Outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity in the Sunshine State as families take advantage of Florida's great weather and gather in their backyards to enjoy a nice meal. If you are thinking about creating a backyard culinary oasis, here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan and build your outdoor kitchen and dining:

Pick the right location. Make sure to consider the proximity to your house. You don’t want it to be a hassle when you carry food back and forth. And think about the view. Your seating area shouldn’t face a wall or fence; try to offer pleasant views of your landscaping. Plan for wind and sun, too. You want the smoke from your grill to blow in the opposite direction from where your guests are sitting, and you want to make sure it’s in an area that offers shade from a large tree in the summer months.

Make a budget. Outdoor kitchen options can run the gamut from relatively inexpensive to extravagant, so it’s important to make, and stick to, a predetermined budget.

Make a list of the appliances you need. It may be as simple as a grill and some counter space or as complex as a sink, island, pizza oven, and mini fridge. Some outdoor kitchens even have outdoor dishwashers! Of course, some outdoor appliances are more necessary than others, so remember your budget.

Make a design. Plan exactly where each outdoor appliance will go and sketch it out on a visual plan of your outdoor space.

Plan for each zone. According to the Landscaping Network, every outdoor kitchen needs four zones: prep, cooking, clean-up, and serving/entertaining zones.

Don’t forget lighting, covers, and electrical outlets, if necessary. You might need to add light so you don’t find yourself grilling in the dark. A popular option in Florida is solar-powered lighting. Consider an overhead cover for protection from the rain or the sun’s powerful rays.

Aesthetics. In addition to the outdoor kitchen’s set-up, the right color scheme can change your backyard from drab to fab. Furniture cushions or even a decorative umbrella can transform your space into  outdoor paradise.

Before you begin creating your outdoor dream kitchen, check with your Florida homeowner’s insurance agent to be sure your insurance policy offers enough coverage. It’s also important to check with your local building department to determine whether your project requires a building permit.

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