When the great British summer gets into its swing, there is nothing better than heading outdoors and making the most of long days and warm evenings.
For many this finer weather also signals the start of BBQ season. At the first sign of Sun, many a dusty grill is rescued from the back of the shed and given a quick dust off before slapping on the obligatory sausages and burgers.
But if you are a BBQ aficionado who loves to entertain alfresco, perhaps it is time to take your culinary prowess to the next level and give your garden the Michelin star treatment by adding a dedicated outdoor kitchen area.
We are seeing this trend for open air cooking take off in garden revamps across the Thames Valley, with homes of all sizes including a fully equipped kitchen area to prep, cook and serve food taking centre stage in their garden designs.
These stylish outdoor entertaining areas provide an informal holiday feeling to gatherings with family and friends, encouraging everyone to relax, have fun and and enjoy the great food being served straight from the grill.
So if you’re looking for inspiration to give your open air entertaining that extra sizzle, take a look through some of our ideas for creating the perfect outdoor kitchen that will allow you to grill, smoke and char all summer long.
Location, location, location
First up is where to locate your outdoor kitchen. When it comes to choosing the perfect spot, there are a few things to consider.
- Cooking with fire is an important element of any kitchen, so it is important not to site the location close to anything that might pose a fire risk, such as fencing or overhanging trees.
- Placing it close to the house is also convenient as it is likely that you and guests may need to nip in from time to time to replenish drinks, fetch more food or use the loo.
- The base the kitchen is to stand on needs to be level to avoid annoying wobbles or trips and slips when carrying food and drink. Levelling the ground and laying a patio is a good way of achieving this nice firm base.
- How much space is required? Are you an intimate entertainer looking for a cosy space with just enough area for a BBQ and a couple of seats? Or do you regularly have large gatherings that will need to accommodate a kitchen, a cocktail bar, a lounging area, a dining area?
- Do you also want to incorporate a particular view of the garden, surrounding countryside or the river? This is also likely to dictate where things need to go.
Once you have identified your site, and know the space you have available, the fun can start with planning the design of your dream kitchen space.
1. Open air or under cover?
Dining al-fresco is a real treat if the weather is fine. But sometimes it can get a little too hot if your site is in full sun, or a bit soggy if you catch a summer shower.
For fair weather barbecuers, an open-air cooking and entertaining area, equipped with some parasols or a gazebo for shade, will more than satisfy your needs. But if you want to be outside whatever the weather, then a covered cooking and seating area will ensure that rain does not stop play.
Something such as this lapa we built for a home in Marlow fits the bill nicely. Inspired by the South African thatched timber buildings with open sides, this covered entertaining area provides a warm and welcoming retreat from the open air riverside deck should the weather turn foul.