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Outdoor Kitchens in NY Times Homes Magazine
Move It Outside
Cooking Under the Stars
Sassman is one of those talented designers who don't follow a strict set of rules - except one: "Make sure the design, whether it's for your business card or bed linens, fits your own personal lifestyle," she said. For her outdoor kitchen, she carved out a comfortable series of rooms in keeping with her family's active way of life. To avoid major structural changes, she worked with the original footprint of the house and an existing patio, opening up the house with a series of bifold doors to blur the line between indoors and out. Taking into consideration the landscape and site orientation, she organized the convetional kitchen and interior rooms to ensure a welcoming flow and seamless connection with nature. The new open-air cooking area works as an extension for the indoor kitchen in terms of both function and aesthetics.
In the Details
The right lighting is another component of a truly great outdoor room. "Dimmers to control the level of the outdoor lighting are key," Sassman said. A simple turn of a switch offers illumination during the preparation of the meal, then easily sets the mood for dining or entertaining. Adding to the drama and year-round functionality is a sleek, contemporary fire pit. "It's a focal point on cool evenings," she said, "and the children love it for toasting marshmallows in any season.
Now You're Cooking
"Outdoor rooms are now considered part of the house, but once you are settled outside and the party has started, you don't want to go inside to get anything," said Sue Bailey, director of Go-to-Market for Viking Range, LLC. "Homeowners want all the functions of a full-fledged kitchen right at their fingertips."
A well-organized outdoor kitchen puts all the appliances and ingredients for preparation, cooking and dining close at hand. It can be as simple as a countertop and few cabinets or as ambitious as a full kitchen with state-of-the-art grill, smoker oven, side-burners and wet bar with a refrigerator and ice maker.
The Sky's the Limit
"Not so long ago, a portable grill was about all that was readily available," said Bailey. Now an array of all-weather appliances, stainless steel storage cabinets and complementary products can be adapted to fir to any outdoor space and provide a fully functional outdoor kitchen suited to an individual homeowners's lifestyle. Planning an outdoor kitchen should be no different than planning a standard kitchen. "Think about what you like to cook and how you entertain," said Bailey. "Do you grill steaks or boil shrimp?"
No matter the flavor of the architecture or the menu, a convivial outdoor kitchen and gracious conversation areas will encourage friends and family to linger late into the evening. There's no reason to go inside, except to go to bed. Unless, of course, you've also built a sleeping porch.