10 Tips for Designing the Ultimate Tulsa Outdoor Kitchen
by Ed Kaplan
Homeowners in Tulsa, Oklahoma are unanimous. The months of April and May are their favorite times of year. Flowers bloom, the grass turns green and birds return, filling the air with the smells and sounds of spring. Coupled with beautiful weather, these factors often stimulate one’s senses and prompt the vision of a potential expansion of our lifestyle into the outdoors. At The Buckingham Group, we have been creating stunning outdoor kitchens and outdoor living spaces for over twenty years.
Your visions of relaxing family fun, quiet evenings at home, neighborhood BBQ’s, and backyard play can become a reality with the addition of an outdoor kitchen installed by The Buckingham Group. Designed with you in mind, your outdoor kitchen can celebrate the interplay of your lifestyle and the great outdoors. So, let’s get the party started.
Crafting the right outdoor kitchen for your lifestyle is where we excel.
Our award-winning designers have the ability to creatively arrange the elements of a great outdoor kitchen, combining the aesthetics of your yard and home. A well thought out design can become a cozy and relaxing space where you can be comfortable alone or enjoy the company of guests.
Grills can be fueled by natural gas or propane. Grills, in their simplest form, are free standing. However, in the majority of our designs, they are “built in” and include under counter cabinets offering additional storage and trash space. Most grills are outfitted with lights, temperature control zones and an infrared rotisserie burner for grilling roasts, chickens or other larger consumables that cannot be grilled directly over the gas burners.Independent of its size or location, the grill is the heart of the outdoor kitchen. It should be separate from the rest of the kitchen with a clearly defined buffer from seating to keep your guests protected from the heat. Larger grills should be outfitted with a properly sized exhaust hood to capture the smoke that is generated during cooking. The ideal grill or cooking center should have an abundance of prep space with ample room to store needed cooking utensils. A set of side burners to keep cooked items such as baked beans warm can be easily incorporated to bring familiar features from your indoor kitchen to the outside.
Selecting the best surface for your outdoor kitchen warrants considerable thought. Above all other factors the countertop needs to be weather and heat resistant. Some of the more common countertop materials include, concrete, stone, porcelain tiles and granite all of which provide known heat resistance and most importantly the ability to withstand harsh weather conditions. To provide needed work space countertops should be between 24” deep as a minimum and can be up to 36” in depth. Although functional requirements and the cost of installation are significant factors the overall aesthetics of the installation should not be neglected. Be sure to choose a material that will not only function well but integrate within the overall context of your space. If your heart is set on using a manufactured countertop such as quartz, we do not recommend it as most do not have pigments that are designed to stand up to UV rays and as a result they will deteriorate in appearance with time.
Cabinets in an outdoor kitchen are as important as those found in the indoors. Typically, they are located beneath the countertops. In their most basic form they may have a beautiful stainless-steel or polymer door that opens into a dark hole constructed of cement board or light weight concrete neither of which provides needed and/or expected convenience. Cabinets in well-constructed outdoor kitchens feature drawers, pull out trays, trash containers and a broad selection of other storage amenities. These cabinets are often made of marine grade polymers and/or a combination of marine grade polymers and stainless steel. At the top of the line are cabinets that are fabricated completely out of stainless steel in both the interior and exterior of the cabinet.Another cabinet option exists for an outdoor kitchen that is completely protected from the elements. In this case wood surfaces such as Teak can be used, but buyer beware as they will require maintenance, such as oiling the wood during their life expectancy. Independent of cabinet construction, the use of quality stainless steel hinges and drawer guides is mandatory to insure that the inevitable problem of corrosion will not interfere with their smooth operation.
Moving your culinary process to the outside makes it inconvenient to bring cool beverages and other chilled foods to the outside. As a result, a vital component of convenience, to the well-designed outdoor kitchen, is the built in outdoor refrigerator. Constructed of stainless steel with digital LED control panels and rear ventilation these well engineered units have everything required to provide a seamless way to make your outdoor kitchen more efficient. Designed to withstand the elements they will keep your food and drinks cool. There is no substitute for a cold drink on a hot Tulsa summer day and to take your drinks from a refrigerator instead of an ice chest adds an element of convenience and sophistication to your outdoor kitchen. Complementing your grilled meat with a crisp side salad or cool fresh vegetables adds to the appeal of food being served in your outdoor kitchen. With outdoor refrigerator you can focus on grilling great food and entertaining guests instead of running back and forth to the inside of your home.
Larger outdoor kitchens will generally incorporate a fireplace which in essence brings back thoughts of the early days of the nuclear family. Family members would gather around a fireplace for warmth. As this need diminished, with the advent of central heating, the appeal of the fireplace remained. The emotional presence of a fireplace can far surpass the functional appeal. Spending time in front of a fireplace with family and friends provides a sense of connection and goodwill. Fireplaces can be bought in kit form and/or custom designed by The Buckingham Group with an overall aesthetic that suits your style and budget.
6. Fire Pits
Another way to create an emotional sense of warmth in an outdoor kitchen is to add a fire pit. It can be a focal point in your outdoor kitchen and create the added benefit of physical warmth during Tulsa’s colder months. Fire pits, like fireplaces, appeal to family members of all ages. When a multi-generational family gathers around a fire pit, the generation gap often disappears. The option of a gas burning fire pit instead of a fireplace can become a preferred must have in your outdoor kitchen. Fire pits can be custom built or bought as a prefabricated unit in a wide variety of styles.
7. Pizza Ovens
For the family that wants the ultimate in convenience in an outdoor kitchen, the answer is a high-end pizza oven. You won’t have to fly to Italy when your outdoor kitchen incorporates a pizza oven providing a personalized pizza parlor right outside your back door. Whether it is a pizza oven or a grill space, an outdoor kitchen is most efficient when it is zoned into very logical uses allowing each area of the kitchen to be utilized completely on its own.
Built-in seating makes an excellent addition to your outdoor kitchen by adding both style and function to your space. Your outdoor seating can be an integral part of the kitchen serving area with bar stools tucked under an extended counter to enjoy conversation while watching your chef prepare the meal. On the other hand, intimate outdoor seating can become a separate conversation area for friends and family to congregate in while the meal is being prepared.
A structure covering the outdoor kitchen makes it feel as though it is a continuation of the home’s interior. In its simplest form, it is an open-air pergola that offers some protection from the sun. However, for extended use, there is no substitute for a roofed structure that will provide added protection from both the sun and rain. Admittedly, late afternoon sun and wind-driven rain can still creep in, but a roofed structure can provide the opportunity to install fans, lighting and audio-visual equipment. To supplement the roof, attractive options include trees for shading, indoor/outdoor shades and custom outdoor shutters.
If you are not installing an outdoor kitchen over an existing patio there are a variety of floor surfaces to consider. A principle factor that you will find in common with your indoor kitchen is the abuse your floor will take in the form of foot traffic, food splatters and dropped pots and pans. Adding to this abuse is the fact that the outdoor kitchen floor will be exposed to sun, rain and in Tulsa the strong possibility of snow and ice.
As a result, flooring in an outdoor kitchen is generally constructed of hardscape surfaces as they will provide both permanence and lasting beauty. In its most basic form, the surface will be poured concrete with optional enhancements of staining and scoring. There are also a variety of prefabricated products such as tile, brick and stone pavers that can be installed in patterns that will enhance the overall appearance of the space.
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The Buckingham Group | 4727 S. Memorial Drive | Tulsa, OK 74145 | 918-624-2666