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5 Steps to Creating an Exceptional Outdoor Kitchen

5 steps to creating an exceptional outdoor kitchen by james river construction

Outdoor kitchens are becoming more and more popular and here in Virginia, our mild weather and beautiful landscapes practically demand outdoor cooking and eating. But while many of the same design principles that apply to indoor kitchens work for outdoor kitchens as well, there are unique aspects that you should take into consideration before building your perfect outdoor cooking space. Here are five steps that every homeowner should take to create an exceptional outdoor kitchen.

1. Choose the Perfect Location and Layout Before Your Materials
Obviously you have to choose where your kitchen will be and how it will be laid out, but in an outdoor kitchen these two decisions can drastically change the materials and construction of your kitchen. Choosing to put your kitchen on a covered porch opens up wood cabinets as an option and more sensitive stone counter tops. But putting a kitchen uncovered in the yard means you’ll need to purchase more weather resistant materials and tougher stones or surfaces.

Consider the times of day you’ll be spending cooking outdoors and make sure to give yourself relief from the sun. Putting a kitchen in a sun-filled part of the yard may seem like a great idea until you’re sweating in front of a hot grill in the middle of July. A well-placed umbrella or better yet, a custom constructed pergola will allow smoke to escape, while safeguarding the chef from the sun.

If you choose to put your kitchen on a covered porch or under any sort of roofing, consider installing an outdoor hood to vent smoke away from the premise. Otherwise, ensure that your cooking areas have plenty of ventilation away from your home to prevent fires, soot and smoke damage.

2. Choose your appliances first
Usually in an indoor kitchen, the layout comes first, then the appliances are chosen. But in an outdoor kitchen, we recommend choosing your dream appliances first, as they can drastically change the layout and size of an outdoor kitchen. A custom built-in grill will not be a standard size and therefore may affect how much counter space you need, or how high the cabinets will need to be. Installing an outdoor wine fridge? You’ll need to put that away from the grill and hot appliances and make sure it’s easily accessible even while the chef is at the cook-top.

Giving ample space in between appliances and plenty of prep and wash space means the cooking experience is more enjoyable for chef and guests.

3. Chefs needs good lighting
Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean you don’t need ample task and ambient lighting. Here in Central Virginia, some of the best grilling weather is when the days are shorter, so you may find yourself at your outdoor kitchen in the dark. Make sure to incorporate ambient lighting for great atmosphere as well as task lighting so you’re never cutting, searing or kabob-ing in the dark.

4. Don’t seclude the chef
Make sure the outdoor kitchen is convenient to dining or drinking areas as well as the inside of the house so that you’re not making long trips with heavy dishes, drinks and the like. Although you don’t want to put a hot grill right up against a house (without an outdoor hood), you do want to make it convenient. You also want to make sure the chef doesn’t get stuck by themselves in a corner without being able to interact with guests. Creating a bar around the cooking area of the kitchen is a great way to make it easy for the chef to prepare food while keeping the conversation and drinks flowing.

5. Choose high-quality, weather resistant materials
Probably the most important step you can take in creating an exceptional outdoor kitchen is to choose the best materials you can afford. High quality, weather resistant materials are the only way to go outdoors. Otherwise, your beautiful kitchen will become an eyesore after just a few seasons. For grills and outdoor appliances, we highly recommend Twin Eagles’ products, which can customize just about anything to your specifications.

Quality materials such as granite may require regular sealing, but there are some brands that are cultured by UV stabilizers so they keep their color and shine longer. Sealed concrete is another great outdoor material and custom stamps and stain can be added for different looks. Natural stone veneers can be added overtop of weather resistant cabinet materials for a high-end and high-style look. There are also many high quality stainless steel materials that can be used for work surfaces, cabinets and appliances that are easily cleaned and corrosion resistant.

Finally, working with a licensed contractor who has experience with outdoor kitchens and outdoor living spaces is the best way to ensure that your space is exceptional.

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