Outdoor kitchens and living spaces are gaining in popularity particularly in parts of the country with more temperate climates. Summer is just around the corner and if you love entertaining family and friends, what better way to make that happen, than by transforming your back yards, decks and patios into spectacular living spaces. It instantly expands the architecture of your home and seamlessly connects you to the environment. But consider these important tips before you get started. 1. Codes and Restrictions Before you begin any construction in your new outdoor kitchen/living space, educate yourself on your local building and safety codes. Are there any restrictions or provisions regarding the location and size of your kitchen? 2. Scope of Your Outdoor Project Just like any home renovation project, knowing the extent of the work in advance will help save you time and money. Whether a simple prefab barbeque unit suits your needs – or hiring that designer to conceive of your ultimate outdoor living space complete with plumbing and electrical, know your intensions in advance. 3. Location, Location, Location The primary function of your new outdoor kitchen/living space is to make sure “you” the chef/host are part of the party! To achieve this, orient the kitchen area toward the yard space and design a dining counter or bar area for guests to gather around you. 4. Plumbing If you’re planning to incorporate a sink, dishwasher, or ice-maker in your new space, you will need to run water lines from the house out to your new kitchen. If at all possible share the exterior wall of the kitchen where the plumbing already exists for a more cost effective scenario. 5. Design Elements When conceiving of your new outdoor kitchen, always consider the aesthetics and ask yourself: Will the details and materials work with the existing architecture of the home? How does it look from the inside looking out? 6. Climatic Conditions In warmer temperatures, consider incorporating a beautiful trellis with vibrant bougainvillea or vines growing overhead. It provides excellent added protection from the harsh summer sun and the rain. In desert or tropical environments, take it a step further and install ceiling fans or misters to the trellis for additional comfort. In cooler climates introducing a natural low-lying fire pit or fireplace to that outdoor kitchen plan will help create a most tranquil, warm and sophisticated atmosphere to your outdoor living space. For added warmth orient the design of your outdoor space to the south to maximize direct sun exposure. 7. Material Selection Select materials that are best suited to your climatic conditions, and will withstand the test of time. Slab countertops of granite, soapstone, concrete and stainless steel all hold up well to the elements. Tiles work as well but the grout tends to crack over time and if not sealed properly could create problems down the road. I encourage you leave questions or comments below this post, and fill out the form on the right hand side of this page to receive your free copy of my special report: “15 Money Saving Strategies When Planning Your Home Renovation” Article by Lori Gilder, Architectural Interior Designer, Los Angeles, Ca. © 2010 Lori Gilder. Interior Makeovers Inc.