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$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

The gr-eat outdoors

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Spending more time at home has become the new normal. To expand living, dining and relaxation spaces, it’s no surprise that outdoor kitchens are increasingly popular.

Anne-Maree Brown

General Manager of Content

Australians’ love of the outdoors is unashamedly high. Sport, surf, blue skies and spending time in your own backyard are enjoyed year-round. Likewise, cooking and dining are no longer relegated to the indoors. Our passion for being outdoors has encouraged the activities of preparing and sharing meals with others beyond the confines of the home.

According to Houzz, one in two Australian homeowners use their outdoor space for entertaining, the highest percentage of the 13 countries surveyed. The vast majority of homeowners (86 per cent) update structural elements, such as decks, pergolas, terraces and verandas during an outdoor renovation project.

Most want to extend their living space outdoors for relaxation and entertaining, which includes incorporating outdoor kitchens.

Let’s take a look at the top three things to consider when creating the perfect outdoor kitchen.

 

Protection from the elements is an important consideration (Photo courtesy of Caesarstone)
When it comes to rain, exterior drainage must allow for any downpours

Your micro-environment

Outdoor kitchens are subject to Australian weather, be it high winds, heavy rains, extreme heat or hail. Check if the assigned area has protection from the elements.
Full knowledge of the aspect and potential exposure to environmental elements need to be considered when selecting products. So, choose materials that are tough enough to withstand the elements while remaining low maintenance for easy cleaning.

When it comes to rain, exterior drainage must allow for peak rain events which Australia’s east coast has been no stranger to of late. Stainless steel is a particularly good option. It’s highly durable and weather-resistant while offering a sleek, contemporary look. If you can, choose appliances and fixtures made from marine-grade 316 stainless steel.

Sunlight and exposure to UV radiation should be considered, such as the time of day the area is in full or partial sun. This isn’t just important for the health and comfort of your guests, but the potential effect on materials and appliances in your outdoor kitchen.

While the view to a lovely outlook is important for a seaside home, exposure to salt air can have a corrosive effect on materials and slip hazards on flooring. Strategic screening will not only provide shade to plants or joinery, but it will also ensure homeowners can entertain with privacy.

Round off your outdoor kitchen design and improve the comfort of the micro-environment with some help from outdoor heating and firepits, or fans for the warmer months. Plus, don’t forget to include retractable screens if you’re in a high-risk insect area.

The location of existing services can impact the final costs (Photo courtesy of Caesarstone)

Be budget wise

The budget for the outdoor kitchen area must be determined at the outset. Often, specifying a higher grade or quality of products and materials more suitable for outdoor use will drive the costs up substantially. Some commercial-grade products and appliances have been recommended by industry as being longer lasting and suitable for outdoors, but these are often cost-prohibitive for many consumers. 

When specifying products for a limited budget, consumers must be advised of the potential shorter lifespan on products chosen which are not warranted or have a limited warranty for use in outdoor applications. All inclusions should be clearly listed in a specification attached to contract documentation./p>

Some things to consider and discuss with your clients include: 

  • Will they purchase any of the appliances themselves?
  • Will they need hot and cold water?
  • What type of meals do they wish to prepare
  • How frequently (and in what seasons) will the area be used?

The location of existing services such as gas, water, stormwater or sewer lines can severely impact the final costs.

Check for walkways and ease of movement (Photo courtesy of Caesarstone)

Fun and function

Cooking outdoors has its benefits. Smells that could linger for days indoors are reduced, while homeowners can even save on airconditioning use in summer by reducing the amount of ambient heat generated from indoor baking and frying.

Yes, the outdoor kitchen space needs to take into account the client’s aesthetic and design wish list – but when you put aside the excitement factor, the space also needs to serve its intended purpose. 

Ask your clients if their outdoor kitchen needs to be fully operative and self-contained, and if food preparation areas will be required along with a dining area. This will determine the types of facilities, appliances, rubbish management and storage that are required. 

When designing a functional outdoor kitchen, check that walkways and movement will be easy, that cooking facilities will have adequate ventilation from smoke and fumes, and fridges are kept away from sunlight, heat and cooking sources. Designing a fun outdoor kitchen will always depend on the budget, but there are many conveniences that can ensure homeowners get the most out of their outdoor spaces, from bars or compact fridges, entertainment systems, including visual and audio, to fireplaces, firepits and pizza ovens.

You never know – get the brief right and they might even send an invite once the project is complete!

Handy resources

Here are more helpful resources on outdoor kitchens.

Have you recently completed an outdoor kitchen in your project? Why not enter our awards program?

Published on 17 December 2022.

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