Outdoor Kitchen Design: 9 Common Questions and Answers

Home improvement projects to add or upgrade outdoor living spaces have been on an upward trend in the last few years.

In a recent Home Design Trends Survey, 45% of the architects polled predicted that outdoor kitchen additions would become the most popular type of remodelling project in the kitchen category.

When so many in-the-know professionals believe outdoor cooking space additions will be more popular than traditional indoor kitchen makeovers, that’s saying something.

outdoor kitchen and dining space

With the pandemic dramatically shifting how we live and function, maximizing the comfort level in our homes has become even more of a priority for a lot of homeowners.

The desire to enhance our lifestyle by creating more livable outdoor space in the backyard or at the cottage has made exterior kitchens very in-demand right now.

There are a number of questions you probably have about what goes into an outdoor kitchen design, so let’s provide some answers.

1. Who should I trust with my outdoor kitchen design?

Anyone can buy a new grill and patio dining set and call it an outdoor living space, but there’s so much more the outdoor living experience can offer. Think bigger.

Hiring a skilled designer to create an outdoor kitchen and living space will result in a finished project that serves your family’s needs better and has a high-end, professional look.

As a division of the storage and organization experts at Garage Living, Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry has the same high standards for our outdoor kitchen designs as we do for our garage designs. This includes working with only the finest gourmet grills, cabinetry, and appliances.

Our skilled designers are dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind outdoor kitchens that are customized to our clients’ style preferences and functional needs.

One thing that sets Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry apart is the full-service approach we bring to our kitchen projects. From design to installation, we take care of everything with your outdoor kitchen. This includes handling all aspects related to the outdoor living space’s:

  • cabinetry
  • grills
  • appliances
  • countertops
  • LED lighting
  • outdoor audio

2. What’s the best location for an outdoor kitchen?

One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is where the outdoor kitchen will be located in your backyard.

If you have an existing deck or patio where you want the outdoor kitchen to go then it’s an easier decision, but it’s good to take a few of the following factors into consideration.

Most homeowners prefer to have their outdoor cooking area located close to the house. This makes an outdoor kitchen and dining area feel more like an extension of the living space. The house also acts as a shelter from the wind and, depending on the design of the house, can provide shade.

This type of setup may be more desirable just for the sake of convenience when you’re cooking outdoors and want quick access to anything inside. Having an outdoor kitchen within close proximity of the house makes installing plumbing, electrical, and natural gas connections a bit easier, too.

Locating an exterior kitchen and entertaining area further from the house if you have a larger backyard has its benefits as well.

A poolside area outfitted with a cooking and lounging space can make your backyard experience feel like you’re staying at a nice resort and give you more room to get creative with your outdoor kitchen design.

Nothing beats the taste of grilled foods and even during the frigid Canadian winter, a lot of us still like to fire up the grill. If you fall into this category, keep that in mind when choosing your outdoor kitchen’s location. After all, you probably don’t want to trudge through a couple of feet of snow to get to that poolside grill in mid-February!

3. Is a patio or deck better for my cooking space?

outdoor kitchen on wood deck

The deck versus patio argument has been around for ages and if you’re looking to add either one for an outdoor kitchen, there are some basic facts you should know. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Patio

Compared to wood decks, patios are a little more cost-effective because they’re less expensive to install and tend to last a bit longer. Well-maintained wood decks should last about 10-15 years and a patio that has been properly maintained will last approximately 15-20 years.

Patios provide a wealth of options in terms of shapes, designs, and colours of paver and patio stones. This can help you create a patio design that beautifully complements your home’s exterior.

While you don’t have to worry about weight restrictions with a patio like you do with decks, you are limited to having it on the the ground floor.

Deck

Decks typically cost more to build than patios, but do provide a slightly higher return on investment (around 75% compared to approximately 70% for a patio).

One advantage decks have over patios is they give you more flexibility in terms of where they can be installed. A raised deck may be preferable to you depending on the layout of your home and an elevated deck also offers a nicer view if you live in a picturesque location. That last fact can also mean less privacy if you have neighbours living right beside you, however.

