Saturday, 22 July 2017 00:03

The Alfresco Life

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One of the fastest-growing trends we’re seeing on the home- improvement scene is the addition of an outdoor kitchen. When executed well, an outdoor kitchen can add a dash of luxury to your lifestyle, writes Kate Fitzgerald.

No longer solely the domain of television chefs and celebrities, the outdoor kitchen is fast becoming a popular upgrade to the average deck and barbecue area. If you want to install an outdoor kitchen in your backyard, but are unsure where to start, it’s a good idea to seek some guidance. If you’re not experienced with core kitchen design principles, the first tip for you is to consult a professional! Great outdoor kitchens require a lot of planning, and yours will have increased functionality and resistance to the elements if you hire someone who designs kitchens every day.

EXTEND YOUR LIVING SPACE

If you’re an outdoorsy person who loves to make the most of each season, an outdoor kitchen is just the thing for you. One of the most attractive benefits to an outdoor kitchen is that it can extend the space in which you live and entertain. With a bit of clever placement, you can create the ultimate indoor/outdoor entertaining space. Designing your outdoor kitchen so it flows directly on from an open-plan living and dining space will make your home appear more spacious and allow for more comfortable entertaining. Alternatively, you could install a little nook window that can open to further combine the two areas.

ULTIMATE ENTERTAINMENT

Most people would much prefer to be outside, breathing in the fresh air while entertaining friends, than cooped up inside cooking. If everyone else is outside, why should you miss out on the fun just because you’re preparing dinner? It seems that we are always on the lookout for ways to create more room for gatherings of family and friends, and spilling out into your backyard is a logical way to play host to large groups. The outdoor kitchen is a natural place to entertain; guests can gather around the barbecue and socialise while food is being prepared. Plus, guests love to see what’s cooking! Often an indoor kitchen can become crowded while everyone congregates around the cook. Entertaining outdoors will allow you much more space.

ADD TO YOUR RESALE VALUE

If you are planning to sell your home at some point in the future, you should view an alfresco dining and cooking area as an investment project that won’t fail to deliver on return if you execute it well. An outdoor kitchen is a luxurious feature, and by installing one in your backyard, your short-term expenditure will turn into long-term gain when the time comes to sell. An outdoor kitchen is a highly marketable improvement that will be attractive to prospective buyers. With modern living trends shifting focus to the work/ life balance, an area that’s dedicated specifically to entertaining will always be an attractive feature. Also, adding an outdoor entertaining area is generally more affordable than extending the interior of your home; you can impress prospective buyers with clever re-modelling that won’t burn too much of a hole in your pocket.

COOK UP A STORM

Are you a bit of an at-home masterchef? You’ll be interested to hear that cooking outdoors can be a good choice for your waistline, as well as a way to liven up the cooking process. Barbecuing meats allows the fat to drip as you cook, resulting in fewer calories than if you were to roast or fry your meal.

It’s also likely that you’ll be more experimental with your cooking, as preparing food outside will encourage you to try techniques that are difficult to perform indoors. When you cook foods with a particularly strong smell indoors, like fish or deep-fried fare, the aroma can hang around for days. Cooking these strong-smelling foods outdoors will keep your home smelling clean and fresh. Using an outdoor kitchen will also keep the mess and clean-up outside.

BEFORE YOU BUILD...

Have you ever experienced the hassle of running back and forth between your kitchen and your outdoor barbecue on a sweltering summer afternoon? The most effective way to counteract this problem is to design an outdoor kitchen that functions just as well as your indoor one. This doesn’t mean you need a huge outdoor kitchen with all the bells and whistles; in fact, a small kitchen may fit the bill perfectly. Hire a professional kitchen designer that specialises in outdoor kitchens. The key is to be smart with design, and invest your hard-earned cash in the fittings that are most important to you.

