The ultimate outdoor kitchen? What you need to know

You're not making the most of sunny Perth weather unless you incorporate alfresco cooking and dining into your home. Here at apg Homes, we know that an outdoor kitchen space is a must-have for quality living, providing a world of joy as you share meals with loved ones. In fact, the majority of Aussies agree - a survey by the Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia found that a kitchen connected to an undercover outdoor entertaining area is in the top 10 wishlist for most of us. It's no surprise then that our architectural designs feature alfresco dining zones in most single and two storey homes. 

So, what do you need to know about equipping and creating the ultimate outdoor kitchen? Here's your guide.

Energy star appliances that can withstand weather conditions

This is crucial. Investing in energy-efficient appliances can save you a lot of money in the long run, especially since appliances account for 30 per cent of your home's total energy consumption, according to the government's Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS). Aim for a 4 or higher Energy Star rating on your appliance. There's a handy Energy Rating App you can download from the government's Energy Rating website, along with an online calculator to compare different models and brands. The app will also help you discover the ongoing running costs of different appliances, which is handy for budgeting.

Choose the type of fuel carefully 

When choosing between gas, electric, hotplate or classic wood-fire outdoor ovens and barbecues, first consider how often you will be using the appliance and how many people you will typically be feeding. Purchasing an unnecessarily large appliance will consume more energy while buying one too small may require increased sessions and longer cooking time which isn't desirable. 

Top tips from DIIS include selecting gas over charcoal because the latter generates almost three times the carbon footprint of a natural gas grill. What's more, gas burns cleaner which is good for reducing air pollution and keeping your loved ones healthier. These days, solar-powered ovens are also on the market and ideal for Perth's sunny weather. 

Achieving good taste without harming the planet 

Of course, every now and then you may want that rich, smoky flavour that comes from cooking on charcoal. In these cases, make a greener choice by avoiding briquettes, as these tend to be made of sawdust from scrap wood that release harmful volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide into the air when burnt. Instead, buying lump charcoal sourced from sustainably-managed forests is a more environmentally-friendly option. 

For the best of both worlds, build your own small outdoor oven with reclaimed or recycled bricks - a small size will heat the food faster and deliver the taste you're after. For bigger BBQ parties, use an electric outdoor oven that sources its power from a solar power system built into your home. This is the cleanest and yummiest option. 

Comfortable seating in a lush landscape

Finally, make the atmosphere around the appliance inviting and cosy with elegant, plush outdoor furniture. Dining tables with shelter umbrellas and benches with outdoor cushion seats are classic examples. Place potted plants or ceramic, clay vases as centrepieces on the table for classy decor, and enjoy a landscaped garden with a few stone sculptures to complete the look. 

Vanessa Brunner, a writer on Houzz magazine's editorial staff, suggests picking outdoor furniture that is portable and can be easily and conveniently moved around is a good bet for fun evening soirees. Flexible seating is also recommended, such as an ottoman or L-shaped portable outdoor couch. Vanessa also adds that installing outdoor speakers can be the creme de la creme for atmosphere - after all, what's better than balmy evenings listening to tunes while sipping a beer or Aussie wine with your mates and family?