One issue you need to concern yourself with when it comes to raised decks is they need to be sturdy enough to handle the weight of an outdoor living space and its occupants. Elevated decks will also require some type of railing.

Wood decks will require occasional maintenance, naturally. There shouldn’t be much of a concern with wood decks posing a fire hazard if you take the following precautions:

  • locate your grill in a safe area (not too close to wood railings or any combustible materials)
  • work with a professional who will know how to design a cooking space that’s safe
  • apply a flame-retardant treatment to the deck wood

To eliminate the need for deck maintenance, you could choose a more premium type of deck material like aluminum or composite (the latter has a lifespan that ranges anywhere from 25-50 years).

4. What type of outdoor kitchen layout do I need?

How you plan to use your outdoor kitchen should be the primary factor that determines how the layout is designed.

Do you need a large or small food prep area? How much space do you need for storage or to add appliances or a sink? Do you want to incorporate a dining area into the cooking space? Where should the grill go?

There are many things to take into consideration in order to choose a kitchen configuration that will maximize your enjoyment of the space.

If you have a lot of room to work with and desire a fully-functioning outdoor kitchen, a U-shaped or L-shaped configuration are ideal.

These types of layouts will provide you with an ample amount of counter and storage space in your food prep area, as well as more room to add a sink, some appliances, and a larger grill.

Part of the countertop can even be used as a bar area with seating for guests. Another option is to incorporate an island into the kitchen’s layout, which can be used as an extra work surface (where you could put the sink), a bar area, and for additional storage.

What if you’re working with a smaller budget, have a limited amount of space, or just aren’t looking to create a large outdoor kitchen? No worries – you can still create a beautiful outdoor cooking space with a nice grill, a modest amount of countertop space, and a few cabinets and drawers.

5. Is a premium grill worth it?

Coyote premium grill

If you’re used to paying a few hundred dollars for a grill that is perfectly fine and functional, there are several reasons why you should spend a little more for a premium grill.

Premium grills are built to last. Inexpensive barbecues cost what they do because a lot of manufacturers use cheap metals and parts that rust and break quickly. Spend a little more for a grill that has higher-grade construction materials like 304 stainless steel.

A high-quality grill just looks and feels nicer. One of the first things anyone looking at an outdoor kitchen will notice is the grill. Premium grills project a professional, upscale look and that superior quality is evident when you get hands-on with one, too.

A premium grill is more reliable and safe to use. If you get more than a couple of years of use out of the starter switch on a cheap grill before it’s toast, you’re probably happy. Luxury grills will work more reliably, from starting up every time to retaining their heat effectively to distributing heat more efficiently than budget grills (which reduces the occurrence of dangerous flare-ups).

Luxury grills work better for a custom outdoor kitchen design. If you’re putting the time and expense into getting a professionally designed outdoor living space, a premium grill is a must-have. You’ll have a number of style and size options to choose from to ensure the grill effectively complements the rest of the kitchen’s stylish features.

Premium grills come with convenient high-tech features. How would you like to fire up your grill or adjust the temperature with a voice command or by tapping a smartphone screen? Wouldn’t it be nice to use a grill with sensors that were so precise they could keep cooking temperatures at the perfect level? These are just some of the available features on modern smart grills.

6. What should I know about outdoor kitchen cabinetry?

Outdoor kitchen cabinetry works hard.

It needs to look great, provide you with efficient storage space, and be durable enough to withstand the diverse weather of Canada’s four seasons.

Oh, and it would be helpful if it was low-maintenance, too.

That’s a lot to ask of one product, but premium outdoor kitchen cabinet brands like Danver, Urban Bonfire, and NatureKast are up to the task.

They offer high-quality outdoor cabinet solutions with a range of materials, colours, finishes, and styles to make customizing your outdoor kitchen design easier.

