While there are many reasons for the growing popularity of outdoor kitchen spaces – including access to new types of cooking equipment, an increased connection to the environment, a love of nature and the ability to make use of additional space beyond the four walls of the indoor kitchen – entertainment seems to top the list for many consumers. Being able to “bring the party outdoors” and expand the available entertaining space is a huge draw – one that more consumers are discovering, not only in the traditional warm-weather climates, but sometimes in homes located in colder climates as well.
Designers are taking advantage of this, finding new profit opportunities in designing complete outdoor kitchens that may mirror or tie into the design of their indoor counterparts, or act as totally independent spaces with their own unique attributes.
This month, Kitchen & Bath Design News looks at a trio of outdoor kitchens whose designers have created added space for entertaining, while enhancing the home with striking, nature-inspired design elements and new cooking capabilities.
When you live someplace where the weather is always warm, outdoor living becomes something of a way of life. And when ocean views abound, an outdoor kitchen is the perfect way to combine an appreciation for the beautiful water views with the pleasures of entertaining close to nature.
This was the case for architect Doug Burdge, AIA, of the Malibu, CA-based Burdge & Associates Architects, who modeled this luxury residence after homes in Cape Cod. He explains, “The two-story home maximizes the plentiful ocean views with floor-to-ceiling windows, French doors and a wraparound patio.”
Burdge continues, “Taking advantage of the mild Malibu weather, the open-air pavilion includes a fireplace and an outdoor kitchen with a grill, dishwasher, pizza oven and bars for entertaining. The covered patio complements a resort-style pool, sunken lounge area and fire pit for year-round gatherings.”
The outdoor kitchen has every possible amenity, including an Earthstone pizza oven, Viking barbecue, side burner, hood, undercounter ice maker and undercounter refrigerator, Perlick undercounter freezer, Sharp microwave, Asko dishwasher and InSinkErator disposal unit.
Burdge explains, “Most of our projects are in Malibu, where the weather is ideal all year and the views are unparalleled. Every home we design has a pool, and many of them are accompanied by an outdoor kitchen of some sort, so that the facilities are convenient when the client is entertaining or spending time with family at the pool.”
He adds, “Most will have sinks and counter space, but we’ve had requests recently for dishwashers, pizza ovens and specialty appliances based on how the space will be used.”
INSPIRED BY ITALY
When people think of outdoor entertaining, Maine doesn’t usually come to mind. But while warm weather locales may see the greatest demand for outdoor kitchens, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place in other parts of the country – especially when the right inspiration is present.
In this case, designer Deborah Chatfield of the Rockport, ME-based Chatfield Design was hired by a couple whose recent trip to Italy provided the inspiration for an outdoor kitchen built around a pizza oven they’d brought back with them from their trip.
“They’re all about food,” Chatfield joked, explaining that the couple had learned to cook on a pizza oven while in Italy and had enjoyed the experience so much, they ended up bringing the pizza oven home with them and then building an outdoor space around it.
Keeping with the Italian theme, “They wanted something a little Tuscan, but it also needed to reflect Maine. So they did the exposed wood beam ceiling with the big column supports, and the way the stone was put together made it feel like [Italy]. The overhead lighting had a more Tuscan feel but was still contemporary, and the long picnic table became the perfect spot for group gatherings.
In addition to the pizza oven, the kitchen includes a Kalamazoo grill and two-burner cooktop, with a custom copper hood over the grill. She notes, “We also included a Freshwater outdoor sink for filling up huge pots of water for lobsters, clams, mussels and the like so they wouldn’t have to drag pots inside for clean up.” The sink was custom made from a piece of granite, she notes.
“And, we incorporated custom-built cabinets so they can permanently store stuff outside,” she explains, which minimizes the need to leave guests to go inside while entertaining.
In Maine, she explains, “You’re only outside from May when the weather warms up until late October, if you have a fire pit.” However, in this design, she incorporated infrared lights that give off heat to extend the time that the space can be used.
Chatfield admits, “In Maine, a typical outdoor kitchen would consist of a grill, table and chairs. This is way more elaborate than any I’ve seen here.” However, she says, “These clients entertain on a huge scale and they wanted a space they could use all year long, with the focus on the pizza oven.”
She concludes, “Outdoor kitchens of this magnitude are rare in Maine, but this one has extensive views, there’s a big lake, panoramic views of the bay, and they wanted to take advantage of it. Plus, the owners really love cooking on the pizza oven and couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it inside!”
INDOORS & OUTDOORS
Entertaining was the primary goal for this Coral Gables, FL outdoor kitchen, which ties into the indoor space while providing an amenity-filled cooking and living space perfect for large gatherings. Designed by architect Jorge L. Hernandez, of JLH Architect in Coral Gables and interior designer Celia Cabral Domenech of Living Interior Design in Miami, the kitchen features lots of coral stone that adds aesthetic appeal as well as shade and shelter from the elements.
Hernandez explains, “The client loves to entertain while barbecuing, so I built him a pavilion and tied it into the house.” The client was the one who discovered the Kalamazoo grill, while custom-built blackened mahogany furniture was incorporated to enhance the space’s appeal.
Hernandez is a big believer in tying indoor and outdoor spaces together, so that was part of the design plan. He began with the color palette, choosing “a grayish palette that ties the design of the outdoor kitchen to that of the indoor kitchen.” The indoor and outdoor spaces were also linked through their ceiling treatments – the inside kitchen has a wooden coffered ceiling, painted white, while the outdoor kitchen has a timber gabled ceiling.
The house is an H-shaped plan, and the outdoor kitchen is an extrusion from one of the wings where the indoor kitchen is located, spatially linking the two rooms while creating an easy flow from indoors to outdoors.
Designed with amenities that allow the homeowner to cook for 50 people or more, the kitchen features a Kalamazoo Hybrid Fire Built-in Grill and gas-fired pizza oven plus four cooktop burners that provide added cooking capabilities.
Stainless steel cabinetry offers storage for dishes and cooking utensils, while energy-efficient refrigerator and freezer drawers, and an outdoor glass door wine chiller with full UV protection and an outdoor dishwasher allow the space to function independently as a full kitchen and entertainment space.
Hernandez believes there is “more and more demand for outdoor living spaces,” and he attributes this to several factors: “part of a newfound connection to the out-of-doors, the environmental movement, our increased sensitivity to the landscape and the desire to have more space to entertain.”
He likes the synergies that come from melding indoor and outdoor spaces, and adds, “There are so many ways of making it seamless, like collapsible doors. There are a lot of flexible options on doors [that can help bridge the connection between indoors and out].”
While outdoor kitchens can feature many possible layouts, designs and amenities, Hernandez cautions, “They have to be real rooms. Ultimately, they have to be as carefully and beautifully conceived as the best room inside, or they end up becoming yesterday’s barbecue space.” ▪