You live in Portland, Oregon, a beautiful city in a beautiful setting. Your home already incorporates features that bring the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest inside, but now you’re thinking about building an outdoor kitchen that would allow you to enjoy the out of doors in Portland year-round.
First, Think about the Weather
Portland’s climate presents some obvious challenges to outdoor living: 155 days with measurable rainfall, a few stretches each winter that could freeze pipes, and dry summers with high temperatures that often top 90 and sometimes 100. When the weather is nice, it’s glorious, but even when it’s not at its best, it’s still usually good enough that a well-designed outdoor kitchen would make cooking, eating, and hanging around with friends and family members a pleasant experience.
Plan features that would maximize your days outdoors: a roof or awnings to keep off the rain and provide shade from the summer sun; shutters, motorized screens, or sliding glass doors for wind and temperature control and to provide screening from neighbors; space-heating elements; marine-grade cabinetry that can stand the wet; weatherproof countertops that shed water and don’t fade in the sun; and stainless steel appliances.
How Would You Use Your Outdoor Kitchen?
- Well before the building season, start talking to your designer about your dream for your outdoor kitchen.
- How many people would you need to accommodate? Would you want built-in seating? How often would you hope to use it, and during what seasons of the year?
- What kinds of cooking would you be doing: basic grill fare, or full-on gourmet meals?
- Would it be attached to your home or separate? Think about the flow into your home and other elements of your landscaping. A nearby herb or vegetable garden would be nice if you’re a garden-to-table kind of person, and a water feature is always pleasant.
- Plan for infrastructure: electric service for appliances and plenty of outlets and light fixtures; a sound system; gas service; and water and drain lines.
Features for Your Dream Kitchen
The potential features are almost endless. Depending on your answers to the questions above, your new outdoor kitchen could incorporate:
- A locking refrigerator with icemaker, a wine cooler, a kegerator, a wet bar, a beverage well.
- Ample food-preparation surfaces, plenty of storage for food and cooking necessities, and a trash enclosure.
- Grill, smoker, extra burners, food warmer, gas oven or wood-fired pizza oven, fire pit or fireplace.