You know what they say: “If you can’t stand the heat, take the kitchen outdoors!” (OK, “They” really don’t say that, but they probably should!) There’s no doubt that outdoor kitchens have grown in popularity. And those of us living in the Naples area are blessed with the kind of environment that gives us ample opportunity to take the cooking outside. It’s fun and relaxing—and it takes some of the heat from the kitchen out of the house.
But there’s more to a real outdoor kitchen than simply rolling the grill up to the back door and carrying a cooler outside. If you like the idea of outdoor cooking, here are some essentials for making it a truly enjoyable and comfortable experience.
Start With Some Shelter
It’s true that Florida weather allows us to be outside more than in some other areas of the country. But we still need some protection from the elements. Too much sun isn’t comfortable for the cook or the guests. Consider adding a pergola to shelter you from intense sunlight. And if you want relief from the rain, consider adding a metal or Plexiglas roof. In addition to protection from the elements, it helps the space feel more like a very open room.
Consider Your Countertops
If you really want to prepare meals outside, you’ll want countertops where you can work to slice and stir and put plates. Stone counters can be built to accommodate a grill and give you plenty of workspace—just like the countertops inside your home.
Add Appliances and a Sink
You don’t want to be running back and forth to the kitchen whenever you need to rinse or wash something. Install a sink in your outdoor kitchen to eliminate that hassle. And as long as you’re running plumbing to the sink, add a small refrigerator for drinks and cooking items you want to keep cold.
Light It Up
Your barbecue grill isn’t the only thing you’ll want to light up. If you do any cooking after dark, you’ll want to have a well-lit area to work in. Install task lighting to take care of the cooking area, and add ambient lighting for sitting and dining areas.
Create a Comfortable Seating Area
People like to hang out around the kitchen—but if you don’t want them right where the action is, create a welcoming and comfortable place for them to sit. Adding a hearth or a fire pit can add a lot of character to your outdoor space, and people love to sit around a fire—even if they’re not trying to keep warm!
Of course you’re going to want to make sure that you have the right foundation for all of this. You’ll want to talk with your remodeler to make sure that your patio or deck is ready for this kind of an upgrade. We’d be happy to work with you on that, and to share other ideas for making your outdoor kitchen a great one. Who knows, you may never cook inside again!