forth between indoors and out to cook.
Q. Steve, can you give us more insight into the design factors behind the creation of these spaces outside?
A. Interior design principles and practices are being applied to outdoor kitchens in new and interesting ways. This many times includes starting with a design scheme related to similar colors, styles and personal preferences. One trend is to create juxtaposition with the home’s interior. Thus, the project goal of some expert design / build companies is to augment the living space seamlessly between exterior and interior areas.
The usage and purpose behind the spaces in question are major design decisions. Whether entertaining the neighborhood or a few friends, the overall design / functionality of the space is an important factor to consider.
The materials to be used for building are another important design aspect. Homeowners have an infinite choice of styles, colors, shapes, types, etc., regarding building materials. Weathered stone and wood are examples of natural materials that would be suitable. Countertops and cooking areas can be created with the beautiful granite that is often seen in interior rooms. Chairs, benches and other seating areas can be fashioned with colorful, printed and / or floral fabrics. Artwork can be placed on exterior walls in outdoor kitchens to draw the eye upward and outward for a complete sense of design. Cabinetry for use outside comes in many styles, colors and finishes, making outdoor kitchens as complete with form and function as their interior counterparts. Again, the main goal of design is to match the needs of the homeowner with the functionality of the space.
Q. If we’re going to dream, we might as well dream big. Tell us about some of the cutting-edge appliances people are incorporating now into such areas outside.
A. Just like the state-of-the-art appliances and furnishings for their indoor counterparts, outdoor kitchens come complete with every imaginable amenity. From advanced counter and bar lighting to colorful patio hardscapes with in-sync colors and finishes, designers have created a sense of place, time, and ease-of-use. For many homeowners who enjoy cooking and entertaining outdoors, interior-like design and area layout concepts are becoming the norm.
Regarding appliances, specifically, we have noted an increased interest in such items as wine chillers, wine coolers, pizza and brick wood-burning ovens, and even warming drawers. And, don’t forget the all-important outdoor fireplace to complete the ambiance. By choosing a range of expected and unexpected appliances during construction, homeowners can surprise their guests with appliance-filled rooms outside that rival their interior ones.
We'll continue the discussion on Page 2....