Outdoor rooms have been all the rage in the Sun Belt states for years, but they’re also making their way north. And why not? An outdoor kitchen in central NJ will add months of enjoyment in the summer and early fall. You can extend your season even further if you add an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit to take the chill out of early spring evenings.
With a full outdoor kitchen, you can enjoy nature in your own backyard and entertain guests with ease. After all, an extra “room” outside gives you more space for guests, so you never have to worry about paring back your guest list due to square footage limitations. It can also boost your property value when you choose a professional design with key features like bar, a beer tap and additional seating and pair it with landscaping that keeps you shaded and adds interest.
Elements of a Great Outdoor Kitchen in Central NJ
When designing an outdoor kitchen in the Northeast, it’s important to remember that changing seasons and weather patterns will affect your kitchen equipment. Since your outdoor kitchen in central NJ will be subject to rain and even snow at times, your design should incorporate protection from the elements via a permanent roof structure, pergola or other shelter. A good landscape designer will consider the angle of the sun and the traffic flow to and from your house to maximize the “bones” of your outdoor kitchen. Layout considerations will also factor in the direction that the cook will face when cooking to make interaction with guests easier and to avoid smoke dirtying up the home or causing an annoyance when blowing.
Once the general location is chosen, you can add whatever elements you like to make your kitchen more functional and fun. Consider these ideas for starters:
- Cooking Surfaces: A grill is a must, but don’t forget you can also add wood smokers, ovens and traditional gas range burners to provide all the cooking options of an indoor kitchen — and then some!
- Storage Areas: Add a bar refrigerator or two to your kitchen to keep drinks cold and ingredients fresh. Although wooden cabinets won’t withstand potential water damage, stainless steel cabinet inserts can hold all your barware and cooking utensils.
- Counter Space: Many outdoor kitchens are designed with an island, so guests can pull up a bar stool and chat with the chef while he or she works. Think about the number of people you’d like to accommodate and go from there when designing your work surface.
- Additional Seating: While a bar is perfect for casual fare, a traditional table is also essential for family meals. This can be centered on an open patio or built into your hardscaping, depending on your needs and tastes. You can also add cushioned benches or a seating wall for more versatility.
Outdoor Kitchen Materials
After you’ve decided on the layout of your outdoor kitchen, it’s time to choose the finishes and materials you’d like to use to build your space. These surfaces will add texture and dimension to your outdoor room and help create the mood of the space. Some common materials include the following:
- Paver Block
- Cultured Stone
While these materials make up the backbone of your design, other elements are also important. Your landscape designer will choose plantings to create “walls” around your kitchen that add privacy, shade and a rich green luster. You’ll also need to choose the finish and style of light fixtures, your cooking appliances, countertop and outdoor furniture — not to mention the nearly endless array of fabrics for cushions and outdoor rugs!
Unique Kitchen Design Ideas
If that’s not enough customization for you, there are plenty of extra ways to make your outdoor kitchen stand out from the rest. Have you given thought to any of these ideas for your outdoor kitchen yet?
- A full vaulted ceiling
- Multi-level counters at bar and standard heights
- A wood-fired adobe bake oven for pizza
- A built-in fireplace
- Cascading waterfalls
- A fish pond or “pondless” water feature
- A built-in drink cooler
- A refrigerator for wine or cold drinks
- A garage pullout
- A beer tap
Working With a Professional Landscape Designer
To design a jaw-dropping outdoor kitchen, call a landscape designer or landscape architect for a professional consultation. The professionals know how to make the most of your existing space to turn it into a true oasis. The designer will work with you to understand your needs and desires, pairing your ultimate desires with the reality of your site. With a custom design in hand, the contractor builds your outdoor kitchen to your exact specifications, which gives you total control over the materials and appliance selection.
When you work with a professional, you get the benefit of expert advice about how to choose the right materials that not only hold up well in your climate, but also create the atmosphere you’re looking for. Do you love the rustic look of Bluestone, or would you prefer the clean, modern lines made possible with smooth paver material and clipped boxwood hedges? Your landscape designer will help you select the elements that work to create a harmonious final product you can enjoy for a lifetime.