Outdoor Kitchens…at CGLA we love them!
There has been an explosion in clients wanting outdoor kitchen areas in their gardens. This has been a significant move from simple built-in barbecues to full-on kitchen set-ups, sometimes with fully covered and waterproof rooms around them. We have designed plenty and built a fair few.
The first key decision point here as to whether this is a barbecue with some workspace around it or a full on kitchen with sink, fridge and other appliances. The other, that is often linked to it, is whether you feel this needs an overhead structure – pergolas, roofs and outdoor “barns” or studios are all significant constructions and this may drive what sort of kitchen works for the space.
Clearly there is a big cost difference, and at the top end there are fabulous stone or wooden buildings designed as full-on outdoor bars or party rooms….these are an amazing addition to any garden, but are of course the cost and complexity of an extension, and will almost always require planning permission.
A common approach is to use a metal pergola – some of these are now quite cost effective and feature waterproof closing louvres and can incorporate sides as well as lighting and heating. At the top end these may have glass sides and basically be a full studio (but expect a cost to match, probably £40k plus), and at the more simple end they are more open structures, although the fancy ones are still pricey!
If the space allows and there is a good location for it, a lean to against a wall can be a good option, and most of the pergola companies offer something along these lines, or a shed-style flat or corrugated roof can do a great job.
In the UK, many people opt for a simple open layout on the grounds they won’t be out if the weather is inclement, and the good news is that there are now plenty of manufacturers creating modular kitchens that give you plenty of choice, and provide machine finished and engineered products with good guarantees. Trying to do this from scratch yourself is hard unless you are happy with a rustic finish or can keep it a more simple “cooking space” more than a full on outdoor kitchen.
Moveable umbrellas or simple “pop up” gazebos can create a more enclosed party space and allow for light showers without the expense of a permanent structure.
In terms of the layout and what is included, there are now outdoor versions of most things, although typically you are paying for the weatherproofing so it is worth thinking hard about what you really want out there – a beer fridge is for example a nice to have, but for the usage it will get versus its cost it is often the first to be binned for a fully external installation.
If you are going to add a sink, you will need proper foul drainage and hot water (although electric hot water taps are a good option for this), easy to do if the drain runs are near enough, but can be challenging if they aren’t!
I still favour a simple open shelving system like the one below as anything outside is likely to leak, and even if it doesn’t, it will be damp, so embracing that is in my view the best approach. The new “Egg” barbecues get a really big thumbs up from my clients, but the fittings are very much personal choice – pizza ovens go down well and there are electric and wood-fired options for these, all of which have their own pros and cons.
We have found some of the kitchen companies to be very helpful in getting an overall package together- the one in the image above is from Wwoo and Grillo are also very flexible and have a great range.
In a small space, it is great if it doesn’t dominate, and perhaps links to the main seating area or is partially hidden from the main views….
Particularly over the last couple of years, our enthusiasm for outdoor living and eating has increased and it is good to see that manufacturers and designers are stepping up to the mark to provide a wide range of great options for us to enjoy. Beyond the practicality of the space, and the appearance of the kitchen area itself, it is a great time to think more broadly about the garden. Investing in a cooking nook, a built in barbecue or a full-on outdoor kitchen remains a significant investment, and it definitely is worth considering how this will fit into the overall external space and improve it.
CGLA are an award winning team of Garden Designers, Landscape Architects, Landscapers and Garden Maintenance Operatives working in Buckinghamshire, London and the South East, as well as on prestigious design projects across the UK and abroad. We are currently working in Oman, Jersey and France, and welcome enquires for design, landscaping or garden maintenance. Contact us here