Get the year-round outdoor experience with an outdoor kitchen at home.
It’s okay to admit it. You want the neighbor’s kitchen. The outdoor one that generates the smell of brick-fired pizza, the buzz of friends around a fire pit, the pop of a cork for Sunday mimosas. If you’re dreaming, or actually considering, adding an outdoor kitchen to your home, you’re not alone.
Outdoor kitchens are one of the hottest trends in patio design, particularly in Central Oregon where the outdoor lifestyle encompasses even the dinner hour. The good news is that a range of options exist for homeowners ready to embrace the next frontier of cooking and entertainment.
Outdoor kitchens can be simple—a dedicated space with seating, a barbeque, maybe a drink caddy or rolling cart and protection from the weather. Or they can be elaborate like the one in Westside Bend that overlooks the Deschutes River. It features a vaulted ceiling, built-in appliances, cabinets, a sink and counter tops, a wood-burning fireplace, overhead radiant heat, surround sound, a TV and sliding glass barn doors that maintain the views while buffering the wind.
The owners of this kitchen moved to Bend from Florida in 2016 and made it part of their home’s original construction. They report spending 60 to 70 percent of their time in the space that functions as an outdoor great room.
“A lot of people are moving here from warmer climates,” said Kirsti Wolfe, a Bend interior architectural designer who helped the couple design the outdoor kitchen. “They want the year-round outdoor living they’ve experienced elsewhere,” she said.
First decide whether a simple, detached space will do or whether it’s better to connect the outdoor kitchen to your home. Jeff Klein, a Bend architect, advises people to consider consistency with their home’s style and consideration of infrastructure—such as electricity for lighting, natural gas or propane for cooking and heating elements in cooler months. Adding a water line for a sink or ice maker can be a great touch, but it can be costly and requires seasonal maintenance.
With creativity and DIY skills, a homeowner can build a detached outdoor kitchen for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. An attached outdoor living space will require considerably more time and cost, but will increase a home’s footprint and value.
Klein said that in most cases, homeowners will require the services of an architect or designer, a structural engineer, a city or county building permit and neighborhood design review.
Expect four to six months in the design phase, another two to three months in construction and expenses ranging from $60,000 to $150,000, “although every project is a little different,” said Klein.
Central Oregon trends
Wolfe said everyone wants to gather around an outdoor fire pit or pizza oven but owners should install fans or other ventilation to keep smoke away from the home. She said that wood trellises and shading devices, such as screens, create a protected atmosphere.
Other considerations include lighting that doesn’t leak into the neighborhood and building materials that withstand Central Oregon’s swings in temperature, from freezing to 100-plus degrees. She suggests marine-grade mahogany for cabinets, concrete or quartzite countertops and stainless steel sinks that stand up against the freeze-thaw cycles.
“Everyone wants these outdoor living spaces,” Wolfe said, adding that “our air is so fresh you want to be outside.”