Entertaining in the Great Outdoors 4

Dress Up Your Backyard with an Outdoor Kitchen


Summer— a time for playing baseball in the back yard, enjoying long summer evenings and inviting family and friends to a backyard cookout. Guests relax as they wait for their meal. Mouths water as tantalizing scents waft from the grill. Meanwhile the harried host runs in and out of the house grabbing hamburger fixings, utensils and other odds and ends while trying to get dinner ready. When the party’s over, the host has to lug everything back into the house. An outdoor kitchen allows the host to slow down, enjoy the party and socialize without having to run to the house for forgotten ingredients.

The folks at Franz Witte are experts on landscape design. They understand the desire to spend time with friends and family as a meal is prepared. Seneca Hull, the president of Franz Witte knows from personal experience just how nice having an outdoor kitchen can be.

“I think with the outdoor kitchens the trend has gone from a great landscape that you can look at to something that you can use and it’s comfortable,” Hull says. “It can be whatever you want it to be. I have an outdoor living area at my house. I have people who have been coming over to my yard for years who have never actually been in my house.”

Kent Brandtjen, a senior project manager and designer for Franz Witte sees some major benefits of having an outdoor kitchen.

“One of the biggest things is that cooking has now become a social thing to do,” Brandtjen explains. “People enjoy congregating during the preparation. The outdoor kitchen adds to that whole sociability of cooking and prepping.”

Outdoor Kitchen Design Considerations

“When you’re designing a kitchen you have to think a lot about the environment it is going in.” explains Brandtjen. “There’s a lot involved in it. Exposure, the direction the wind is going to carry the smoke, shade, sun. All those elements come into play. In Oregon (where Brandtjen used to live), people don’t want to stand in the rain, so you have to provide a cover. Here in the Treasure Valley people don’t want to stand in the hot sun, so you have to provide shade. The best kitchens are the ones that are well planned.”

Maggie Clark, a design and project manager for Franz Witte, emphasizes that adding an outdoor kitchen is a win/win situation.

“It’s an investment, so you want it to be well-designed and well thought out,” says Clark. “It’s funny because sometimes you can talk clients into going the outdoor kitchen route, while other clients know right off the bat that they want an outdoor living space. To them an outdoor kitchen is a necessity.”

An outdoor kitchen adds square footage to your home.

“Your able to utilize more of your property and really diversify your recreation possibilities,” explains Clark. “You also can customize the style because there are so many different surfaces available for the top and side facades. You could make it an art piece with some really funky sides or you can be really traditional.”

Extension or Destination

An outdoor living space can be an extension of a family room or it can serve as a destination area farther away from the house.

“Generally when it’s a destination kitchen there are usually more elements involved,” says Brandtjen. “More drawers are added. There’s always a refrigerator and there’s usually a sink.”

“If it’s up close near the house you might go more formal,” adds Clark, “whereas if it is away from the house you could make it more organic in the seating, the furniture and the other materials used for the rest of the structure.”

The convenience of an outdoor kitchen allows the host to relish the event instead of running back and forth wishing they could be more involved in the party.