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What does it take to set up an outdoor kitchen space? How about an outdoor dining space that can be used year-round? The experts at Summerwood shared their thoughts with SheKnows.

Outdoor Kitchen

Take the indoors out

You’ve seen countless tips for bringing the outdoors in, but what about taking some indoor pleasantries outside? According to the professionals at Summerwood.com, the best tip for creating an outdoor kitchen is to “ask yourself what you would want in an indoor kitchen, replicate the list outside and price it. Then, after you catch your breath over the high price, start peeling back the lesser priorities."

Popular kitchen essentials include a counter space prep area, refrigeration options, cooking appliances and grills, a sink, adequate storage space and a lounging or dining area.

Counter space

No one in the history of entertaining has ever complained of too much counter space, so be as generous as possible. Smartly planned, counter space can double as a casual eating or snacking area. If elbowroom is at a premium, consider a grill you can cover and use during preparation hours.

Refrigeration

If your budget allows, wire your outdoor kitchen for appliances designed to withstand the elements. These outdoor refrigerators from Wholesale Patio Store can be installed beneath the countertop. This creates a convenient place to cool beverages without taking up too much space.

When the budget is tight, a simple alternative is to use coolers. Bins of ice are attractive and practical. Keep your eyes peeled for old iceboxes from the early 1900s. They look great, insulate magnificently and will last well into the next ice age!

Cooker

A well-maintained gas barbecue or charcoal grill can do wonders in an outdoor kitchen. Whichever you choose, place the cooker near the edge of your outdoor kitchen to prevent smoke accumulation. In addition, consider installing vents to remove any smoke from areas you commonly use for entertaining.

Sink

To plumb or not to plumb your outdoor kitchen is a big question. It raises the value of your home, but takes a significant investment right away. What's more -- you need to do it from the start. Retrofitting plumbing after you've laid flooring and built a structure can be very expensive. Weigh the pros and cons to determine if an outdoor sink is right for your space.

Storage space

Beneath the counter of your outdoor kitchen, build cupboards to store items like barbecuing tools, casual dishes and cleaners. Fancier dishes and crystal ware can be stored indoors and moved out whenever you entertain. Build your cabinets sturdy enough to withstand the elements and pesky local wildlife.

Lounging/dining area

Summerwood offers a great line of gazebos (like this 14' Montpellier) that are terrific for outdoor living spaces. For that genuine outdoor effect, we recommend models without walls to encourage airflow. You may also choose to extend the roof of your home over one wall. A moderate extension creates a porch, but a significant one provides a permanently covered patio.

When it comes to furniture, the professionals at Summerwood explain, "[Our] structures accommodate all types of furniture. Some of our models can easily house a formal dining room table. What a charming spot to share a meal with friends. It really depends on the size of your structure and its intended use."

Through rain or shine

Since outdoor living is subject to permitting weather conditions, the experts at Summerwood recommend a walled-in gazebo, such as their Coventry and San Cristobal models, for your outdoor kitchen. They explain, "These models are "walled in" with opening and closing windows. In typical winter weather, a small space heater, a few candles and plenty of warm company is all you need to make dining a pleasure all year round. If it's just two of you, maybe bring along a comforter for the coffee afterwards."

More outdoor living tips

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