Having an outdoor kitchen has been the most popular backyard trend for years. According to a 2019 report by the American Institute of Architects, outdoor kitchens are at the top of homeowners’ wish lists, when it comes to space for cooking.
Homeowners in Lancaster, Pennsylvania are just as interested in outdoor kitchens as everyone else. That’s why we put together this ultimate guide. Keep reading to learn more about where to put an outdoor kitchen, how your kitchen should be equipped, and the best materials for building.
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Choosing the Right Location
One of the first decisions to make when you decide to build an outdoor kitchen is where exactly to put it. It’s location makes a big difference because it needs to be a certain distance from living spaces, have adequate space for storage and dining, but also be protected from the elements. Follow these easy tips for choosing the perfect location for the outdoor kitchen.
Provide Ample Shade
Find an area with good shade for your outdoor kitchen. You don’t want it directly underneath tall trees since the leaves, branches and flowers will fall frequently top of your kitchen appliances. However, you do want to have good shade to keep cool and to protect the outdoor space. Choose a location on your patio where you already have an awning or pergola, or plan to build one. (See below.)
Keep the Kitchen Close to the House
Make sure your outdoor kitchen isn’t too far from your house. If you have sliding glass doors that lead from the dining room or indoor kitchen to the outside, try to place it near those doors. This arrangement makes it easier to go back and forth between kitchens. You could also keep a second set of dishes, cookware and appliances in the outdoor kitchen to minimize trips back and forth.
Consider Your View
Think about the type of view you want while you’re enjoying your outdoor kitchen. For example, if you want to watch the kids in the pool while you cook, or enjoy the view of your beautiful rose garden while dining outdoors, choose a location on the patio where you can easily see these areas. Also think about what you don’t want to see. For instance, you should locate the kitchen out of sight or behind shrubs or a fence if you want privacy from your neighbors.
Avoid Areas With a Lot of Wind
Wind can be a real problem for an outdoor kitchen. Wind picks up flower petals, pollen, branches and leaves and sends them flying into your outdoor kitchen. You might be right in the middle of cooking delicious burger, then end up with dirty leaves right on the grill. Try to find an area that is protected from the wind. Or, plan to plant or build a barrier to block the wind.
Basic Elements of Setting Up An Outdoor Kitchen
Having an outdoor kitchen is a great way to spend more time with your family while also enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer. Here are tips for including the basic elements of an outdoor kitchen, cooking requirements and helpful storage.
Cooking and Grilling Surfaces
First, decide how you want to cook food in your outdoor kitchen. Most outdoor kitchens have a built-in or portable barbecue grill. If you’re going to entertain guests in our outdoor space, you can get an over-sized grill to accommodate cooking a lot of food at one time. You may also want a smoker, a deep fryer or a pizza oven.
Countertops and Prep Stations
You also need countertop space to prepare your meals. If you’re installing a pre-fabricated outdoor kitchen, countertop space should be included. However, if you are building a custom-made outdoor kitchen, make sure the design includes plenty of countertop or butcher block space for chopping, marinating and other food prep. Use countertop materials that are weather-friendly, such as steel or concrete.
Your outdoor kitchen should also have a sink, not only for food prep, but also for washing up.
Many homeowners install cabinetry or build hutches to hold utensils, dishes, pots and pans. They also have either a mini-fridge or full-size refrigerator. You can also build space for storing cutting boards, skewer sticks, napkins and other accessories you’ll need.
Lastly, don’t forget dining furniture and decorative elements for the outdoor kitchen. Get a weatherproof dining table and chairs or benches. Add proper lighting, decorative features and even area rugs.
To keep your trips into the house to a minimum, think about storing measuring cups, serving spoons, serving dishes, storage containers, tongs and other cooking accessories in your outdoor kitchen. Grill baskets, bottles of marinade and sauces are great to have on hand for the grill.
How to Get Protection From the Elements
While there are many advantages to having an outdoor kitchen, one of the biggest disadvantages is the fact that it is vulnerable to the elements. Your kitchen is vulnerable to damage from rain and snow, storms and extreme heat. Here are some ways to protect your outdoor kitchen from the weather.
Choose the Right Location
We talked about choosing the right location at the start of this blog post. Your kitchen’s location should be in the shade and out of the wind. If your kitchen doesn’t have protection, consider installing something that will protect it. Some suggestions are listed below.
Install a Patio Awning
There are two types of awnings you can install. A stationary awning is always open. A retractable awning is one that you can open and close, either with a hand crank or an automatic mechanism. Although stationary awnings get dirty more quickly, because they’re always open, retractable awnings won’t protect your kitchen if you’re away and keep it closed. Plus, retractable awnings are generally more expensive. These are all factors you should consider.
Build a Pergola
A pergola is similar to an arbor, because it has vertical supports and an overhead structure. However, it’s much larger than an arbor because it usually covers an area as big or a bit larger than your patio or outdoor kitchen. A pergola provides excellent shade and protection from the elements, especially when vines are trained in and around the beams. Either have one to cover your entire patio, or just large enough to cover the outdoor kitchen and dining area. (Bonus tip: twine fairly lights around the beams or use them to hang larger bulbs.)
If you aren’t able to have a pergola or awning installed, an umbrella works just fine. Large patio umbrellas provide shade for a seating area or a dining area. When an umbrella is placed at a sharp angle, it can protect an outdoor kitchen area from rain, light wind and heat. However, umbrellas will not protect you or your kitchen from heavy winds.
We hope that this ultimate guide to outdoor kitchens will help Lancaster homeowners, like you, plan and install an outdoor kitchen that suits your family’s lifestyle. Of course, we’d love to work with you on an outdoor kitchen project. Call us at (717) 951-5950 or contact us through this website.