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April, 2019

Outdoor kitchens

With last summer's amazing weather, many of us took to cooking and eating al fresco on a more regular basis. While our weather may not always be so reliably hot and sunny, the trend of the outdoor room looks set to continue with many opting to create a dedicated kitchen and/or barbecue area in their gardens. However, with so many options to choose from what are the key things to consider when choosing an outdoor kitchen?

First up has to be budget. With so many options available, outdoor kitchens, with all the mod cons and appliances that you'd expect to find indoors, can come with a hefty five-figure price tag. Will an outdoor fridge/drinks cooler, sink, worktops, storage cabinets etc be essential? If you plan to use it only very occasionally, the level of expenditure for a full-blown, purpose-designed outdoor kitchen - complete with grill, wine cooler, rotisserie etc - may not be justified. Decide at the outset what your main requirements are likely to be and how often you plan to use the equipment. The more sophisticated your requirements, the more you'll need to plan ahead for things such as gas (mains or LPG), electrics, plumbing etc. If, on the other hand, a modest outdoor pizza oven or store-bought barbecue will better fit the bill then the budget, and space required, can be scaled accordingly.

Once you've decided on the style and functional requirements of your outdoor kitchen, think about where best to locate it. Typically, this will be as close to the house as possible to aid in the transfer of food and cookware and avoid trekking backwards and forwards the length of the garden. Similarly, a food preparation worksurface is likely to be a must-have and can easily be designed in if you are creating the kitchen from scratch. It's also worth considering if you plan to cook outdoors, whatever the weather. If this is the case, and given the unpredictability of the British weather, then some form of weatherproof cover will be essential. Options range from a budget-friendly over-sized parasol to a motorised awning attached to the house, or the latest up-to-the-minute range of purposed-designed pergolas that come complete with built-in lighting, speakers, and louvered roofs that can be opened and closed as the weather dictates.

Plan ahead by making a list of your kitchen/cook-area essentials. Be realistic about your budget. Consider the implications of your requirements on related utility services such as gas supply and electricity. Don't forget garden lighting, especially if you plan to use the area in the evenings. Finally, shop around for the best options to suit your garden style (and pocket) and be sure to let your garden designer know at the outset that an outdoor kitchen, or cook-out area, is an essential part of the brief so that it can be harmoniously integrated with the rest of your outdoor space.