Ahhh, let’s hear it for the great outdoors! There is nothing like it–and when it comes to entertaining, it’s especially rewarding to host an outdoor soiree. Any gathering of friends, family and colleagues, where there’s plenty of room to move about and great eats and drinks is somehow always more enjoyable and rewarding when it takes place outside. If this were not true, there wouldn’t be so many outdoor eating areas for diners at restaurants everywhere.
Nothing Really New About it
While cooking dinner underneath a canopy of stars and moonlight is nothing new–it can be traced back to the discovery of fire. It was actually a functional divergence to engineer new, modern methods of bringing the process of cooking under a roof and into the house to change the game. So not cooking outside, at one point in time, was a brand new innovation, and surely a most welcome respite, delivering a new level of convenience for the one doing the meal preparation and cooking.
Back Into the Yard, and Onto the Patio
The cooking of mostly “main course” meat (also known as grilling,) on backyard barbeques became a particularly popular pastime during the 1950s, with a major wave of post-WWII families migrating from the city and farm into the suburbs. The origin of the first grills to resemble what we think of today began in the mind of a metal worker employed by Weber Bros. Metal Spinning Co, maker of harbor buoys. By applying certain modifications to a buoy, he produced the first Weber grill, the game changing cook-piece template for what would become modern grilling that we have today.
Today’s Lifestyle Entertaining
The list of reasons for today’s grand proliferation in adding outdoor kitchens would be vast, however it seems to only be an offshoot from a fascination families seem to have with moving just as much of their living space to the out of doors as possible. So, the fanciest of grills and smokers are being one-upped by the encroaching rivalry of full kitchens designed for backyard living, replete with every single modern appliance to ever grace a dream kitchen on the inside of any home. And because there are other living spaces being located behind the main house, There are both furniture and construction practices that offer a myriad of options for the outdoor home expansion.
Design Basics for Outside Practicality
At the heart of any viable plan for an outdoor kitchen must be two elements: durability and function. In a move to meet the growing demand for hearty outdoor appliances, the leading manufactures now offer a wealth of options, purposes and convenience geared to withstanding the elements suitably. As many of these appliances are built-in, they’ve got to hold up to a full range of weather conditions and all possible extremes in temperature.
Creating Built-in Kitchen Ambiance Outside
Most well designed backyard kitchens feature all of the amenities of their interior counterparts, with bars, kitchen islands, cabinets and countertops, dining spaces, unique flooring, half-walls that distinguish the area, pits and even special pizza ovens. Oh, and the time-honored grill is a significant feature of them all. Some of these kitchens are designed to accommodate more than one chef in the kitchen at a time, with purposeful configurations of all equipment. Full sized and deep stainless sinks with running hot and cold water factor prominently in the complete outdoor kitchen. You’ll find refrigerators, ranges, grills and more that run on electricity, but there are just as many appliances for cooking, fueled by gas and liquid propane. The installation of both requires special permits and professional installation to code. Decide beforehand, your fuel preference, or if you’ll want both, and hire a professional to run the pipes and wiring underground.
All the Modern Conveniences Outside
In general, it’s best to begin your outside kitchen plan by first deciding on exactly which appliances you are going to want. You might choose a fully integrated range, or perhaps a wall oven or two, set in a brick structure, with a full scope range top elsewhere. Some homes install the new separately-available range top components, with extras like smaller grills, two burner gas grates, deep fryers and more. Countertops are chosen from materials most impervious to year-round external elements, and stain and acid-proof sealed concrete, bricks and tiles are popular choices. Smokers with rotisseries are wonderful for cooking that Thanksgiving turkey! Pizza ovens are a lot of fun and quite versatile for slow-roasting larger items. Warming drawers are very handy components for outside entertaining.
The general layout begins with the installation of flooring, again, from weather-hearty materials. This floor serves to connect the home itself to the outdoor kitchen. A dedicated outdoor bar can either be a fixture of the kitchen, or set apart. There are numerous sizes and types of beverage centers, ice makers, wine coolers and keg refrigerators from which to choose. Outdoor refrigerators are now available with all of the functionality, advanced technology and options of the best indoor models. And refrigerated drawers add even more convenience. And don’t forget to include a viably-housed wide screen TV, along with a good system for docking your devices to play music. Good speakers can be purchased for a decent price, and will make all the difference. Cabinets and other forms of secure storage can protect any associated items, like gaming equipment, pots, pans, eating utensils, drink ware, plates and of course, your famous apron. With all of this kitchen capability, still, a fire pit offers the ideal place to gather later on, and year-round. It’s always a cozy, fun way to roast hot dogs, or try out some new s’mores recipes.
The type of lighting you include in the design, as well as the positioning of it will play a major role in creating the perfect ambiance. Give yourself lots of options, with dimmers, too. Imagine the degree of lighting you might need for executing precision moves with a sharp knife, for instance, when cooking outside on a moonless night, a good while after the sun has set. Best to err on the “too much” side here. Then, you can always use the dimmer switch.