Outdoor kitchens are becoming more and more popular and in Bermuda they can be used all year-round. If you are considering building one, here are some things to think about when planning it, and the perfect spot for entertaining.
One of the most important decisions in planning your BBQ entertaining area is your budget.
Before you start visiting showrooms you need to have your budget in place.
The first step to your budget is deciding how much you have available to spend.
Then make a list of what you need for your outdoor kitchen/entertaining area, adding what you want, your ‘wish list’.
You may want that big shiny grill with the rotisserie, side burners and cup holders but if your culinary skills only extend to hot dogs and hamburgers it would be better to get a grill that will perform well and last.
Get the best that you can afford, as opposed to one with all the bells and whistles on that you will never use.
When creating your budget consider where you want to build your outdoor kitchen.
This will give you a good idea of what you will need.
If you are planning on having gas and water running to your area it can get expensive and really run up the costs.
Be sure to plan for lighting in your budget, both for the BBQ area and surrounding areas, such as steps and pathways.
Once you have a list of what you need and what you want, price out the different items on the list to get an idea of how much it will cost overall.
If it is more than you can afford, start eliminating some of the ‘wish list’ items, especially if they can be added down the road.
You also need to know where you are going to build your outdoor kitchen, as the location will have an impact on the budget as well as the rest of your entertainment area.
This is a good time to consult a professional, even if you plan on doing the installation yourself.
An expert can point out things that you may not have considered and their opinion can save you money in the long run.
Depending on the scope of your project, you may need permits, and an expert can advise you about that as well.
No matter where you decide to locate your outdoor kitchen, make sure you include some shelter from the elements and shade from the sun.
If the cooking area is under a roof overhang or porch ceiling make sure it is near the edge and well ventilated so that smoke and cooking odours do not get trapped under the ceiling.
Or, add a vent or chimney extractor to move the smoke away.
It is not fun to cook in or hang out near a smoke-filled kitchen.
For fire prevention, the grill and any other heat-producing appliances should be at least 10 feet from the house and any combustible materials.
Choosing a kitchen countertop
Tempting though it is to choose a countertop based on looks alone, a material’s durability, maintenance and, of course, costs are also important factors to consider when making a selection.
First, assess the way you live to help you choose the perfect countertop for your lifestyle.
White granite may not be the ideal choice for a household with young children who like to make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Even if you have your heart set on a particular look but the material is just not the best fit for the way you live, you can probably find the same look in a different material that will suit your household.
There are many choices available now and they all have their pros and cons.
Laminate can give you the look of just about any other surface material for a lot less money.
It comes in a wide range of colours, very realistic wood grains and stone look-alikes.
With care, a laminate counter top can last 10 to 15 years. The top layer of laminate is virtually impenetrable so it takes the wear and tear of everyday cooking.
It can scratch, chip and scorch so you do have to exercise some care with it.
Remember that the lighter colours can fade and yellow over time.
It is one of the least expensive options so it is kinder to your budget and caring for it is easy. Daily cleaning with a mild detergent or nonabrasive cleaner is usually enough.
Because it is impenetrable it will not harbour bacteria.
Tile can make a durable and lasting surface. It comes in such a multitude of shapes, colours, sizes and finishes, it can be quite a task to choose from them all.
Border and edging tiles give you lots of freedom to create a unique look. Most countertop tiles are from four to six inches square.
Take your time choosing the colour of the grout as it does play a big role in the overall design.
Using an impregnated grout which repels stains is best. This is fairly new to the market and is great for backsplashes and bathrooms.
Be sure the tiles you choose are glazed or finished with a protective coating. Unglazed tiles aren’t practical for countertops because they are porous and will stain and harbour bacteria.
Wood can be used as counter-topping and instantly warms up a kitchen.
Wood is easy to clean and scratches can be sanded out. It should be sealed with a food-safe shellac if you want to keep it from wearing or staining.
If you prefer the look of worn wood, skip the sealing but be prepared to disinfect it regularly to remove germs from the surface, and oil the natural wood regularly to keep it from drying out.
As wood expands and contracts, a butcher block look may be best for the Bermuda climate, perhaps minimizing the area to the ‘island’ or cutting area on the counter.
Granite has become very popular and comes in several grades, patterns, colours and thickness.
It is the thickness that drives up the cost of a granite countertop.
All granite needs to be sealed periodically. It is easy to clean and hot pans do not harm it.
Engineered stone surfaces are available in a wider range of colours than granite, they are non-porous and can resist scratches and stains.
A quartz surface is composed of 93 per cent quarts particles. Manufacturers generally offer a warranty.
This surface is durable and easy to maintain but will cost just as much as granite will.
Solid surface countertops have a lot of appeal. They are seamless, easy to clean, resist stains, while scratches can be buffed out. They are available in countless colours.
Hot pans can damage them however, so the sink cut-out piece can be made into a cutting board or hot plate.
Concrete countertops are becoming popular and are available in several finishes.
They can be customized with pigments and can take on almost any shape.
It does take some care as extreme or abrupt changes in temperature can cause concrete to warp or curl, and damp sponges left on the counter can cause discolouration.
Acidic spills such as lemon juice or vinegar may etch the surface.
They are far from maintenance-free, and to keep them looking its best it is advisable to seal them up to four times a year and wax with a paste every two to three months.
Stainless steel provides a sleek finish in a modern kitchen. It is extremely easy to clean with soap and water and takes the heat of hot pans.
On the downside it can scratch and dent so it cannot be used as a cutting surface.
It is also very costly but if you love the look of it consider using it in only one area of your kitchen, perhaps next to the cook top.
• Michele D Smith is the managing director of OBM International/Bermuda. Contact 278-3550.