Jane Perrone looks into the rising demand for garden cooking zones
Unpredictable British weather notwithstanding, outdoor kitchens are big news in garden design. As staying in becomes the new going out, entertaining friends and family in the garden and making the most of every square foot of space is all made possible with the addition of an outdoor kitchen.
The shrinking footprint of the average newbuild is also persuading homeowners to consider putting in an outdoor kitchen, explains Ross Worrod of Cambridge-based Grillo Outdoor Kitchens. “Clients are saying they love outdoor living, but they also want to add value to their house. If you extend your house into your garden by adding an outdoor kitchen, that’s proper living space.” Craig Ormiston of Fire Magic, the UK distribution arm of the American outdoor kitchen firm, also notes that outdoor kitchens are increasingly being specified for new-builds too.
With outdoor kitchens costing anything from £3,000 for a very basic setup, to £100,000 and beyond for a luxury bespoke version, there’s plenty for designers to get their heads around. Amid a dizzying array of options, Worrod set out to produce a range that can be easily configured to any size and shape of garden. Rather than the more clinical look of stainless steel, Grillo uses products such as iroko wood and porcelain countertops: this means the whole kitchen can be easily hosed down at the end of a party.
An increasing number of outdoor kitchen specialists are setting themselves up to offer CPD to designers. Grillo has begun outdoor kitchen design courses on request to groups of designers, while Fire Magic runs its popular day courses once a month throughout the year.
Ormiston says the site of the outdoor kitchen in the garden is key, and the most common error is placing a kitchen against a boundary or fence. “The person standing cooking tends to look at the fence rather than the nice garden that the designer has just spent lots of time designing,” he points out.
Choice of hard landscaping materials is also key. He recommends echoing the materials used in the rest of the garden – be that rendered walls, exposed brickwork, or timber cladding. “You are going to build a landscape scheme to last 20 to 25 years, and you want the kitchen to last the same.” Materials also need to be non-combustible and UV stable, explains Leo Munday of Profresco UK.
Covered outdoor kitchens are increasingly popular because they can offer both shade and protection. Munday recommends an aluminium pergola with louvered roof parts operated by remote control, like those offered by Renson.
And finally, Worrod suggests it’s worth noting where the sun sets, and making sure seated guests can watch the display – if the weather co-operates, of course.