Outdoor kitchens have become very popular. As people try to extend their living spaces, outdoor entertaining areas complete with full kitchens have become very desirable. But in most cases they don’t come without a fairly hefty price tag. So the question is, if you like cooking outdoors should you go for the outdoor kitchen complete with countertops, fridge and maybe even a sink, or is a standalone grill enough?
Before deciding whether or not you want to invest in an outdoor kitchen, think about how many people will be using it on a regular basis. If you primarily cook for one, a standalone grill is probably enough. If however you cook for a large family or regularly entertain, the added convenience of a large prep area, extra cooking space, warming drawers and storage could be well worth your while. An outdoor kitchen becomes not just a place to cook, but a place to socialize and relax.
No matter how many people will be using it, outdoor kitchens take up a lot of space. Before you even consider building, make sure your yard can accommodate it. Also, keep in mind that an outdoor kitchen should be situated where it has minimum exposure to the elements and protection from the wind. In most cases you’ll want to keep in fairly close to the house. An outdoor sink will require a water supply and a drain, electricity is needed for outdoor fridges, gas might be required for grills, etc. So think about how and where the utilities would be routed from the house. Also, in most cases there will be permit issues, so check the zoning requirements to make sure your outdoor kitchen will be a legal distance from property lines and the house.
Safety is a huge consideration when it comes to outdoor kitchens and cooking outside in general. It’s important to consult an expert before you start, but give some thought to things like proper ventilation and fire safety. Any time you’re dealing with grills – especially gas – you want to make sure you’re at a proper distance from the house and other structures. These types of considerations are important when it comes to making the decisions of the how’s, why’s and where’s of installing outdoor kitchens.
The reality of outdoor kitchens is that they won’t really add any value to your home. While they can certainly increase personal enjoyment and satisfaction, the financial ROI is low. Depending on the complexity of the build they can be quite costly, and the returns simply aren’t there. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it. If you’ve got the money, the space and the desire, go for it. Just be sure to put them in the “just for you” category and move forward accordingly.
Photos courtesy of iStockphoto.com /piovesempre, /imamember, /oneillbro, /jimkruger, /chandlerphoto
Don’t be afraid to call your municipality’s permit office to discuss your project. They can help you understand the process and make it run smoother.