North, South, East, West, An Outdoor Kitchen is Best!

It’s the middle of summer (literally!) and sometimes we forget that the summer doesn’t end on Labor Day…in fact, in even the cooler areas of the country, it can linger on through October, even later. “Later” to me, was when I cooked (via grilling) my best tasting turkey EVER for Thanksgiving…it was a split turkey breast, meant simply to add to the main turkey in the oven, since I could only fit one in the oven. What happened next floored me..a grilled turkey in November on Long Island? I’m a believer in grilling anything, anytime…although I’m digressing just a bit!

So, speaking of cooking outdoors, it might be helpful to think about our outdoor kitchen needs, based on our locations and weather conditions. Here are some thoughts on what to consider in the planning stage:

Southerners – It’s all about shade! Note the sun’s exposure at your desired site for an outdoor kitchen. An optimum design would have the kitchen situated in a northern exposure. The sun’s path over your desired location will either be a help or a huge hindrance.

Westerners – Of course, the weather in the western portion of the U.S. varies greatly from warm/temperate southern California to zone 5 in Colorado, so westerners can take tips from other parts of the country as well. One difference is the much lower humidity level which is more tolerable and will allow a southern exposure in some areas that would otherwise be prohibitive in the deep south.

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Easterners – The varied zones from the mid Atlantic region to upper New England has a wide spread in temps as well. Lower to upper New England may wish to seek out western exposure (if the kitchen will be used late in the day and in the shoulder months of summer) and southern exposure. The size of the outdoor kitchen should be seriously considered due to short outdoor seasons (mountainous westerners take note).

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Midwesterners - Midwesterners often have severe weather in each direction – very hot and very cold! Is your chosen spot sheltered from heat, cold, and wind? With spring storms racing through the midwest, consider sheltered outdoor kitchen designs and sun and heat exposure issues as well.

Thinking Finishes…

I’m a believer in mixing finishes, particular the metals that are a prominent part of the outdoor kitchen. Stainless steel appliances are the main metal finish, but, depending upon surrounding materials such as natural rugged stone, granite, or brick, I can certainly see an oil rubbed bronze sink and faucet, perhaps copper as well (which may be best in a sheltered area). Mixing metals enhances the look of an outdoor kitchen and can create an authentic style story by mixing warm and cool finishes…just as is found in nature! In my opinion, mixed finishes and textures make for the most natural of interior OR exterior spaces. But, as with any other designed area, it has to make sense in the context of color, texture, proportion and balance.

That said, have fun experimenting and exploring your vision!

For more kitcheny goodness, find me at my blog The Kitchen Designer, on Twitter and be a fan on my facebook fan page!


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