Spring is here! Everyone is getting ready the next warm and sunny months of backyard barbecues and pool parties. Outdoor dining has become increasingly popular recently. But before you head out to the grocery store looking for a portable grill and Styrofoam coolers, pause for a moment of reflection. While outdoor entertainment is a staple of the season, the experience of sharing some hamburgers and beverages under the stars isn’t memorable – in itself. Rather, the company itself provides the conversation. Why not do something different this year? With some investment in exterior design, you can actually create a Michelin-worthy dining experience for your guests that will stimulate conversation long after they go home…
As with all projects, good design is paramount. Think of your backyard as an open canvas. Let’s start from the ground up. While proper landscaping is important, there are more appealing options available than simply dirt and poured concrete. A popular option in particular is a resurgence of a classic style – that hearkens back to one of the oldest methods around: pavers. Reminiscent of the cobblestone pavement method, pavers are individually layered tiles that can be composed of concrete, or mixed aggregates like sandstone, brick and clay. The use of pavers can be very practical, as well as aesthetic. Because each piece is added in separately, the overall design is more adaptable and less susceptible to cracking than a single pour. Another side benefit of piecemeal construction for those of us in So-Cal, being earthquake-resistant is critical.
So you’ve got the essentials. Now lets get started cooking – outside. It is entirely possible to create an outdoor kitchen that can boast a similar ambiance of its indoor counterpart. How would that look, you ask? Here’s a list of items that can be included in an outdoor kitchen:
- the grill (a must)
- the smoker
- the ice maker
- an oven
- a sink
- a mini-fridge
- a wine rack?
Yes, even a wine rack. As more people reap the benefits of eating outdoors, they are bringing some more indoor luxuries with them out of convenience. It is now quite possible to find an all-weather compatible version of your favorite appliance. However, even if there isn’t an all-weather counterpart, each appliance can still be moved outdoors under a covered patio.
Now we’ve demonstrated how to port all the comforts of an indoor kitchen outside, but we need to keep moving. People don’t generally sit inside the kitchen to eat, so lets discuss how to move the entertainment area itself outside. Patio furniture has come a long way from aluminum and canvas eyesores. While aluminum remains popular, mixed materials can include wrought iron, wicker and even teak. Moreover, innovations in texture and weather-resistant materials have increased comfort (yes, actual comfort!) – meaning that it is possible to arrange a space that looks like an outdoor living room. That can include couches, end tables, love seats and even an outdoor Ottoman! And for the perfect finishing touch, why not add in an open fire pit as well? What a better way to conclude a hearty summer barbecue than spending the evening languidly roasting marshmallows around an open fire.
Summer is right around the bend and the temperature is rising. As you’re getting ready for season, it’s tempting to try and do everything all at once. But where to begin?