Create an outdoor kitchen

Update your alfresco entertaining space for summer with an outdoor kitchen or barbecue area. Here's some advice on how to get it right.

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Update your alfresco entertaining space for summer with an outdoor kitchen or barbecue area. Here’s some advice on how to get it right.

A barbecue area or an outdoor kitchen needs to be accessible to the indoor kitchen and outdoor dining space. You don’t want to squeeze between garden lounge chairs to get to and from the cooking and dining areas, so plan the layout with this in mind. On the other hand, the cooking area must not be too near the dining space because of the inevitable barbecue smoke.

‘To create maximum room for dining and lounging in a small garden, the barbecue area will need to be small, with a modest, movable barbecue,’ says Amir Schlezinger, garden designer at Mylandscapes. ‘If formal dining with a good-sized cooking area is a must, lounging space will have to be scaled down. A good design would have built-in benches either side of a table, with storage inside, and made quite wide so they can become sun loungers.’

Which materials?

Just as stone is practical in a dining area, it is a good choice for an outdoor cooking space. Choose a stone that won’t absorb grease and can be cleaned easily – see tip number 10 below.

10 tips for planning an outdoor kitchen

  1. An outdoor kitchen should be an adequate size and therefore needs to be in a prominent position within the garden where it can draw people together.
  2. Technical considerations, such as a water supply and a waste pipe, are important if a tap and sink are to be used outdoors.
  3. The countertop needs to be made from a tough material, such as granite or slate, as these are watertight, frost-proof and easy to clean.
  4. The more storage space, the more items can be kept outdoors, which means less hassle in transporting things in and out of the house.
  5. Stainless-steel or powder-coated-steel units need less maintenance than hardwood, which requires varnishing, and plywood, which needs re-painting.
  6. Never underestimate the need for plenty of serving space around the cooking/barbecue area, as when food is ready to eat, people will appear there in droves.
  7. Another consideration is a fridge, which is very useful, and outdoor waterproof sockets concealed within one of the units.
  8. An outdoor kitchen can be designed as a bar with seating, music and lighting at night.
  9. Fit a waterproof canopy – it’s handy if it rains, and the entire outdoor kitchen will be a dry, shaded space.
  10. For the flooring, consider a dark stone, such as granite or slate, which shows up dirt or grease less easily than light-coloured stone.

In the gallery: This self-assembly Tall Country kitchen cupboard is part of a range that includes painted wood units and zinc worktops, and is designed to be combined with a tabletop barbecue. It costs £549, all from Garden House Design.

All prices and stockists correct at time of publishing.