Outdoor Kitchens Part 2

When planning your outdoor kitchen, you have to consider the ambiance in addition to all the high-tech appliances. Whether you install a bar, purchase a large outdoor dining table, or both, you’ll want to build a comfortable area for you and your guests to eat.
Outdoor Dining Rooms

There are a variety of outdoor dining options, from a traditional round table with four chairs and an umbrella, to full-length setups that include space for 12. One of the most popular options, however, is the breakfast bar. Large or small, this concept gives homeowners plenty of room for dining and conversation. Plus, when finished in tile, stacked-stone, or other material and topped with granite, concrete, or tile, it creates a sophisticated line of demarcation between the dining area and other parts of the outdoor space.

Many homeowners decide to include a breakfast bar for a more practical reason, too: it doubles as a countertop. When not in use for dining, the breakfast bar can be employed as a staging area for the prepping, stacking, and assembling of your gourmet dishes.

Styles and types of outdoor chairs are seemingly infinite, but they all have one thing in common: they are made to withstand heavy use, changing weather conditions, and accidental spills. Hardwoods like teak, jarrah, and shorea are sure to last a few generations as will plastics/acrylics and wrought iron. If fabric is involved, select one that is made for outdoors, like Sunbrella®.

Above: This outdoor kitchen features a large bar with seating for up to 10 people, an outdoor TV, overhead lighting, and a spectacular view.

Photo courtesy of Mark Scott Associates, Newport Beach, California

Outdoor Kitchen Lighting

Lighting is important, for wellbeing and mood-creating. A lighting expert will design a schematic that handles all types of safety situations, including the paths leading from other areas of the outdoor space to the kitchen, around the grill and other appliances, over the dining area, and along the edges of the floor.

Additionally, the difference between an average outdoor kitchen and one that has a high drama quotient is usually found in the lighting. The design expert will use different lighting fixtures, bulbs, and shades to create an ambiance that comes to life after the sun sets.

Above: Offering the best of both worlds, this fully equipped outdoor kitchen adjoins the pool, allowing guests the luxury of either swimming up to the bar for a beverage or snack or strolling over after an afternoon nap by the water.

Photo courtesy of Mark Scott Associates, Newport Beach, California

Outdoor Comfort: Heating and Cooling

It’s not always paradise outside, but that shouldn’t stop you from using your outdoor kitchen no matter the weather. Manufacturers are constantly creating new types of outdoor heating and cooling devices to suit every need. To enjoy your outdoor kitchen during coolor months or chilly evenings, you may opt for propane-fueled units like patio heaters, gas logs, space heaters, or go with something more aesthetic such as a custom fireplace, fire pit, fire column, fire tables and pellet-fueled stoves.

For those times when you need relief from the heat and humidity, there are portable air coolers, misting systems, and if you have a roof over your outdoor kitchen, ceiling fans that are designed to keep the atmosphere cool and comfortable.

Above: Full of stainless steel highlights and all of the amenities of home, this outdoor kitchen features a wood-finished ceiling, a two-sided fireplace, and enough seating to accommodate everyone on the guest list.

See more outdoor kitchen photos in our Luxury Outdoor Kitchens book available in print and digital download from our bookstore.

Photographed by Karen Vance Photography for Classic Pool & Patio, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana

Outdoor Kitchen Cost and Budget

You also need to establish your budget. Average outdoor kitchens can cost around $15,000, while the more luxurious layouts can be $25,000 or more. “I’m doing a kitchen right now that will finish at around $100,000,” says Chris Cipriano, founder and president of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping, Mahwah, New Jersey. “We included energy-efficient appliances, state-of-the-art sound and entertainment systems, LED lighting, and custom-made glass tile for the backsplash.”

Choosing a Builder

Knowledgeable and licensed professionals will help you dot all of the i’s and cross all of the t’s. They will assist you with permits, choosing the appropriate materials and appliances, suggesting the right location, recommending if your kitchen should be covered or left open, and most of all, give you the benefit of their expertise.

You will have to do your homework, however. Be a sleuth and leave no stone unturned. Ask friends and family for referrals, check websites that offer ratings and opinions, and don’t be afraid to interview prospective contractors before your project begins. Discuss your requirements, review portfolios, and when you feel comfortable with one pro over another, then and only then, hire the team who will create the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.

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