28 June 2011

Outdoor Kitchens: Guest post by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

It's summertime... and the grilling is easy! One manufacturer who has made it even easier with the release of the industry's first outdoor dishwasher (shown here) is Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

I got the chance to meet the Kalamazoo team at the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and was impressed with their products and outdoor smarts. So I invited them to share some tips for creating an outdoor kitchen in your own backyard.

What follows are eight great insights from Russ Faulk, VP of Marketing and Product Development at Kalamazoo. Thanks, Russ (and Chris Mordi, for helping to make it happen)!

1. Satellite or independent:
This is the most important decision to start the design process. Knowing whether the kitchen will be a satellite of the indoor kitchen or completely independent of it determines the proper amount of refrigeration, cabinetry and counter space. A satellite kitchen relies on the indoor kitchen for most of the prep-work and refrigeration. Independent outdoor kitchens feature all functional zones, necessary equipment and supporting utilities, making it completely independent of its indoor cousin.

2. Working in harmony:
Outdoor kitchens can be just as complex as indoor kitchens. Design the outdoor kitchen with functional zones, but keep in mind the special requirements that come with cooking outdoors, specifically the need for more space to accommodate bigger pieces of dinnerware and serveware. Provide adequate landing areas around each primary work center. For example, around the grill, you should have a landing area of 24 inches to one side and 12 inches to the other; around the sink, you should have landing areas of 18 inches on each side.

3. Living together:
Dining, lounging, cooking, and pool areas often coexist. Keep cold zones to the outer areas of the kitchen. This way guests can get beverages without having to walk past a hot grill. When placing the grill, keep traffic patterns in mind. You want to place it in a location that doesn’t isolate the cook from the party, but prevents people from walking past both its hot front and back sides.

4. Make it low maintenance:
An outdoor kitchen has to be easy to care for and clean. Materials that are grease- and stain-resistant and suited for the elements work best. Stainless steel is ideal for appliances. Soapstone and glazed lavastone are strong performers as countertops. Reclaimed brick and unglazed porcelain work well as flooring.

5. Complement the home:
An outdoor kitchen should not look like an addition to the house. Use finishes and materials that complement the home. The same holds true for outdoor furniture and accessories used in and around the outdoor kitchen.

6. Extend the outdoor entertaining season/make it comfortable:
Shelter is one of the fastest growing trends in outdoor kitchen design. Large umbrellas, pergolas, roofs and screened-in areas protect from sun and rain, helping homeowners get the most from their outdoor kitchen investment. Depending on how elaborate the shelter is, you can design in features that make it even more enjoyable, such as radiant heaters that provide comfort deep into fall and allow homeowners to open kitchens earlier in the spring, or ceiling fans that provide cooling breezes and discourage insects.

7. Light it up: Lighting is one of the most overlooked aspects of outdoor kitchen design. To cook or entertain after dark, one has to be able to see once the sun goes down. Task lighting is an absolute necessity for cooking after dark. Pay particular attention to properly illuminating the grill. Lights can be mounted on the wall, on a pole, in a ceiling or alongside the grill. Just make sure it isn’t blocked by the cook’s head or the grill’s lid. You don’t want anything casting shadows on the cooking surface, defeating the purpose of the task lighting. Ambient lighting helps illuminate the kitchen, dining and living spaces. It also creates drama throughout the entire area.

8. Incorporate music and other entertainment:
Just like the indoors, homeowners want audio and video entertainment for their outdoor kitchens. Many homeowners are having TVs, MP3 docks and speakers installed for use at all times in the outdoor kitchen. Others want to use their TVs only on a temporary basis. Plan cabling, power supply, and installation hardware as if these items were going to be installed permanently.

All photos: Courtesy of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.


  1. Hey my very first comment on your site. ,I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would completely pop in and drop a friendly note. . It is great stuff indeed. Kitchen Equipment

  2. Hey, Magi, thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it greatly. Hope you'll keep reading -- and commenting!


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