Picture the scene: you are visiting an old friend you met in college who recently moved to the area. The new house they bought is roomy, the kitchen is updated, and there’s even a basement. You’re impressed. You step into the backyard, only to find an outdoor sanctuary – which he calls, the “outdoor kitchen” that came with the house. You see a built-in stainless grill that can easily accommodate twenty guests at one time, an outdoor ice maker, beverage center, functional sink, and wait – is that a dishwasher? All of these items are accompanied by a nearby pergola hosting a seating area with an outdoor television.
We are commonly finding the outdoor segment of our business to grow, and we encourage clients who like to cook to consider an outdoor kitchen over traditional areas such as back decks or pools. Outdoor kitchens can add value to your home while creating a space that is both functional and aesthetically beautiful. But where to begin?
Although H&H does not sell fixtures, outdoor surfaces, or displays for outdoor appliances, we can provide you with the tools you need to know when buying outdoor appliances. Our initial piece of advice: what will you be doing outdoors? Is this area for cooking or relaxing (or both)? How many do people would you like to accommodate in this space?
Answer these questions before making any appliance decisions. Once these factors are considered, then you can choose the appliances to fit your needs. Here are some additional factors to thinking about concerning appliances:
- If budget is a concern, ask if older floor models can work. Since the products are built to be used outdoors, wear is acceptable and using floor models may free funds to build additional details into the space (such as an outdoor refrigeration unit like this one from Perlick).
- Pick one focal point. Is this the grill? Or the prep area? The awning? The television? Picking more than one focal area can cause designs to become busy and cluttered.
- Remember that not everything is built to last. Even if buying an outdoor television, you may only get five years out of the unit. Grills and appliances are expected to last much longer, typically 10+ years if maintained properly.
- Decide whether you want a covered or uncovered space. Choose surfaces that are aligned with weather conditions of your area and the elements of exposure the kitchen will endure.
- Ensure you have the proper amount of space for what you would like to do. Often outdoor kitchens take a large amount of space and can make the backyard seem smaller. If you like a spacious green area, go smaller with the outdoor kitchen.
Now, about the appliances. When planning an outdoor kitchen, here is what we suggest for appliances:
2. An outdoor ice maker (DCS makes a nice unit).
3. An outdoor refrigeration unit (like this countertop refrigeration unit by Alfresco).
4. An outdoor dishwasher (optional, adds a bit of pizzazz).
5. A warming drawer (Wolf product link). Although seemingly insignificant, if you cook for larger parties, the warming drawer can keep your food warm and fresh throughout the entire day.
6. A bartending center, like the one below from Alfresco (product link). Because we all know that with the outdoor kitchen come daiquiri’s, mojito’s, and pina coladas!
Once you choose the appliances to fulfill your needs, you will be ready to begin your design. Below are from a customer’s outdoor kitchen area once finished. Thank you to Anthony Porzio from AMP Electric for the photos!