Prepare meals in the outdoor kitchen
By Karen DeMasters
With the advent of summer, it’s time to move life outside. That includes not only picnics and barbecues, but entire meals prepared in fully stocked outdoor kitchens.
Living Al FrescoEverything you have in an indoor kitchen can now be installed in an outdoor setting with weatherproof fixtures. The family can dine surrounded by a landscaped yard, a pool or other amenities.
“You have to determine what your goal is first,” said Glen Lumia, owner of Creative Design Construction and Remodeling, Northvale. “How often are you going to use the area and for what types of events? Then decide on a budget.”
The days of a simple picnic table and a barbecue are passed. Now the outdoor kitchen is an extension of the lifestyle the family has established indoors. The kitchen, whether indoors or outdoors, is often the focal point of family activity.
“You spend all this money on an indoor kitchen with an island to be the center of the family life,” said Nick Prastos, owner of Platon Design Group, Englewood. “Now families want the same feeling outdoors so they can sit and enjoy company while preparing a meal.”
What can be included:
- a standard grill with a searing area for steaks and fish and burners for boiling water for corn on the cob
- a refrigerator
- a pizza oven
- a wine cellar
- a sink for cooking uses and an outdoor wet bar.
- weatherproof storage cabinets
- a cigar humidor
Be aware, though, that extending your kitchen space beyond the home can become costly.
“A small outdoor kitchen with 6-foot-long counter space, a grill, a refrigerator and storage space can be $10,000,” warned Carolina McCarthy, designer and owner of Outdoor Living of New Jersey, Saddle Brook. “Most homeowners go for 10 to 20 feet of counter space, but you can do up to 70 feet.” “The space needed depends on the number of people you will be entertaining and the amount of times you plan to use the area,” said Prastos.
At a minimum, electricity and water need to be provided to the area. If a homeowner wants to keep it simple, an inexpensive grill can be used as the basis and a few amenities added, but most area designers recommend against cheaper products.
“You can get a grill for $150, but it won’t last,” said Doug Fleischer, owner of Modern Propane of Lodi. “Or you can spend more, plan to put in replacement parts as needed, and your grill will last for years.”
Materials that can be used for kitchen areas:
- brushed granite counters, for a weatherproof surface without the shiny look
- a gazebo setting
- for sun and rain protection, either a permanent roof or a motorized, fabric roof
- stainless steel for appliances and storage areas
Other amenities that can be included:
- game tables
- a pool
- an additional bar area
- access to big-screen TV for watching sports
Ease of UseSeveral factors need to be considered to make the outdoor kitchen an enjoyable living space, the designers noted.
The area should be close to the house and should blend with the landscaping. At the same time, the grill cannot be placed under an overhang, or too close to the house, because of potential smoke problems. Municipal ordinances for setbacks must be met, as well.
The design should take into account the prevailing wind direction, the direction of the sun and the possible need for awnings to protect diners from strong rays.
“You also do not want too many turns between the indoor kitchen and the outdoor eating area – make it easy to navigate,” Prastos said. “And you do not want the cooking area isolated from the dining and lounging area, because you do not want the cook isolated.
“After you and your designer have considered all of this, the only thing to add is ‘Bon appétit’!”