Design WiseShelagh Duncan

The Outdoor Kitchen

kitchen alfrescoBy 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. 

There 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! 

If 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…!) 

outdoor kitchenDesigning Plans 
Outdoor kitchen can have many designs, all depending on what you require, space available and your budget. You could go for an outdoor kitchen design that that has ever thing built into the wall or another which has everything free standing. Check magazines or online design sources for inspiration. 

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. 
  • L-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. 

Grill CenterWhat are the things I should take care of before I begin my outdoor kitchen project?
Before you actually embark on the journey of achieving a fully functional outdoor kitchen, it is important to plan and think about a budget. To do this you can look at different outdoor kitchen plans online or in books; these outdoor kitchen plans will help you with the transformation.

Compare these plans side-by-side and consider how much space you currently have. This will determine the space you need and how elaborate your kitchen will be. Since one of the essentials of an outdoor kitchen is a barbecue, choose one first ,see how much space that takes, and then consider the other items you want, taking in account the space available.

While planning your outdoor kitchen, lighting is also of crucial importance. Here you could consider including solar lighting—these are very useful during power cuts. These lighting elements store up energy during the day and turn on automatically at night. There is a wide range available, and you will certainly find one that goes with the other Elements you had in mind.

With all this planning and a few tips below, you will be well equipped to create your own comfortable, functional and beautiful outdoor kitchen!                           

Tips to Plan an Outdoor Kitchen

  • First of all decide if you want your outdoor kitchen to be an accessory of your deck or patio or the focal point. Also take into consideration the space and how much time 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 functional.
  • While generating design plans, keep in mind the size of the group you will be entertaining in your outdoor kitchen.
  • Remember to design the kitchen to fit the climate you live in.
  • Ensure that there is adequate shade and protection from rain.
  • When you select equipment, select one that goes with your cooking and entertaining style. For instance, you could opt
  • for a grill that has side burners ,or a wood-fired oven for roasts, breads and pizza.
  • The refrigerator should also be more than a beer fridge. Be sure that the materials are selected wisely and there is space allotted for cooking tools.
  • Check to see if the utilities such as electricity and plumbing are accessible. 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. 

From Tuscany to the Tropics, outdoor kitchens are the perfect place for relaxed entertaining: Pura Vida!