In recent years, outdoor entertaining areas have grown in popularity. With the busy lifestyles of this day and age, these areas have become a place for people to unwind after a long day. They also offer an opportunity to extend our living areas outside our homes. As with the interior space of your home, kitchens are often the hub of activity and a focal point in many a gathering. People enjoy food and friends, so why not bring them outdoors. Whether it is an outdoor dinner party, a relaxing meal with the family, or a romantic dinner for two, an outdoor kitchen naturally brings people together and can be a valuable addition to any home.

Another reason outdoor kitchens and rooms are on the rise is property values. Not only are they great additions to your home, they can add significant value to your home with a comparatively low investment. They have even become expected in some areas of the country. Regardless of expectations, a carefully planned outdoor room can be a feature to set your home apart from others while adding valuable living space to your property. However, the bottom line is an outdoor kitchen is just plain fun!

A cool breeze, the smell of fresh flowers, and the many soothing sounds of nature are among the many elements enjoyed outside. But being outside does not mean we have to sacrifice comfort, privacy, or the amenities of an indoor kitchen. Today (yes, even in Michigan) outdoor kitchens can feature working sinks, weather proof cabinetry, refrigerators, and trash and recycling centers. The cooking options are not lacking either. From smokers to charcoal grills, wood fired pizza ovens to infrared burners and rotisserie attachments, the grills available to today’s home owner can provide just the right cooking surface for all of your favorite meals. Many grills even offer several options of cooking all in one unit.

While the possibilities for your rooms and outdoor kitchens are nearly endless, there are a few things to keep in mind with any project. Planning ahead and thinking through the details will pay big dividends in the end and help eliminate headaches along the way. Think about the last barbeque party you attended. Where do people tend to gather? Was there enough room for serving? Food preparation? Eating? Even walking back and forth between these areas? All of these things may seem obvious but are often overlooked in an outdoor room. The best outdoor kitchens foster the natural flow between kitchens, garden, and table seamlessly.

In addition to allowing yourself enough space, there are several other items to consider to get the most out of your outdoor kitchen. Lighting, shade, prevailing winds, and proximity to the house are a few of the items to take into account. By taking these things into account you allow yourself, not only the ability to have a successful space, but to extend the amount of time you are able to enjoy the space. If your outdoor kitchen is going to be located a long distance away from the main house, additional amenities such as storage and beverage centers may make more sense. The opposite is true if your outdoor kitchen is really an extension of the indoor space and only a couple steps away. Predicting nature is almost impossible. However, we can make reasonable assumptions about certain aspects such as the prevailing wind direction. The smell of a nice steak or hamburger on the grill can make your mouth water, but the last thing you want is the smoke from the grill constantly blowing inside the house. Your outdoor kitchen should be located properly to take advantage of prevailing winds on a site to limit this kind of occurrence.

In addition to the wind and proximity to the main residence, you should consider the sites exposure to the sun. If your outdoor kitchen is far away from the house, with little or no protection from the sun, it could become too hot and uncomfortable to use on many summer days. Why limit yourself on when you can use your new space? By adding shade and lighting to a space, you can not only make it more comfortable, but you can also extend the amount of time you are able to use your new kitchen. Task lighting is also an important thing to remember so that you have the ability to see what you are cooking. Some grills offer built in lighting for this but shade structures also offer a great home for lighting. Structures such as awnings or pergolas can provide relief from the sun, provide a home for light fixtures, and help enclose and define the scale of a room. A somewhat enclosed or protected space tends to make people feel more comfortable and gives them the ability to truly relax without the feeling of being on display to the neighbors.

Designing a space that is both comfortable and functional may seem overwhelming. Thinkof room for food preparation, cooking, serving, eating and lounging while at the same time is the right distance from the house, takes advantage of prevailing winds, has the right amount of protection and enclosure. Then add in factors so the space can be used year round and looks good all at the same time. Finally, building codes, numerous utilities, and the technical part can appear just as daunting. A well planned and carefully thought out design can accomplish all of these things in any space. With homeowners placing a greater value on the outdoor experience, there are endless opportunities for your home. Your Rivertown Landscapes designer can address all of these issues and create a timeless design to expand your outdoor experience and exceed all of your expectations!

Spring is almost here. Visit our request consultation page or contact us at 616.866.1700 to review your outdoor kitchen needs.