Outdoor kitchen comes with all mod cons
It's not just about the barbie this summer – the most amazing outdoor living areas now sport fully equipped, all-weather kitchens.
Outdoor kitchens are not a new idea – having a "wet kitchen" where food is cooked undercover outdoors is a normal practice in most southeast Asian countries.
But these new outdoor kitchens are something else altogether. They are top-of-the-line kitchens with banks of cabinetry, often in high-grade stainless steel, with sinks, special outdoor cooktops, built-in barbecues, refrigerators, dishwashers and maybe a pizza oven.
The idea has been sparked by the demand for increasingly sophisticated lifestyle amenities. But it has also been prompted by advances in technology and materials that make all-weather cabinetry and appliances possible.
Most outdoor kitchens have some form of shelter, such as a covered terrace or large eaves. Not all are undercover, however.
Auckland designer Celia Visser recently designed an outdoor kitchen that is completely exposed to the elements. She says the clients wanted the "ultimate outdoor kitchen, dining and entertainment area" with a "minimalist feel".
The kitchen, in their backyard, needed to have separate cooking zones and preparation areas, as well as cleaning facilities, refrigeration and storage for 2000 bottles of wine in the owners' collection.
Not surprisingly, weatherproofing was the foremost concern. Consequently, the cabinets are clad in PSP Techlam in the colour Neu, which is a porcelain sheeting material that's impervious to water and is also frost resistant.
"It's a little like ceramic tile," says Visser. "We mitred all the corners, and chose a completely different material for the interiors. You can't use standard MDF, so we opted for Corlite, a plastic material that looks like MDF but is completely waterproof. The Blum drawer runners are all stainless steel."
Even the appliances are suited to the outdoors. The photos show a Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer, Electrolux gas cooktops with sealed burners specifically designed for outdoor use, and there is an Eva Solo stainless steel charcoal barbecue. But the hero of the kitchen is a stainless steel Zesti wood-fired pizza oven that sits on a concrete island with side cabinets. These incorporate shelves that slide out to provide extra bench space.
Extra storage and refrigeration is provided in a nearby shed, which also boasts a climate-controlled French wine cellar to store all those bottles. The shed is partially hidden by lush vegetation.
Since the photos were taken the CoolDrawer has been swapped for a DishDrawer dishwasher, as the owners felt they had enough other refrigeration in the shed. "They store all their plates and lots of other items in the outdoor kitchen, so they don't have to keep popping in and out of the house for things. Now these can just go straight into the dishwasher," says Visser.
Other "rooms" in the garden include the dining area, where a long table is shaded by a Shadowspec heavy-duty cantilever double umbrella.
"Everything in the garden is automated," says the designer. "The owners can operate the umbrella, the lighting and music system from an iPad, no matter where they are. When we did the photo shoot, the owners were in Queenstown but they were able to open up the umbrellas for us, and turn on the lighting.
"This kitchen has totally revolutionised their lifestyle. The kitchen inside the house is small, so over the summer they just live outdoors."