You know how it is when you have a few friends over for an informal brunch, lunch or dinner: everyone gathers in the kitchen. That’s where the group can be together, chatting, enjoying drinks and appetizers, while the cook is putting the final touches on the meal.
These days, people are looking for ways to take the party outdoors, and that’s where an outdoor kitchen can be a real asset.
“This past year, especially with people being home a lot more, we’ve definitely seen more interest,” says Mike Omar, a landscape designer with Gardens of Babylon’s design team. “People say ‘I still want to be able to entertain’.”
In the kitchen, outdoors
You probably already have a grill, but to call it a “kitchen” means to take it up a notch. At a minimum, Mike believes the space should include a 24-inch gas grill – “usually it’s a drop-in grill, definitely gas, they can easily turn on and off” — and three to four feet of counter space.
At a maximum, there are no limits to what can be included in an outdoor kitchen. “A lot of people want to add a smoker to that, and want to have the option to use charcoal occasionally,” Omar says. “You could add a pizza oven, and open boiler for cooking crawfish, maybe a warming plate.”
That often leads clients to ask, “Do I need a refrigerator? Do I need a sink? Those items might come into play if the outdoor kitchen is some distance away from the house. But if the grill is right outside the kitchen, those are probably not necessary, he says. One component that is crucial, though, is a bar or counter space, which becomes the gathering place for family and guests, Omar says. “You can never have too much counter space.”
Dreaming and planning
“So many clients who want outdoor kitchens are foodies – really into grilling,” Omar says. So, planning an outdoor kitchen with a designer begins with a question: “I ask, how much are you into cooking?” That gives a hint at what to include.
Another question to consider is how much to spend. “I ask people right off the bat, what’s your budget?” It’s reasonable to expect a cost of $4,000 – $5,000 at a minimum for a custom design, Omar says. The more features, and the more elaborate the components, naturally, the higher the cost.
There are pre-fab kitchens available, but custom designs, built to the homeowner’s specifications, can extend the home’s living space by matching its architectural style.
“If it’s contemporary, we will do a modern style; if it’s a rustic look, that calls more for a stone façade,” he says. “It ties in to what we’re trying to achieve outside.”
Getting out more
The opportunity to gather with friends and family in the open air is what really makes the idea of an outdoor kitchen appealing, Omar believes. “While you’re out grilling, with people hanging around – it makes it an enjoyable situation for everyone,” he says. “Now it’s about quality of life.”
Omar believes the move to outdoor kitchens as part of a home’s living space is an idea that likely to grow.
“Right now is definitely the time, with families planning staycations, seeing that they’re going to be home more, that they’re going to be spending a lot more time outdoors,” he says. “It’s a trend that’s not going away.”
Planning your outdoor kitchen? Book a consultation with a Gardens of Babylon landscape design team professional here.