The life-enhancing possibilities of an outdoor kitchen

If you've been toying with the idea of having an outdoor kitchen put in, Giles Kime suggests that you go for it.

Our great-grandparents would doubtless have sucked their teeth over the more indulgent aspects of the houses of the 21st century. The en-suite bathroom (or, indeed, any bathroom at all, depending on your lineage) would be one of them.

They’d also take a pretty dim view of secondary kitchens, but, as David Elton, co-founder of the burgeoning litter of Pig hotels pointed out the other day, ‘a secondary kitchen is just a scullery by another name’.

The most recent addition to the wish-list of modern homeowners that would get them chewing on their falsers is the outdoor kitchen, an idea that had previously been the preserve of those in the Southern Hemisphere.

Then again, after this summer, who really could blame anyone for taking the plunge, any more than the previous generations should be blamed for filling their houses with net curtains, antimacassars and aspidistras? Or indeed, denying women the vote. Or slavery.

There’s no doubt that, even at its most basic, an outdoor kitchen is a costly bit of kit once you’ve forked out for cabinetry, sink, appliances, plumbing, wiring and a structure that will provide shade. However, there’s no doubt that the possibilities are transformative, not least creating a glorious satellite to the main house and the most brilliant complement to a swimming pool.

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‘It allows the cook to be at the centre of the action, rather than having to run to and fro as everyone else sits about having fun and necking the Pouilly-Fumé’

No doubt, detractors would point out that this summer has been a freak of nature not seen for three decades and, next year, it will be back to overcast skies and drizzle. However, we’re becoming increasingly cunning when it comes to the chilly evenings: fire pits and thrilling new innovations, such as Chesneys’s new HEAT range of barbecue heaters, unveiled at the Chelsea Flower Show, extend the time that we’re able to spend outside.

An outdoor kitchen is to the outside of a house what the big, open-plan kitchen is to the inside: a social hub that allows the cook to be at the centre of the action, rather than having to run to and fro as everyone else sits about having fun and necking the Pouilly-Fumé.

Better still, it creates an opportunity for long, summer days that are truly alfresco, with little reason to nip inside other than to answer a call of nature. That’s until the long-overdue revival of a long-forgotten essential our ancestors would doubtless approve of: the outdoor loo.

Pictured at the top of the page is a Markham kitchen that was recently installed by Humphrey Munson – Chesneys HEAT 600 barbecue heater costs £2,574–