OPEN AIR DINING
Move the Party Outdoors With Functional Backyard Kitchens
By Barbara Canetti
Wouldn’t it be easier to hose down your kitchen after preparing a meal? No muss, no fuss and easy cleanup. With an outdoor kitchen, that can be possible.
As more and more homeowners are wanting to enhance their outdoor experiences at home, al fresco cooking and dining have evolved from a grill and picnic table to elaborate spaces with gas-, electric- and wood-burning stoves, sinks, refrigerators, ice makers and every appliance and convenience typically found inside the home.
Because of the mild climate during the fall and winter in the Houston area, outdoor kitchens can be used all year and not just for the backyard summer barbeque, says David Herbert, owner of Archadeck Outdoor Living’s southwest Houston location.
“It is year round in this area,” says Herbert. “And people want everything in their kitchen — it is an extension of their house.”
Since most entertaining seems to take place in the kitchen, moving the group outside — under a pergola or covered deck — seems like a great way to partner with Mother Nature for a party.
Before embarking on what could be an expensive investment, Mike Flynn, owner of Texas Best Installations, urges homeowners to consult with professionals: engineers, architects and outdoor kitchen installation companies. Be sure the foundation will support the stove, refrigerator, grill, ice maker, cabinets and counters.
“You have to have a foundation that will support the additional weight. Wood decks or pavers probably would not be advisable. Concrete foundations are recommended,” he says.
Flynn says he has noticed over the past 23 years that requests for outdoor kitchens are becoming more elaborate and larger. “Clients are asking for all the accoutrements of their indoor kitchen — side burners, warmers, good lighting and counter space. They are really just kitchens but outdoors,” he says.
By weatherproofing the work station, homeowners have very little maintenance to deal with. Even the furniture selected should be rainproof and durable. Stone countertops are usually recommended because they are easy to care for and not prone to problems with heat or cold temperatures.
And, since it is outdoors, perhaps a nearby herb garden will be useful: pick fresh basil, oregano or dill, or grow tomatoes, onions and peppers to enhance the meal.
Herbert says recently he has noticed clients selecting newer and trendier finishes: a leather-look on the granite or choosing Quartzite rather than granite. “It is mostly the finishes that we see change,” he says. “The kitchens are still brick, stone or stucco,” but some of the styles vary.
In designing the outdoor kitchen, counters can be straight, L-shaped, curved or in a corner, depending on the location in the yard. It can be an extension of the house or in a little-used corner of a patio. No matter where it is placed, be sure there are no low hanging limbs or wires overhead. The kitchen can be boxed in with half walls or higher privacy fences, depending on personal preference.
Herbert says clients want refrigerators or beverage coolers, side burners (for sauces), grills, sinks, stoves and one of the real modernizations: a wood- or gas-burning pizza oven.
“It is a luxury item and to have one is almost a novelty,” says Herbert. “You wouldn’t use it every day, but it is great to heat things up and make pizza, too.”
Archadeck Outdoor Living
Colony Builders, Inc.
6613 West Sam Houston Parkway North
27602 I-45 North, The Woodlands
18700 Carrot, Spring
Texas Best Installations
Texas Custom Patios
Texas Decks & Patio Covers
405 East 31st
Texas Pit Crafters
31909 Decker Industrial Circle, Pinehurst
TurfPlus Outdoor Living
139005 Huffmeister, Cypress
Renaissance Cooking Systems
(Available at below outlets)
Acme Brick, Houston
Creekstone Outdoors, Spring
Cunningham Living, Spring
Cunningham Living, The Woodlands
The Firebox, Humble
The Fireplace Man, Houston
The Fireplace Shop, Conroe
Texas Star Grill, Houston
Texas Star Grill, Spring
Westside Grill, Katy