Outdoor spaces can offer a lot of extra living space in the warmer months of the year in the Pacific Northwest. Outdoor kitchens, from simple to spectacular, give you a new way to entertain and enjoy your home.
It is important to think about how you cook and entertain, so you can refine your wants and needs. Do you need a sink for prep, or can you work without that? Counter space? Refrigeration or cooler spaces? Spaces for barbecues, smokers or a pizza oven? Start making a list of all the things you might want.
Fire pits and fireplaces are great companions to an outdoor kitchen. Either can use gas or wood, or can be wood-burning with a log lighter for ease. They provide a great place to relax and visit after meals or in the evenings.
Pizza ovens are a really popular feature in outdoor living spaces. You can build one in place or buy one (either fixed or portable). Wood-fired is the most popular style, but pizza ovens can also be gas-fired. While they take a bit of getting used to (it is really easy to burn anything very quickly at 800 degrees), you will get the hang of it with some trial and error.
For a real kitchen feel, outdoor cabinets are a very nice splurge. Generally made of stainless steel, they are functional and beautiful, but not great for long-term storage of food items.
Countertops can be stone, quartz or concrete — just about anything that will hold up to heat, cold, sun and moisture. On occasion, I have seen cook-tops in outdoor kitchens, but an induction hotplate makes a fantastic addition, too. The hotplate has a lower cost and can be easily stored when not in use.
Many outdoor living spaces and kitchens are open air, but a cover can be nice, as it would provide protection from the sun, rain and wind. Skylights, chandeliers or lighting can be added, creating an even more beautiful and functional space that is sure to be used much of the year.
In a smaller home, an outdoor kitchen and living space can be a great extension of the home for entertaining and relaxing. Whatever your reason for the space, a little thought and planning will help you to create an amazing retreat for cooking, family and friends right outside your door.