How to make your outdoor kitchen efficient, functional – and inspiring

(BPT) – Outdoor living spaces have expanded into fully realized environments over the past couple of years, and this is especially true for kitchens. While previous outdoor spaces may have boasted a grill or smoker to encourage dining al fresco, today’s homeowner expects a great deal more. The outdoor kitchen can now be a fully functional, efficient, comfortable and beautiful area, not just for occasional entertaining, but everyday living.

Here are some outdoor kitchen trends inspiring today’s homeowners to make the most of being outside with family and friends.

Designing spaces with multiple uses

Gone are the days of the simple patio, grill and picnic table. Today’s homeowner is prioritizing the health and wellness benefits of spending time outside, fostering a serene and enjoyable space to be used every day.

To create an inspiring space, design beyond the basics of outdoor food prep. Imagine a space complete with comfortable seating, outdoor lighting and audio technology – with plenty of shade, plus privacy walls or screens, so everyone feels relaxed while enjoying the space. Highlight natural elements by creating a living wall of plants, or design a fun gathering spot around a fire pit or outdoor fireplace.

Bringing an entire kitchen outdoors

Today’s outdoor kitchen offers everything you need for cooking – and that means everything, from a range and cooktop to a pizza oven, refrigerator – and even the kitchen sink. A growing trend in outdoor kitchen design is to include all the creature comforts of an indoor kitchen, and then some. Nearly every indoor kitchen appliance now has an outdoor-rated version: icemakers, refrigerators, dishwashers, keg coolers and more. With a fully functioning outdoor kitchen, there’s no need to constantly run indoors for supplies – everything you need is at your fingertips. Add a stereo system, Wi-Fi access and a TV, and you can truly live in your outdoor space.

This was the inspiration behind the new Belgard Elements Collection, featuring stainless appliances and fixtures, including all the cooking, storage, bar and sink accessories to make your outdoor living areas feel complete. The collection includes:

  • Built-in grills and grill islands
  • Outdoor ovens with multiple cooking surfaces, griddle plates and more
  • Smoker trays
  • Rotisserie kits
  • Pizza ovens and accessories
  • Gas timers
  • Sinks

And storage – with stainless steel cabinet doors and drawers that resist rot, weather and insects. Stainless also adds a striking look to coordinate with grills and appliances.

Creating modular outdoor kitchens

One easy way to design a space with multiple uses is with a modular outdoor kitchen. For example, the Artforms™ modular outdoor kitchen units let you enjoy the look of a custom outdoor kitchen at an affordable price and a fraction of the installation time. The pre-formed concrete panels allow for multiple personalized configurations and are shipped in sections to be quickly installed on-site. And because these modular units are constructed with Belgard products, they blend effortlessly with Belgard pavers, walls, walkways or fire pits.

Expanding seating options

Whether you’re hosting a family meal or special celebration, you’ll want plenty of seating for everyone. Here are two trending options:

  • Bar-style seating is popular in outdoor kitchen design for the same reason it’s popular in interior kitchen design: It creates a communal atmosphere where family and guests can interact during meal prep. With the addition of a television, it becomes the perfect spot for outdoor tailgating.
  • Seat walls – Outdoor built-in seating has been trending for years, especially around fire features. Now the trend has found its way to outdoor kitchens, helping define the space, adding a striking aesthetic and providing ample seating for large gatherings.

“Modern outdoor designs blur the line between indoor and outdoor living,” said Joe Raboine, Director of Residential Hardscapes at Belgard. “Outdoor kitchens are becoming not only much more efficient and functional, but also tons more fun to spend time in – while also adding a lot of value to your home.”