Image: GreenSceneLandscape.com/Josh Endres
Kitchen designed by The Green Scene
Burgers on the grill, veggies on the side burner and cold drinks at hand. You in an apron and your friends sitting at the counter. The gang enjoying lively conversation and a down-home barbecue. It’s the life. And it can be all yours, assuming you have an outdoor kitchen. You surely don’t want to miss any of the merriment while stuck indoors preparing the meal. And save yourself the back-and-forth trips to the kitchen inside by having everything on hand — a place for plates, utensils, spices, beverages, etc.
Now that you’re sold on building the ultimate in backyard entertaining, it’s time to make three make-it-or-break-it decisions: location, size and layout. We talked with Scott Cohen, president and supervising designer of The Green Scene, and asked him for some simple tips. His Los Angeles-based firm designs and constructs outdoor kitchens, everything from the basic setup to custom extravagance. To address homeowners’ concerns, he penned “Scott Cohen’s Outdoor Kitchen Design Workbook.” Here is some of his expert advice:
- According to Cohen, there is a list of factors to consider when choosing a location: views, wind direction, proximity to the house, utility access, privacy and shade.
- Keep it close to the house so you’re not schlepping between the food prep area (which is still done mostly indoors) and the party outside.
- Bigger isn’t always better. “Remember, your outdoor room is an extension of your home. It should complement your house, not compete with it.”
- Just because you can have a pizza oven, doesn’t mean you necessarily need one. (Note: It takes about two hours to preheat a brick oven.) Consider which appliances and accessories you’ll actually use, and more than just once a year. “Remember that every item adds to the budget and takes up space.”
- The more often you cookout, the larger your outdoor kitchen should be.
- “There’s really no point in installing a 54-inch grill if you can only entertain 15 people at a time.”
- First decide on your components, then design around them.
- “With an indoor kitchen, you automatically think about the working triangle. It’s not as important though with an outdoor kitchen because most of the food prep is still done indoors.” Think of it more in terms of zones: prepping, cooking, serving and entertaining.
- When in doubt, sacrifice an appliance (or at least its size) in favor of more counterspace.
- Include extra storage and don’t forget under-counter space for trash and recycling.
- When positioning counters and seating areas, always keep a good traffic flow in mind.
- A 32″ to 42″ grill should suffice, or consider two for double duty.
- “Instead of gathering in one big ‘herd,’ people at a large party will naturally group together in small conversational clusters. Design your dining and mingling areas around this tendency by providing several ‘outdoor rooms’ to accommodate small groups.”
- An outdoor kitchen should have its own set of knives, bowls, towels, napkins, oven mitts and a corkscrew.
- “It’s also very important to leave at least 12 to 14 inches of counter space between appliances or accessories to accommodate a serving platter.”
- Dedicate a drawer to barbecue tools.
- Food prep counters: 36″ high
- Bar counters: 42″ to 46″ high and 18″ deep
- Bar stools: 28″ high (Varies with styling. Cohen recommends picking your stools first, and then deciding on the height of bar counter.)
- Space between stools: 24″
- Tabletops: 30″ high
Appliances & Accessories
- Sear Zone
- Smoker Drawer
- Teppan Grill
- Warming Drawers
- Side Burner
- Hot Plate
- Wok Burner
- Bar Fridge
- Beverage Center
- Storage Drawers
- Griddle Plate
- Trash/Recycling Receptacles
- Plating/Garnish Center
- Pizza Oven