By Jim DeLong
Todays’ backyards are an expression of lifestyle, combined with the proper balance of design and function. Often, the design incorporates and mimics the interior of the home’s three main gathering points-- the living room, dining room and kitchen. The placement of the areas can occur in multiple arrays, from straight linear positioning to typical offset triangular depth.
When exploring the Outdoor Kitchen design, the sky’s the
limit. We take pride in our indoor kitchen, with its beautiful counter tops, backsplashes and quality stainless steel appliances. So, the question is, why not create the same with our outdoor kitchen? The answer may seem simple, but there are common mistakes that are made, which can compromise the kitchen’s function and beauty, such as placement, shape, materials and appliance placement. Here are a few of the pitfalls to avoid while expressing yourself with your outdoor living space:
1. Location, location, location: Just as todays’ kitchens are a focal point and gathering place, you want to consider your outdoor kitchen as a social gathering area as well. Usually in the tri-area landscape, the living room is a retreat area separated by the dining area. If you’re considering having a seating area built into your outdoor kitchen, take a quick check of the views. Common location mistakes are having your guests face a blank wall or guests find their selves being smoked out while “relaxing” behind a monster grill. If the seating direction must face away from open views, consider being creative with backdrop views. For example, use decorative wall hangings or
2. The chef: Even though we may entertain on occasion with friends and neighbors, with the California climate, many of us cook outdoors 2, 3 or more time per week. If you like to Barbecue frequently, you probably don’t enjoy walking to and from your grill as a form of exercise. You want to keep it close, with easy access.
A common mistake with the design of the grilling area is having adequate room to move. In one of the typical “U”
shape designs, I’ve had a number of customers say that they only need 3 feet of room to grill. Big mistake! If your outdoor kitchen has doors or drawers, you’ll find yourself bumping and kicking hard surfaces. If possible, give
yourself at least 4 feet or more of working width.
3. Appliance positioning: This is really where the pro can help. Think about just a few of your appliances on your wish list and where they need to be. First, refrigerators are the second highest request next to the grill. Place the fridge in a convenient place for your guests to have access to, without getting in your cooking space.
Second, side burners are a big want. They can be used for sautéing and are often used as part of the buffet self serve for chili, beans, corn, etc. Often, I see the placement of the side burner right next to the grill. Another big mistake, especially if there are two chefs in the kitchen. Of course, if you love bumping elbows with your sous-chef, then go for it.
4. Finish materials- Again, in today’s world “Express yourself” is the key. Sometimes, it’s all about keeping it simple with smooth contemporary tiles, or go wild with colored glass mosaics. Color is the key. If the flooring is dark, than contrast with light matching tones on the base and black to dark on top. Here’s an easy way to remember: dark-light-dark or light-dark-light. Don’t try to match two darks or two lights. It will look like you tried to match, but made a mistake. Another mistake, in my opinion, is using rough counter tops, such as flagstone, because plates and wine glasses will sit uneven.
Enjoy your creativeness, but stay away from some of the typical pitfalls of old school designs. Be comfortable in your new outdoor kitchen. You’ve spent the money, so love where you cook!