Enhance the backyard experience with a new outdoor kitchen!

With the anticipation of spring upon us, now is the time to start your upcoming renovation and landscaping projects. Outdoor kitchens are fast becoming one of the most popular renovation projects among home and cottage owners and in our opinion, is the best way to get top value and enjoyment out of your outdoor living space. It gives you a place that you control and determine how and who will be entertained. 

Outfitting your backyard with a modest dining set and cart style barbecue was the standard, and though you may prefer this, outdoor spaces have now evolved into true extensions of the home. From built-in grills or elaborate carts, storage, trash centers, refrigeration and cocktails stations to robe and towel warming drawers and even kegerators, the possibilities are almost endless! Whether you have a large or small space there are products on the market made to suit your needs and lifestyle perfectly and bring the comforts and conveniences of the indoors to your outdoor space. 

We love helping our guests realize their outdoor kitchen dreams and nobody knows outdoor kitchens and in specific outdoor appliances better than our specialists here at “Turn Up The Heat”. Furthermore, we believe that the kitchen (and around the grill) is where people and family truly come together. So whether your designing that special place for close family and friends or practicing social distancing, we can help guide you through the process. With all that in mind we wanted to cover some of the most important things to consider when planning your dream outdoor kitchen as well as some of our favorite outdoor appliances and products available on the market today. 

First off, the best time to plan your outdoor kitchen project is in the winter months so you are prepared and ready to go come spring. This is typically a very busy time of year for contractors and landscapers who can often get backlogged for weeks or even months at a time. Have your plans ready to go, your appliances picked, and your contractor booked ahead of time, so you can beat the rush and be enjoying your outdoor space before you know it. 

It is crucially important to choose products that are rated for outdoor use and are made to withstand the elements year-round. For example, the second hand mini-fridge you bought for your college dorm that’s now been sitting in storage for years, is not going to keep your food at proper temperature in 20+ degree weather. Outdoor and indoor refrigeration are designed differently. Not only in materials but in how they are vented and their ability to be winterized and serviced. Furthermore, enduring even a single winter outside will render an indoor fridge useless. Proper outdoor appliances and storage should also be sealed, leak proof (and yes, rodent proof) and most importantly, they should be built using quality materials designed to withstand the outdoor elements and extreme temperature changes.  

Primary things to consider are the type, size and number of appliances. You may want to utilize several cooking and refrigeration appliances, and may have very specific needs in mind. For example, your kitchen design may be located far from a water source and you may want to add a sink to the area for convenience. Aside from the grill (or grills) and refrigeration, you should also consider storage, garbage disposal and, as mentioned, the need for wet stations such as sinks or ice chests etc. 

Grill Master tip #1: The most ergonomic Outdoor kitchen design places the sink, cooktop, and food storage/ refrigeration in a triangle setting.

When choosing your appliances and design be sure to consider basic kitchen design principles. Refrigeration, grills, cooktops, sinks, prep areas, and storage should all work together in appropriate proximity and have adequate space for your needs allocated to each. Popular outdoor kitchen designs include the standard linear layout, back to back linear, “U” Shape and the “L” Shape kitchen. We are also seeing trends towards island style designs.  If you have a smaller backyard don’t overdo it. Sometimes less can be more. In this case we may suggest building a simple BBQ island, which has all the essentials such as a grill, countertops, and basic storage. This type of design may be a better fit for both smaller spaces and budgets. While designing your layout be sure take the prevailing wind and the typical sunshine patterns that occur in your backyard into account.  

Grill Master tip #2: If you plan to install an outdoor grill under a structure, be sure you allow proper clearance space between the grill and the ceiling to ensure adequate ventilation and prevent fires. We would never recommend operating a grill under eves or decks unless there is a professionally installed ventilation hood. Ventilation hoods are available in a variety of sizes and designs and must be properly matched with the grill you are using.

Another way to go about your outdoor kitchen project is to cut out the contractor all together and capitalize on some sweat equity. Certain suppliers offer a large selection of fantastic options in modular style outdoor cabinetry that can be very easily installed by the homeowner saving you significant time and money as compared to hiring a contractor to build the frames and finishes for your outdoor kitchen cabinets and countertops. 

Pre-fabricated, fully finished outdoor Kitchen Islands complete with appliance packages are also available from several outdoor kitchen suppliers (Many island packages are available in a variety of sizes and finishes, complete with USB ports and Bluetooth speakers to boot!)

A well-designed outdoor kitchen should also provide you with enjoyment well beyond the summer months. Use heaters and or fire features to extend your seasons and get maximum use and enjoyment out of your outdoor space. These are not only valuable in the Spring and Fall but can even be welcome additions on some of those cooler summer evenings and will add an additional level of ambiance to your space. We suggest checking out the stylish selection of energy efficient Gas and Electric Patio heaters from EvenGlo and Infratech. Flame tables and firepits/bowls also offer a simple and convenient solution for adding a fire feature and can double as a coffee/ dining table when the fire is not in use. And don’t forget about outdoor fireplaces, quickly becoming more and more popular in designing that perfect outdoor space.

To finish off your project you will also want to add a comfortable and a functional seating and/or dining area. Whether you want barstools, dining table and chairs, sectionals, deep seating sets or simple deck or Adirondack chairs, “Turn Up The Heat” carries a large variety of outdoor patio furniture in a wide array of designs, materials and finishes that can be custom made to suit nearly any space. You should also consider having a shaded area or patio umbrella for those unfortunate rainy days or just to get occasional respite from the sun on the hotter days. To top things off consider adding final additions such as speakers and lighting to your outdoor space as well to bring your project full circle. The Luna Umbrella Light with Bluetooth Speaker will allow you to easily add both at once. With wireless Bluetooth technology and 16 LED lights, this product attaches easily to most umbrellas. Enjoy your outdoor kitchen space along side your favorite tunes day or night.

These are just a few things to consider when planning your outdoor kitchen project. There are several additional considerations that will likely come up while planning and building your outdoor kitchen. We strongly recommend visiting our showroom that offers a huge selection of design inspiration. Speak to our experienced professionals about product choices prior to choosing your outdoor living design. Building an outdoor kitchen will significantly add to your home’s value and will provide countless hours of fun with family and friends over the years. Visit us at Turn up the heat this spring and start planning the outdoor space of your dreams!

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