Like grills, outdoor kitchen cabinetry needs to be made from high-quality materials that won’t rust or wear down rapidly. Here are three resilient cabinet materials worth considering:

  • commercial-grade stainless steel with a powder coating finish
  • PVC (which replicates the look of real wood and is very low-maintenance)
  • marine-grade aluminum

7. What type of countertop should I buy?

Another hard-working part of any outdoor kitchen are the countertops, which need to have a high resistance to scratches, stains, and high temperatures, in addition to being outdoor-proof and visually appealing.

High-end outdoor kitchen countertops from manufacturers like Dekton and Neolith are made with the latest in countertop design technology.

A highly advanced manufacturing process that involves using sintering particle technology can create work and dining surfaces that are exceptionally strong and durable.

They are also highly customizable, giving you an endless array of options for materials, colours, patterns, and textures.

8. How can I complement my outdoor cooking space?

outdoor living space

An outdoor kitchen adds stylish functionality to your backyard, but what are some ways you can complement it to create a complete outdoor living space?

There’s no shortage of ideas to add to your outdoor kitchen design and make your backyard a more comfortable and attractive extension of your living space.

An outdoor living and entertaining space and relaxation go hand in hand, so some comfy seating like a sofa, loveseat, or recliners are a must. Get a high-quality dining set built for the outdoors to make dining al fresco more enjoyable.

Proper lighting for an outdoor living area and the surrounding landscaping also makes a big difference. Strategically placed lighting accentuates the living space, adds ambiance, and allows it to be more functional and safe.

Here are some additional things that can be included in an outdoor living space:

  • an outdoor fireplace, fire pit, or patio heater
  • ceiling fans
  • an outdoor TV
  • an outdoor bar/beverage centre
  • a hot tub
  • outdoor rugs
  • a pergola, awning, or pavilion
  • an in-ground garden or a vertical garden with fresh herbs and vegetables

9. What are my outdoor kitchen appliance options?

An exterior kitchen’s main appliance – the grill – can do a lot of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to preparing outdoor meals, but what if you want to expand your cooking repertoire?

That’s where outdoor kitchen appliances come in. An outdoor kitchen design can incorporate a number of speciality appliances that gives you more cooking options, which allows you to get more creative in the kitchen.

Appliances like a smoker, pizza oven, flattop/cooktop grill, outdoor oven, side burners, and warming drawers can, in many cases, be installed as built-in units that make efficient use of the kitchen space.

Some non-cooking outdoor appliances that also bring the amenities of an indoor kitchen to your outdoor living space include refrigerators, freezers, and ice machines.

Bring us your outdoor kitchen design ideas

Let’s talk about your outdoor kitchen and living space design ideas. We’ll work together to create an incredible and unique outdoor cooking and entertaining space for your home or cottage.

Request a free design consultation with us to start planning your outdoor kitchen project.

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7 Smart Outdoor Home Improvement Projects That Up Your Curb Appeal

outdoor home improvement projects

Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report measures which home improvement projects retain the best value over time.

The 2020 Cost vs. Value report determined that nine of the top ten renovation projects that delivered the highest value returns were outdoor home improvement projects.

Homeowners want their houses and property to be something they can show off and be proud of. Investing in the right outdoor home improvement projects can turn an average-looking house and property into something special that can make your home really stand out in the neighbourhood.

Boosting curb appeal doesn’t just have aesthetic benefits, however. Investing in your home’s exterior appearance also enhances your comfort level and adds value to your home that can be recouped to varying degrees whenever you move.

7 smart outdoor home improvement projects

Curb appeal isn’t restricted to only your home’s street-facing features, either. Sprucing up the backyard is also important and we’re seeing more interest in this area of home improvement.

It pays to do your homework about which outdoor home improvement projects pay off and which ones don’t.

Adding a pool, for example, might provide you and your family with many hours of enjoyment for as long as you own your house. Unfortunately, pools have a notoriously lousy return on investment (typically in the 40-50% range). The vast majority of anyone buying a home views pools as the least appealing outdoor feature for a house.

Which outdoor home improvement projects are considered the smartest picks if you want to invest in your curb appeal and retain a higher amount of your remodeling investment?

Here are seven worthwhile projects that will refresh the exterior appearance of your house and add value to your home.

