For Viewing Pleasure
This property in Southern California gave breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Unfortunately, the family had to walk to the back property line to take in the sites. That and the fact that there was really no place for the family to cook and dine together led to a fully equipped outdoor kitchen near the rear of the yard. Landscape architect Jeff Garton, of Paradise Designs, believes the most important step in designing such a space is to find the ideal location for the grill. With this kitchen, that meant placing the cooker so the smoke from it wouldn't blow into the faces of family and friends sitting around the counter or table. The location also had to be near the edge of the shade structure so that smoke could escape and not become trapped by the roof of the structure. Garton was then able to put the countertops, the sink and a refrigerator within easy reach of the cook. The color scheme on the structure matches that on the house. And the tiles and brick pavers in the area look like those that surround the pool. This kitchen contains a gas grill, as well as a refrigerator and lights that require electricity. Running power from the house ordinarily would disrupt the yard and boost the cost of the project, but Garton minimized both by digging one 24-in.-deep trench for electric, gas and phone lines. This cut excavation costs and allowed him to separate the gas and electric lines by the 12 in. required by local codes.
Planning Your Space
An existing backyard patio is a great foundation for an outdoor kitchen. You can add a grill, counters and other elements without having to make structural modifications. Decks, on the other hand, require additional support for all but the simplest of outdoor kitchens. Whichever route you choose, an outdoor kitchen should be near the house to save you steps when you need to go inside for supplies. But that doesn't mean it has to be visible from the house. "You don't want to be inside and look at a stack of dirty dishes," says kitchen designer John Herbst. Undercounter shelves that keep dishes out of sight until cleanup time are one way around that problem. Also be sure the spot you choose will accommodate everything you want the kitchen to hold. Here are some typical space requirements for each component: Grills. You'll find grills with cooking areas from 24 to about 48 in. wide and 15 to 26 in. deep. You can also add a side burner or shelf, each of which can add another foot or so to the width. Whichever grill you choose, place it so smoke blows away from people eating. Eating areas. Tables typically range from 42x42-in. models that can seat four to rectangular tables up to 96 in. long for six to eight people. Allow at least 36 in. and preferably 42 in. between the edge of the table and a wall, deck railing or other fixed object so there's room to walk behind those seated. And, for safety's sake, place tables at least 60 in. from stairs, even if the eating area is just one level up. For eating counters with high stools, provide at least 24 in. of counter width for each stool. Also plan on 15 in. of undercounter leg room. Counter space. You'll need plenty of open countertop space to prepare food and serve as a holding area for a variety of items, so don't skimp. As with indoor kitchens, plan on 36 in. of counter on each side of the grill if possible. And to make food prep and cleanup easier, allow 18 to 24 in. of open space on both sides of a sink. Layout. Because the grill is the heart of any cookout, build your outdoor kitchen around it. Then arrange the items in the kitchen so they're easy to reach when you're cooking. Don't forget hooks for hanging tongs, spatulas, forks and other grilling utensils. If you include a sink, refrigerator and storage cabinet, they should all be close to each other. But they don't have to be arranged in the indoor-kitchen work triangle that ties the stove, refrigerator and sink together. One functional layout to consider: Place a counter opposite the grill, creating a mini-galley or U-shaped kitchen similar to the Waltz kitchen. This setup is not only efficient, but it also keeps kids and other traffic out of the work area. Barriers that keep children away from the grill are a plus.
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