Turn Up the Heat with an Outdoor Kitchen
"Outdoor entertaining" once meant unfolding the lawn chairs and firing up a kettle grill. Today's outdoor kitchens are light years ahead of that.

When designing an outdoor kitchen, the first question is how the space will be used. Are you more likely to host intimate, informal gatherings for family and friends, or do you entertain hundreds at a time? What kinds of meals will you prepare? What equipment do you find essential? Thinking through these answers will guide the finished kitchen, as well as how it complements the home and other features such as gardens, a swimming pool or a full-service patio bar.

While a grill is the centerpiece of most outdoor kitchens, beyond that, the sky's the limit. Choose a sink and refrigerator. Side burners and warming drawers. A pizza oven or rotisserie. Even a wood chip soaker or beer tap.

Perhaps the most important choice you'll make, however, is to have it all professionally designed and installed. After all, our brutal winters and hot, humid summers require materials that can take the extremes. Stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and durable stonework surrounds will retain their looks years after they're installed.

What's more, the foundation for these heavy slabs and equipment is incredibly important. That's where Van Zelst's stonework experience really shines. We don't cut corners when making sure your investment has the solid footing it requires.
Keep Your Cool when Entertaining Outdoors
  • Store unbreakable plates, glasses, utensils and candles in a cabinet near the patio door for easy, anytime access
  • Fill a bucket with sunscreen, insect spray and hand sanitizer, and place it where guests can easily find it
  • In addition to iced buckets of drinks and a DIY bar, set up a lemonade stand for kids and grownups
  • Try a theme—a New England clambake, tea party or Indian barbecue—apply it to the food, decor and music.
  • Give people several places to gather—station drinks far from the food table and spread blankets on the grass to encourage casual gatherings
  • Make things easy on guests—and cleanup—by placing trash bins in easy-to-find places
  • Have fun—it's your party, too!

Light up the Night More Efficiently
No landscape is complete without thoughtful lighting—professionally designed lighting adds to the ambience of your outdoor environment by casting a warm, subtle glow and drawing attention to areas of interest. In addition, illuminating the landscape and walkways allows you to enjoy the outdoors later into the evening while ensuring the safety of your guests.

Van Zelst recommends today's low-voltage lighting systems as a safe, energy-efficient way to make your outdoor areas more inviting and secure. Why? Low-voltage lighting...
  • Requires just 12 volts of electricity (compared to 120 volts for indoor fixtures)
  • Uses long-lasting LED bulbs
  • Incorporates small, unobtrusive fixtures into the landscape
  • Provides focused light with great color
  • Can be added to in the future, if needed
  • Doesn't require additional inspections by local building authorities
The Van Zelst team is well versed in complementing our clients' landscapes with dramatic lighting designs. To find out more, contact us today.

For answers to all your landscaping questions, or to work with Van Zelst to create the perfect environment for your family, drop us an e-mail or give us a call at 847.623.3580.

All the best,

Dave Van Zelst

© 2011 Van Zelst, Inc. All rights reserved. Our photographs are reproduced with the permission of Linda Oyama Bryan.

Van Zelst, Inc., 39400 N. Highway 41, Wadsworth, IL 60083
847-623-3580  |  www.vanzelst.com