1. A new roof

As you can see from the Remodeling Impact Report infographic below from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a new roof provides an outstanding return on investment.

home improvement projects infographic

A roof upgrade has a huge impact on curb appeal and provides a great return on investment. (Source: The National Association of Realtors)

Not only is redoing a roof a wise investment and great for curb appeal, but it also ranks very high when it comes to the satisfaction of consumers with their outdoor home improvement projects.

The NAR’s “Joy Score” measures the happiness of homeowners with their renovations on a scale of 1-10 and a new roof gets a score of 9.2.

Giving your roof a facelift isn’t cheap, so it tends to be one of those outdoor home improvement projects that get put off for as long as possible. The lifespan of asphalt roofing shingles in Canada ranges anywhere from 15-30 years, depending on the quality of the shingles.

However, waiting to replace your shingles isn’t the kind of thing you want to procrastinate on for too long, as anyone who has dealt with a leaky roof can attest. Even if a roof isn’t leaking, missing and faded shingles, along with other types of roof damage, can present your house in a poor light.

Performing annual roof inspections yourself can mitigate unexpected roofing issues in the future. Look for wind damage that may have caused some shingles to get ripped off or loosened, curled shingles, an excess of missing granules on the surface of shingles, and damage from hail. Ensure your downspouts and gutters are regularly cleaned, as clogs can potentially cause roof damage.

If you can afford it, a roof upgrade project also presents a good opportunity to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency and value. A study by Zillow (a leading real estate and rental digital company) found that homes with solar panels sold for more than homes without solar energy systems.

Some people don’t care for the aesthetics of roof solar panels, which Tesla has addressed with its Solar Roof system. It replaces the large, shiny, and futuristic look of traditional roof solar panels with much smaller high-efficiency solar panels that replicate the look of a traditional shingled roof.

2. Front door replacement

One of the more cost-effective outdoor home improvement projects worth doing is replacing your front entry door. A stylish and modern front door creates a strong first impression to anyone entering your home.

A professionally installed new front door typically falls in the $1,000-$5,000 range. Larger doors that have high-end hardware and include more intricate glass designs will naturally increase the price of the project.

New front doors provide a solid return on investment of around 70-75%. On the most recent Remodeling Impact Report, homeowners who had gotten recent fibreglass and steel front door replacements rated their project a 9.7 on the Joy Score scale.

Steel and fibreglass exterior entry doors are popular with homeowners nowadays because they cost less than most wood doors. Unlike wood doors, steel and fibreglass also requires little to no maintenance.

In addition to aesthetics, one of the reasons given by homeowners for a steel or fibreglass exterior door replacement was energy efficiency considerations. Homeowners also cited security concerns as a reason for getting a modern door that was sturdier than their old door.

If your budget doesn’t allow for getting a new front door, even sprucing up your existing door is beneficial to your home’s appearance.

A fresh coat of paint or stain for your door and upgrading hardware features like the lock, knob, handle, and knocker can make an old front door look brand new. You can also update the door by adding a smart lock system.

3. Adding an outdoor kitchen

outdoor kitchen on patio

Kitchen remodels are consistently one of the most popular home improvement projects. The American Institute of Architects’ recent Home Design Trends Survey is taking this concept to a whole new level.

45% of the 500 members of residential architecture firms surveyed predict that outdoor kitchen additions will become the most popular type of home improvement project in the kitchen category in the coming years.

Adding an outdoor kitchen gives Canadians who are looking to maximize their time outdoors when the weather is nice with another option when it comes to cooking at home. And when we say “option”, we’re not just talking about using a single grill with a side burner.

Outdoor kitchens are capable of truly bringing the indoors outside, implementing many of the amenities and features of a traditional kitchen into an outdoor cooking space.

A professional outdoor kitchen design company like Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry can create a cooking space that is fit for a gourmet cook.

From design to installation, we take care of everything for your outdoor cooking space. Our outdoor kitchens have a sophisticated, high-end look and are designed to incorporate all of the features your cooking needs require. This includes:

A creative and thoughtful touch like adding a nearby garden (or a vertical garden that’s actually right in the kitchen) with fresh herbs and veggies for your meals is also an option for an outdoor kitchen.

