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The Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor FeastBy Shelagh Duncan

Outdoor kitchens in many old Mediterranean farmhouses and homes have pizza ovens, fireplaces, grills, sinks and work counters, set in covered terraces, courtyards and gardens. Today, this trend is growing wherever the climate allows – especially so here in Costa Rica. In this part of the world we tend to live outdoors more and the outdoor kitchen can extend our living and entertaining areas to encompass the garden, pool and beyond.

Many people were smart enough to include an outdoor kitchen in the original plans when they were building their home, others have either purchased or built homes and now are thinking about adding one.

Royal Palm Interiors

Among the many things to consider when designing your outdoor kitchen are the two most important ones – space and budget.

IslandThere are small modular kitchen units available for purchase that will include a B-B-Q, or you can opt for a custom designed outdoor kitchen, built to your particular requirements. These can range from a modest grill centre to a luxurious, full-scale party centre.

When you are thinking about your outdoor kitchen, plan your space and seating based on how many people you hope to entertain, and your cooking style and preferences when you select your equipment. There is an ever expanding selection of outdoor cooking equipment, including wood-fired ovens for breads and pizza, side burners, roasting spits, warming ovens, deep-fryers, smokers, beer and wine coolers, beverage and cocktail centres, blenders, and free-standing ice makers. Your outdoor kitchen can be every bit as luxurious and well equipped as your indoor one – if not more so!

Outdoor entertainingIf you are including a seating area, you can include all the features you would have in any living area, including a media centre with surround sound, and when you are lighting this space, try incorporating different levels of light. Adjustable lighting will be useful, especially as the evening progresses from cooking and eating, to relaxed conversation and perhaps T.V. or a movie. (You have to set the mood…!)

Design Ideas for Outdoor Kitchens Layouts

Basic Outdoor Kitchen: This design features a sink, a grill and some space where you will be able to prepare and store your supplies. This kind of outdoor kitchen design is good for light family cooking, and will not break the bank. You can probably add other features later if you plan ahead.

Grill centreL-shaped Kitchen: This outdoor kitchen design has a configuration that allows for separate spaces for preparing the food and cooking it, and the far side can have an eating counter incorporated into the design. It also allows one leg of the “L” to be attached to the house, for hookups to water and electricity if necessary.

U-shaped Kitchen: This kind of island provides distinct zones for each type of work. With this design you have plenty of space for preparing the food, cooking and eating it. This design is usually preferred because food can be served up straight from the grill, and the hard-working chef can still be involved in the conversation – yet guests can be far enough away so as not to be engulfed in smoke.

Tips on Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen

  • First of all decide if you want your outdoor kitchen to be an accessory of your outdoor area or the focal point. Also take into consideration the available space and how often you intend to use it.
  • Then try and have your indoor and outdoor kitchen in close proximity as this will increase the usefulness of both. You could have a shelf below a sliding window. This will make both kitchens more functional.
  • Kitchen dining comboRemember to design the kitchen to fit the climate you live in – ensure that there is adequate shade, and protection from rain.
  • Make sure you remember to include lots of electrical outlets – with GFI’s, and storage space for such things as cooking tools and large serving platters.
  • The refrigerator should also be more than a beer fridge, but you probably will only need a freezer for your ice, unless you have an icemaker installed.
  • Always try to use outdoor-rated appliances. We all know nothing lasts too long here, so this increases their life and usefulness.
  • Be sure that the materials you choose are selected wisely, and the design allows space for cooking tools, storage etc.
  • outdoor kitchenCheck to see if the utilities such as electricity and plumbing are accessible in your chosen area. Of course all these utilities can be installed or moved, but your choices can be governed by the easy availability of one or the other.

Now you can begin to think about creating your own comfortable, functional and beautiful outdoor area. From Tuscany to the Tropics, outdoor kitchens are the perfect place for relaxed entertaining: Pura Vida!                        

Until next time…

Shelagh Duncan
Royal Palm Interiors – Uvita  – 2743-8323
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