As the snow melts and we start to look forward to spring and summer, our thoughts turn to getting outside and enjoying sunny days and long evenings of al fresco eating and entertaining.
Getting our outdoor space in tip-top condition becomes a priority, and more and more people are now considering an outdoor kitchen in their garden. Outdoor kitchens are great as they really do bring the inside outside, and let you spend much more time with your family and friends rather than running in and out the whole time whilst everyone else relaxes. Not only that, they can be installed in a day so you can start enjoying them right away!
Here are some things to think about if you’re considering an outdoor kitchen:
1. Think about the size of your outdoor space, and where you would like your kitchen to go – on the patio, on a boundary to help provide some privacy or perhaps to tidy up an otherwise scruffy corner. You don’t need a huge garden to fit in an outdoor kitchen – look for a modular approach which you can scale up or down, or go for a corner instead of linear design depending on how much space you have. Some of the smallest gardens, and even terraces and balconies have outdoor kitchens so don’t assume that you won’t be able to fit one in.
2. Plan your budget up front. An outdoor kitchen may not be as expensive as you think, and again if you go for a modular option you can design a unit that fits within your budget. Don’t forget, as you are pricing it all up, to include all of the additional features, cooking platforms and accessories that you would like, over and above the cost of the kitchen itself.
3. Make sure you consider an option that is easy to clean and maintain. You don’t want to be spending more time cleaning your outdoor kitchen than your indoor one! Choose a material that is tough, durable and hard wearing, with the minimum of maintenance required. Concrete is a great choice as it stands up well to the UK weather all year round and only requires a quick brush or wipe down every now and again.
4. Perhaps most importantly, how do you like to cook, and what sort of entertaining will you be doing? There really is a cooking option for everyone, depending on your needs, style and budget. If you see yourself as a budding MasterChef and enjoy catering for lots of people, you could have a number of cooking options in your kitchen – a gas BBQ, a charcoal BBQ, a pizza oven, a Braai, a gas burner for woks and pans. If it’s a more relaxed approach you’re after, you might just want something like a Big Green Egg which is multi-functional but looks pretty cool too!
5. An outdoor kitchen is incredibly versatile and doesn’t have to be just for cooking. They are great for storage – consider how many shelves you think you will need and what you plan to use them for. A sink is a really useful addition to an outdoor kitchen and makes washing vegetables and salad, rinsing the plates and cleaning grubby hands much easier than having to drip dirt and water through the house. You’ll need to decide whether cold running water is enough, or if you need it to be fully plumbed in. Outdoor kitchens make a brilliant outdoor bar area too – the perfect place to store your bottles and glasses, and mix and mingle with your guests.
6. Your kitchen can be a real centrepiece of your garden, so have a think about how you’d like to dress it. Anything goes, depending on how creative you feel! What about displaying some colourful pots of herbs and plants or decorative bottles of oil and vinegar? You might want to bring out some recipe books and have them to hand when you’re creating that magic marinade. Have you got some quirky signs or images that you’d like to set up on the kitchen? And when it’s time for a party, you can really change the whole look and feel of the kitchen with just a few accessories.
7. When the sun goes down, you’ll need some lighting so that you can carry on enjoying those balmy summer evenings. Lanterns and candles look beautiful and add a lovely soft light. Fairy lights create an enchanted feel and can be draped over the kitchen and your outdoor dining area. For a more permanent solution, chose some hard wearing outdoor lights that can be wired into the kitchen and the area surrounding it.
Outdoor kitchens really are an asset to any garden, big or small, and help to make an outdoor space much more sociable and enjoyable, and help you make the most of being outside. 2018 is definitely the year for outdoor kitchens – and now you know what to consider when you’re choosing yours!
Thanks to WWOO outdoor kitchens for this blog post and images.