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Luxurious Kitchens from the Inside to Out

Aug 30, 2012 02:10PM ● By Anonymous

They may have to renovate again, however, because outdoor kitchens keep expanding. Why stop with a combination barbecue grill with burners and warming oven when you can add an island and modular cabinets inside a three-sided stone or brick-framed structure? While a stainless steel cooler on wheels is nice, maybe you’d rather have a small refrigerator and an ice maker, so you don’t have to worry about refilling the ice. And if you’re building a stone or brick structure, why, of course you’ll want to include a fireplace, and maybe a pizza oven.

Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby. People are now looking for a fully functional kitchen, say our local experts, and outdoor kitchens are given almost as much detail, budget, and design thought as indoor kitchens. While your outdoor kitchen can be built using your existing house as one wall or as part of your deck or patio, many people opt to create a separate area, such as a pergola kitchen.

Typically, there are three main objectives for outdoor kitchens—they need to be multifunctional, relaxing, and low- maintenance. Homeowners are looking to create purposeful rooms to avoid trips back and forth to the interior kitchen. Besides taking advantage of pleasant weather, there are fewer worries about sweeping up those crumbs while preparing food. So they want all the extras at their fingertips, such as cabinets, sinks, power burners (great for cooking those Maryland crabs), and ice makers. The choices seem endless.

Beyond the Grill: Outdoor Appliances

The grill is still king. It’s the number one cooking appliance and the main feature of the outdoor kitchen. However, side burners and even stove tops are being added to outdoor spaces. Plus, added grill doors and drawers provide easy access for storage.

“A really great, high-end grill, such as a Lynx drop-in, will set the stage for additional appliances, build-outs and finishes,” says one exterior architecture company expert, who adds that under-counter refrigerators and ice makers are close seconds to the grill.

Another hot (so to speak) trend is the request for brick pizza ovens, says a local designer. Popular for the outdoor area because they heat up a space quite quickly, nothing beats the taste of pizzas from these ovens. You can have a traditional brick or stone oven or even a stainless steel pizza oven. Stainless steel ones are typically lined with a professional composite baking stone and integrated wood chip drawers to add wood-fired flavor. Brick or stone can be hand-built or come in low-weight, modular, or mobile styles that are easy to install.

Refrigerators and ice makers/bins are also an integral part of the outdoor kitchen. Still small in size, they are designed to fit comfortably under an island top. Other add-ons to consider are built-in trash bins and chutes that blend to give your outdoor kitchen a more elegant look and integrated venting hoods can make the necessary unobtrusive.

Outdoor Kitchen Amenities

In addition to storage space below your grill, homeowners want more—they want a place to store a full set of dishes, utensils, and cooking tools. Enter kitchen cabinets that weather the storm.

For outdoor cabinets, you’ll find everything from steel to beautiful marine-grade polymer (a high density polyethylene), bamboo, teak, and other woods typically used in the boating industry. These cabinets are built to withstand Maryland weather all year long.

A local exterior architectural company says that most of its requests for storage are constructed of natural Carderock stone with stainless cabinet and drawer inserts.

Countertops need to be easy to clean and weather-resistant, so they are typically made from tile, granite, or some type of stone. The local company’s top choice for a countertop is premium flagstone. Also popular is concrete, which can feature custom inlays such as seashells or recycled glass.

Islands can be integrated with your grill or stand alone. Typically, they are constructed of brick, stone, stone veneer, tile, or stucco. Local builders are saying that they don’t get a lot of requests for islands, but rather for bar sitting/meeting/eating areas and natural stone sitting walls to add seating and flexibility.

Warming drawers and a myriad of other amenities are available for the discerning chef—fish-cleaning tables, spice racks, and espresso machines are just a few. Sinks and even built-in dishwashers eliminate the need to carry those dishes into the house.

Of course, the weather isn’t always abiding and even though many outdoor appliances and amenities are weather resistant, it helps to add an extra buffer of protection, such as large umbrellas, pergolas, or retractable awnings. Basically, if you can dream it, you can have it for your outdoor kitchen.

A Little Taste of Paradise

When Linda Werner put in a pool at her Davidsonville home, little did she know that she would soon add an entire outdoor kitchen. After Werner installed a grill near the pool area, she soon discovered that most of her time was spent running back and forth to the interior kitchen. No fun, and no time to enjoy the pool.

Even though she didn’t start out with a plan for an entire kitchen, Werner says one thing just led to another. Her outdoor kitchen is now complete with a large grill, a charcoal pit, a sink, two small refrigerators, two ice makers, a dishwasher, and cabinets filled with dinner and glassware.

“Now we have everything right here—it’s a little vacation spot,” she says. “I love the convenience of it. Being a mom, I was always the one running around and now I have everything I need next to the pool.”

There is also a bar and a separate eating area with a fireplace for added ambience.

The décor of the outdoor kitchen resembles a Caribbean outdoor bar complete with kiwi green walls, starfish decorations, a tile bar top, and a tongue-and-groove cedar ceiling. The roof has shingles to match the existing house, to make the addition seamless.

“I love it,” she says. “I wanted it to look beachy with a Caribbean flavor and a punch of color. The TV was a recent addition, and everyone loves gathering in the bar area to watch it.”

Werner says that her teenagers use the pool and kitchen nearly every day. And, now that they are old enough to grill for themselves, she can truly enjoy the setting without lifting a finger.