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Does an Outdoor Kitchen Make Sense for You?

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Some say that food tastes better when it’s cooked outdoors.

Whether you agree or not, it is hard to deny that an outdoor kitchen fits perfectly with the South Bay lifestyle.

As nice as it can be, the reality is that you don’t necessarily need one. However, if you do decide that having an outdoor cooking space is for you, it certainly can add a new level of enrichment to your life.

You may have never even considered it as an option. 

Don’t let that stop you from considering the benefits of an outdoor kitchen -- especially if you live in Southern California.

The outdoor kitchen will mean more than just being an area where food is prepared. The outdoor area will be used while spending time with those we love, having fun preparing the foods that we eat and rediscovering the natural world that is as close as our own backyards. 

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Assessing Outdoor Kitchen Compatibility

Whether you knew you wanted an outdoor kitchen or not, by following these parameters, you may realize that this is a necessity for your household:

  • You grill a minimum of two times a week;
  • You’re tired of the typical burgers and boneless chicken breasts, but your equipment isn’t up to the task of trying something new;
  • You often find yourself cooking food indoors, only to bring it out to the patio where the friends and family typically congregate;
  • You end up with a case of cabin fever at the end of the day because you don’t have a nice, peaceful outdoor living space. 

If any of these descriptions suit you, an outdoor kitchen could be worth the investment.

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Getting Practical

 An outdoor kitchen can go from one extreme to another, in terms of design. It can be equipped to prepare and serve food for an intimate gathering of two people or 200. 

The difference between the two extremes is the size of the space available and the equipment at hand. 

Practical considerations require the same elements in either kitchen and include: 

  • Food preparation. A nice size counter -- at least three linear feet adjacent to the grill -- is essential for prepping or staging anything. Installing a sink and refrigerator provides a level of convenience, but counter space is essential to an outside kitchen. 
  • Grill (and other cooking equipment). While gas is easier to work with, true grill masters will be the first to tell you about how much flavor you get when using charcoal. Consider wood-fire ovens. Another option is electricity. 
  • A place to eat. Most outdoor kitchen owners would insist on having a comfortable, convenient place to eat outside.  Of course, this isn’t necessary. The food can be brought inside, but for some, it is an essential element of the experience. The easiest way to add a dining area is to add a dinette set located on a firm, even surface. If you want more of a mingle-friendly arrangement, have a dining bar built into the kitchen’s counter. 

Although there is no single description for an outdoor kitchen that works for everyone, these are the basic components.

Of course, there are other tasks that need to be addressed during the design phase..  

Kicking It Up a Notch

If you are passionate about cooking, consider adding a side burner. A rotisserie unit is another good idea for roasting whole birds and large cuts of meat.

For late night entertaining add light to your cooking center to enjoy your kitchen well into the short days of fall. 

As you have already discovered, some outdoor kitchens go well beyond the basics, including fireplaces or fire pits, gathering areas, multiple cooking and cleanup stations and generous food storage capacity. 

At least now you know if an outdoor kitchen makes sense for you and you know what you need in order to make it a reality. 


Topics: Exterior, Open Floor Plan, Kitchen, Whole House