Moving Out - Al Fresco Kitchens

by : Mark Hostetler

Well, outdoor kitchens are the latest buzz, and this seems to be the newest project to plan. Many people who had originally planned to move house, have acknowledged that it is better to wait for market conditions to improve, and they have stayed put.

So - why not improve the house while waiting? They are joining the thousands of others who are thinking, ' Hey, an outdoor kitchen - sounds less like housework and more like fun!'

Either way, there is a booming trend towards living in the outdoors and retailers are onto it. There are amazing choices in all aspects of outdoor living. These include halogen lights, exotic bars, outdoor entertainment centers, beer taps, and patio heaters.

The cooking centers are also totally luxurious and come complete with sinks, refrigerators and cabinets. Barbeques are expanded with extras tacked on such as warming drawers, rotisseries, smoking systems and elements for a quick stir fry!

An analysis carried out by the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association (HPBA) states that close to 60% of all grill owners cook outside year round. Manufacturers brought in all-weather outdoor cooking appliances to service the vacation home markets, but of course, the idea has spilled over to all of us.

If your yard is very limited you can use up the side space by your home. The lack of yard space often means that front yards are converted, with a lattice or Japanese screen here and there for privacy. Some areas may want to incorporate a small sun/rain shade canopy nearby the seating area.

Ideally, to walk out of your screen doors onto a back yard patio would be a great starting spot for your outdoor room. There are many styles of outdoor flooring to choose from if you do not have a patio area already set up.

If you want less fuss, the large eighteen inch square concrete flagstones are the simplest to lay. The ornamental cobblestones, from square to hexagonal, from dark red to yellow ochre, look very effective.

Either of these floorings are easy to lay. Level the ground totally, spread it with a one inch layer of soft sand and lay the tiles - using a level to ensure no renegade corners will pop up later.

If using the smaller cobblestones, it is advisable to make a 'frame' of wood slats to keep the edges neat. The edges of these must be lower than the top of cobblestones.

A heavy roller is used by the professionals to flatten the tiles into the sand, but this is a very heavy piece of equipment to move around. If this idea is impractical you can lay a sheet of ply wood over the top and walk on it for a few days.

Large flagstones are not so problematic - the sheer weight usually means that they will stay put! If your patio area will be away from the screen doors, say under a tree or near an existing pond, you can build a pathway leading to it.

Some people plan their cooking area off to the side of their patio area and make more of a centerpiece of their chairs and coffee table etc. If you are incorporating a bar into the area, this will usually be on the edge so that the back of the bar is facing the fence or the wall of the house.

Table and chairs are usually needed for family dining, and the odd rattan swinging chair is nice. Oh, and of course, you will need a few potted plants!

With all the choices in furnishings and with so much to pick from, the outdoor living room could become the most popular place for the family.

It will be yet another part of the house that will need to be 'home-staged' ready for viewing when the time comes to sell that house. Are you sure you want to sell it now?