More than just a grill, an outdoor kitchen can have it all these days.
Most guests end up in the kitchen anyway, so why not move theparty outside and enjoy the view? Whether you're remodeling to takeadvantage of the latest outdoor appliances or designing newconstruction, planning ahead yields the best results.
Think it through. Spend time in the space where you intendto add your new cooking and serving area. Are you going to havesand in your burgers if you don't build a windbreak? Do you need asunshade over the dining area? Even more importantly, think aboutwhere utility lines need to go. Are there obstructions, such as apool deck, to negotiate? You probably don't want to add patiodestruction and rebuilding costs to the budget.
Invest in proven quality. Choose products designed for theoutdoors. Marine-quality equipment will weather round-the-clocksalt air, punishing sun, and, in some climates, radical temperaturechanges.
Consider the climate. Location has a lot to do with how youplan and outfit your outdoor kitchen. That beautiful outdoorfireplace you've been eyeing in a catalog may be useless in atropical location. In colder climates, you'll need to winterizewater lines just as you do with pipes leading into the house.Installing lines that are difficult to get to will complicate thatprocess later. In subtropical zones, it helps to have some sort ofroof over at least part of the dining area. And in all climates,cover grill tops and refrigerators to shelter them when they're notin use.
Make the floor furniture-ready. When designing your outdoorroom, you'll want smooth and even floors so chairs and tables willbe balanced. Consider solid surfaces or carefully joined tilerather than garden stones, which look great but work best in placeswithout furniture.
For some great ideas, pick up a copy of Amanda Lecky's Outdoor Kitchens: Designs for Outdoor Kitchens, Bars, and Dining Areas(Quarry Books, 2005). The photographs alone will get you dreaming,and the design tips are straightforward and practical. Those of uswho love looking at new gear will appreciate the products sectionin the back of the book.