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Designing the Perfect Outdoor Kitchen made for Entertaining

Updated: Jul 3, 2023


The Perfect Outdoor Kitchen made for Entertaining

Have you ever thought about extending your living space to the great outdoors? With our short summers here in Canada, it's no surprise that many of us are looking for ways to maximize our summer fun. That's why there's been a growing interest in adding outdoor spaces to our homes over the past few years.

The ideal outdoor space includes a lounging area, an eating area, and even a kitchen area. Of course, it might not be possible for everyone to have all three elements, but if you have the space and the budget, it can be a game-changer for your summer.


Speaking of outdoor kitchens, I've noticed that the kitchen area raises the most questions. So, for this month's blog, I wanted to dive into the topic of outdoor kitchens!


How to Design an Outdoor Kitchen That Fits Your Budget

There are many things to consider when installing an outdoor kitchen and any outdoor space, for that matter. It will all have to be considered when planning your design, from the type of grill to lighting to materials to use.

An outdoor kitchen can range from $2000 to $100,000+. Yip...you read that right. But the national average for outdoor kitchen prices is slightly higher than $13,000 (or $495 per linear foot). An outdoor kitchen's price depends on size, location, appliances, and design. I will review the essential elements and price range to help you design and plan your dream outdoor kitchen.


Design


There is a wide range of designs, some minimal and others very large and well-equipped. The design you will have depends on budget and functionality. When designing an outdoor kitchen, you need to consider the following things:

  1. Will you use your indoor and outdoor kitchens together

  2. What materials work best outside and in your climate

  3. The design should complement your home

  4. The layout of the space and where your appliances will sit

  5. How will you use the space

  6. How will the space be lit


Location

Outdoor kitchens generally fit into two location categories, and depending on the location of your kitchen, the cost will be significantly affected.

Perimeter kitchens are the most common and close to the house, often sharing a wall and maybe an overhang. With this location, you usually only need a BBQ since the proximity of the home's kitchen is close, and you can share a fridge and sink. However, if you decide to add an outdoor sink, it's not a problem because the house utilities are right there.


A satellite kitchen is elsewhere on your property, in the landscape and separated from your house. To function well, it needs to be as self-sufficient as possible. To run utilities to a satellite area means significant extra costs.


From Cabinets to Countertops: The Right Materials for Your Outdoor Kitchen

Cabinets

It's important that you choose a material for your outdoor cabinets that will be durable and functional.

Cabinets for Your Outdoor Kitchen

There are four main considerations when selecting outdoor kitchen cabinet materials: durability,


aesthetics, construction quality, and ease of maintenance. Here are a few of the most popular materials to consider:


Stainless Steel | Stainless can look beautiful and durable, provided you invest in cabinets constructed of high-quality stainless steel. But there are a few drawbacks to using this material for your cabinetry. Stainless steel can require frequent maintenance. If it isn't appropriately maintained, the finish can corrode. It is also heat-prone as it absorbs heat and gets incredibly hot in the sun.

Marine-Grade Aluminum | Aluminum is naturally corrosion-resistant, which is why its commonly used for marine applications. The marine grade aluminum for cabinets should be made of a thick gauge to ensure structural durability. This type of cabinet can be powder-coated, giving you a choice of colour and increasing its character and durability.

Masonry | Masonry involves covering a metal frame or concrete blocks with a stucco veneer, decorative stone, or brick. Masonry cabinets offer a unique and beautiful aesthetic. They are very sturdy and highly resilient in most climates. Some downsides of masonry are that it can take longer to design and tend to be more expensive to install.

PVC and Resin | PVC and resin are 100% weatherproof and can't rust or stain. This material is often used in marine-related applications. Since they are waterproof, they are very easy to maintain and clean. Cheaper PVC or vinyl is susceptible to colour fading in prolonged UV exposure and can warp when temperatures fluctuate significantly. If you decide on this product, ensure you invest in a high-end product.

