Outdoor kitchens ideal for this Christmas

Wednesday December 11 2019

L-shaped outdoor kitchen. Photo by Beatrice Nakibuuka

As the festive season sets in, there are some things you may need to change or even incorporate into your house to accommodate more people that you invited to celebrate with you. Better still, to have the warm feel with your family. Not just for the festive season, the new year often evokes thoughts of lifestyle improvements.

Getting outside more, unplugging, enjoying time alone or hosting family and friends can certainly warrant expanding the living space. Doreen Arinaitwe, an interior designer at Orchard Interiors, says choosing a home remodelling project that includes creating or adding to an outdoor living area can set the stage for the patio, deck or rooftop for an outdoor kitchen.
She says: “The demand for this culinary amenity is increasing and continuing to trend which cites requests for outdoor kitchens by homeowners.”

Arinaitwe says: “Even when you do not plan to stay in a house for a long time, an outdoor living space increases the value of a home in case you want to sell it thereafter. It can act as an entertainment hub thereby making for an innovative and lucrative investment.”
She adds that this means there is plenty of opportunity for remodellers, architects and designers to expand the scope of their clients’ outdoor projects.
You can transform your barbeque kitchen island into a fully-functional outdoor kitchen area.

Good for entertaining
Outdoor kitchens are perfect spaces for entertaining. When food is grilled out on the patio, guests can gather around the BBQ grill and socialise as dinner is being prepared. It might get crowded in an indoor kitchen when everyone hangs out with the cook, but outside there is much more space. Arinaitwe says: “You can add patio heaters, outdoor furnishings, strings of lights, and some mood music to increase the comfort for your party guests.”

Keeps smells outside
Lydia Komugisha, a housewife, remarks that every woman knows how outdoor kitchens are handy when you need to prepare local meals that require you to use charcoal stoves which you cannot have indoors because of the smoke they emit. “Some foods smell delicious while being cooked while others are less desirable, says Komugisha.
When you cook odiferous foods such as fish or deep-fried items, those aromas can linger for days. When you prepare the same items in your outdoor kitchen, your house stays fresh smelling.”

Decongest your living space
You do not really have to add a room with walls and a roof; simply incorporate the space you already have on your back porch for an outdoor kitchen. Arinaitwe says: “If you have a covered patio, you are already set to bring in appliances and have the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. In your outdoor cooking area, you and your family members can celebrate birthdays, holidays, or just enjoy the great outdoors.”


With the benefits, you need to make a few plans to get started. You may need a BBQ grill, smoker, counter top, refrigerator, storage space for food, pizza oven, lighting, ceiling fan, heating source, sink complete with running water and other appliances.

Design considerations
Gloria Kawuma, an interior designer, says the modern day outdoor kitchen does not have to be a soiled smoky place with dirt floors and no work surface. It should be as classy as an indoor kitchen not just a place where to keep dirty things like charcoal.

She says: “You need to give some thought to the design of your outdoor kitchen. For example, ventilation is important, so pay attention to the space above and below your grill. You want the smoke to blow away from your cooking area. You can also opt to have a shade for the outdoor dining just in front of the kitchen.”
Make sure to sketch out the dimensions of your kitchen layout before buying your appliances and accessories. If you are not sure about what you are doing, consult a professional interior or kitchen designer help.

The layout
After you have made the decision to add an outdoor kitchen to your home, chose the perfect site too. You also need to have the best outdoor cooking appliances or seating options. “It is also essential to decide on the right layout for your outdoor kitchen, says Kawuma. After all, this space is going to be more than just a centre of attraction to the people that come to your home; you are building a functional kitchen and living area that should also be easy to work in and create a comfortable space for the people that will be working therein.”

The outdoor kitchen can even be a site for preparing your local food. It may be like the indoor kitchen set up that has been moved outside. It should be able to give the outdoor feeling to the people that will be cooking in it. There should be enough open space to let in air, and may have a provision for a built in a fire place in case you want to firewood or a warming place when you want outdoor meals in the evening.
For your worktops, Kawuma recommends use of easy-to-clean tiles or other worktop material. “Granite stones may be durable but they are not easy to clean or wipe. If you opt for these, you may need chopping boards to prepare your ingredients.”

If you want to modernize your outdoor kitchen, she adds that, “You can add a shade where you can host guests. Protect it from smoke from the kitchen, have built-in umbrellas to comfortably accommodate guests and light it with wall lamps for an extra to create a stunning ambiance especially in the evenings.”
Your outdoor kitchen can take on different shapes and design depending on the purpose and number of people you intend to host at your home. These include but not limited to the following:

Straight line kitchens
Similar to an indoor kitchenette, this kitchen is installed against the wall. The small cooking area may also have a refrigerator, microwave and a few other appliances. Arinaitwe says, “This is ideal for smaller families, more budget friendly spaces where only one cook will work at a time. Keep in mind that part of the kitchen will be against the wall of the house, you will have to choose non-combustible materials to protect the siding. It is best to consult a professional in this case.”

U-shaped kitchens
If you are planning a larger, freestanding kitchen with a grill, refrigerator, dishwasher, a sink with running water, the U-shaped outdoor kitchen design would be ideal. This design mimics most indoor kitchens becoming the ultimate backyard focal point and can accommodate may items but does not have.

Kitchen islands
Opting for an island layout for the outdoor kitchen is another good design. It involves having the grill and all appliances in one central unit separated from a socialising area. It is cost effective and great for creating an entertainment hub if you plan to host as many guests this season. Arinaitwe advises you consider raising one side of the countertop to separate the cooking and socialising area.


Don’t be afraid to dismantle your grill a couple of times a year - especially if you’re a frequent griller - to be sure everything is clean and in working order. First of all, keep the exterior of your grill looking nice by scrubbing off rust with a hard-bristle brush and applying a rust-resistant metal paint. Then move to the inside. Obviously, you should be brushing your grates clean after every time you cook out. (Invest in a great hard wire-bristle brush like this. Areas to pay attention to:

Burners: Keep your burners free of grease and other debris by knocking the gunk out every so often with a hard brush or sturdy pipe cleaner.
Valves: If your flames are suddenly burning all yellow, for instance, instead of blue flecked with yellow - disconnect your gas tank and check the valves for proper pressure.
Hoses: Check all your gas tubing for wear and tear on a regular basis.

Stainless Steel
It’s resistant to rust and corrosion, but you have to be careful during everyday use. Generally speaking, metal on metal: bad. Don’t cut directly on a stainless-steel surface. (You’d use a cutting board inside, wouldn’t you?) Don’t leave metal cans, other steel or cast iron cookware - or anything really hot - sitting on your surfaces for any amount of time. Staining. Corrosion. Beware.