It’s that time of year again where our long and drawn out Canadian winters have us longing for those lazy carefree days on the patio. There is nothing better than cooling off after a hot summer day with the aroma of outdoor cooking in the air.
Over the past decade we have seen the emergence of functional outdoor furniture and can agree that the days of disposable lawn chairs, once coveted by our parents, are being replaced by beautifully woven fabrics and all weather materials, ready to face the elements and woo even the most discerning critics. Comfortable, outdoor living has been brought to the forefront of the home, making the patio an entertaining hotspot and a true extension of the family home.
As any host would agree, food remains a key factor in any successful gathering. With this in mind, the outdoor grill has come a long way from the usual charcoal pit and propane bar-b-que on wheels. Today we are seeing the options of built in natural gas grills; wood-fired pizza ovens, rotisseries, warmers and refrigeration are endless. Like your indoor space, you should be prepared to spend time planning your outdoor kitchen so that you can ensure proper flow and function in your designated cooking area.
Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen
There are important factors to consider when planning your outdoor kitchen. Not only will you want a visually appealing space, but keep in mind that the most important aspect of an outdoor kitchen is the overall construction and functional layout of the space.
Before you get started, here are some planning tips to keep in mind:
- The outdoor kitchen is an extension of your home – make choices that compliment what you have done with your interior space
- Consider how you want to use your outdoor kitchen – will it be cooking only, or is prep and storage important as well?
- The location of your kitchen will help determine its size, shape and number of components. For example, if it is connected to the house you may decide not to install a refrigerator and extra storage for dishes, platters, etc.
- Kitchen components should be grouped into zones including prepping, cooking, and entertaining
- Use all weather materials and ensure your deck is made out of treated lumber or materials of various thicknesses that will last!
- Counter tops should be made of granite, porcelain, slate or stainless steel – these clean up easy. Though porcelain is the most expensive, it won’t fade, and is by far the best choice.
Plumbing & Electrical
Probably the most important aspect of building your outdoor kitchen is that you are connected to your water supply. Special consideration will be needed because of our Canadian climate. Plan to keep your outdoor cooking space well ventilated, but enclose the space to protect your appliances from the elements. Include plenty of electrical outlets and remember that outdoor outlets should be the GFCI type.
Be sure to check local building and fire safety “open flame” codes. Zoning laws may restrict the size and location, and fire codes determine clearance requirements between an open flame and combustible surface.
Do your homework about outdoor spaces before you get started. The options are limitless and it will only be your lack of imagination (and budget) that will stand in the way of achieving an outdoor oasis that your family and friends will be talking about!