Build the ultimate outdoor cooking area

Scott JacksonComment

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor cooking, whether it is steaming a pot of crabs or grilling burgers on the Fourth of July. The options for outdoor kitchens range from full setups — with grills, fryers, smokers, pizza ovens, refrigerators, sinks and dishwashers — to a charcoal grill on the edge of the patio.

When planning your outdoor cooking area, begin by determining your end use of the space. Meaning, is one person going to go outside to flip the burgers or will you entertain while cooking and eating outside? This will help you decide the size and location of your outdoor kitchen.

Consider the work triangle

The design of a full-service outdoor kitchen should follow the same work triangle rules as an indoor kitchen. The basic layout is a work triangle measured from the center of the sink, refrigerator, and grill. Each leg of the triangle should be between 4 and 9 feet, and the sum of the legs should not exceed 26 feet. There should be no obstructions in the triangle or through traffic. Counters should be a minimum of 42 inches apart for one cook and 48 inches apart for two cooks. If your kitchen will have multiple cooks, consider including two sinks and therefore two work triangles.

Complement the house

The outdoor rooms should complement the design of the house and create distinctive areas for cooking, eating and sitting. Full-service outdoor kitchens can be further away from the main house because the prep work can be done outside rather than inside.To extend the use of the space, consider installing a roof that both shades the area and blocks the rain. By adding elements to control the temperature — such as with ceiling fans for warm weather and a fireplace or heaters for cool weather — the room will be usable practically year-round. In large areas, adding an outdoor fireplace is a great way to anchor the space.

The details

The details are critical for longevity, maintenance and ease of use. When selecting countertops, avoid highly porous materials such as limestone or marble. Instead use cultured granite with UV stabilizers or stainless steel. Select appliances that are designed for outdoor use and install an outdoor range hood if the grill, smoker, and/or fryer is under a roof.

Lighting the outdoor kitchen is critical. The space should include both task lighting for cooking and cleaning as well as general lighting for entertaining. Finally, don’t forget to add music to the mix to bring life to the party.

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