Creating An Outdoor Kitchen
It’s May in Georgia. That means blue skies, blooming flowers and quality time outdoors. There’s no better time to treat your backyard as an extension of your family home. So grab some SPF and your apron—we’re about to show you the advantages of having an outdoor kitchen, along with and some of the best outdoor appliances of 2010.
Why take it outdoors?
Rick Kaldrovics, president of Outside Landscape Group, attributes the influx of outdoor kitchens in part to pop-culture television. “With the growing popularity of recent cooking shows and reality restaurant programs, the cooking industry has witnessed extreme growth, and there is a growing demand to stay in the backyard and create gourmet meals for family and friends,” he says.
Aside from providing entertainment and leisure, outdoor kitchens can also increase the value of your home. “An outdoor kitchen can differentiate your home from others and make it more attractive and memorable to potential buyers,” says Evan Rogers of the landscape firm Scapes. “Some estimates place the return on investment from 80 to 100 percent or more on a professionally designed and installed outdoor kitchen.”
What to consider before you construct
Before you go buying the latest and greatest outdoor appliances, consider whether your backyard can realistically accommodate a kitchen. Rogers says that a variety of landscapes lend themselves to outdoor kitchens but that the best ones are constructed in lush, soothing environments. “Surrounding your kitchen with a beautiful landscape can make for a terrific outdoor cooking and dining experience,” he says.
Kaldrovics agrees. “Creating privacy with plants is a desirable landscape consideration,” he says. “Perhaps locating pots that are filled with herbs or planting a small kitchen garden should be considered.”
Kaldrovics does warn, however, that the land must be level, compact and well-drained, and patio or deck space must be ample. Shane LeBlanc, president of Selective Designs, says that when installing an outdoor kitchen on your porch or deck, aluminum framing and under-deck bracing are often necessary to accommodate the weight of the appliances. “Homeowners will definitely want a professional to come do the work,” he says.
Differentiating necessity from luxury
Outdoor kitchens can run the gamut from simple setups to elaborate areas designed to entertain large groups of guests. “Accessory must-haves can vary depending on the needs and lifestyle of the homeowners,” says Doug Bork of Outside Landscape Group, “but some of the necessary basics are side burners, warming drawers and definitely a small outdoor refrigerator.” John MacGregor of Georgia Landscape Depot adds that ample counter and storage space are essential.
If you’re looking for a kitchen that goes beyond the basics, however, the possibilities are endless. “Outdoor kitchens can include ice makers, pizza ovens, built-in cabinetry, kegerators, sinks and more,” Rogers says.
Eric Brenner, owner of Atlanta-based AuthenTEAK, reminds homeowners that the number and types of appliances they purchase correlates to the outdoor kitchen’s proximity to the indoor kitchen. “The further away from the interior appliances, the more appliances are needed outdoors,” he says.
Picking your Product
Once the must-haves for your kitchen are determined, it’s time for the fun part—selecting your outdoor appliances. Below are some of this year’s hottest products that can accommodate a variety of outdoor kitchens, no matter the style or size.
If you want a pre-finished design, consider items from Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens. The company offers three new pre-finished options, available at www.outdoorkitchensbyatlantis.com. Items start at $3,864.
- The Grilling Station includes two base cabinets and a Vermont Castings grill with a grill base.
- The Chef’s Station includes cabinets, a three- or five-burner grill and a Marvel refrigerator.
- The Entertainment Station includes cabinets, a grill, refrigerator, cocktail station and more.
For something on a smaller scale, check out grills from Wolf Appliance Inc., The Team Grill Patio Series and The Big Green Egg.
- The Outdoor Gas Grill by Wolf Appliance Inc. uses two types of heat—direct and radient—to cook at your ideal temperature. The grill includes a four-position warming rack, interior halogen lights, two rotisserie positions and more. (770) 921-9373, www.subzero.com; $3,639-$4,969
- The Team Grill Patio Series MVP gas grills are the first to feature the colors and logos of your favorite college teams. The grill features a porcelain-enameled lid with team logos, three stainless-steel burners, one infrared searing burner, one stainless-steel side burner and stainless-steel shelves, grates and control panel. CSI Kitchen and Bath, (770) 729-1999, www.csikitchenandbath.com; $1,499
- The Big Green Egg, which was invented in Atlanta, offers a unique all-in-one grill and smoker that allows you to cook at temperatures as high as 750 degrees for steakhouse searing, or as low as 200 degrees for slow smoking. And it’s available in five sizes, ranging from extra large to mini. (770) 934-5300, www.biggreenegg.com; $299-$1,000
To add a little extra, consider one of these amenities:
- Add entertainment with SunBriteTV’s All-Weather Outdoor LCD television. Features include an anti-glare screen and a built-in fan and heater to regulate temperatures. The TV can withstand rain, dust, insects and extreme temperatures. (404) 525-1995, www.authenteak.com; prices start at $1,895
- Dish out pizza with the Outdoor Artisan Pizza Oven by Kalamazoo. The first of its kind, this pizza oven is made of stainless steel and powered by natural or LP gas. Not only will it cook any type of pizza, but it also bakes bread. (800) 868-1699, www.kalamazoooutdoorgourmet.com; $3,990
- The Alfresco Dry Storage Pantry stores dry goods, cookware and more and is available in 30- and 42-inch versions. The pantry is completely sealed to keep out pests and rain and is available in four sizes. Each model features interior drawers and an adjustable wire shelf. (770) 255-1400, www.builderspecialties.net; prices start at $1,285