Wood | Wood's delicate nature makes it challenging to use in an outdoor kitchen, especially in Canada. Using wood wouldn't be practical unless your outdoor cooking space was covered. If you use wood, use a more weather-resistant type of wood, such as teak, mahogany, and white oak. Most wood cabinets will have to be regularly sealed.


Perfect Outdoor Kitchen


Countertops


There are many different choices for your outdoor kitchen countertop. Here are some choices to consider:


Countertops for the perfect Outdoor Kitchen

Stone | There are many types of stone, and you can use any of them on your outdoor countertop, but should you? Porous stones like marble, limestone and bluestone may look great initially, but they stain easily, and you may end up with counters marred by grease or wine.


With granite, choose a mid-range colour. Darker stones absorb heat, and you can burn your hand if you touch a hot countertop.

Another durable stone option is soapstone. Available in a range of gray to black shades, your colour choices are limited, but soapstone has many pros in its favour, like heat, stain and bacteria resistance. Also, unlike granite, soapstone is non-porous, so regular sealing isn't necessary. It can also stand up to acidic foods, like citrus, vinegar and tomatoes, which is a big bonus in any kitchen prep area.

Concrete | Concrete is a very popular choice due to its clean, contemporary look. It's durable and can be tinted in various colours to suit your style. However, there are some things you should know about concrete. Many people think it will last forever, but the reality is that concrete is prone to cracking if not installed correctly and if it isn't the right mixture. Concrete works best if reinforced with tensile steel. If you decide to go with concrete, hire a reputable contractor with experience with using concrete for countertops.

Tile | Tile offers a wide range of styles and colour options. It's affordable and manageable for a DIY project. If choosing tile, ensure you use freeze-proof porcelain rather than ceramic tile because it's more resistant to fading and discolouring.

Something to keep in mind....grout tends to stain even if it's sealed, so it's best to go with a dark colour grout. Another critical thing to remember is that the cold winter freeze-thaw cycle can play havoc on grout. Finally, consider hiring an experienced installer who knows what products to use and proper installation so you get the best result for your exterior kitchen.

What to Avoid for Your Outdoor Kitchen Countertops:


You will want to avoid these materials for your outdoor countertops: marble, quartz, and laminate. Although beautiful, quartz, limestone and some marbles can stain and may not stand up to extreme heat. Laminate is inexpensive but made of particleboard and will quickly warp and rot in the outdoor elements.


Grilling 101: Tips for Choosing the Perfect Appliances for Your Outdoor Kitchen


Your outdoor grill, the centerpiece of your outdoor Kitchen

Your grill is the centrepiece of your outdoor kitchen. The cost of a grill can vary widely, from $200 to $10,000, depending on factors like the style, make and model, and BTUs. However, it's important to remember that you shouldn't spend your entire budget on a high-end grill if you can't afford to surround it with quality materials like durable countertops. To ensure that your grill fits into your overall outdoor kitchen design, talk to your designer or contractor and let them know what features you're looking for in a grill. This way, you can find a grill that fits your budget and design needs. They will source the appliances accordingly.


You can add a stainless steel sink and a refrigerator and upscale your countertops from tile to granite, all of which will increase the price of your space. For example, a sink will cost around $100, whereas a refrigerator will set you back between $400 - $1500.

High-end appliances such as Viking or Kalamazoo offer premium grills and accessories, including warming drawers and deep fryers.


Outdoor refrigerators such as wine fridges and keg dispensers have ongoing costs related to them to keep them cold and running well. Another option is to install a beverage center filled with ice to keep drinks chilled.


If you are trying to keep your cost reasonable, forgo the sink, refrigerator, and side burner. Instead, locate the outdoor kitchen near the indoor one to utilize the appliances between the two.


Looking for help or inspiration designing your outdoor kitchen and the rest of your outdoor space? We would be thrilled to help create your unique and inviting outdoor kitchen. Contact us today to book your consultation!



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