4. Adding an outdoor living space

To complement an exterior cooking area, adding an outdoor living space can really help you get the most out of your backyard and connect more with the great outdoors.

An outdoor living room with plenty of comfortable seating and an area for dining al fresco extends your home’s living space.

Backyard living spaces also create an ideal space for entertaining during the warmer months of the year. These attractive benefits are why many buyers of new luxury homes consider an outdoor living room a must-have feature.

Outdoor living spaces can be designed to accommodate all types of budgets and sizes of backyards. A simple design for a small patio or a larger, more lavish outdoor living space design will improve your comfort level while at home.

A talented designer will ensure your outdoor living space and outdoor kitchen blend seamlessly with your existing home’s style and décor.

A few extra amenities worth considering for an outdoor living space are:

  • an outdoor fire pit or fireplace
  • a pergola or retractable awning for sun and rain protection, as well as for privacy
  • an outdoor audio system
  • lighting upgrades for more ambiance and functionality
  • a weatherproof/outdoor TV

5. Home siding or stone veneer upgrade

Appearance-conscious homeowners should consider a siding replacement if their home’s siding has seen better days.

This home improvement project can greatly impact your curb appeal. Compared to siding products from 20-30 years ago, modern siding is a lot more durable, is easier to maintain, and gives you a lot more design options with a variety of profiles and colours.

While the return on investment for vinyl and fibre cement siding is in the 65-75% range, a siding replacement left homeowners who undertook the project very satisfied with a 9.3 Joy Score.

For a different look that stands out from the long horizontal panels used for siding on most homes, you could choose textured shake siding made from engineered wood.

Another visually impressive alternative is to add a stone veneer to your home’s exterior for a distinct, natural look. While it’s not cheap, adding a manufactured stone veneer to your home had one of the highest returns on investment in the latest Cost vs. Value report at 96%.

6. New garage doors

outdoor home improvement projects garage doors

One of the home’s major focal points is the garage doors, which can account for as much as a third of a house’s front exterior. It’s a simple fact that attractive garage doors and strong curb appeal go hand in hand.

While the approximate returns on investment for various renovation projects can vary from year to year depending on trends, new garage doors are as rock-solid an investment as it gets in home improvement for the amount recouped. Year after year, they stay in the 85-95% range for return on investment.

Like front doors, garage doors offer a wealth of styles and customization options nowadays to effectively complement a house’s exterior, in addition to improving the energy efficiency of homes.

An aluminum capping upgrade is a rather underappreciated way to add to a home’s exterior visual appeal, too. Most people aren’t familiar with what aluminum capping is. It involves wrapping a garage doorframe in aluminum sheeting that is colour-matched to the garage doors and home exterior, which gives a house a clean, more finished look.

7. Upgrading or adding a deck or patio

Decks ranked number one among the features wanted most by homebuyers, according to the Homeowners’ Most Wanted survey from Porch, an online home improvement resource.

Their return on investment is in the 70-75% range, with wood decks recouping slightly more than decks made from composite materials.

It’s no surprise that a deck or patio upgrade or addition is usually one of the most popular outdoor home improvement projects in Canada during the spring and summer.

These areas are the foundation of a backyard cooking and living space. Whether you’re working on a tan, cooking for your family or guests, or just relaxing with friends, there’s a real value in having a spacious, comfortable area at the ready in your backyard.

If you already have a wood deck, giving it a little TLC every few years by spending a weekend restaining it can give this part of your home a beneficial refresh. Deck stain applications will last for about five years.

Get started on your outdoor home improvement projects!

Which outdoor home improvement projects are on your to-do list this spring and summer?

If an outdoor cooking and living space is something you’ve always wanted, make this the year your dream becomes a reality.

Request a consultation with Outdoor Kitchens & Cabinetry to start planning your outdoor project now so you’ll be able to maximize the use of your outdoor kitchen and living space this summer.

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