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Now that the weather is getting nicer, all ideas of outdoor leisure home activities come flooding back to your mind. From playing out in the yard with the kids, to enjoying neighbors over for a barbecue on the back patio, it s never too early to start planning.

Adding a summer kitchen to your outdoor patio maybe just the piece that is missing from yours! Portable grills are nice, but summer kitchens allow you to plan an entire area for relaxing, preparing and serving food, and it can add value onto your home. Here are tips for choosing amenities for your summer kitchen.

Determine your entertaining lifestyle: Summer kitchens are perfect for those who enjoy cooking outdoors as well as entertaining. While entertaining could be guest or neighbors, it can also be your immediate family. Determine how often you enjoy cooking outdoors, and what size area you can dedicate to adding a summer kitchen. For smaller patios, an outdoor wall dedicated to a grill and sink may be sufficient. While a larger patio may have a stand-alone summer kitchen, complete with dining area, refrigerator, grill, sink and counter area.

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Assess what you enjoy cooking: Summer kitchens that have several amenities are the ones that get used more often, depending on what you enjoy cooking. Amenities such as cooking grills, griddles, rotisseries, and even ovens and warmers can make your cooking experience more enjoyable. Summer kitchens that have sinks, refrigerators, freezers and wine coolers can help the avid cook avoid running back inside the main house several times while entertaining and cooking.

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Comfortable lounging area: While the actual cooking area is important, don’t  forget about the lounging and leisure area for your guests. Depending on your decorative style and the layout of your patio, determine how much and what type of seating will suit your needs.  Movable lounge chairs and tables are ideal for versatility while built in benches and seating area can be permanent and enhanced with decorative cushions and throw pillows.  Ensure seating area isn’t too far removed from the summer kitchen area for guest interaction, but not too close for smoke and food odors to affect your guests.

Know your budget: Similar to other parts of your home, a summer kitchen can take on a life of its own before you know it, and you can spend more than you budgeted for. Do research in advance on what brands and prices fit within your budget, as well as visit summer kitchen studios that offer floor models that you can experience how the kitchen will feel. If you have a contractor building you a custom summer kitchen, ask for references of other projects you can personally visit to ensure you are getting what you paid for.

What’s your trick?