The New Social Hub is Outside! – Expanding our Living Space with Outdoor Kitchen

I just received a question from a homeowner who was thinking about adding an outdoor kitchen, and possibly a fireplace with seating.  He wanted to know if I could share a few ideas. 

 Outdoor kitchens are all of the rage right now.  As agents, we see that they come in the most simple and the most elaborate packages.  They are fun and a place where cooking becomes an occasion with the chef surrounded by friends and family.  You can put guests to work, or have them observe you while you do the cooking.  Everyone can enjoy the process, and the food even seems to taste much better when you’ve been involved in the preparation.  Having an outdoor kitchen provides a reason to invite guests to your home and it adds to its value as a result of adding a benefit to a life-style. 

 For the past two years because homes have been difficult to sell, many homeowners are choosing to stay and upgrade, just like you.  Over the last decade, there’s been a BOOM in equipment manufacturing and installation for outdoor kitchens. 

 The start of the outdoor grill of course was Cave-man building a fire and roasting freshly caught meat.  We’ve really progressed from that time.  Years ago, most people used charcoal or hardwoods for their fires, and today, (because we are so used to things that are easy without a mess to clean-up) gas grills are far more popular.   

 After the outdoor grill, then came the sink, a couple of burners on the top of a counter for beans or chili and this was the first outdoor kitchen.   Shortly thereafter, as people started entertaining more, came the refrigerator, ice maker, and of course, the GIANT TV.  High end manufacturers like Viking started to develop all kinds of sophisticated grilling equipment trying to incorporate all kinds of cooking—grilling, roasting, and using a rotisserie.  You no longer cooked just meat but with the addition of a few implements, you could cook anything—from meats, sea food, vegetables, skewers, and even some bread.  You could also smoke meats as well as grill them.  Everything was a possibility!

 Today there are some people who add Pizza Ovens (wood fired brick or ceramic), keg tappers, wine/beverage coolers, and warming drawers.  It seems like nothing is out of the question!  Remember though, when shopping for equipment, make sure it is resistant to the elements and low –maintenance.

 When designing your outdoor kitchen, think about where it should be and how you will most likely use it.  Will you be the chef, will you entertain on-lookers, and do you like to have company while cooking?  How much counter space will you need?  Will you want people seated around at table height or do you want bar-height with bar stools.  Will you serve and eat the food at the counter, or will people be seated at a table.  Will the area be covered?  Make sure that any cabinets are built and designed to keep the contents clean and protected.   The best ones are grease resistant and will stay cool in very hot weather or direct sun-light.

 Russ Falk of Kalamzoo Outdoor gourmet in Kalamazoo Michigan says “Get counter-top samples, leave them in the sun and see how hot they get”.  Heat-retention is not always related to color.   Some light colors get hotter than dark ones.

 One last thought—lots of yards today are becoming all cement or hard surface—thus limiting the type of buyer who will eventually buy your house.  Try and leave some soft scape and greenery for a good balance.

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