One of the hottest outdoor design trends is the outdoor kitchen. But like any home renovation project, careful planning is required. Andrea Mead, owner of Australian barbecue manufacturer Heatlie, gives us her top tips:
Position – think about the outdoor kitchen’s proximity to other areas of the house, privacy and how to optimise any views. Choosing the right position will help ensure you can use your outdoor kitchen year-round.
How will the space be used? Will you be entertaining large groups or using the outdoor kitchen for smaller, family meals? Do you require a lounge area, as well as a place to eat? A flexible lay-out that can adapt to both is ideal.
Budget – set a realistic and well-researched budget. As well as building materials, appliances and a barbecue, consider floor coverings, shading and furniture.
Built-in or modular system – there are many module-based systems on the market which are cost-efficient and look fabulous. However, if you aiming for a more customised and personally designed space it can pay to engage a builder who will design and construct an appropriate outdoor kitchen for your home.
Appliances – is the area going to be an extension of your current kitchen, or will it be a complete, fully contained outdoor kitchen with fridge, sink, bench-top and barbecue? Keen to get the most out of their outdoor kitchen, many people now choose to install both a barbecue and oven – wok burners are also popular. Be sure to also consider any water and electrical connections you may require.
Choosing the right barbecue – the barbecue is the centrepiece of any outdoor kitchen so it’s vital to choose the right one. Heatlie’s new Island Gourmet Elite is the only barbecue that fits all outdoor kitchens, negating the need to install a custom-made bench.
Bench-tops – many barbecues need to be installed into a non-combustible bench like granite or stone. An exception is the Heatlie barbecue – because the design deflects heat away from the bench it can be installed into materials like MDF and wood.
LPG or Natural Gas – natural gas is easy, convenient and always available, assuming you can access it in your area. Most barbecues have an option of LPG or Natural Gas, however it pays to make this decision when you design your outdoor kitchen so the natural gas connection can be installed during the building process. Some barbecues, such as Heatlie units, allow for a retro-fitted natural gas system, but it’s best to make this decision before you purchase your barbecue. (A licenced gas fitter needs to make the conversion and installation.)
Check local regulations – each state has different requirements for outdoor enclosures. You may need to have plans drawn up and submitted to your local council for approval. Many authorities require a flame failure device to be connected to gas barbeques – this is a standard feature of the Heatlie Island Gourmet and can be fitted to all other Heatlie barbecues at time of manufacture. This feature cannot be fitted after manufacture, so be sure of what you need before your make your purchase.
Protection from the elements – a roof or sail will protect your outdoor kitchen from the rain and sun and encourage you to use the area year-round. Your appliances, barbecue and cupboards will need to be protected from the elements – even stainless steel barbecues and appliances will rust if exposed to weather.
Positioned within a three-sided gazebo and overlooking a sparkling swimming pool, this modern outdoor kitchen with dining area looks great and is super-functional. The Heatlie Island Gourmet Elite with roasting hood sits within a black granite bench-top, complete with stainless steel splashback and matching rangehood.
The kitchen unit itself features a stylish stone facia, with ventilation shaft at the rear, as well as a good-sized bar fridge and handy cupboard space, making entertaining a breeze.