For several years now we have had an outdoor kitchen in the garden for the summer months. I’ve mentioned it once or twice here before. It is such a pleasure to be able to cook outdoors when the weather is good, even when we haven’t time for a barbecue.
For years I used to lust after the fabulous-looking summer kitchens I’d see on the pages of the French interiors magazines I bought whenever I popped across the border to do the groceries. From sleek poolside kitchens bathed in sun to rustic, makeshift ones set under lean-tos of exposed, worn red brick, I loved them all.
Once we had our own house and garden, I longed for summer to arrive so that I could create my own version of a makeshift outdoor kitchen in the wooden lean-to at the back of our house. Set halfway down the garden and right beside our raised vegetable bed, our kitchen has been up and running each summer we’ve lived here. It is slightly different each year and it is basic, there is no doubt about that, but it ideal for us.
Whether we are entertaining – we usually kick off the summer garden season with The Bavarian’s birthday in May – or I am in the garden with the children and fancy a cup of tea without having to abandon them, it can all be done from our simple summer kitchen.
I’m so happy with ours that I have put together a list of what you need to create your own one very easily.
The Essentials – electricity, water and a bit of storage space are really all you need to begin with setting up your outdoor kitchen.
We use an old stand alone, lockable cupboard as the basis of our kitchen.It is the perfect size for storing everything we need and the top is ideal as a work surface. We’ve placed it opposite the outdoor tap, making washing veg, filling the kettle or rinsing cups so easy – no need to pop indoors at all.
Luckily for us the previous owners of our house set the garden up well with electric sockets. We have one just above the cupboard, just as you would have in your regular kitchen, above the work top.
Utensils – allocate some crockery and cutlery to your outdoor kitchen to save you having to bring everything outdoors with you every time you want to use your garden kitchen.
We use mugs we have no particular attachment to, since the chances of them getting broken are higher outdoors. Our camping plates and plastic beakers live in the outdoor kitchen too. There are some fab melamine designs on the market these days that would make your kitchen really pretty while remaining practial.
Accessories – I like to pick a colour each year and work around that with my accessories for the outdoor kitchen. Last year it was red, this year it is blue. Tea towels, paper napkins, a vase and storage jars, etc. are the accessories I use in my kitchen.
Electronic devices – the household devices you’ll need in your kitchen depend on your lifestyle and what you eat and drink.
We have an old kettle and a plug-in one-ring hob out there permanently. That way, we can make tea and coffee and we can boil or fry food on the hob if we are not using the barbecue. Sometimes I’ll bring out the toaster or the waffle iron.
We don’t have a fridge in our outdoor kitchen, but I would like to have one there eventually, especially since we get temperatures of up to 40°C here in summer.
Storage – setting up your kitchen beautifully only to find it infested with insects a few days later takes all the good out of the project. That’s why airtight storage is so important. I use jam jars to store teabags, sugar, coffee, etc. This year I gave the jars a little makeover by spraypainting the lids blue, an idea inspired by this blog post.
Cleaning up – Keeping your kitchen clean is the best way to avoid attracting insects. We have a garden sink below our oudoor tap. Next to it we’ve hung an Ikea kitchen tidy with the bits and bobs we need for cleaning the kitchen and hands – cloths, a pot scrub, washing up liquid and anti bac hand soap. With everything to hand, keeping the kitchen clean and bug-free is simple.
How do you organise your summer entertaining and outdoor eating? Do you have an oudoor kitchen or does your kitchen open straight out onto a deck or patio?
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