1 Professional Deck Builder " May/June 2008 1 Professional Deck Builder " May/June 2008 Getting Started With Outdoor Kitchens ecently, my wife and I went to a Japanese steakhouse. We sat with six other guests around a large griddle where the chef put on a show as he cooked. Watching him I real- ized that like the grills in a hibachi restaurant, an outdoor kitchen is center stage.
This drove home the importance of my role in designing and building these kitchens. Clients count on the designer and builder to make everything perfect. They don 9t necessarily know what they want, and they almost certainly don 9t know what their options are.
It 9s hard to overstate the importance of finding out what the clients expect in an outdoor kitchen. The more you investigate, the better: The worst thing to hear after the clients have used their expensive kitchen for a year is cI wish we had & d followed by what- ever is bugging them. Marketing and Selling After getting up to speed on products and the manufacturers 9 installation methods, the next step is letting peo- ple know that you do outdoor kitch- ens.
If you 9ve been building decks for ... more. less.
a while, you already have a list of potential kitchen clients: your past customers. They know and trust you, and one of the most economical ways to generate new business is to mail customized postcards to these folks. Put a photo of a beautiful outdoor kitchen on the postcard to catch their attention ( Figure 1, page 3 ).<br><br> On the address side of the card, provide enough information to moti- vate people to call. I focus on getting prospective clients to visualize the food, the friends, the laughter, and the fun. Good times naturally revolve around food and beverages, and no one wants to be stuck inside cooking by Kim and Linda Katwijk Capitalize on a hot trend to expand your business 2 Professional Deck Builder " May/June 2008 2 Professional Deck Builder " May/June 2008 CALISE OUTDOOR KITCHENS while everyone else is outside visiting.<br><br> Selling an outdoor kitchen is about selling the idea of good times. What Does the Client Want? Once a client is excited about an out- door kitchen, it 9s time to get out your note pad and ask questions.<br><br> Collect information that will enable you to best place the kitchen 9s components. If you aren 9t sure what your client is thinking, ask more questions. In addition to finding out your prospect 9s desires, collect informa- tion about the site.<br><br> Make a simple line drawing with boxes representing the house, deck, and other pertinent features, such as trees or a hot tub ( Figure 2, page 3 ). Find out which way the wind blows on a typical summer day at the time of day your clients plan to use their kitchen; they won 9t want smoke from the barbecue blowing into the faces of their guests or into the house. Evaluate the sun 9s path: Will you need to include a sun shade, roof, or pergola to make the space usable ( Figure 3, page 4 )?<br><br> Also think about the direction the guests will face and what the view will be. Will the cook have his back to the guests? A good design will address all these issues.<br><br> Next help your clients choose the kitchen components that will meet their needs. Start with the grill. To determine the size of the grill, find out how many people your client is likely to entertain regularly.<br><br> For a family of four, a two-burner grill, 27 inches to 30 inches wide, will work nicely. If they regularly entertain six guests, they 9ll need a three-burner grill, 35 inches to 37 inches wide. For parties of 15 or greater, a grill at least 3 Professional Deck Builder " May/June 2008 Getting Started With Outdoor Kitchens 48 inches wide is a must.<br><br> Not just any grill will do, either. If it 9s going to be built into the cabinets, you need to use grills rated for zero-clearance installation. Another question to ask is whether your client prefers to fuel the grill with natural gas, propane, or char- coal.<br><br> Natural gas and propane are convenient and clean. Either can be tied to the home 9s existing gas sup- ply. If you go that route, don 9t forget the cost of having a plumber or the gas company do this work.<br><br> After the grill, everything else is optional, and boy, are there options. For outdoor use, various manufac- turers offer refrigerators, side burn- ers, sinks, paper-towel holders, chill plates, warming drawers, pizza ovens, and more. Let your client 9s desires (and budget) determine which com- ponents to include.<br><br> One of the last questions you need to ask is who the dominant cook will be. The answer will help you plan the best height for all working surfaces. Let 9s say you 9re meeting with a hus- band and wife.<br><br> He 9s 6 feet 4 inches tall, she 9s 5 feet 3 inches tall 4 a com- fortable counter height will be com- pletely different for each. Have the main cook stand flat- footed with arms hanging at his or her sides. Next, have him or her raise a forearm so it is bent at the elbow and parallel to the floor.<br><br> Then he or she should bend the raised wrist so the fingers point down. The distance between the client 9s fingertips and the floor is the ideal counter height. From Notes to Design Armed with an understanding of your client 9s needs and desires, you 9re ready to draw up the design.<br><br> As with indoor kitchens, there are three com- mon layouts for an outdoor kitchen: the U-shape, the L-shape, and the straight line ( Figure 4 , page 5 ). The Figure 1. Your exist- ing customer base is the best place to start looking for outdoor- kitchen jobs.<br><br> The author sends out custom postcards to inform former clients of this part of his business. Figure 2. A simple sketch of the site is invaluable when you 9re design- ing the kitchen.<br><br> You 9ll need dimensions, the location of the sun when the kitchen is likely to be in use, the direction of prevailing winds, and infor- mation about the structure. 