Here’s what you need to know about building outdoor kitchens at your home

Bob Berriz of Berriz Design Build Group offers his tips on bringing the cooking experience beyond the heart of your home.

Photo by Andrew Itaga

It’s grilling season.

As the temperature warms up outside, parties tend to linger into the night as guests gather on the patio rather than in the kitchen. So, why not bring your cooking expertise outdoors with more than just a charcoal grill?

We spoke with Bob Berriz of Fairfax-based Berriz Design Build Group about what it takes to make a great outdoor kitchen, and why you should be dreaming of having one. Find highlights from our conversation below.

What’s the first thing you should do when you’ve decided that you want an outdoor kitchen?
There are a couple things I would consider. First, what’s your entertaining style? Is this really for just two of you to have a little something outside, or do you have people over often and you’re looking to entertain people at a grander scale? I would also ask yourself (and be honest with yourself) about what time of year you like to spend outside. I’m the type of person that if I have to shovel a path to my grill, I will. An option is to have an outdoor kitchen with a roof overhead so you can use it during inclement weather. That way, you’re able to sit outside and have it be more comfortable for long-term use. Plus, you can also have outdoor heaters installed, too. Lastly, I would consider what you would like to cook outside. We have done plenty of projects with pizza ovens, warming drawers, outdoor refrigerators and even beer taps.

What should people consider when they are in the designing process?
There are a lot of moving pieces. We usually start with the grill as the main point and then work our way out from there into the staging area. Consider what types of materials you would like to use for the kitchen itself and its structure. Is there going to be a countertop? What kind of storage are you looking for? Do you need drawers and places to store your utensils and other tools? What about an outdoor sink? Also, you always want to consider its proximity to the house and what materials the house is made of. You wouldn’t want to get too close to vinyl siding.

Is there anything you’ve noticed that’s a trend in 2019?
People are looking for all of the bells and whistles. Fridges have become very popular and the hybrid grills are also very popular. Those allow someone to grill in multiple ways such as charcoal and wood, or gas and wood and so on. A lot of people want to be able to cook in those different ways because there are different benefits to each. Grilling with gas is practical but grilling with charcoal just tastes so good.

How much should someone expect to invest in an outdoor kitchen?
A starting point would be around $15,000, that would get you about an 8-foot-long area where you have your grill, plus room for a bit of a counter on each side, the bases and the gas. Plus, if you’re putting in the money, you really want to get the top-of-the-line appliances. If something happens to a less-expensive grill, rather than just getting it fixed, you’re having to replace the whole grill, not to mention they don’t come in standard sizes like, say, the dishwasher in your indoor kitchen. You would have to find one that fit perfectly back into that space. The best ones I can suggest are Kalamazoo outdoor grills, as well as the more well-known Viking brand and Lynx. Now, if you’re looking at a full outdoor kitchen with a roof and everything, you’re looking at $50,000 to $100,000. That could include anything from a stone deck, ceiling fans, gas heaters, a refrigerator, a smoker, lights and even an outdoor fireplace.

And if you could build your dream outdoor kitchen, what would it be?
I actually have a pizza oven and we love it. But I would also have a hybrid grill and refrigeration. You can’t go wrong with those.

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