Garden trends - Cooking al fresco

Outdoor kitchens and firepits are big news in garden design.  And this chimes with the current situation where we’re spending time at home, eating with the family.  We were eating al fresco before we had indoor kitchens and there’s something special about cooking food, drink in hand, surrounded by nature.  An outdoor kitchen also extends your living space, creating an extra room outdoors where people can gather.

The first thing to consider is how many people you need to seat, how elaborate a set-up you want and your budget.  Do you want a built-in barbecue or a ceramic cooker such as the Big Green Egg that’ll roast a chicken?  How much preparation space do you need and what about other options such as a pizza oven, sink or fridge?

These requirements will dictate your layout and location. If there’s enough space, instead of putting the barbecue against a wall, think about islands or L-shaped units and countertops which mean you can look out over your garden and face people.  And think about how much sun or shade a site might get.  It’s nice to have some sun, but if there’s no natural shade, consider a pergola, which can include integrated lighting.

Outdoor kitchens look better blending into the natural surroundings. Timber and brick are soft rustic materials that will tie kitchens and gardens together, as will using materials such as porcelain, concrete or limestone for countertops as well as for paving.  Screening plants and pots of herbs will also soften the hard landscaping.

If you don’t have the space for a full kitchen but still want a stylish and functional focal point, firepits create a sociable space where you can warm yourself and barbecue right through the seasons.