How to bar­be­cue all year: cook up an out­door kitchen

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

Whizz up a cock­tail in the blender, reach into the wine fridge for a chilled rosé, siz­zle a few steaks on the tep­pa­nyaki grill, and put the dish­washer on – all without leav­ing your gar­den. In­stalling a full work­ing kitchen out­side is the next step of the wider trend for mak­ing al fresco rooms that are more live­able all year round.

The con­cept is not new, but “this year, it’s gone ab­so­lutely crazy,” ac­cord­ing to Craig Or­mis­ton, who rep­re­sents Amer­i­can out­door kitchen com­pany Fire Magic in the UK. “We’ve been in­un­dated with en­quiries.”

At the top of the mar­ket, gar­den cook­ing and en­ter­tain­ing ar­eas “have over­taken swim­ming pools and ten­nis courts as the first thing peo­ple do to add value and ex­tend the use of an out­door space,” he says.

The rise in en­ter­tain­ing at home is driv­ing the trend: these aren’t just spa­ces to cook, but some­where to have fun do­ing so, with all your friends join­ing in. In that way, it mir­rors de­vel­op­ments in in­door kitchens, with is­land units and break­fast bars that are de­signed to cre­ate a so­cia­ble space.

“In­stead of a lay­out where the bar­be­cue is against a hedge or fence, where you have your back to the guests and the gar­den, we’re build­ing more is­land units, es­pe­cially L-shaped ones with a bar,” says Or­mis­ton, “so your mates can sit and have a beer with you, you can serve them food there, and look out over the gar­den.”

An out­door bar might con­jure up im­ages of a slightly tacky set-up in red­brick and dark tim­ber, com­plete with beer mats, but these are slick con­tem­po­rary mod­els that look more like they be­long in a chic Mediterranean re­sort.

Rhi­an­non Wil­liams, land­scape ar­chi­tect of Land­form Con­sul­tants, took in­spi­ra­tion from the gar­den bar at Barcelona’s Ho­tel Alma for a gar­den she de­signed at this year’s RHS Hamp­ton Court Show. “The point was to show that you don’t need a huge space to en­ter­tain out­side,” she says. Her de­sign in­cludes a com­pact bar, with a wine fridge and prep area.

Gar­den designers can help to sen­si­tively in­te­grate the kitchen with the wider land­scap­ing and plant­ing. The ma­te­ri­als used for Wil­liams’ bar are echoed around the gar­den, with a sim­i­lar lime­stone used for the prep sur­face and the paving, and black metal re­peated across the per­gola and fur­ni­ture, ty­ing ev­ery­thing to­gether.

Wil­liams says that peo­ple are mov­ing on from gran­ite and mar­ble for out­door work­tops and ex­plor­ing more un­usual ma­te­ri­als, such as smooth pol­ished plas­ter or mi­cro­ce­ment. They also want to have herbs for cook­ing and cock­tails close to hand: “Herbs grow re­ally eas­ily, they’re min­i­mal ef­fort, and if they’re grow­ing right there, you’re more likely to use them. So many of them also have fan­tas­tic fo­liage and smell beau­ti­ful, too, such as rose­mary.”

The devel­op­ment of more durable and con­tem­po­rary sur­face ma­te­ri­als, such as Co­rian and Dek­ton, has im­proved the de­sign pos­si­bil­i­ties when it comes to out­door kitchens. There is also wider availa- bil­ity of so­phis­ti­cated out­door kitchen brands from Europe, where they seem to have a firmer grasp than us on how to live well out­side.

“The de­sign of out­door prod­ucts is catch­ing up with in­te­rior prod­ucts. There are some beau­ti­fully de­signed out­door kitchens and bar­be­cues that mir­ror high-end in­door style,” says Si­mon Ray of En­com­pass. The gar­den fur­ni­ture shop sells brands such as Swedish com­pany Röshults and Aus­tria’s Vi­teo, both of which have a min­i­mal aes­thetic, us­ing ma­te­ri­als such as teak, Co­rian and brushed steel.

“The com­bi­na­tion of bet­ter tech­nol­ogy and all-weather ma­te­ri­als has en­abled the devel­op­ment of prod­ucts that of­fer a wide range of cook­ing styles and func­tion­al­ity, and al­low the kitchens to be left out­doors all year round,” he adds.

British brands are also tak­ing a slice of the mar­ket with an em­pha­sis on tim­ber crafts­man­ship. Humphrey Mun­son (bet­ter known as a maker of in­door kitchens) re­cently de­signed a be­spoke out­door space for a client, in iroko wood, stain­less steel and black gran­ite.

Gar­den fur­ni­ture com­pany Gaze Burvill has ap­plied its know-how in tra­di­tional oak join­ery to make its beau­ti­fully crafted Lin­ear kitchen. “We wanted to de­velop some­thing in wood be­cause it’s solid and has a tac­tile ap­peal,” says Si­mon Burvill, the man­ag­ing direc­tor.

“We also wanted it to be well thought out in terms of in­stal­la­tion. Kitchens can be com­plex to build be­cause of how the plumb­ing and wiring work, and how the sur­faces all link to­gether. Our sys­tem is easy to as­sem­ble: you can even take it with you when you move house.”

Quick in­stal­la­tion is also a fea­ture of out­door fur­ni­ture maker In­dian Ocean’s ready-made is­land kitchens, which cost from £9,995 and fea­ture a bot­tled-gas bar­be­cue and her­met­i­cally sealed cup­boards.

“Make sure ev­ery el­e­ment is ex­act­ing and best in class for life out­doors, such as marine-grade stain­less steel cab­i­nets with mag­netic seals that are wa­ter­proof and im­per­vi­ous to dust, in­sects and bugs,” says Heather McCann, the creative direc­tor. “Look for brass burn­ers and ce­ramic bri­quettes to en­sure even heat dis­tri­bu­tion al­low­ing cook­ing of an en­tire roast, not just a few sausages.”

So, what’s the typ­i­cal spec of a top-

Humphrey Mun­son iroko kitchen, left, from £20,000; the oak Lin­ear kitchen by Gaze Burvill, main; mo­du­lar con­crete kitchens by WWOO, be­low, from £3,000

Forno gar­den set, be­low, £1,695, Morsø; Heat 500, a bar­be­cue/wood burner, above, £2,802 from Ch­es­neys

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