Not just reserved for larger properties and sunnier climates, outdoor kitchens are a great way to extend your entertaining space and make best use of your available square footage all year round. We spoke with Simon Burvill, Managing Director at Gaze Burvill, designers and manufacturers of fine outdoor furniture and kitchens, to gain his expert advice on what to consider when planning your own dream outdoor space – and why outdoor kitchens are not just for the summer!
What factors need to be considered when planning an outdoor kitchen?
Firstly, will your kitchen be just by the house, or farther away? This will determine how much of the indoor kitchen facilities you can use – fridge, sink and so on. Then there are all the extras – where will you need lighting? How much storage do you anticipate needing?
Most of our customers like to be sociable while cooking – friends, teenagers, parents can all join in, chopping things, stirring things, or just making sure the chef’s glass is nicely topped up. So make sure there is a place to perch, and that there is as much worktop as possible for food prep. If you are planning for gatherings where you might ask a professional chef or caterer to provide for your guests, then their needs should be considered also.
How can outdoor spaces be designed to be both beautiful and hardwearing?
Attention to detail and long years of making furniture and watching materials perform outdoors has given us the knowhow to create perfect outdoor kitchens that last. The key is to source beautiful, varied materials that are durable and appropriate for use outdoors – correctly seasoned oak, Dekton and stainless steel, combined with outdoor-specified appliances.
Oak is naturally weatherproof and durable, and will silver over time to become more striking still. Our cabinetry is craftsman-made, and we use oak that has been quarter-sawn, to give it the exquisite medullar ray patterns in the grain and gentle tactility. This method also ensures the wood won’t warp or distort out of shape, and our units are designed to accommodate all weathers and avoid any moisture traps.
For the work surface, we recommend Dekton, which has a range of different designs available. These include those that replicate materials such as marble that we wouldn’t be inclined to use outside, so this offers a great deal of creative freedom when creating an aesthetically pleasing outdoor space.
We have found that the combination of oak and Dekton works particularly well – not just because they look so good together, but because it delivers the pleasure of superb craftsman-made cabinetry paired with the high tech reliability and performance of the very best materials for the job.
What appliances can I have outside?
It’s not just BBQ grills! There is such a wide choice now of appliances that are specially designed for outdoor use, ensuring limitless culinary experimentation when preparing meals al fresco. Popular choices include fridges, warming drawers, pizza ovens, teppanyaki grills and more – but often overlooked, and very handy indeed, is the kitchen sink! Don’t make your outdoor kitchen all about the kit, however – be sure to have as much actual socialising space as you can fit in. Extend your counter, for example, add some tall stools and you’ll find the family outside for breakfast whenever the weather permits.
Are outdoor kitchens just for big gardens?
Not at all – often smaller gardens in town are used extensively as secondary reception rooms for entertaining, making best use of all available space. However, if a garden is small, then it is all the more important to make sure it all looks smart and tidy. If there is room for a BBQ, then it makes sense to build it into a nicely crafted unit, with a practical worktop for food preparation and somewhere handy below to store gas bottles, as well as the relevant cooking utensils, which are often oversized for indoor kitchen storage.
Can I really use my outdoor kitchen all year round?
Yes! With careful planning and use of appropriate materials, an outdoor kitchen can easily become a space to enjoy all year round. Incorporating an element of shelter and judicious use of heating and lighting ensures compatibility with whatever the great British weather might send our way, and we think that there is something special about dining al fresco in all seasons. Particularly when the BBQ is situated just outside the door into the garden, they can be used to grill steak or slow cook even in winter – somehow the flavours seem even better!