Each week Mansion Global tackles an interior design topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at how to design an al fresco kitchen.
There’s nothing quite like dining al fresco—the sun or stars are your scenery. And when your kitchen is also outdoors, entertaining becomes much less daunting.
“You can be more flexible,” said designer Ariel Okin, of Homepolish in Manhattan.
“With luxe properties, an outdoor kitchen affords an owner the ability to host al fresco without having to go in and out of the home throughout an event. With a full fridge, oven, stove, grill, etcetera., at your disposal, you can focus more on your guests and less on timing a meal.”
Here are all the ingredients for making an outdoor kitchen a functional yet stylish place to entertain.
Consider the logistics
“If you’re on the ocean, understand that every metal—even stainless steel—will eventually rust to some degree, so it needs maintenance. It should be cleaned and protected at least seasonally to extend the life. Think of the house as being in a salt bath all the time. Countertop materials have to be able to withstand sun exposure, so natural stones and concrete work well; whereas many composite materials break down in UV.
"One of the biggest decisions is whether you want your guests to be involved with the cooking. Are you doing the cooking and want to be part of the party? Or, do you have staff that would function better elsewhere? Travel distance (and routes) from cooking to serving to cleanup also need to be thought through.
"Subtle lighting is best—you can function with a lot less light than you might think. If your outdoor space is too bright, you might as well be inside. Outdoor spaces tend to get a lot of spillover light from the inside of the house. The goal is to have lounge lighting, not surgical suite lighting.”
—Blaze Makoid of Blaze Makoid Architecture in Sagaponack, New York
— Mansion Global (@MansionGlobal) May 2, 2017
Define the space
“The outdoor kitchen is an area where you can play and experiment, but it should still mix with the rest of the aesthetic inside the home to create a cohesive story. This might be a good place to try out a funky tile that you’ve been eyeing, or brass hardware, but don’t go crazy with a scheme or vibe that doesn’t match the interiors.
"Functional furniture is key for an outdoor entertaining area, but that doesn’t mean it should sacrifice on style. Focusing on durable perennial fabrics and the right sealants and treatments for wood and stone will keep the area useable and durable over time.
"Bistro lights or large hurricane candles in tall pillars create ambient lighting, as do tea light candles around the table. As for wired lighting, be sure to install dimmers to set the mood—that’s half the point of eating outside.
"Materials like stainless steel, concrete, quartz, and caesarstone are durable, easily cleanable materials that can hold up to the weather.”
—Designer Ariel Okin of Homepolish in Manhattan
Work out the details
“The more trips you can reduce between your outdoor space and your main kitchen, the better. Key elements include a sink and faucet, two mini fridges—one for beverages and one for food—and a grill with ample prep space. My favorite one is from Caliber Appliances—the lid folds all the way back and goes flush with the countertop. It’s very sleek and unintrusive.
"Consider a unit that’s mobile to give you more flexibility. I recently collaborated with Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens and Dekton to design my vision for the ultimate outdoor kitchen. Its freestanding modular design includes plenty of storage on both sides of the kitchen to keep counter space clear, allowing it to be a gathering spot from all sides for both guests and the chef—sort of like an island.
"Just be sure it’s at least 10 feet from your pool. No one wants their steaks or cocktails splashed with pool water.”
—Phoenix-based architect and designer Daniel Germani of Daniel Germani Designs
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