ARTICLE Penny Lewis
Well-planned and executed landscaping creates outdoor zones for living in and enjoying with family and friends. Prepare to spend bit if a top-of-the-range outdoor kitchen is on your wish list. It’s not unheard of to spend $40,000 or more on a kitchen inside – and this price bracket can be the same for outdoors, too. Landscape designers will work in tandem with architects and kitchen designers to create your ultimate outdoor kitchen. Landscape designer from Zones, Nichola Vague, says high-end outdoor kitchens are fully-customised kitchens, with built-in benches, fridges, plumbing with hot and cold water and even rangehoods.
What are the options for weather-resistant materials on a high-end budget?
Glass-fibre reinforced concrete is great for a low-maintenance outdoor kitchen. Another hardy material is PSP Techlam, a porcelain material that’s hard-wearing, colour-fast and UV-stable and water, fire and chemical resistant.
What sort of high-end kitchen appliances should I choose?
Nichola says ultimately the price of your outdoor kitchen will depend on the appliances you choose. Her pick for top-of-the-range appliances is Gaggenau, in an outdoor kitchen with extensive shelter, so it can be enjoyed year-round. And just like an indoor kitchen, she recommends sufficient ventilation with a rangehood. “If your kitchen is undercover, underneath a pergola and with doors linking outside and in, you want to minimise cooking smells and fumes,” she says.
Homeowners with generous budgets are opting for any fixture and fitting in their outdoor kitchens that you might find in an indoor kitchen. Christchurch-based Award Appliances is the agent for Asko. Asko’s outdoor dishwashers are especially engineered for outdoor use. They’re costlier than conventional indoor dishwashers, but will save you the trouble of carrying your dirty dishes inside. Award also imports Liebherr stainless steel outdoor refrigeration.
A sturdy stainless steel kitchen sink with a gooseneck-type mixer is very useful for washing large pans and cooking utensils, or for preparing freshly caught fish, ready for the grill. And if your outdoor fridge is filled to overflowing, a sink is an ideal vessel to fill with ice and keep extra drinks chilled.
What type of plants should I choose for my outdoor kitchen?
Nichola says there’s no need to be too particular about which plants you choose for the landscaping around your outdoor kitchen, as long as they’re not the type to spread and grow over your work spaces. “Scented plants can be lovely to enjoy on warm summer evenings and it’s nice to have plants that create that resort, outdoor feel. Any planting that helps to increase the mood of the area is appropriate,” she says.
What do I need to know about lighting?
Outdoor lighting has different IP ratings – lighting that’s been designed for different areas. IP (or Ingress Protection) ratings are used to define levels of sealing effectiveness in electrical enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies, such as dirt, and moisture. IP ratings determine how much a fitting can withstand water or dust particles. Nichola advises it’s best to make sure you opt for fit-for-purpose outdoor lighting that can handle being splashed. “An indoor light has a very different light from something you would expect to see in a swimming pool.” Use specific outdoor lights and opt for the best quality possible.
Shelter and heating options for outdoor kitchens
Heating is essential, because if it’s too cold you just won’t want to spend time cooking and entertaining outside. Nichola says many high-end kitchen designs will link in with an outdoor fireplace. Business such as Outdoor Concepts stock a range of built-in and standalone alfresco heating options, powered by gas and electricity.
When it comes to shelter, consider whether a permanent or temporary cover suits your needs best. The more undercover you are, the less weather-dependent the use of your outdoor kitchen is. It’s a fine line, though. Too much shelter and you won’t feel like you’re outside. If you live in a suburban area, make sure you check with your local council and landscaping specialist about rules governing site coverage and permeable and impermeable surfaces.
What else to consider?
Low-maintenance is the key to an enjoyable outdoor kitchen. Being outside is about leisure time, so you don’t want to have to spend hours outside constantly cleaning. Nichola says other considerations include thinking about how you will use the space – how will you access it from inside?
Is there enough space for circulation so people can move around easily? Is there sufficient bench space for food preparation and stacking dishes? Where is the kitchen positioned in relation to the outdoor dining area? Is there enough room to cook? You may like to consider a bench that doubles as a bar area with stools that can stand up to the rigours of being out in the elements, so that you’re not missing out on the action.
Will you have dedicated storage for crockery, cutlery and serving dishes outside? Ensure there’s a water and insect-proof place to store them, along with your barbeque tools, otherwise you will be carting them outside from your indoor kitchen. A small pantry with cooking oils and condiments is also a great idea.
If you have a tighter budget, make sure you read about basic outdoor kitchen or mid-range outdoor kitchen.
If you would like to discuss options and ideas for your outdoor kitchen project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your landscaping design and build. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Zones landscaping specialist. All Zones franchises are independently owned and operated.