Exterior Worlds
Patios and Outdoors
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Outdoor Kitchens

Nothing says “summer” quite like a cookout. Kids love them. Adults, too—because they get to feel like kids again. The aroma of cooking food mixed with fresh air makes everyone’s mouth water. And no one has yet explained how everything cooked outdoors somehow tastes better.

Outdoor kitchens are the newest trend in Houston landscaping. These structures create a focus point similar to the kitchen inside the home. It becomes the center of all the action and entertainment. In other words, outdoor kitchens give you a natural gathering place in a natural setting.

Best of all, an outdoor kitchen allows you, as the host, to enjoy the good times, too. You may be the chief cook and bottlewasher, but, with an outdoor kitchen, you get to do all your necessary—and much appreciated—work right in the midst of your family, friends and guests.


An Expert Call to help with your Outdoor Kitchen
Building an outdoor kitchen is not any different than any other remodeling project—except it must withstand extremely high levels of heat from the grill and, if not built properly, it can damage or destroy your property. Therefore, it makes sense to use a professional.

A pro will help you during the landscape design phase to check your deed restrictions concerning rules regulating such items as size, lot coverage percentages, height, and color materials. They will also be familiar with city regulations prior to and during construction. It is also imperative that you have a good layout so that all your appliances fit and are convenient for use.

Another consideration for which a professional will provide advice is tying your outdoor kitchen’s design into the larger space; things like, complementing any existing structures, easy access to the indoor kitchen and the outdoor kitchen’s relationship to a swimming pool and outdoor fountain. There might be important factors concerning the layout; for instance, if the outdoor kitchen is at your beach house, it might be best positioned to catch the prevailing breeze.

Additions and Subtractions
Decisions to make concerning your outdoor kitchen include:

  • Do you want your outdoor kitchen covered so that you can cook and entertain even when it rains? If you opt out of a roof, fabric covers keep your grill and other furnishings clean. Plus they’ll last longer with extra protection.
  • You will want to consider the overall size needed. For instance, for the chairs at the dining table, you need at least four feet away from any other element, especially the grill or any step-downs.
  • Plan for adequate cabinet space. This way you can keep your outdoor kitchen properly supplied, which will help cut down on trips back and forth to the indoor kitchen.
  • Counter top options include tile, granite, stone and concrete. Consider a counter top with a minimum of grout so that it reduces your clean-up time.
  • Overhead fans.
  • Refrigerator: Undercounter units are popular for outdoor kitchens because they are out of sight, protected by the counter and handy for storage. Look for models that include automatic ice makers and frost-free features.
  • Sinks: Stainless-steel sinks are preferable for outdoor kitchens because they won’t corrode.
  • Other accoutrements to consider: Waterproof TV and sound systems, hot water heaters, warming drawers, and fireplaces.

The Star of the Show: The Outdoor Grill
Grills can be either custom-built or pre-fabricated. Custom-built grills provide a more permanent appearance. They also require a non-combustible surround, usually made of brick or masonry. Prefabricated grills use a steel frame and are available with decorative finishes such as stucco, brick or stone.

Other nice-to-have features for the grill include a smoker, side burners and a rotisserie.

Whether you go with a custom or ready-made grill, your builder will need to check for any necessary permitting. Electricity, water and natural gas lines are usually brought to the outdoor kitchen from the service in the house.

Don’t Forget!
Jeff Halper with Exterior Worlds suggests three elements that often get overlooked when designing an outdoor kitchen:

  • Outdoor kitchens need adequate landscape lighting—and lighting that not only provides general and task lighting, but accent lighting as well. “Lights can be attached to the grill or lighting can be mounted in beams in the arbor, in nearby trees or on the house eaves,” says Halper. “Lights create dramatic effects by casting shadows from plantings and trees. They provide an artistic element that can be enjoyed indoors or out.”
  • Plenty of electrical outlets should be included in plans for the cooking and dining areas.
  • Think about landscaping, an herb garden nearby. “It’s a nice touch and you can easily add the garden-fresh ingredients to your cooking,” says Halper.

To discuss building a outdoor kitchen in your home, call Exterior Worlds—713-827-2255.