6 Mistakes To Avoid With Modular Outdoor Kitchens
Modular outdoor kitchens are gaining in popularity due to their affordability and flexibility. These swappable, prefabricated kitchen kits — one may include your grill, another your refrigerator — allow you to assemble a complete kitchen in your outdoor living space, move it around as you see fit and still not break the bank. While it looks easy at first blush to mix-and-match these outdoor kitchen components, there are some important things to remember to avoid a construction and maintenance nightmare.
Buy appliances built for outdoor use
While it might be tempting to try to save money on your outdoor kitchen project by buying regular kitchen appliances, resist the urge! Buying appliances rated for outdoor use by the manufacturer will save you money in the long run by ensuring a long, useful life and less maintenance hassle. The elements will wreak havoc on an appliance made for the indoors; discoloration, rust, warping and other nasty effects will befall the untreated stove, refrigerator or sink and no warranty will be able to save it.
Hot doesn’t go next to cold
A little planning goes a long way. Design your modular outdoor kitchen so that freezers or refrigerators are located in an area apart from cooking or heating appliances. All of these appliances produce heat and require cooling and venting to prevent them from overheating. Giving all appliances adequate room to “breathe” will extend their useful life and you may need to add ventilation panels to make sure heat doesn’t build up in cabinetry or other support structures. Placing a refrigerator beneath or directly next to a grill without any extra insulation will also make the refrigerator work harder to maintain its internal temperature, costing extra electricity.
Do your research
There are a dizzying number of outdoor appliances available, making it difficult to choose. Everyone wants something functional, reliable, attractive and within their budget, but how are you supposed to know which appliances live up to their marketing hype? Reading expert reviews and user product reviews can give some idea of how good a given appliance might be. You can also get an indication of quality based on the materials used — look for solid build quality and avoid anything that appears too flimsy. Ideally, you want your outdoor modular kitchen area to last for years without having to sweat too much about maintenance and replacement parts.
Keep the space in mind
You may want every appliance under the sun in your outdoor modular kitchen, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all fit. Keep your budget and your outdoor living space’s dimensions in mind as you’re sketching out your design. It might be helpful to take an inventory of everything you think you want in the space and then see how each appliance or feature’s dimension stack up in that space. You also need to consider the practical amount of space you might need for things like meal prep.
Modular or semi-modular
There are plenty of advantages to modular outdoor kitchens, like being able to reorganize and store your kitchen components. You can make a modular kitchen more permanent, however, by joining the components together and then adding a layer of stone, masonry or sheet metal along the exterior to give the area a more cohesive appearance without totally sacrificing the flexibility. Just keep this in mind beforehand and allow for a way to remove the facade when necessary — you don’t want to wind up with fixed-location outdoor kitchen if modularity is what attracted you to the original idea.
Don’t forget about your infrastructure
While there are some totally self-contained outdoor modular kitchen kits available, there’s a much greater chance you’ll need to take into account gas lines, electrical outlets and other infrastructure that make for a successful and usable kitchen space. Just because you can move your components around doesn’t mean you can extend gas lines or water pipes to meet them. Know where your connections are, where they can be extended, or how can you adapt your modular space to accommodate a lack of a connection.
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