One of the most popular features in backyard spaces is a fully-equipped kitchen suited for entertaining and outdoor living. But like its interior counterpart, designing an outdoor kitchen can be a challenge.
Your first consideration should be location. Pay attention to the prevailing winds, says Ken Kelly, Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly. “Wind direction and where the kitchen is located could cause smoke to blow into guests or even into the house through an open window,” he says. “Keep the grill downwind of guests.”
Your second consideration should be grill placement. “Do you want the cook to face the guests, or look at the scenery?” asks Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. “When the cook can talk to the guests, the space becomes more social and enjoyable,” he says.
Once you’ve established a wind-friendly location and optimal grill placement, cordon off wet, cold, hot and dry zones, says Faulk. These zones will make prepping food, cooking and cleaning much easier.
“Keep the cold zone next to the wet zone. This makes it easier to move things from the cold zone refrigerator to the wet zone sink to wash them off and get them ready for the grill in the hot zone,” he adds.
Zones are especially important if a pool is nearby. “Keep the cold zone nearest to the pool,” says Faulk. “It will keep kids who want a cold drink from running past a hot grill.”
Don’t forget counter space. Grills should have a minimum of 24 inches of uninterrupted space to one side and 12 inches to the other. This gives the cook room to place platters, cooking utensils and other essentials.
If an outdoor space lacks room for that amount of counter space, “incorporate an open-shelf cabinet below. You get additional ‘counter space’ by being able to put things on shelves,” says Kelly.
With the right planning, homeowners and their guests can enjoy an outdoor kitchen for many years to come.