4 Professional Deck Builder " May/June 2008 Getting Started With Outdoor Kitchens U-shape tends to provide the short- est distance between the main appli- ances; the L-shape gives the next shortest distance between elements; and the straight line makes for the longest walk. Kitchens on decks are generally located in one of three spots.<br><br> As long as the deck is large enough to accom- modate it, a central island is usually the most desirable as it allows people to move freely all the way around it. The second option 4 placing the kitchen along the outer edges of the deck 4 works well on smaller decks. The third option is to install the kitchen against the house.<br><br> I don 9t recommend this, because smoke and grease from the grill will stain the side of the house and the eaves. Try to place the key appliances 4 usually a grill, a sink, and a refrigera- tor 4 close together, oriented as three points of a triangle. Allow enough room for one or two people to be cooking while several others are sit- ting and someone else is walking by.<br><br> Identify the normal traffic patterns from the house to the yard and don 9t Figure 3. It 9s common for outdoor kitchens to see use in the late afternoon, when the sun is at a low angle. Building in a sun- screen is often a good idea (above).<br><br> In rainy climates, a full roof is good plan (left). Figure 4. To help plan a layout, Calise Outdoor Kitchens offers quarter- inch-scale drawings of its cabinets and kitchen components mounted on magnetic film.<br><br> These can be arranged in dif- ferent ways on a steel plate until the perfect configuration emerges. IDAHO BACKYARD LIVING ROBERT SIMONSON 5 Getting Started With Outdoor Kitchens Professional Deck Builder " May/June 2008 Calise Outdoor Kitchens (800/652-7923, www.outdoorkitchenconcepts.com) Calise makes modular cabinets from galvanized steel and cement board. Also available are a variety of stainless steel drawers, storage units, and appliances to fit in the modular cabinets.<br><br> These can be covered with materials such as stone, tile, stucco, or weather-resistant wood. Danver (888/441-0537, www.danver.com) Danver builds cabinets using stainless steel throughout. The cabinets have scratch-resistant interiors and stainless steel drawer fronts and door fronts.<br><br> The cabinets can be installed like wood cabinets, or they can be inserted into a brick, stone or stucco enclosure. Wer/Ever Products (888/324-3837, www.werever.com) These weatherproof cabinets are composed of solid marine-grade, UV-stabilized polymer (a fancy word for plastic), and Wer/Ever claims that they won 9t warp, rot, or crack. A variety of colors is available.<br><br> These cabinets assemble much like European-style indoor kitchen cabinets. Manufacturers and Materials CALISE OUTDOOR KITCHENS DANVER T here are several manufacturers of outdoor kitchens, and they specialize in different types of cabinets and components. The differences include material, size, cabi- net construction, and price.<br><br> It 9s a good idea to become familiar with several so you can provide a range of options to your clients. While there are other good suppliers out there, these three companies are the ones I 9m most familiar with. Additional Cabinet, Grill, and Appliance Suppliers Cook-N-Dine International; 305/893-1560, www.cookndine.com DCS by Fisher & Paykel; 888/936-7872, www.dcsappliances.com Lynx Professional Grills; 888/289-5969, www.lynxgrills.com Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet; 800/868-1699, www.kalamazoogourmet.com WER/EVER 6 Professional Deck Builder " May/June 2008 Getting Started With Outdoor Kitchens block them.<br><br> Don 9t frustrate the future cook by failing to provide enough coun- ter space for food preparation, stor- age, and serving. A prime example is when there is no space between a side burner and the grill. Here comes one spouse with a tray of food ready to be cooked, but the spot next to the grill is taken up by a pot for boiling corn on the cob.<br><br> Likewise, when delicious morsels are being taken off the grill, where will the serving platter go? And when the pot needs to be moved off the side burner, is there room to scoot it over? Think it all through.<br><br> Your cli- ents will love you for it. Lighting the Kitchen Because decks so often get used at night, lighting an outdoor kitchen is as important as lighting an indoor one ( Figure 5 ). In addition to the regular railing and step lighting, it 9s good to add hanging fixtures for soft down lighting on the countertop.<br><br> To be able to see what 9s cooking, add directional spotlights to brightly light the barbe- cue. A switch will be needed to turn off the spots when not in use. Hanging lights will need to attach to an over- head structure.<br><br> These lights are usually low voltage and run off the same trans- former as the rest of the deck lighting. Finally, make sure the deck is able to support the added weight of the kitchen ( Figure 6 ). You 9ll need to cal- culate the weight the appliances and cabinets will add and check that the existing joists can handle the addi- tional load.<br><br> V Kim Katwijk is a deck builder in Olympia, Wash. Linda Katwijk co-authored this article. Figure 5.<br><br> Outdoor kitchens call for brighter lighting than is typical for a deck, at least in the cooking areas. Overhead lighting pro- vides general illumination (left), while moveable spot lights make sense near a grill (above). Such lighting should be controlled independently from the general deck lighting, so that a dimly lit ambiance can be restored once the steaks are cooked.<br><br> Figure 6. Out- door kitchens can add a con- siderable dead load to the deck. To the weight of the cabinets themselves, you need to add the weight of such items as appliances and granite countertops.<br><br> COOK-N-DINE BACKYARD AMERICA HIGHPOINT DECK LIGHTING