Outdoor kitchens and living areas are becoming more and more popular among home owners in North Texas. They are a great way to improve your outdoor space for enjoyment when the weather is mild in the spring and fall, and also act as a great addition alongside a backyard pool when entertaining friends and family throughout the summer.
We have designed multiple outdoor kitchens and living areas and our clients are always satisfied! Here are 10 tips to designing the perfect outdoor kitchen and living area:
1. Know what you want in an outdoor space
Before looking for a professional to design your outdoor space, it’s important to have a good vision of how you want the space to look, the features you’d like it to possess, and the primary purpose you will use it for. Is the primary use going to be cooking and eating? If so, you’ll want to focus on appliances and ample counter space for meal prep and serving. Or, maybe you plan to only have a small grill, and comfortable seating around a fire pit for lounging and relaxing is more of a priority. Whatever your ideal outdoor space is, it’s essential that you know what’s most important to you so you can clearly communicate your ideas to your contractor.
2. Hire the right contractor
As with any home remodeling project, it’s a good idea to do your research and have a few consultations before choosing a contractor or company to complete the job. Although a general contractor will probably quote you a cheaper price, a design-build firm (like Medford Remodeling) will take care of everything from start to finish. Because a design-build firms act as a ‘one-stop-shop,’ they will not only create the designs, but also obtain necessary permits from the city, provide assistance in product selection, manage purchase orders, and ensure everything is installed correctly and to code. Because there is so much involved in creating an outdoor kitchen or living space, it’s a good idea to have someone manage it for you, instead of trying to do it on your own. Weigh your options carefully!
3. Plan for adequate plumbing and electrical lines
Outdoor kitchens typically require the same features as an indoor kitchen. Of course, you probably will not need a dishwasher, a full refrigerator or a full oven, but a cooktop / grill and sink are common choices. Fireplaces and entertainment centers are also popular additions. We have also installed other features in client’s outdoor spaces, such as wine coolers, griddles, outdoor fans, space heaters, vent hoods, outdoor showers, and ice machines. It really just depends on your priorities, space and budget. The more features you have, the more electrical wires and plumbing lines will be required. Luckily, design-build firms have a close group of professionals, includiung plumbers and electricians, which can ensure everything is installed correctly.
4. Select durable flooring
Along with the extreme elements, outdoor kitchens and living spaces face a lot of wear and tear, such as oil or grease build up, excess moisture, foot traffic, and debris. A strong and durable flooring such as a sealed stone or poured concrete is an ideal choice for this space. Your contractor should also know the importance of angling the flooring towards a drain and away from the structure of your home to prevent water damage or pooling.
5. Incorporate outdoor cabinetry
Because outside structures must be strong and durable, metal structures are often used to house cabinetry and appliances in outdoor kitchens. The structure is then covered in a stone veneer or similar material to match the style of the space and protect the cabinets, drawers and appliances. Your design-build firm should be able to create a custom cabinet design to fit the layout and features of your outdoor kitchen.
6. Choose the right appliances
As mentioned, the features and appliances incorporated into your outdoor space are based on your own preferences. Most homeowners want a grill installed, but some prefer a gas grill while others may prefer the traditional charcoal or wood-burning smoker. You might also consider extras, such as a pizza oven or a green egg cooker. Again, it’s essential to discuss your priorities with your designer before beginning the project.
7. Include a vent hood over cook stations
Vent hoods are not always a requirement; however, if your cook station will be placed under another structure, such as a patio cover or pavilion, it’s likely that your local building codes will require a ventilation system in your outdoor kitchen. A vent hood is also a good idea because it will prevent staining and damage to surrounding walls due to smoke, moisture and grease produced when cooking or grilling.
8. Don’t forget storage space
There are plenty of storage options available for your outdoor kitchen and living area: from built-in trash cans to utensil drawers and wine racks. Just like your indoor kitchen, your outdoor space will require many tools and accessories, which will need to be stored. You’ll definitely want to include adequate storage space into your design!
9. Strategically place lighting
Lighting is an important part of your outdoor space. You’ll definitely want to have good lighting around your food prep and cook stations, as well as above serving areas. By installing strategically placed LED can lights, a safe, shadow-less environment can be created. It’s also important to include lighting along stairs and walkways to prevent falls. Trust us, it’s better to have too many lights than not enough!
10. Create a comfortable atmosphere
Outdoor kitchens and living spaces can be enjoyed all year round, so long as the right features are incorporated into the design. It’s important to have some type of covering – whether it’s a patio cover extending from your home or a detached, free-standing arbor. You can also discuss the options of outdoor fans, misters, and even space heaters with your designer.
Spring and summer will be here before you know it, and there’s no better way to enjoy the warm weather than by upgrading your backyard with an outdoor kitchen or living space! If you have questions about these tips, or would like more information about designing your outdoor space, we’d be happy to help! Contact us today to get started!
The Medford Remodeling Team