Monday, August 13, 2012

Outdoor Kitchens

My colors! Creating such an inviting outdoor space.
Photo Credit: BH&G Magazine, July 2012
The weather has been sizzling this summer. It’s been too hot much of the time to cook – indoors or out. But now that more temperate weather is returning and we are using our patios and decks more, it is a great time to think about creating or enhancing your outdoor kitchen. And you should be able to take advantage of some great end of the season sales, too.

Imagine long, relaxing evenings grilling steaks and corn-on-the-cob, slicing garden ripened picked tomatoes…and later gathering around the fire pit and talking into the night while the kids toast marshmallows to make s’mores. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? The great thing is that an outdoor kitchen can extend the patio enjoyment / outdoor cooking season well into November. I enjoy cooking my Thanksgiving turkey on the grill.

Following are some ideas and details to consider when planning an outdoor kitchen, taken from “This Old House Magazine”, August 2012:
  • Set up your outdoor kitchen close to the house for convenience but also to save money by running utilities only a short distance and to use existing patio or deck space. Also, the walls of the house can provide structure and protection.
  • A sink and refrigerator are not necessities, but they will make outdoor cooking more enjoyable.
  • Create work surfaces. Ideal places are above the refrigerator, alongside of the grill, and/or alongside the sink.
  • Consider moveable units for cost-saving and multi-tasking in small spaces.
  • A pergola, awning or umbrella will provide sun and weather protection.
  • Create a 3-pronged lighting plan. A clip-on grill light provides task lighting. Use lanterns or other ambient lighting in eating and lounging areas. For safety consider spot lights or pathway/stairway lights.
  • Use a portable heat source to extend the outdoor season.
Below, I chose products and ideas that can most easily be implemented this late in the season. None of them should require a permit but just to be safe check with your local community and learn their rules and regulations.

Moveable units provide the most flexibility. This prefab grill island by Select Outdoor Kitchens is great for food prep and grilling, and it also has plenty of storage space.

This rolling food-prep station, also available through Improvements Online Catalog, doubles as a serving station. 

Now you need a sink. Having one built in can cost $2000 or more. Here is one way save money. This unit, also from Improvements Online Catalog, has a dedicated water line and also includes plumbing and waste lines. It will recycle water from your existing outdoor hose line for only $100!

This inflatable serving bar from Improvements is lightweight and portable. It will keep your drinks and your potato salad cool for only $14.99!

Use Improvements’ submersible tea lights (battery powered LEDs) for some added enchantment. 

If including an outdoor family room is your style you might enjoy this fun idea from the July 2012 Better Homes and Gardens magazine. A California family – with the help of a carpenter - transformed a vintage horse trough into a combination fire pit, drink cooler and table. You could make it yourself from concrete.

When you create or enhance your outdoor kitchen send me photos. I would love to see them, and with your permission,  share them on Facebook or in a future Blog. 

Enjoy your new and improved outdoor spaces throughout the summer and fall!

Christine's Pick of the Month for August

Look for outdoor furniture at: 
Crate and Barrel 
3503 Galleria
Edina, MN 55435
or at their new youthful store  
CB2 Uptown
3045 Hennepin Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408