Thinking of building an outdoor kitchen bar? You aren’t alone. The surging popularity of outdoor rooms and living spaces has prompted an equally impressive increase in the demand for outdoor cooking and bar appliances.
More and more homeowners are spending time in their backyards, grilling and dining outdoors. Many are opting to build their outdoor kitchens using modular units. (That is, you start with a grill, later add a sink, then gradually install appliances and features like counters and islands.)
Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen Bar
Of course, adding a bar to your outdoor kitchen can only add to the fun of your outdoor meals and gatherings. Everybody knows that hamburgers, hotdogs, seafood, and vegetables are juicier, tastier when grilled and enjoyed outdoors. Few will disagree that these grilled good eats are better when paired with a little wine or some beer.
But given today’s economic environment, any home improvement project requires careful planning and deliberation. You don’t want to make mistakes or an investment you’ll later regret.
So here are a few design tips you may want to consider for your outdoor kitchen bar.
Outdoor Counter Top
You will certainly want to include enough counter space for food preparation and serving drinks. Both your bar and your kitchen simply wouldn’t be complete without a good counter top. A total of 36′ of 24″-deep counter is the bare minimum, says HGTV.
The weather is obviously an important consideration, as well. Heat, humidity, moisture, and severe weather can certainly take a toll on your countertop. That’s why you should choose the material carefully.
Experts recommend a granite, slate, or even stainless-steel counter top to match your grill. If your outdoor kitchen bar is semi-enclosed, however, you can use materials like wood or marble.
The outdoor grill is the centerpiece of the outdoor kitchen bar. And there are endless choices when it comes to choosing one – in terms of brands, features, and styles. The clever homeowner may even choose to DIY a barbecue grill. You can find some excellent plans and tutorials online for such projects.
The most important consideration here is the type of fuel you’ll use to power the grill. The electrical grill is easy and straightforward but natural gas grills are more practical, according to experts. Pellet grills, on the other hand, use bits of hardwood scrap that infuse a fine, woody flavor to grilled food.
However, the most avid barbecue afficionados recommend charcoal grills. Cooking with charcoal involves a little more attention and work, but charcoal burners are portable and add sensational flavors to your barbeque cooking.
While you are shopping for a grill, you may want to consider an outdoor range hood. A range hood will keep your outdoor space – your countertop, walls, and other furniture – free of the grimy build-up that accumulates around outdoor grills.
Outdoor grills generate intense heat and smoke. Without a vent of some kind, your outdoor space will require a great deal more maintenance and cleaning. A range hood will also vent harsh odors and excess smoke, which can be problematic in semi-enclosed areas like porches and covered patios.
No outdoor kitchen bar is complete without storage. For storage, you’ll have two basic options: closed cabinets or open shelves. Closed cabinets are excellent for dishware, dry food, and spices. If you have several different types of beer, liquor, and wine, you should consider open shelves so guests can actually see what’s on offer.
You may also want to invest in a cooler or mini-fridge. If you know your way around a toolbox, you can find plans and tutorials for some excellent DIY coolers online.
If you are not the DIY type and prefer to buy a cooling appliance, be sure you buy one that manufacturers designed specifically for outdoor use. Outdoor refrigerators have additional insulation as well as weather-proofing for electrical components.
An outdoor sink may seem extravagant, but it could add a practicality to your outdoor space you never imagined. While you’re grilling and entertaining, a sink allows you to prepare and clean food without leaving your guests.
And if you happen to have a garden nearby, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to clean your vegetables right then and there? You wouldn’t have to run inside for anything.
Finding the right sink for your outdoor kitchen should be easy because many indoor sinks can also be used outdoors. Whether you favor soapstone or stainless steel, you will have no problem finding a sink to fit your needs.
Good Food, Good Friends, Good Fun!
If you are planning an outdoor kitchen bar, you need to think about the same things that you think about when you’re planning an indoor kitchen and bar. That means, at the very least, it should have a cooking surface, a sink, an under-counter refrigerator or cooler, a work surface and counter top, and storage cabinets.
That may seem like a lot – and, in many ways, it is just that. But then you can’t really attach a price to the fun, good food, and merriment that a well-planned, well-stocked outdoor kitchen bar often creates.