With the warm weather (finally) approaching, you’re probably thinking about the best way to make the most of your backyard. An outdoor kitchen is a really cool way to create a space in your home that’ll allow you to get some sunshine—and take your grilling game to the next level.
Whether you’re planning on barbecuing a few burgers or going full chef, know that the process of designing an outdoor kitchen requires a few considerations you may not have thought of—just ask interior designer Ashley Moore, founder of Moore House Interiors. Having recently added one to her own home, Moore is no stranger to the intricate details that make up designing an alfresco space. Below, check out her top tips for making sure your new kitchen serves its purpose and gives you all the joy you need to spend your summer in style.
According to Moore, a big mistake people make is designing their outdoor kitchen without taking into account the rest of their home. “Since our outdoor kitchen was an addition, I wanted to make sure it didn’t feel like an afterthought to our home,” she explains. “To ensure that it reflected the original design elements, we used the same colors and architectural styles to blend it seamlessly with the house.”
2. PLAY WITH MATERIALS
This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to use the exact same materials that are found inside the home. Realize that these outdoor spaces undergo a lot of wear and tear. Therefore, picking materials that can withstand harsh weather—think brick, concrete, stucco and steel—will ensure your kitchen survives the elements just fine.
“I understand that outdoor furniture can be a little expensive, but if you can afford to spend more on pieces that will last 20 years, it’s worth the investment,” says Moore. “I always recommend poly-resin furniture for that reason—for example, ours is from Berlin Gardens. It’s beautiful, comfortable and made from recycled milk cartons, and it endures every season without needing maintenance.” Other great options include steel, aluminum and wrought iron.
4. SKIP THE OPEN SHELVES
Much like in your normal kitchen, you’re going to want to store some essentials (like cutlery and pantry items) in your space so that you don’t have to keep running in and out of the house while you’re entertaining. You’ll also want to protect these items from the elements. Moore suggests including some closed cabinets, since you wouldn’t want to leave these items out on countertops or open shelving.
5. ACCENTS MAKE THE SPACE
“Don’t overdo it with design,” says Moore. “It should feel like an extension of your home, so keep it more on the neutral side.” She suggests adding accents like backsplashes and colorful furniture for pops of personality.
“When creating an outdoor kitchen, your first step is to evaluate your goals for the space and make sure you’re using the space effectively,” says Moore. “Outline the steps it will take to make your vision happen: What size grill do you need? How much seating would you like? If you opt for an outdoor fridge, is it meant for food, drinks or both? Once you have those overall goals and big-picture items nailed down, then you’re ready to start designing your space.”
7. FIND WAYS TO INCORPORATE THE OUTDOORS
It’s important not to overwhelm your outdoor area so that the scenery can shine through. “We chose neutral finishes and furniture so the surrounding natural landscape could bring in the color,” explains Moore. This way, the attention is placed squarely on the outdoors—otherwise known as the winning part of the kitchen.
Moore explains that if your outdoor kitchen is temporary—e.g., just for the warmer months or in a rental—then your design process will be entirely different. In those cases, you should make sure your materials and appliances are portable so that you’re not struggling to store things once the weather turns cold. Think portable patio heaters and lightweight furniture.
9. SHELTER IS EVERYTHING
Cover your kitchen as much as possible to protect those appliances from rainy or snowy days. While you ideally don’t want to have a ceiling over a smoky area like a grill, you should make sure to have at least a partial patio roof to protect your carefully designed space.