ARTICLE Penny Lewis

Landscape designer Nichola Vague from Zones says thanks to the warm climate, outdoor kitchens are big in Australia and shows like ‘The Block’ have made them popular here in New Zealand.

Nichola Vague classifies mid-range outdoor kitchens as when you actually start looking to create a space, rather than insert cooking appliances into an existing outdoor area. The more customisation, the greater the expense. At the very least, you will need to invest in shelter to get the most out of your outdoor kitchen and increase its usability and comfort. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have enough space for prep – always a must in any kind of kitchen. Budgeting $30,000 to $40,000 should get you a good mid-range kitchen to suit your needs.

What to know about weather-resistant materials?

You will need to choose materials that stand up to the rigours of the weather – and cooking. Concrete is a popular choice for paving, benchtops and fireplace surrounds, but as it’s a porous substance it will need to be sealed. Information from coloured concrete specialist Peter Fell, says the typical cost for a new concrete patio is from around $100 per square metre for a coloured, cut, grouted and sealed area. This price will vary, depending on size, access and any removal of existing areas.

Karen Syddall from The Tile Depot says there’s not a lot that can’t be tiled, so tiles are a good option for paving, benchtops and other surfaces. Popular looks at the moment are natural and organic. Because tiles are fired at 12,000-13,000C they’re often used as barbeque hotplates.

Outdoor tiles must be porcelain, because they have a low density/porosity biscuit (the first firing of pottery, which permanently hardens the clay), which makes them frost-resistant and anti-slip. There are different levels of anti-slip, depending on where you are tiling. “For example, the area around a swimming pool requires a higher anti-slip rating than a front-door entrance that may be partially covered.”

Karen says glazed porcelain tiles are a finished product and no sealing is required. “They are usually nice and strong, with a smooth surface, so are easy to wipe down.” Larger tiles with fewer grout lines have their advantages. “Grout is the only thing that can deteriorate, so the less of it the better, although grout products are constantly improving and getting better in performance.”

Think practically when choosing tiles for your outdoor kitchen. “The lighter the tiles, the more glare reflection in the bright sun, likewise the hotter a really dark or black tile can get.” Also, because outdoor tiles have an anti-slip surface, their surface texture means they’ll hold dirt easier. “Its best to choose a tile that has a bit of movement and pattern that’s a bit more forgiving to live with. You don’t want your tiles constantly looking like they need to be cleaned,” Karen says.

What kind of mid-range kitchen appliances are available?

Nichola Vague says Electrolux make a good array of mid-to-high-end products – both standalones and customised built-ins, which can be placed into an outdoor benchtop, much like a hob in an indoor kitchen. Electrolux’s integrated barbeque and integrated burner are protected with stainless steel lids and have controls for specific cooking zones, much like your indoor hob and oven have. As its name suggests, Electrolux integrated burners with QuadBurner offer four-way cooking, with cast iron trivets that adapt to wok and flat-pan cooking. They also come with reversible cast-iron hotplates with flat and griddle surfaces – perfect for brunch bacon and eggs, as well as dinner.

DCS grills by Fisher & Paykel are priced from $6500. They are marketed as grills, rather than barbeques, defined by their higher burner power and ability to quickly reach intense, searing temperatures, beyond the realm of ordinary barbeques.

For a hide-away designer touch, Kiwis heading over the ditch should check out the Tilt outdoor kitchen from Tait showrooms in Melbourne’s Fitzroy and Sydney’s Redfern. Designed by Justin Hutchinson, the Tilt Outdoor Kitchen fits into a box that opens to create a 2.2m-high awning.

Made from folded aluminium and stainless steel with timber battens, the Tilt comes with an Electrolux 900mm barbeque and utensil shelves. Optional accessories include a Hafele sink and Roger Seller tap, wok burner, roasting hood and integrated LED lighting, rain awning and internal shelving.

Concrete footings, electrical, natural gas and water connection will need to be talked about and arranged with your landscaping specialist.

What do I need to know about utilities?

If you are renovating and extending your house, Nichola Vague says it pays to future-proof by running service lines outside, even if you don’t plan on building an outdoor kitchen straight away. “It’s easier to get conduits, etcetera, out there at the outset with a new build, even if the kitchen itself comes later.” Remember to check on necessary permits and consents with your local council and landscaping specialist.

How much does a shelter cost?

You will need to spend $10,000 to $20,000 for a pergola with louvres to protect you from the sun and rain. Louvretec super roofs are designed with a minimum 4m-span and are engineered to withstand super-high wind zones. Louvretec also sells a range of PVC and mesh shade blinds for sun and wind protection along the sides of your pergola.

How to keep the outdoor kitchen usable all year round?

Many homeowners will choose to link an outdoor kitchen with an outdoor fireplace. “You want to be able to use it as much as possible so you’re not just tied to the summer months. Autumn is the time of year that outdoor living – and outdoor kitchens – come into their own – evenings are crisp and cool. You are outside but in a snug area,” Nichola says. Some louvred pergolas come with strips of gas or electric heating built into them.

Note: Prices are rough approximations only, and Zones Landscaping cannot be held accountable for their accuracy. All prices in this article are exclusive of installation costs and any variations.
 

If you have a smaller or larger budget to work with, why not read our basic outdoor kitchen or high-end outdoor kitchen.

 

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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.

*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.