Seems like all us PNW-ers like to do ‘stuff’ outdoors, whether it’s raining or not. Fortunately, our winters are mild and the other seasons are heavenly, a fair balance, I think.
We also seem to like to cook food and gather with friends. Because it’s so mild here year round, it’s an ideal place for an outdoor kitchen. An outdoor kitchen doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly. In our climate, a very basic outdoor kitchen will commonly have overhead coverage, a cooking unit, usually a grill, storage for dishes, glasses and utensils, and some amount of countertop space for food and drink prep, and of course, seating. From there, you may consider an outdoor sink, an under-counter refrigerator or wine cooler, an oven, and even a dishwasher. Really, outdoor kitchens can be as elaborate as an indoor kitchen.
To use your space year round, wind chill will be a potential issue. This can be addressed with simple full length shades to create wind blocks, when not needed they can be rolled up and out of the way or easily removed altogether.
It is also critical to have a heat source, outdoor entertainment sorely lacks with out a fire (this seems true in the summertime as well). Small portable fire pits are ubiquitous these days and are a great, simple solution for an easy to manage fire. A full-on masonry fireplace can pull double duty with cooking over the fire, as well as a toasty gathering spot to take the chill off.
Worth considering while selecting outdoor furniture is the cushioning, can you wipe water off of it easily and will it be good insulation for wintertime use? Also, in our climate, one of the easiest ways to spring clean outdoor furniture is to pressure wash, make sure your selection can stand up to that if necessary.
And finally, in the dead of winter with daylight petering out around 4pm, consider outdoor lighting for tasks such as cooking and softer lighting for ambiance. There’s nothing quite like a string of lighted pink flamingos to harken back to days of summer.
Published on April 26, 2010.