Outdoor kitchens are certainly one of the hottest elements of outdoor living here in the Hudson Valley. Whether you have a simple freestanding grill or an elaborate "L" shaped beauty complete with granite countertops, we can all benefit from a few tips about creating a better outdoor space for cooking.
Designing an outdoor kitchen can be a daunting task. One must consider all the details—countertops, appliances, measurements, oh my! Sometimes you just gotta bring in the pros. Outdoor Home caught up with Mark Lepage of Fivecat Studio to get some tips for pulling together an al fresco masterpiece.
OHM: Tell us a bit about your firm and your overall approach to designing outdoor cooking spaces. What should a homeowner expect when beginning the process?
ML: Fivecat Studio is a small residential architecture firm serving Westchester County, NY and the lower Hudson Valley. Our first recommendation to any of our clients is to know what they like as well as what they don’t like. We provide a system at Fivecat Studio to help our clients better understand what they are seeking and to be able to share that information with their architect.
OHM: There are so many material choices for constructing outdoor kitchens today. How do you go about deciding on which ones to use? How involved are your clients in this process? Is the Hudson Valley partial to any particular choices?
ML: The materials for outdoor kitchens depend much on the style of the home it serves. Homeowners of traditional homes in the Hudson Valley often prefer natural stone combined with wood doors. Modern homes provide a pallet to be more creative with materials. Stainless steel, concrete block or fabricated quartz stone can be arranged for a clean look with very little maintenance.
OHM: What are a few of your favorite material choices for outdoor kitchen countertops? Why?
ML: Stainless steel is a weather resistant material that is great for outdoor kitchens. Stone slabs and fabricated quartz stone are always great materials for outdoor kitchen since, again, it takes very little effort to maintain.
OHM: Lighting seems to be one area that is often lacking in outdoor kitchen areas. How do you approach lighting for the outdoor kitchens you design?
ML: One lighting trick we have used is to specify a freestanding lamppost fixture. It can be placed anywhere you want and provide adequate lighting on the task at hand without flooding the entire kitchen area. Adding a dimmer allows outdoor light levels to be controlled depending on the desired mood.
OHM: Are most of your clients requesting full service, self-sufficient outdoor kitchens, or satellite designs that rely on the indoor kitchen for some part of the cooking or food prep process?
ML: Most of our clients are requesting outdoor kitchens with a BBQ grill, a small under counter refrigerator and some dedicated storage. The cost of a second full service kitchen limits such projects to clients with more flexible budgets.
OHM: What do you like to see in an outdoor kitchen design?
ML: Large BBQ grilles and pizza ovens are two items that many clients are considering for their outdoor kitchens. At Fivecat Studio we have no preference to style. We work to the clients’ requirements and design them spaces that work best for them and their families.
Fivecat Studio is an award-winning architecture firm serving Westchester County, Fairfield County, the Hamptons, and the lower Hudson Valley.
Be sure to catch the next installment of DesignPRO, where Outdoor Home Magazine chats with industry professionals located right here in the Hudson Valley area.
outdoor kitchen photo ©Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.