Entertaining your family and friends always feels more relaxed and fun when you can do it outside. And if you entertain more than six people at one time and have sufficient space, an outdoor kitchen might be just the ticket.
Project: Build an outdoor kitchen.
Why: Outdoor cooking stations are increasingly popular for 21st-century homeowners. It could be that outdoor entertaining is less fussy than setting up a formal dining room with china and crystal. And while you might have to worry about mosquitoes, you won’t have to worry about getting wine stains on your crisp white tablecloth or anyone’s (heaven forbid!) picking up the wrong fork.
The Chicago skyline sets the stage for this marvelous urban kitchen. The counter and cabinets blend nicely with the planters, integrating the kitchen into its surroundings. When planning smaller spaces such as this one, consider efficient layouts. The fixtures are neatly arranged yet still allow ample space for setting down platters, and there is plenty of room for guests to move around.
Who to hire: This endeavor could be part of an addition to your house or part of a new landscape plan, in which case you should be working with an architect or a landscape designer. Businesses that sell this equipment may even have a staff designer who assists customers with the planning and implementation of an outdoor kitchen. You’ll also need a general contractor to get everything built and properly installed.
All the equipment in this inner-city kitchen is neatly tucked under this home’s overhanging upper floor. The custom wood cabinets complement the contemporary design. You will want to determine whether your grilling station should be sheltered, like this one, or fully exposed, like the previous example. Take into account the weather in your area as well as the durability of your equipment and finishes.
Cost: Give yourself a budget of at least $10,000 for the simplest configurations. By the time you get the appliances that are right for you, hire a designer, get the permits and have the area built, you could easily spend $15,000 to $25,000.
This handsome outdoor kitchen in San Diego suits the near-to-town setting. Notice that the counter extension provides an extra seating area. This might also be a good spot to park your trays while you’re grilling.
Typical project length: This project will take a fair amount of planning, organizing and management. Give yourself at least three months from initial planning until the kitchen is ready for the first party. So if you want to have something ready for the summer, start by February.
Outdoor kitchens are especially appealing at the beach. In the arrangement shown here, I particularly like the way the seating is oriented toward the ocean view. You would have no trouble enticing your friends over for a party with a space like this!
This lovely kitchen feels like a cozy and inviting extension of the deck in this wooded suburban setting. Seating is accommodated with a banquette that’s nestled right up to the cooking station.
When planning your outdoor kitchen, consider how you want to use the space. The architects of this semirural home turned the covered outdoor kitchen into a casual lounge, complete with cozy and comfortable seating.
With a roof and its own fireplace, this country kitchen has nothing surrounding it except unobstructed views of the countryside. If you have a setting like this, take advantage of the landscape and position your equipment accordingly.
Elaborate kitchens, such as this one, often have undercounter refrigerators, freezers, wine coolers and storage cabinets. You can also include a larger grill and separate griddles or fryers.
Organization is critical when you have this many elements. You want your arrangement to be convenient to use, with a good hierarchy of equipment and enough space for the number of cooks you will likely have.