The Great Outdoor Kitchen!
The humble barbecue has morphed into something much more sophisticated.
Rolling Stone Landscapes designs ensure the cook is part of the action. The sun is shining, the temperature is up and it’s time to kick back for some serious summer rest and relaxation. For most of us, enjoying the great Aussie backyard would not be complete without the chance to throw something on the barbie and knock back a cool beverage.
But while eating outdoors is practically part of Australia’s national DNA, in recent years it has evolved into a full open-air kitchen experience.
Matt Leacy, landscape designer and director of Landart Landscapes, says the outdoor kitchen is changing the way people live.
Everyone that we have installed for has said that it is a complete lifestyle change Matt says.
It’s not just the garden anymore, it has changed how they use their property and it gets people outside and involved in the garden. Far from being a fad, Matt says up to 80 per cent of his clients want an outdoor kitchen that is integrated into an outdoor living and dining room that may include a pool and low-maintenance landscaping.
And while the traditional barbecue set-up has always involved one or two people, often blokes, standing with their backs turned to guests, outdoor kitchens have gone the way of their indoor counterparts where the cook is part of the action.
One person is still controlling the barbecue but everyone is sitting around having a chat, Matt says.
We are doing a lot of T-shaped benches where we have the barbecue at the end of the T and then there is a long bench so you can get a lot more people sitting around to eat.
Landscape designer and managing director of Rolling Stone Landscapes, Dean Herald, agrees that outdoor kitchens have evolved from isolating the cook to making the cook a central part of the action.
I like to do island benches as much as possible because it makes the cooking experience more interactive, he says.
If you can turn the chef around, you can put stools on the other side and it becomes a servery as well. I have one and it works really well.
An alfresco advantage
Cherelle Freeman (pictured with landscaper Matt Leacy) says it is no exaggeration to say that her new outdoor kitchen has changed her family’s life.
When they bought their Mosman home more than five years ago, she says the backyard was non existent and ugly, so they put in a simple deck.
When that didn’t work, they installed a beautiful in-ground pool complete with glass pool fence.
But it still did not look right, she says. Finally, she called in director of Landart Landscapes Matt Leacy to design an outdoor living room with cooking facilities.
I can’t tell you how it has transformed the space, Cherelle says. We never spent any time out there but since it was finished in September we are always using it.
We cook breakfast out there all the time whereas before, we would just use the pool and come back inside.
Matt’s company designed and installed an integrated barbecue with concrete benchtop and under bench storage to work with the streamlined deck that runs under the pool fencing, which hides the pool filter. The roots of a mature ficus tree have been complemented by a simple low maintenance planting scheme while timber steps lead up into the rest of the compact garden.
Cherelle says the new outdoor kitchen has made her home a popular destination with family members who live out of town.
All our family live outside Sydney and they’ve all been down and we eat outside all the time, she says.
My husband’s parents were down a couple of weeks ago and we didn’t eat a single meal inside. I think of it as part of the house now, another room.