Make Dinner Under the Stars!
Creating the seamless flow between an interior and exterior living space has been a strong trend with landscape and interior designers over the last few years. In 2014 we will see this extend beyond the living room and into the kitchen and outside dining areas.
For decades, grilling outdoors has been a favored past time, but outdoor living areas haven’t always been a year-round extension of the home. We are seeing more and more people excited about the idea of keeping their durable, outdoor wood furniture outside year-round and using their backyard as a great kitchen space.
According to the 2014 Garden Trends Report by the Garden Media Group, families are spending more leisure time outside and so are “decorating” their gardens with more garden art, outdoor ornaments, and unique accessories. Garden Media adds, “People still want their outdoor spaces to look beautiful, but want to invest their time and money into high-quality, eco-friendly products with a smaller carbon footprint.”
Custom outdoor dining areas open up many enjoyable entertaining opportunities. It’s wise to first decide on a location for your outdoor kitchen, and then determine the entertaining, living, and cooking work-flow that fits your home. An outdoor kitchen build can be a major home improvement and warrants the insights of a professional designer. To start you off we have compiled our top 5 tips for creating your dream outdoor space:
1. Use Durable Materials for Your Outdoor Furniture
An outdoor kitchen is not a temporary space. It is important to select low-maintenance materials and equipment designed to withstand the rigors of an outdoor kitchen. Outdoor wood furniture is a great option for dining and bar areas. It can retain its finish for years and provide a high quality strength that is required for a year-round outdoor space.
In addition to choosing outdoor wood furniture, high-quality stainless steel is easily cleaned and corrosion-resistant. Also, remember that counters need to be highly resistant to grease stains and able to withstand high temperatures. Natural stone counters require sealing on a regular basis. If you go with granite, use cultured granite with UV stabilizers. Avoid highly porous materials such as limestone. In climates with considerable freezing and thawing, avoid tile countertops.
2. Design with Function in Mind
Even though this is an outdoor kitchen, it is important to keep in mind kitchen design principles for functional zones of the kitchen. Think about more than the grill. Cold areas (refrigeration), wet areas (sinks) and dry areas (prep counters and storage) must all work with the hot area (grill and cooktops). Be sure that you think about proximity to each function and provide enough space to be successful.
When designing your outdoor living space there are several great gadgets you might like to include. Homeowners can choose from gourmet pizza ovens, custom wet bars, built-in fireplaces, side burners, outdoor smokers, warming drawers and roasting spits for grilling your favorite dishes.
3. Tie the Inside with the Outside
A great way to tie the two spaces together is with a walking path. In addition to your indoor and outdoor kitchens being functional, the overall design style should complement each other. The most significant difference between indoor and outdoor kitchen design is often the exposure to the elements (shelter and durability considerations). Other differences include more difficulty in running utilities such as water. And there is usually no outdoor wall, so the outdoor kitchen equipment typically defines the room boundaries.
4. Plan the Whole Backyard to Work Together
Plan the entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a single backyard plan. There is more to the yard then a kitchen/dining area. There might be a pool, garden, or play area for the kids. These things need to be taken into consideration when planning the location of the kitchen. Think of these as outdoor rooms and consider the flow of traffic as part of the design.
5. Create an Ambience All Year
Extend the outdoor entertaining season with heaters, shade and rain shelter. Natural gas patio heaters can be used effectively under eaves and pergolas. Portable propane patio heaters are another option. Water features and ambient lighting can dramatically enhance the mood you are trying to create. Don’t forget to incorporate music and other entertainment so the homeowner doesn’t face the design challenge of adding it later. Also, provide adequate task lighting as well as ambient lighting to accommodate after-dark cooking and entertaining.
Bonus Trend for 2014
If you are cooking in the garden, why not try growing your own food in the garden also? ‘Urban Farming’ can mean everything from growing a fruit tree in the garden to growing your own vegetables and herbs in containers, or even keeping your own livestock – nothing beats fresh eggs in the morning.
With the growing awareness of the benefits of eating healthy organic food, it’s been reported that we like to have our home grown greens close to hand while cooking, but in a trendy manner. Hanging plants and herbs in macramé hangers in the outdoor kitchen is reported to be a main trend for 2014.