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The Outside Advantage

April 30, 2022

The outdoor kitchen makes the experience of cooking and dining more pleasurable.

No more perceived as a feature reserved exclusively for the homes of the high-end strata of clients, outdoor kitchens are now affordable luxuries for anyone who wants to expand the outdoor living and entertainment space in their residence.

The design of an outdoor kitchen can be simple, containing just a grill, table and chairs, or detailed similar to that of a fully-equipped kitchen with built-in appliances and seating. However, the designer fraternity believes that in either case, certain factors have to be taken into account in the plan of every outdoor kitchen.

When a community wants to have a vacation home, that is, a second home, that’s where the outdoor kitchen really comes into play. This is as in their second homes, the outdoor kitchen is more a focal point of fun, rather than just serving the primary need of eating food.

Ajjaz Hakim

Principal Architect

Aijaz Hakim Architect


Of course, weather can play spoilsport in any outdoor activity, and this one is no exception. Ideally, a well-designed outdoor kitchen should be usable throughout the year, irrespective of the weather, and this can be possible by incorporating certain elements in the layout of the space.

Kiran Venkatesh, Co-founder and Partner, InForm Architects, a Bangalore-based architectural firm elaborates on these. “Programme the outdoor kitchen into two components – one fixed and the other, mobile or flexible. The fixed component should have a weather-tight enclosure to store critical parts of the kitchen and also a mechanism to put up an overhead shade for protection from sun and rain. The flexible component can be for seating, placement of grills etc. Fixed seating, if any, can be made of stone or metal.  Pergolas, membrane and glass roofs, retractable or extended cantilevered canopies and beach umbrellas are all options for lightweight covers. It is critical to have a shade under the cover so a glass or poly-carbonate roof may not always be the best option. Fans, whether wall-mounted or portable, with and without misting options or portable air conditioners are also an option for partially-closed kitchens, and can make the outdoor kitchen more enjoyable year-round,” he says.

“The outdoor kitchen, if to be used throughout the year, needs to have a cover to protect it from sun, rain, falling leaves if it is in a garden, etc. Depending on the styling of the main residence structure, the character of the cover of the outdoor kitchen can be designed. I would recommend wood, thatch coverings with large overhangs for outdoor kitchens in tropical climates, and tiles, shingles and metal roofing with steep slopes in cold climates where rain and snowfall are predominant so that there is the easy runoff of water and no accumulation of snow on the roof. I would do a glass refractory roof in climates which need to welcome the little sun that they have and solid roof with heat-insulating properties in hot zones,” adds Kalpak Bhandari, Principal Architect, Veekas Studio, Pune.

Outdoor kitchens with appliances and cabinets under it

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Light it up

To maximise the hours spent using an outdoor kitchen, varying levels of light have to be planned for. “Lighting is always an important tool for any designer to use, whether it is indoors or outdoors.  Light will, again, be divided into task lighting and ambient lighting.  An outdoor kitchen could, depending on the design language being used, be hidden in the landscape or be expressed like torcheres’ or lanterns.  Task lighting would be concealed but ensure that all work surfaces are adequately lit for efficiency as well as safety, ” says Pinky Pandit, Principal Architect & Interior Designer, Modus Design Studio.

The right lighting not only enhances the outdoor kitchen experience, but also adds to the visual appeal of the space at night. Task lights can be used above the grill or cooktop, while halogen lights can withstand higher temperatures. Many outdoor kitchens have an island with appliances and cabinets under it, as well as a countertop.  Lighting under these upper cabinets, countertops and inside the lower cabinets adds that extra light which facilitates ease of cooking, while landscape lighting surrounding the outdoor kitchen is necessary for safety as well as visual appeal.

If the kitchen is to be designed in India I would like to keep out insects, lizards, etc, hence a mesh to the enclosure to keep these elements out is what I would strongly recommend.

Kalpak Bhandari

Principal Architect

Veekas Studio