Outdoor kitchens are a growing trend in Australia. Our relatively mild climate allows for outdoor entertaining most of the year, and an outdoor kitchen can be the highlight of any back yard. If you’re considering installing an outdoor kitchen as part of your home renovations, here are some things to keep in mind before you start.
Elements to consider
There are a number of elements that need to be thought through before you attempt an outdoor kitchen. These include:
- Where it will be located – If it is not fully self-contained, it will need to be close to the house to accommodate trips to and from your indoor kitchen.
- What it will contain – This will depend on your budget, your cooking style and the amount of room you have to work with in your back yard.
- Where your guests will sit – Outdoor cooking is also about entertaining, so you will need to decide on guest seating arrangements in your plan. This may be in the form of a dining table, occasional tables or even stools around a bench top bar or island.
- Where your utilities will connect – This should be one of your first considerations, as an outdoor kitchen without power or water is not much of an option. Ideally it should have its own power supply installed by an electrician, its own mains water installed by a plumber, its own LPG gas bottle(s) and suitable task and ambience lighting.
- How it will be protected – The difference between an indoor and outdoor kitchen is exposure to weather. An outdoor kitchen will need some kind of roof covering to protect it from sun and rain, and side walls to protect the cooking area from wind. These can be in the form of portable sails or canopies, or more permanent structures such as pergolas or gazebos.
Materials to use
Deciding on the materials for your outdoor kitchen is also important. Because it is outdoors it will be exposed to all kinds of weather over time, so they need to be both durable and water resistant. Materials that are ideal for outdoor kitchens include:
- Stainless steel for sinks and fridges, which is corrosion resistant and has a sanitary, easy-clean surface.
- Natural stone counter tops such as UV-stabilised granite can be quite durable, although they require regular sealing.
- Waterproof cabinet materials, which are becoming more readily available on the domestic market.
- Sealed pavers on the floor or poured concrete, as it is hard wearing and can be hosed clean after use.
If creating an outdoor kitchen is a DIY project and you haven’t tackled anything like it before, it might be a good idea to visit a kitchen showroom first to get some ideas. This will give you a feel for kitchen layouts and the appliances that are available, and allow you to talk to someone who knows exactly what’s involved.