Outdoor kitchens – 14 fresh ideas

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  • Kitchens that flow between indoor and outside offer lots of light, great views and space to entertain all year round

    The outdoor kitchen is a modern-day phenomena, but one that has markedly changed the way we plan both our kitchens and gardens. Back in the 1970s we embraced the patio and barbecue, now the rise of the kitchen extension has seen this part of the garden invariably designed in tandem with the new room.

    Vast glass doors and skylights blur the boundaries between indoors and out, letting in natural light and providing a verdant backdrop to kitchen cabinetry. Where a simple table and chairs once sufficed, many gardens now also have an outdoor living space with sofas, armchairs and perhaps a fire pit or brazier to fend off any chill. Most have a dedicated barbecue area, while the optimistic plump for an outdoor kitchen complete with an all-weather appliance, storage and running water.

    This new flow can work as well for families as busy urbanites. Key to its success is careful consideration of both zones and how they interact. The view from glass doors will invariably become the backdrop to your kitchen design and should inform your choice of materials and colours indoors.

    The flow of your layout should suit the room but also guide the user naturally to the outdoor space. Easy designer tricks such as using the same flooring material indoors and out – or at least a matching colourway – helps create a cohesive link, while a good lighting scheme will bring both spaces to life. Also, select a garden designer who will be able to work in tandem with your kitchen designer or architect.

    Useful tips

    For an extension project get plans for the garden drawn up at the same time as the building to ensure the two work in harmony. Find a designer to help with landscaping and planting at The Society of Garden Designers, sgd.org.uk

    Folding glass doors provide a year-round panorama and can be flung open fully so there is no barrier at all. Large expanses of glass are covered by Part L of building regulations, which specify energy performance and heat loss.

    Take a seasonal view and consider how the garden will look in different months. Arrange planting to give a year-round show, but also consider using sculptural materials, such as glass, wood, mirror and weathered metals, to add interest.

    Match flooring indoors and out or at least choose the same colourway. Stone is the most suitable material as it?s weatherproof, won?t fade and improves with age ? slate, limestone and sandstone are all options. Adjust floor levels to match if needs be.

    Plan your layout to enjoy the best view but also to establish a natural path to the garden. Position cooking appliances closer to the exit, so there?s less distance to travel with hot dishes. An island is an excellent addition for serving, buffets and as a central point to linger.

    Invest in all-weather garden furniture that can cope with our temperamental climate, and add extra folding chairs that can be stowed away. Choose attractive covers for fixed items such as barbecues.

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