Kitchen of the Week: Outdoor kitchen hottest accessory for young families

At home in Riverhead, this outdoor kitchen features both a Weber gas grill and an Escea 1250 wood fire that doubles as an oven.

JAMIE COBEL

At home in Riverhead, this outdoor kitchen features both a Weber gas grill and an Escea 1250 wood fire that doubles as an oven.

A relocated transitional villa in Riverhead, Auckland proved to be the perfect home for the family featured here. Only one thing was missing – an outdoor living area that can be used all year round.

So the owners commissioned a bespoke outdoor kitchen from Rhys Mellor of Love Kitchens, who says the project was two years in the making.

“We started planning at the end of 2019, then Covid turned things upside down and it gave them the opportunity to refine what they wanted. They spent a lot of time in Otago sitting around an open fire and were keen to take the experience home with them.

Sausages hang from hooks while a rack of lamb and other meats sit on the grill.  The levels of the cooking containers can be changed in the oven.  When not in use, the trays are stowed away behind a stainless steel flap.

JAMIE COBEL

Sausages hang from hooks while a rack of lamb and other meats sit on the grill. The levels of the cooking containers can be changed in the oven. When not in use, the trays are stowed away behind a stainless steel flap.

“They like to invite their friends over and try to create memories for the children around the open fire. And with the new technology that is now available, we can make great outdoor meals.”

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The hero of the outdoor kitchen is a wood-burning Escea 1250 fireplace, which is a cross between a fireplace and a grill. “We installed it at a height where it’s easy to cook on,” says Mellor. “It generates a tremendous amount of heat and has multiple trays and adjustable cooking levels. There’s also a stainless steel flap that lifts up so you can stack trays underneath when not in use – like a warming drawer.”

Mellor designed a massive fireplace surround with space to stack wood. “We added spot lighting to make it easier to choose the right size piece of wood in the dark. So often you end up looking for a torch. And we put a light bar on the bottom.”

The fireplace anchors one end of the outdoor kitchen, which also has a long, L-shaped bench and cabinets. In addition to plenty of storage and seating, there is a Weber gas grill and sink.

Of course, everything had to be weatherproof. The furniture features silicone-coated fronts made from Ember Driftwood – a product that looks and feels like wood but does not warp or change. “We tested the product on fence posts,” says Mellor.

A slatted Fijian mahogany surround surrounds the outdoor kitchen, which features a Weber gas grill and sink.

JAMIE COBEL

A slatted Fijian mahogany surround surrounds the outdoor kitchen, which features a Weber gas grill and sink.

The cabinets feature silicone-based textured fronts in Ember Driftwood.  The shelves on the slats can be positioned as you like.

JAMIE COBEL/stuff

The cabinets feature silicone-based textured fronts in Ember Driftwood. The shelves on the slats can be positioned as you like.

Dekton in off-white Aeris was chosen for the table tops. This composite product made of quartz, glass and porcelain is particularly suitable for outdoor kitchens.

A Fijian mahogany slatted wood screen encloses two sides of the kitchen. This has adjustable shelving units that can be moved at will.

According to Mellor, Love Kitchens designed and built 14 outdoor kitchens last year and said each was intended for a family with young children whose parents were in their mid-30s to 40s.

“It’s easier for them to entertain friends and family at home. They all had children under the age of 10.”

Porcelain tiles create a durable patio.

JAMIE COBEL

Porcelain tiles create a durable patio.

According to Mellor, outdoor kitchens with a custom fireplace and medium-sized workspaces typically cost around $65,000 — the fireplace adds $15,000 to $20,000. The durable materials required for outdoor kitchens are costly, and as a result, the kitchens are more expensive than an indoor version of the same size.

The designer is currently working on a large outdoor kitchen that will cost around $150,000.

The kitchen of the week is supported by Resene. Find more inspiration in Resene’s kitchen decoration gallery.

STUFF

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