Summer is just around the corner and if you're anything like us, you are ready for it! As Chicagoland homeowners stow away their winter jackets and boots, they're also taking a turn around the backyard, dreaming of the warm days to come when they can be outside all day long. One way to extend your time outdoors is with an outdoor kitchen. These are one of our fastest growing home improvement options as more and more homeowners are investing in outdoor living space.

What is an Outdoor Kitchen?

An outdoor kitchen is a step up from grilling out. While grilling out just means bringing the food outside to cook it, with an outdoor kitchen you can do it all – prepare the meal, cook it, clean it up, and eat it. Some outdoor kitchens even have refrigerators to store leftovers and keep beverages cold - and while most outdoor kitchens feature some type of grill, you're also just as likely to spy a brick oven or even a traditional range out there. Although cooking choices are numerous, the one feature all outdoor kitchens have in common is that they are located outside of the house.

Why do people add an outdoor kitchen to their homes? Many reasons. Outdoor kitchens can serve multiple purposes. They're extremely popular with homeowners who like to entertain or spend a good deal of time outside. Homeowners with pools or spas will often add an outdoor kitchen to spend more time it the water and minimize mess in the house. We've had homeowners tell us that they use their pool much more now that they have an outdoor kitchen because it makes it so much easier to keep everyone happy and fed. The kitchens also popular with gourmands and even with home canners, who prefer to keep the heat, humidity, and mess of canning out of the house.

Must-Have Features & Ideas for your Outdoor Kitchen

While an outdoor kitchen sounds like a dream, they aren't a project to be taken lightly. They require careful planning to ensure best placement and maximum functionality. Function guides form in this case. Before we start thinking about colors and materials, we first talk to homeowners about how they plan to use their outdoor kitchen. It makes no sense to design a grand gourmet outdoor kitchen if all you want is somewhere for the neighborhood kids to congregate. Once we have an idea of the type of outdoor kitchen you'd like, we can start to look at must-have features, including: 1. The Right Location.

The location of your outdoor kitchen is important since this is a permanent addition to your house. Many homes have a logical location, such as outside a walk-out basement or replacing the existing deck or patio. You want the location to be convenient to the house, but accessible to the yard. Ideally, there will be existing electrical and plumbing that the outdoor kitchen can tap in to. You also need enough space. You need space for all of the functions you have planned for the kitchen: food prep, cooking, washing up, seating and dining, and storage. You're essentially adding a second kitchen to your home, it's very important that it can fulfill all of your typical kitchen needs.

2. Adequate Lighting.

You can't rely on Mother Nature alone to provide lighting for your outdoor kitchen. Many homeowners overlook this feature, thinking that since they are going to be outside, they'll have sunlight or landscape lighting to aid them. The light given off by landscape lighting or traditional deck lighting usually isn't enough to make food prep safe and comfortable. Consider adding overhead lighting as well as task lighting to make sure you can see what you're doing no matter the time of day or the weather. You can always turn it off if you don't need it, but if you do need it and don't have it, you'll wish you took the time to think about lighting before your built the kitchen.

3. Complementary Colors.

The outdoor kitchen is an extension of your home, so you will want to pay attention to the colors and materials used. The best outdoor kitchens coordinate with the home's deck stain, siding, and style. There are so many choices today in terms of materials and colors from brick and stone to composite and different kinds of wood that you can easily create an attractive and modern outdoor kitchen that perfectly complements your home.

4. Roofing.

Another often overlooked feature is roofing. It's easy to fall into the daydream trap when thinking about your new outdoor kitchen – when you only picture those picture-perfect days, but there will be plenty of not-quite-perfect days that you'll want to be using your outdoor kitchen. A roof definitely makes it possible for you to use the kitchen more frequently and it also protects your outdoor kitchen from the elements. Remember, you'll have countertops, seating, appliances, and décor out there. You don't want it to sit uncovered and unprotected.

Design Your Dream Outdoor Kitchen With Help From Erdmann Exteriors

Outdoor kitchens are a dream come true for many homeowners. Let us help you with that dream! Contact Erdmann Exteriors & Construction to arrange a free in-home consultation to discuss the possibilities!

Call us at 1-847-357-9607 or contact us online to schedule.