Having a spacious outdoor area in your home offers an array of possibilities for home improvement. Adding an outdoor kitchen, for instance, will allow you to cook out in the open during the hottest months of the year and spend more quality time with friends and family in the fresh air. Plan brunches, intimate evening gatherings or summer BBQ parties that everyone will enjoy thanks to your outdoor kitchen area. Customize it to your needs and likings by planning everything accordingly. To offer you a little help, in the beginning, we've created a comprehensive guide to everything you need to plan before installing an outdoor kitchen.

Think about the main purpose

First of all, you need to think about the purpose of your outdoor kitchen. Are you just going to cook meals outside, or will you need to make several trips inside for drinks, cutlery and plates? For all the passionate foodies, who want to enjoy all the benefits of the outdoors, and produce gourmet dishes alfresco for their friends, installing a complete kitchen area will be the best option. Include all the cabinetry, extra cookware, and all the supplies from the indoor kitchen to create a bespoke extension to your original kitchen.

The types of meals you’ll be cooking

If you already have a fully equipped indoor kitchen, then installing an outdoor one will come with the advantage of supplementing the cooking appliances you have inside. A barbecue will be your number one choice, but don’t neglect others either. Why miss out on the chance to build an outdoor pizza and bread oven. Having a rotisserie, smoker, wok burner, and teppanyaki plate in your outdoor kitchen will give you so many possibilities. Host dinner parties featuring various cuisines each night for friends and family and gather your dearest people to enjoy special meals from your state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen.

Consider the location

Making sure there's easy access from your indoor kitchen to your outdoor cooking area should be imperative. That way, you’ll minimise running in and out between the two areas. Furthermore, you won’t have to spend extra money on connecting the utilities such as power, gas and water if your outdoor kitchen is just a step outside away from your indoor one. Later, you can easily extend the area to a full entertainment zone with a bar, a surround system, various entertainment units and much more.

Make it usable all year round

Cooking outdoors doesn't have to be popular only during summer. Even in the early autumn, when the winds are harsher and rain is more frequent, you should make sure your outdoor kitchen is still usable. That’s why you’ll need to plan for shelter from wind, sun and rain. Use screens and overhead canopies to offer the cook all the necessary enclosure. A louvred roof that can be opened and closed to repel rain or keep the sun off will be a saving grace for any outdoor chef. An awning attached to the side of the house, a freestanding pergola, or a shade sail can all offer perfect protection from the elements. Make sure you avoid combustible materials over the barbecue to prevent any potential cooking hazards. A permanent fence or some hedging plants in containers or raised beds will work wonders in terms of protection if you use them to shield your cooking area from the wind.

Keep organization in mind

How is your indoor kitchen organised? Does it have a U shape or maybe an island? When planning to build an outdoor kitchen area, you should think about the same general principles as you considered during indoor kitchen installation. Make sure you measure the free space well and order the right size of cabinetry and cooking appliances. Plan the proximity of refrigeration and hot areas such as barbecues, ovens, and cooktops accordingly. Place the wet areas and dry areas strategically and have them designed for maximum efficiency. We suggest you divide the outdoor kitchen into preparation, cooking and serving zone for the most efficiency. Talking to a kitchen designer can also be a good idea if you’re unsure of your choices.

Search for quality appliances

Do you want a built-in cooking appliance and top-quality heater for year-round comfort? Great choice. Investing in premium cooking appliances will ensure they last for a long time and cook delicious food. On top of that, you can be sure that if you ever need domestic appliance repairs, pros will be able to repair them because they're up to date with today's technology. The older the appliance, the more dangerous it is to use it and the less likely it is to be repaired to its old glory. Alongside cooking appliances, you'll want to invest in a new sink, an outdoor fridge, storage for pots, pans and utensils, task and ambient lighting and a heater.

Consider materials

Materials that you choose for your kitchen can make a lot of difference in cooking and maintenance. That’s why you should go for low maintenance materials that will make cleaning more feasible. We recommend stainless steel and non-porous surfaces like limestone. Those will be ideal for outdoor kitchens. When considering furniture options, go for materials such as teak wood and high-density polyethylene wicker. Choose natural stones inside the home, and consider cultured granite with UV inhibitors for the outdoors to prevent colours from fading out in the sun. Choose materials based on the kitchen needs and the fact that your outdoor kitchen will have to withstand rain, sleet, snow, and high temperatures.

Paving options

An outdoor kitchen should be situated on a paved surface. If the part of the yard intended for the kitchen still hasn’t been paved, look for some of the most convenient paving options. If you want to pave the outdoors on your own, you can find instructions online and successfully lay a few simple pavers or create a gravelled area. That way, you’ll easily create a designated area for the outdoor kitchen that will make your kitchen feel more established at an affordable price.

Look into furniture options

You cannot have a decent outdoor kitchen without stylish and comfortable furniture. Once all the chopping, prepping, and cooking is done, you'll want to enjoy the fruits of your labour and retire to a lounge area for a digestif. Depending on your preferences, choose outdoor furniture that will fit seamlessly with the rest of the kitchen. Build smooth transitions between spaces with unified materials and planting. You can create a good sense of flow between your cooking space and adjoining garden or indoor spaces if you use existing trees, plants and structures. That will make your outdoor kitchen a part of the landscape.

Outdoor heating and cooling

During summer, the fresh air will feel amazing as opposed to stifling indoors. However, even then, the temperatures can be too high and cause lots of discomfort to the guests. On the other hand, if you host a barbeque bash in the late summer/early autumn, it can suddenly become too chilly for everyone to stay outside. Don't let a small factor like the weather prevent you from having an unforgettable party, but invest in cooling and heating systems. Place patio heaters and fans within your living space to ensure maximum comfort to everyone in the backyard. Have you always wanted a fireplace but never managed to fit it in indoors? That is the perfect opportunity to make your dream come true and create a focal point in your outdoor living space.

Don’t forget about entertainment and accessibility

If you think all your guests need is mouth-watering food to keep them happy, you should think again. Even though the food brought you together, you’ll still want to make sure everyone is having a good time. For that, you’ll need proper entertainment. From adding built-in speakers for music to installing a smart TV above the fireplace, the possibilities are truly limitless. On top of that, you’ll have to have adequate lighting to keep your outdoor living area safe and accessible for everyone. To add ambience around the seating area, add low-level lighting to the area. String lanterns or festoon lighting will add a dose of romance to your ambience. Lighting and accessibility are especially important for people with disabilities. You should make sure that all paths and walkways are perfectly accessible and visible to them and every other guest. With accessible outdoor furniture, everybody will have a blast.

Final thoughts

Do you like to host parties but don't want to keep everyone crowded inside all the time? Installing an outdoor kitchen will be an ideal solution for you. Not only will you prevent all the aromas from sticking to your furniture, walls and drapes, but you can also allow for much safer get-togethers. So, if you've been thinking about installing an outdoor kitchen, you'll need to follow the aforementioned tips for the best efficiency. If you're unsure how to create the best outdoor kitchen design, you can always speak to your garden designer about the additional details that will give your outdoor kitchen a more appealing look.

Author's Bio: 

Ron Wolf is a hobby designer and a DIY enthusiast, and, above all, a very blessed father of two. Besides that, he has a strong passion for writing. He is a featured blogger at various blogs and magazines in which he shared his research and experience with the vast online community. If he is not working he enjoys being outside with his family. Hiking, bike riding, and BBQing are always a thing for him. In the evening, he likes to watch documentaries or build something with kids in their lego corner.