Landscape Design With Outdoor Kitchens & Fireplaces by Jeff Wortham

In the last five years the King and Queen of outdoor living in the East Bay Area have become Outdoor Kitchens and Outdoor Fireplaces. Blessed with great weather that is the envy of people from all over the country, we love our outdoor lifestyle. These two items have become regulars on the list of must haves for my clients in recent years, especially Outdoor Kitchens. They both add to the social ambience and give a more centralized place to gather.

What are the Costs?

When considering these two items it is important to understand the cost. Outdoor Kitchens run on average from $5,000 – $12,000 without appliances. Appliances can add another $2000 – $15,000 just like in an indoor kitchen. Outdoor Fireplaces can start at $5,000 for pre-fab and for a built in place Fireplace the range is about $10,000 – $18,000. They both need to have a gas line run to them, some people use propane for their BBQ, and the gas line can add another $1000 or more depending on how far the run is from the meter.

What Is Important in an Outdoor Kitchen?

When designing with an Outdoor Kitchen I focus on proximity to the indoor kitchen and an easy connection to the back door for ease in moving food around. I also don’t like to make the kitchen a focal point. It’s important that the kitchen also relate strongly to where you will dine outside without smoke drifting over the users. The appliances such as the grill, refrigerator, sink, drawers, trash, ice-maker, side-burners, and other options are all personal choices for each client. The two most common are the grill and refrigerator.

Another important component in an Outdoor Kitchen is bar seating. Again, just like inside, the kitchen is a social gathering place so you may as well accommodate that with some seating. The other thing I tell clients is to consider how much counter space you need for how you entertain. It can be very useful for laying out food and drinks. The material for the counter top and sides should all relate to your other materials and the style for the complete landscape design.

The Instant Ambience of an Outdoor Fireplace

Outdoor Fireplaces have come on strong in the last five years. Ten years ago I had designed one or two Outdoor Fireplaces, now I may design 8 or more in a year. They are the ultimate anchor for an outdoor room. Outdoor Fireplaces create an intimate ambience no other item can lay claim to. It is an instant focal point from inside and out. Because of its’ size and vertical stature it is very prominent, so the style one selects can drive the entire landscape design, especially in a smaller space.

I’m almost always asked if the Outdoor Fireplace gives off very much heat. Not so much. It does give a beautiful, warm glow to the surrounding space, but not a lot of heat. Many of my clients in the East Bay use gas or electric heaters hung from an arbor or patio cover for heating their outdoor spaces due to our cool evenings.

In an overall landscape design, an Outdoor Fireplace can easily become the main view from inside the home and inside the yard if there is no view beyond the property line. This alone can be a reason to consider one for your landscape design.

Outdoor Kitchens in Landscape Design for Walnut Creek, Danville, Pleasanton, Livermore, CA & surrounding areas.

Outdoor Kitchens have become almost commonplace in the areas I work such as Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, Orinda, Livermore,CA and the surrounding areas. We have great weather for such a long stretch during the Spring through Fall that people keep finding more ways to enjoy being outside. Just like when you have a party inside and everyone ends up in the kitchen, the Outdoor Kitchen can easily become the same center of social energy.

With that in mind, I like to design Outdoor Kitchens with bar seating if possible and if it suits the homeowner’s lifestyle. It’s important that the orientation and layout consider views and traffic flow. You don’t want to face everyone towards the fence and lined up so it’s hard to interact with each other. I like to use an end cap that has the same affect as an oval table so people are facing one another.

Another thing I focus on is proximity to the indoor kitchen and an easy connection to the back door for ease in moving food around. I also don’t like to make the Outdoor Kitchen a focal point. It’s important that the kitchen also relate strongly to where you will dine outside without smoke drifting over the users. The appliances such as the grill, refrigerator, sink, drawers, trash, ice maker, side-burners, and other options are all personal choices for each client. The two most common are the grill and refrigerator.

Consider how much counter space you need for how you entertain. It can be very useful for laying out food and drinks. We sometimes put in what I call the floating counter top. This is a counter on simple metal posts that is in an area where it is handy but not in the way, like over a planting bed next to the main patio. This can make it easy for people to serve themselves without getting in the way of the cook.

The material for the counter top and sides should all relate to your other materials and the style for the complete design. If there is a stone veneer on the pool I would usually carry it to the sides of the Outdoor Kitchen. Granite is a popular material in Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, Orinda, Livermore, CA and the surrounding areas. I was told by a supplier that on the Peninsula granite is much less popular. They use marble more often. I prefer granite that is honed for a less polished look outdoors. You can get many different colors that work with your other materials in the design. There are plenty of other materials such as tile, stone or porcelain. Concrete, poured in place has become popular as well and you can choose from many colors and finishes.

As you can see there is a lot to consider when integrating an Outdoor Kitchen in your Landscape Design. You want to work with someone that can guide you through all of these choices and help you avoid wasting money on bad decisions. We have designed dozens of Outdoor Kitchens over the years and would love the opportunity to design yours.

Call Jeff Wortham today to schedule an appointment at 925 461-8708 or email him at jeff@jeffwortham.com.

Serving: Pleasanton, Livermore, Danville, Alamo, Dublin, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga