Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen

outdooPhoto: Imagine Backyard

The first kitchen was really just a fire outside. And ever since cooking was brought indoors, people have been finding numerous reasons to take it back outside. The summer heat has always been a big factor in wanting outdoor kitchen space, especially here in the South. Before air conditioning, summer kitchens made the hottest, most humid months slightly more bearable for southerners everywhere. Keeping away smoke and lingering food smells have also always been popular reasons for wanting to cook outside. Today, the desire to entertain and create a fun space for your family and friends has pushed the outdoor kitchen to the next level.

American actress Jane Wyman with her portable bbq in press photos in the early 1950s.janewymanPhoto: Tumblr

Outdoor kitchens today are so much more than a grill and some patio furniture. Today’s outdoor kitchens extend the living space of your home and are considered a great investment in your property.  The average outdoor kitchen costs between 12,000 and 15,000 dollars. While you definitely don’t have to spend that much, you can easily spend way more. The options are almost limitless. Understandably, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But no worries, we’ve got a few tips to help out, regardless of your budget.

kitchen-in-backyard-e1503366589243.jpgPhoto: Slodive
Determine How You want to Use Your Kitchen

Be honest with yourself. How much space do you have? Are you going to use this outdoor kitchen for serious entertaining or will you be grilling outside occasionally? Will your kitchen be covered, even partially? These questions are important as the list of  possible amenities is long. And when designing your outdoor space you should keep in mind that certain appliances require greater levels of protection from the elements than others. And depending on your budget and plans for usage, it’s important to prioritize what appliances you choose. Some of the most popular outdoor kitchen appliances include grills/smokers, refrigerators/freezers, ice makers, and sinks.

A pergola is a great option for a smaller outdoor kitchen.  It helps define the space and allows for maximum airflow while still providing shade and protection from the harshness of the elements. If you have a green thumb a pergola is a great place to both grow and hang plants on.pergPhoto: Backyard Unlimited
Heaters, a fireplace, curtains and fans make this huge outdoor kitchen space an amazing year-round entertaining space.Beautiful-modern-porch-has-it-allPhoto: Decoist
Layout & Design

When choosing the site for your outdoor kitchen you need to think about how you’re going to hook up the utilities. You will probably want to run electricity and/or gas, and even water out to your space. Designing an outdoor kitchen isn’t that different from designing an indoor kitchen.

You’ll notice that the designs that incorporate the sink and refrigerator all do so in a way that creates the ubiquitous “kitchen triangle”. This is a design principle that says the most efficient kitchen layout is one where the cooktop, sink, and refrigerator form a triangle shape, with no leg of the triangle being longer than 10 feet.
layoutsPhoto: Pinterest

A functional outdoor kitchen should consist of four key areas or zones. First, the hot zone, where you’ll put your grill, smoker, pizza oven, etc. Conversely, the cold zone, where your refrigerator, freezer, beverage centers, etc. will be. Ideally, these zones won’t be right next to each other. Having hot and cold elements next to each other will force those appliances to work harder to function properly, wasting energy and potentially shortening their lifespans. The wet zone is where the sinks, ice-makers, kegerators, dishwashers, etc. are in the space. This is the area that really upgrades an outdoor entertaining area into a fully functioning kitchen. Lastly, you will want prep space. Prep space is not only the counters where you prepare food, but also cabinets and storage options.

This kitchen clearly lays out the four different zones. You can see that the separation between hot, cold, and wet zones naturally creates the “kitchen triangle.”ou.jpgPhoto: Pinterest
Choosing the Proper Materials

There are certainly a few different factors to consider when deciding what materials to use for your outdoor kitchen. Durability has to be considered equally to the style that matches your home and design aesthetic. Natural stone is a great choice for your outdoor kitchen countertops. While not really an issue here in Tennessee, it’s important to note that some stones don’t hold up to the possible expansion that can come with freezing/thawing as well as others. If you live somewhere with more extreme conditions you should always check with your fabricator that the stone you choose will work outside.

This design seamlessly incorporates granite, wood, brick, and stainless steel.presoutPhoto: Prestige M & G

There are other factors to consider when choosing which stone to use. Granite is an extremely popular choice thanks to its overall durability. Granite easily stands up to both regular use and weather. It doesn’t stain, nor does it absorb odors. With granite it’s recommended that you choose mid-range to lighter colors, as darker stones will hold heat and can become hot to the touch under sun.

This granite is absolutely beautiful outside. It blends wonderfully with the landscaping, nearby pool/fountain, and stainless steel appliances. It’s light color ensures it won’t absorb too much heat, nor will it fade in the sun.granite-countertop-outdoor-1Photo: MGSI

Soapstone is another durable option. Although your color options are limited to shades of gray and black, soapstone is stain, heat, and bacteria resistant. Soapstone does scratch more easily than other types of stone, those scratches are fairly easy to repair though.

If you want a darker countertop, soapstone is a great option. It doesn’t hold heat the same way granite does and is still polished and durable.soapstonePhoto: Urban Kitchen Design

Marble is always a beautiful option but is considerably softer than other stones. While it will last a long time, weather will eventually cause noticeable wear. For this reason it isn’t recommended that you use polished marble outside. There are other stone options you can discuss with your fabricator. Concrete and tile are also sometimes used as outdoor countertops.

While planning for hot and cold zones is important, in some smaller spaces your options might be limited. Here, a two-drawer, outdoor refrigerator maximizes space for cold food and drink storage. The brick used in this design is a great insulator between the cold refrigerator and hot grill. The large soapstone countertops are a great choice for a rooftop kitchen with minimal protection from the elements.
small.jpgPhoto: Kalamazoo Gourmet

Whatever outdoor kitchen you can dream up,  Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

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Less Granite Garbage: Tips for Using Scrap Stone Throughout your Home

It’s nearly impossible to create the beautiful, custom granite looks you’ve become accustomed to from Prestige without also creating a lot of granite scraps. Scrap granite, or remnants, refers to the small pieces left over after cutting the slabs that will eventually be used for your project. Industry experts estimate that about 30 percent of granite purchased is never used. Instead of filling landfills with this waste, why not try repurposing it for different projects throughout your home?

scrapGranite Remnants at Prestige

Remnants can obviously be used on vanities and smaller jobs, but we’re thinking a little more outside the box. There are so many different home improvement projects where you can use granite scraps. The possibilities are really limited only by your imagination!

A lazy susan that matches your countertop is a great way to use leftover materials. Obviously, this can be done with any scrap and doesn’t have to be the same as your counters if you’d rather mix it up a bit. granitegranniesPhoto: Granite Grannies
Granite remnants make great shelving. They can be completely customized to fit any space, and its a great way to  tie different areas together.graniteshelves.jpgPhoto: Pinterest
 You can put a piece of granite on almost any type of existing furniture to create an amazing one of a kind look. This is also a great option for saving that old piece with the worn top you don’t want to get rid of but aren’t sure what to do with.justfinetablesPhoto: Just Fine Tables
Granite’s natural durability makes it a great choice for outdoor furniture.
bhg.jpgPhoto: Better Homes & Gardens
You can get really crafty with it and create an entirely new table if that’s your style. Here someone put a piece of round cut granite on top of an old wine barrel to make a beautiful high top table that would be perfect for a smaller space.
foterPhoto: Foter
 Using granite remnants is an extremely cost effective way to create an impressive outdoor fountain.
fountain1Photo: Pinterest
Your water feature doesn’t have to be large to make a big statement. A smaller fountain makes a beautiful addition to any size garden or green space. This could also easily be recreated to add a tranquil touch indoors.
fountainPhoto: Charleston Gardens
This handmade, mobile bbq grill made from granite remnants and wood is definitely one of the most innovative ideas we’ve seen yet. Go here to see the step-by-step process for this awesome DIY project.grill.jpgPhoto: Dwell

Whatever project you can dream up,  Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

 

 

 

 

Do the Right Thing and Save Money, Too: Tips for Selecting Eco-Friendly Kitchen Appliances

If you’re planning a kitchen makeover, you’re probably already well aware of the overwhelming number of appliances on the market, many with exciting bells and whistles, and available in a range of price points. One way to narrow down the seemingly limitless choices is to eliminate the energy hogs and look for the greener, more eco-friendly appliance options. Though some green choices may be more of an initial investment, the savings will quickly pay off in terms of energy savings–and you can feel good about reducing your home’s carbon footprint. Make eco-smart choices with these tips for selecting energy efficient appliances for your kitchen.

Kitchens
Photo by Reid Dalland Photography

Refrigerators

The refrigerator is the biggest energy hog of all the kitchen appliances, accounting for as much as 15 percent of your home’s energy usage. Choosing an energy-efficient refrigerator can be as easy as looking for the Energy Star* label; but for maximum efficiency, don’t stop there: side-by-side refrigerators use about 20 percent more energy than top or bottom freezer models, and through-the-door ice makers and water dispensers increase overall refrigerator energy consumption by 10 to 15 percent.

*If all refrigerators sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to more than $1.4 billion each year and 19 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented.

Cooking Appliances

Robin Kitchen

Cooktops & Ranges

While gas cooktops use less energy than electric ones, they do release combustion by-products (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide) into the air. If you choose a gas cooktop or range, be sure to have a hood ventilated to the outside of the house. A good quality exhaust hood will remove up to 70 percent of these pollutants. Look for Energy Star certified exhaust systems which use 65 percent less energy and avoid downdraft hoods, which do not perform as well as overhead hoods.

Magnetic induction cooktops and ranges are much more energy efficient than gas or electric because they cook food faster and lose less heat in the process. A magnetic induction cooktop’s heat is transferred directly to the pan through high-tech magnetism, leading to little wasted heat. By only heating the pot, and not the air around the vessel, the result is a cooler kitchen for even more energy efficiency.

Ovens

Kitchen has double ovens

Ovens are inherently inefficient. For better efficiency, choose the smallest oven for your needs. If you have occasions when a small oven just won’t cut it, consider two smaller wall ovens rather than one large one. Look for models with a convection option. Convection cooking employs a fan that circulates heated air around the food, reducing temperature and cooking times and using 20 percent less energy. Additionally, models with self-cleaning features are better insulated, which boosts efficiency.

Tracey Stephens Interior Design Inc

Dishwashers

Energy Star–rated dishwashers use at least 41 percent less energy than the federal minimum standard. Look for models with energy-saving wash cycle options, as well as models with booster heaters that will rise the water to 140 degrees while keeping your water heater at 120 degrees. Dishwasher drawers are great energy savers for running small loads. Install two units for full size dish washing when needed.

Prestige Marble & Granite is your midlle Tennessee source for beautiful, enduring and sustainable natural stone countertops to comlement your eco-friendly kitchen.We have something for every taste and every budget. Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

Tips from Prestige Marble & Granite for Creating an Eco-Friendly Bathroom

If you’re exploring the possibility of a bathroom renovation, you have most likely discovered that there is an enormous number of choices available to consumers, which can be overwhelming, to say the least. You are also probably well aware that most older bathrooms are scenes of over-indulgent water usage and excess energy consumption. So, why not kill two birds with one stone by selecting eco-friendly options for your new bathroom? Not only will you be doing a kindness to the planet (and most likely your wallet, too!), you will narrow down the plethora of choices dramatically!  Here are some eco-smart tips for transforming your eco-wasteland into a luxurious green haven – without sacrificing performance.

Toilets

watersense-imageSince toilets can use more than 25% of a home’s water consumption, selecting a low-flow toilet is a good place to start. Back when the law first mandated that newly manufactured toilets could only have 1.6 gallons of water per flush (older pre-1994 toilets flush up to seven gallons of water in a single flush!), “low-flow” became a dirty word – but gone are the days when low-flow equaled low-performance. Low-flow toilets today provide ample flushing power while still using just a fraction of the water.

In addition to the traditional (yet modified), gravity-assisted toilets, there are several newer low-flow options available. Pressure-assisted flush toilets use pressurized air in the tank to push the water into the bowl more forcefully, which helps to make up for the lower water amount. Some toilets have pumps for more flushing power, but be aware that the pump requires an electrical source. Dual-flush toilets are a newer design, with the option of pushing one button for flushing liquid waste (.8 gallons of water per flush) and another for solid waste (1.6 gallons per flush).

When shopping for a toilet, look for the WaterSense label, which indicates the toilet is 20 percent more water efficient than average products in that category and it performs as well or better than their less efficient counterparts.

touchless faucetFaucets

Replacing old, inefficient faucets and aerators with WaterSense labeled models can save the average family 700 gallons of water per year. Faucets with the WaterSense label use a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute (as compared to the standard flow of 2.2 gallons per minute) and can reduce a sink’s water flow by 30 percent or more without sacrificing performance.

For even better water and dollar savings, go one step further and install a motion sensor, or touchless, faucet. Most of us probably use more water than we need when brushing our teeth and washing face or hands. A touchless faucet will keep this wasted water from adding up–just turning the water off while you’re brushing your teeth can save as much as 3,000 gallons of water per year!

Shower Heads

Like the low-flow toilets, low-flow shower heads have come a long way–and they are doubly efficient. Not only do they save the amount of water you use, they also conserve the energy you use to heat the water. Select a shower head with a flow rate of less than the mandated 2.5 gallons per minute for maximum water efficiency.

You’ll find two basic types of low-flow shower heads on the market: aerating-flow and laminar-flow. Aerating shower heads mix air with water, forming a misty spray. Laminar-flow shower heads form individual streams of water, creating the sensation of more water. And as an added bonus, laminar heads also lose less heat because no air is mixed in. Laminar technology doesn’t produce as much steam as aerated methods, which is beneficial if you live in a humid environment.

As with toilets and faucets, look for the WaterSense label when shopping for shower heads.

Countertops, Floors and Wall Cladding

Natural stone countertops, floors and wall cladding are the natural choice for your environmental decision-making during a bath remodel. Marble, granite and other natural stone surfacing will not need to be replaced for a long time, lasting for at least 100 years in many cases, and certainly for the life of the building in most.

No other building material is as recyclable as natural stone. Nearly 100% of stone from deconstructed projects is recyclable and able to be used on other projects, or crushed for use as roadbeds, etc.

Research conducted by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Clean Products found that natural stone does not directly emit any VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). While it’s possible for stone to source VOCs from adhesives and applied sealants, low- and no-VOC options are available.

Lighting

If you haven’t already made the switch to LED light bulbs, now is the time. Though more expensive initially, LED bulbs consume 80 percent less energy than the old incandescent bulbs, and they last 50 times longer (20-25 times longer than a typical halogen, and 8-10 times longer than a typical CFL). CFL bulbs (also energy-saving alternatives), by comparison, only last up to 10 times as long, contain mercury and don’t work well with dimmers. LED light bulbs have made great strides over the past few years and now cover the range of light, from soft and warm to crisp and cool. Combine saving hundreds of dollars per bulb in energy savings with a lifespan of more than 11 years, and the choice of LED lighting for your bathroom is an easy one.

When you’re ready to select your countertops for your new eco-friendly bathroom, Prestige Marble and Granite has the surfacing you need . We offer a large selection of exotic and rare natural stones that will give your design project a one-of-a-kind look as well as an eco-friendly character. Stop by our indoor showroom anytime; we’re here to help you every step of they way – from selection and layout through fabrication and installation.