July 13, 2011

The Warm Weather Has Arrived: Have You Taken Your Kitchen Outdoors?

Earlier this year, we blogged about the three must-haves Canadians need to include in their outdoor living space if they want to take advantage of the cooler spring and fall weather. They are: a patio heater, an outdoor fireplace and a fully covered patio.

Now that the warm summer weather has arrived--and appears to be sticking around!--you're probably trying to find ways to spend more time cooking, eating and entertaining outside. And, why not? We only get a few months of beautiful warm weather a year. Let's enjoy it while we can!

Picture courtesy of outdoorkitchens.info
Nothing makes dining and entertaining outside easier than a fully equipped kitchen just steps from the house...and more and more homeowners are looking for the same quality of furnishings and appliances they are accustomed to having indoors. Thankfully, the days when eating outside meant a picnic table, a few lawn chairs and a charcoal grill are gone. In addition to a gas grill, today's outdoor kitchens often include a sink, refrigerator, wet bar, fireplace and even a pizza oven.

The barbecue still plays a central role in our outdoor cooking spaces, and most high-end grills come equipped with side burners, a warming shelf, a motorized rotisserie, a smoker box and ceramic briquettes to ensure even heat distribution. But be warned, whether you choose a free-standing unit or have one built-in, quality comes at a price and you can spend anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 on the barbecue of your dreams.

Outdoor kitchens can be built onto existing patios, decks and pool areas and often tap into the house's gas, electrical and plumbing lines. As with any home design project, the key to getting what you want is in the planning. From the outset, it's important to know what you want and how much you have to spend. Falling in love and splurging on a $10,000 gas grill is fine...but only if you still have room in your budget for the other key features you may want to include, such as:

• lighting for key activity areas and on pathways
• a new deck or outdoor floor surface
• a countertop for food prep
• appliances such as a fridge and/or pizza oven
• a pergola or awning
• chairs, tables, decor items
• an updated landscape plan

Next up: Lighting your outdoor living space.