What is an outdoor kitchen?
An outdoor kitchen is a way of turning the kitchen and not the dining room or living room into an entertainment space. They can contain a bar, seating, cabinets, a grill, sinks, and even ovens and stovetops. It is a way of showcasing cooking to family and friends, without feeling confined to the interior. The chef or host can cook while entertaining guests. Total construction cost can range anywhere from $1,000 to more than $25,000.
What about South Florida?
In South Florida, outdoor kitchens provide a relaxing place to entertain in the cooler months. But how about in the summer? High temperatures and intense humidity create an unpleasant environment for many. The outdoor kitchen is then viewed as seasonal. But this does not necessarily have to be the case. The main benefit with an outdoor kitchen is that you can transfer the heat generated from cooking to the outdoors. This helps with air-conditioning costs. Consider the average oven or stovetop. The heat released warms the inside of the house causing the air-conditioning to work twice as hard to bring down the ambient temperature inside the home. on the other hand, the outdoor kitchen is usually covered which creates a shady environment for you while you cook and your backyard.
A main concern in South Florida versus other areas of the United States is that the exposed materials must have a UV protectant and be humidity resistant. They must also be able to handle the hot temperatures. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is a proven material to withstand our sunny and high moisture environment. But, this is just one example and there are certainly other options.
Planning your outdoor kitchen:
There are many factors that go into deciding what outdoor kitchen design works for you. First, you must consider your budget.. The cost and location (regionally, locally and on the site) dictate the ingredients that go into the kitchen: appliance type, materials used, and size also matter. One way to go about creating an outdoor kitchen without creating an entirely new structure is to incorporate it into the back porch or patio area. This provides the necessary covered aspect as well as an existing ground plane. For a freestanding structure, you may require an actual outdoor “room”, with columns or structural elements and perhaps even deck installation.
These costs can easily outweigh the costs of the kitchen and equipment themselves. The next step would be to decide who it is for. Is it for a family? Is it for small or large gatherings? This decision helps the designer figure out what style of seating is needed. If it is for a family, it would make sense to put a small table nearby with four or more chairs. Another option would be to create a bar stool area along the outdoor kitchen area for family-style eating. For gatherings, the bar seating creates conversation areas for the one cooking, while the large table nearby creates the “family style” dining experience.
Once the seating and outdoor kitchen location is decided, it is easy to then decide how large it should be. Counterspace for preparing food, grill space, a bar, cabinets, and a sink all can quickly take up nearly 8’ of length. The kitchen shape should also be analyzed. There are many websites out there to help build your own outdoor kitchen. DIY Network does a great job. Simply search “outdoor kitchen” and you will find a plethora of links. For example, http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-build-an-outdoor-kitchen-island/index.html teaches you how to build your own outdoor kitchen island. Doing the basics on your own and paying for installations can save a lot of money and create a conversation piece. However, hiring a design professional is a way to avoid costly mistake later.
Between the waste line for a sink, hot and cold water lines for a fridge, sink or beverage center or even a kegerator as well as a gas line if you choose to go non-charcoal are increases in cost but shouldn’t be overlooked. A design professional can help you weigh these choices and decide what is right for your site. With that information in hand, you can then go the DIY route or hire a local contractor to take care of the rest.
Ready to start your own outdoor kitchen? Sebastian Eilert Architecture (www.SebastianEilert.com) or call 786.556.3118
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