Outdoor kitchens are a hot segment in many parts of the country. A rebounding trend in outdoor living reveals more and more properties feature outdoor kitchens that once were the province of only the very wealthy.

Today, moving the home’s indoor central meeting place outdoors creates an open-air living space that’s both accessible and inviting as any indoor room.  Great for gatherings and socializing, having a kitchen and dining area outdoors also eliminates some of the indoor mess and hassle of food preparation and makes for a more inclusive cooking experience.

Here are top ten tips to help you plan the design for your outdoor living area!

1. Apply good kitchen design principles for functional zones of the kitchen. Cold areas (refrigeration), hot areas (grills and cooktops), wet areas (sinks) and dry areas (prep counters and storage) must all work together effectively in proper proximity, each with enough allocated space.

2. Remember that indoor and outdoor kitchens are simpatico. The most significant difference between indoor and outdoor kitchen design is often the exposure to the elements. Outdoor rooms bring a whole world of additional cooking options, like open-wood flame or smoking.

3. Select low-maintenance materials and equipment designed to withstand the rigors of an outdoor kitchen. High-quality stainless steel provides a sanitary surface that’s easily cleaned and corrosion-resistant. Counters and patio or decking material should be highly resistant to grease stains and able to withstand high temperatures. Sealed pavers or concrete are excellent flooring options.

4. Complement the design of the home’s architecture and landscape.  Use compatible materials and incorporate subtle architectural details. A fireplace is an excellent anchor. Try to create a feeling of something over your head; pergolas, arbors or other open-air or roofed structures, even the canopy of a shade tree.

5. Plan the entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a single functional plan. Dining areas, cooking areas and pool areas often coexist. Think of these as outdoor rooms and consider the flow of traffic as part of the design.  You don’t want to isolate the cook from the rest of the party!

6. Plan for utilities; keep in mind the best practical placement for the water and electrical outlets.

7. 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.

8. Incorporate music or an outdoor television into your design.

9. Provide adequate task lighting as well as ambient lighting to accommodate after-dark cooking and entertaining.

10. Ask yourself these three questions to get an idea of the needs for your new kitchen.

1) How do you cook inside? Outside?

2) Do you do your own cooking at parties or hire a chef?

3) How many people and how often do you entertain?

Call DiPalantino Contractors to help you design and build your dream outdoor kitchen to entertain your friends and family!