With spring in full bloom and summer on the way, you may be dreaming of hosting outdoor parties for your loved ones. Food is often the centerpiece of a party, and what could be more fun than cooking for your guests in your new outdoor kitchen? If you’re considering this addition to your home, we have a few tips to get you started.

Know what you want. An outdoor kitchen can mean anything from a BBQ island with a grill and small prep area, to a complete kitchen. Ask yourself if you’re envisioning small cookouts with a few close friends, or larger parties that require a greater cooking and serving area. Be sure to think about your future needs as well!

First things first. You won’t be fussing with details like interior walls and insulation, but your outdoor kitchen does need a floor. If you don’t already have a large existing patio, this should be your first consideration. Your patio should be large enough to accommodate your dream kitchen with room to walk around it, as well as seating for guests. Your choice of materials may range from traditional grey concrete, colored and stamped concrete, flagstone, or interlocking pavers..

Consider practical matters. Your outdoor kitchen will require electricity, water and drainage, and possibly gas depending upon your choice of grill or stove. Therefore, its placement will depend upon convenient access to these utilities. We always suggest placing the outdoor kitchen near the patio door (and indoor kitchen). Studies have shown that the further away you build it, the less likely you will be to use it.

Remember shelter and lighting. It’s best to include a shaded area, because your cook will be working over a hot stove or grill. Guests who are sensitive to sunlight will appreciate this feature as well. Adequate lighting is also important for nighttime parties. If you want a traditional umbrella over the kitchen island, we can leave an umbrella hole in your countertop, but we have to plan ahead for it.

Remember storage. You probably don’t want to haul large amounts of dishes back and forth from the indoors. Including cabinets and/or drawers for storage will make setup and cleanup for parties a breeze. You can even get a paper-towel holder built in to one of the drawers!

Leave room for your guests. When you decide upon the size of your outdoor kitchen, balance it with the overall size of your yard. Make sure to leave room for a seating area, and leave room in your budget for outdoor furniture if you don’t already own some.

Consider aesthetics. The outdoor kitchen should flow seamlessly with the rest of your home, and appear as simply an extension of the main house. Therefore, your choice of materials is extremely important. For example, if your home is brick you might want to incorporate the same color bricks into your kitchen’s design. For a rustic look, stone is always a great choice. Keep in mind that you’ll be choosing features like counter tops based partly on aesthetics and partly on your budget. You have a wide range of options from granite or tile to poured-in-place concrete (an inexpensive, attractive, and low maintenance option). Your design plan should accommodate both the aesthetics of your home as well as your budget.

Leave room for extras. Depending upon your preferences, you might want to add features such as a wine cooler, drink cart, or a water feature in your seating area. Outdoor pizza ovens are a popular option these days (and can reach over 1700 degrees!), but it’s best to consider this type of addition before beginning your project so that it can be incorporated into the design.

Come see us, and we can help you design an outdoor kitchen that suits your needs, compliments your home’s existing design, and fits into your budget. We offer a full range of building materials, and the expertise to turn your dream into reality.

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