Take a cue from trendy outdoor kitchens and serve up serious style at your next alfresco outing, writes Piet Smedy.
There’s a keen difference between being “outside” and “out in the open”, says Alison Gray Thomson of Boffi Studio, which offers world-class outdoor kitchen design solutions. “Even the sturdiest kitchens will take a knock in the outdoors, especially in salty, coastal areas,” she says. “So it’s always a good idea to have some form of protective cover or weather-proofing.”
Despite their seemingly simple appearance, designing an outdoor kitchen that functions smoothly is no mean feat. “The most important factor, in terms of finishes, is durability,” explains Generation Design founder Julia Day, who has designed the outdoor entertaining spaces of beach houses and game lodges across the country. “Stainless steel, aluminium and weatherproof timbers work brilliantly and look fantastic.”
Just because it’s outside doesn’t mean that your alfresco cooking experience should be any less kitted out than its roofed counterpart. Running between inside and outside makes for not only an unpleasant experience, but also risks the food being burnt, so make sure to stock up on everything from tongs, knives and cutting boards to corkscrews, glassware and plates.
Carefully considered storage is vital; you want the space to appear clutter-free without sacrificing on functionality. “I would look at deep shelves with fold-away doors,” says Julia. “Storage boxes are also a great idea. You can stack almost anything
inside them and they’re easy to pack away or carry around.”
Take your cue from braai culture and invest in a unit that is self-contained, recommends Alison. “This idea of an ‘adventure kitchen’ makes it feel completely separate from the main house.” It comes with the added bonus of hiding unsightly gas bottles and clutter, too.
“Be aware of the space that you have and use that as the starting point of your kitchen design,” says Julia. “Make sure the space doesn’t create unnecessary visual obstructions.’”Not only does this apply to making the most of views (after all, what’s the point of being outdoors if you’re not making the most of it) but also to technical aspects, such as electrical components and gas bottles. These have to comply with installation regulations even if they are outdoors and are best hidden from view.
Always make sure the terrain of your outdoor kitchen is perfectly level. The last thing you want is toppling coals and oil running into the sides of pans.