There are a couple of things to include to ensure that your outdoor kitchen is fit for entertaining guests in all seasons. If you have an undercover outdoor kitchen, year-round functionality will be dependent on how your blinds are positioned, as well as your heating and cooling options. In the sizzling heat of the summer months, a shaded kitchen will make your outdoor kitchen infinitely more comfortable, and adding a gas patio heater will keep your guests toasty in winter. Ventilation is also important. Pay attention to the space above and below your barbecue – the smoke should blow away from your cooking area.

BE CREATIVE WITH DESIGN

When designing your kitchen, always consider the aesthetic of the surrounding space. Choose colours and textures that complement the style of your house. Before you begin construction, pay attention to where the sun sets and position your kitchen accordingly – you don’t want your guests to be blinded by the light. If you keep your eyes peeled for issues such as these during the planning stage, you’ll avoid costly problems from popping up down the track.

Installing a bar top is a great idea for your outdoor entertaining space. If bar tops aren’t really your thing, a long bench or a table is a great alternative, and will provide extra preparation space.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT MATERIALS

You can let your creativity run wild as you design your outdoor kitchen, but make sure to pay close attention to the hardiness of the materials you choose. You’ve got to admit, Melbourne can be subject to some crazy weather! Even if your outdoor kitchen is undercover, rain, wind and heat will inevitably find their way in, so your alfresco should be designed with functionality, durability and aesthetics in mind.

Your choice of barbecue should be first on the list. Choose one that is hardy and reliable, with all the features you require.

STRENGTH IS KEY

Try to choose low-maintenance materials and equipment that are designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor cooking. High-quality stainless steel provides a sanitary surface that is easy to clean and corrosion-resistant. These qualities make stainless steel a fantastic benchtop base material to start from. Also, the attractive, sleek look of stainless steel appliances and kitchen sinks will give a modern appearance to your outdoor kitchen.

Keep in mind that some stone benchtops require regular sealing when used outdoors. If you are after a granite benchtop, go for cultured granite with UV stabilisers, and try to avoid overly porous materials such as limestone.

Like your counter, your timber decking should be resistant to grease stains and able to withstand high temperatures. If wood isn’t your style, concrete, brick and natural stone are all great flooring options, as they aren’t slippery when wet.

LUXURY INCLUSIONS

If you’re feeling a little bit fancy, these ideas can take your outdoor kitchen to the next level:

• Consider installing a kegerator at the end of your benchtop. Having a keg in your outdoor kitchen will make your backyard the most popular one in the neighbourhood! This clever and convenient little addition will allow guests to pour their own beer or soft drink at their leisure, without getting in the way as you cook.

• Foliage will add some serenity to your entertaining area. Plant some trees nearby for natural shade in summer. A vertical herb or vegetable garden is also a fantastic addition to an outdoor kitchen if you have a bit of a green thumb.

• Who doesn’t love to sit and chat with family and friends in the glow of firelight? A stylish fire pit or fireplace will add a theatrical effect, as well as some warmth in winter.

Ultimately, your outdoor kitchen should be a place for you to bring your loved ones together to relax, cook and entertain. Be sure to talk to your kitchen designer about your requirements, so all that’s left for you to do is party!

LIGHT IT UP

Sourcing the right lighting for your outdoor space serves dual purposes. Firstly, it allows for sufficient illumination for cooking and other tasks; the last thing you want to do is chop and slice in the dark, and secondly, when used in the right way, lighting can create a subtle ambiance and set the mood for entertaining.

For maximum effect, choose lights that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Install task lights to shine down on your work surface. If your outdoor kitchen has a pergola, you could hang a light above the space for an attractive and functional effect.

Other great options include mounting a light behind the work area or installing a pole light nearby. Solar-powered accent lights create atmosphere when hung over the areas your guests will gather in.

Also, don’t underestimate power of candles to set a mood. For the Melbourne summer, disperse some citronella candles around your outdoor space for ambience and some much- needed protection against those pesky mosquitos.

Read 32 times Last modified on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 00:39