Outdoor entertaining special: how we created a beautiful outdoor kitchen

outdoor entertaining feature

Fancy some outdoor entertaining this summer? So do we – and we’ve fallen in love with this stunning outdoor kitchen from The Copper Beech House. For our new monthly feature ‘Been There Done That’, owner Sarah Reed talks us through how she created it.

Outdoor entertaining in summer is the dream – forget picnics, we want an outdoor kitchen. Sarah explains how she and her family created theirs:

“Before adding the outdoor kitchen the space was just mud! It was a messy eyesore and something we added to the ‘one day’ list to fix. 

“Firstly, my husband helped my dad (who was living with us) lay decking across the back of the house during lockdown. This alone transformed the garden and made it usable. We’d lived with mud and rubble for two years and had almost got used to the mess! It was a great lockdown project that kept them entertained too.

“Now we live outside most days, so an outdoor kitchen area seemed like the next logical next step. We love outdoor entertaining and knew we’d get our money’s worth from it.”

outdoor entertaining
The space comes into its own at night. Pendant lights: Habitat. Wall lights and light-up ball: Iconic Lights.

Choosing oak for their outdoor entertaining space

“My husband and I love oak and have used it throughout the inside of our home, so we knew we wanted to incorporate that into the design. To tie it in with the house we used the same roof tiles. The kitchen needed to be beautiful and also functional for outdoor entertaining, and sometimes those things don’t align. So we kept sketching out different designs and layouts while watching the telly each night on the sofa! This went on for weeks until we finally committed and ordered the materials. 

“Annoyingly, we had huge delays on materials, as with most things at the moment. So our dream of having a New Year’s Eve barbecue quickly vanished.

“We’re lucky to have a fabulous joiner for a neighbour, who we hired to build the roof. We also brought on an additional roofer to lay the tiles, which took the pressure off my husband.”

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a carpenter hard at work building the space
Oak was the natural choice for their outdoor kitchen.

How they built the ideal outdoor kitchen

“To build our space for outdoor entertaining, we firstly cleared the conifers and levelled the ground. Then we dug holes for the oak posts and levelled them with Postcrete. We laid a weed control membrane, then built the frame for the decking to sit on. (If you’re adding a sink you can hide your pipes or electrical wire underneath the decking.)

“Then we laid the decking. We chose to run it horizontally rather than try to match it up to the existing decking, which wouldn’t have looked great.

“We built the oak frame for the outdoor kitchen. And we used oak boards for the sides and the kitchen doors, but you can use any suitable wood.

“After that, we used a joiner for the roof beams and rafters, and hired a roofer to do the felt barons and tiles. We used Redlands Rosemary tiles to match the house. We added chipboard to the two sides behind the kitchen units.

“After pricing up different options we went with an Ikea laminate worktop and fitted it ourselves. It was super cost-effective and looks like the real thing. However, we aren’t sure how it will weather yet. Come back next year!

“We added rough-sawn featherboard/shiplap over the chipboard, laying each one slightly over the other. Our electrician added a socket for the wine fridge and radio, then wired in the lights and the outdoor heaters.”

outdoor entertaining
Tradesmen hard at work. The space is now taking shape.

The final space is perfect for their needs

“The final space offers us somewhere to barbecue and do outdoor entertaining in year round. We have shelter from the rain, which is essential for the British weather. It means we can cook breakfast on the barbecue come rain or shine, which is a huge plus for my husband!

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“We have a wine fridge, worktop space for food and drinks, outdoor heaters inside the roof and a gas barbecue – so are all set for a party! The original plan had space for a sink, but so far we haven’t needed one so we’ve left it out. 

“We love to host here, and first used the outdoor kitchen for our joint birthdays in January, believe it or not. We lit the wood burner, turned on the heaters, stocked the fridge with wine and told everyone to bring a coat. Then we all sat outside until the early hours. It was brilliant!

“I think lockdown taught us all to embrace the outdoors, come rain or shine, and that’s something that stuck with us. On hot days it gives us shade from the sunshine, and because of where it’s situated it gives a lovely view of the garden to relax in.”

the finished outdoor kitchen
The finished space is stunning and clearly worth all the hard work and effort. Beefeater 1200-S 4-burner gas BBQ, £553.50, Outdoor Kitchens. Cookology CBC130BK undercounter drinks fridge, £319.99, Cookology.

Sarah’s top tips for creating an outdoor entertaining space

“You don’t need to use oak, so find a material that suits you, your budget and the look you wish to create. Ring around local timber yards who will be able to help. Don’t be afraid to ask what you feel are silly questions, because usually people will want to help. 

“Use spray paint to mark out the size of your hut and to work out where everything will go. Make sure you can fit seating or a bar area inside. The British weather means you’ll use it more than you think, even in the rain. It’s the little details in the end that will stand out. So don’t rush it, and take your time to plan and put your own stamp on it. Why not tile inside and add some colour?”

outdoor entertaining
Sarah enjoying her outdoor kitchen, complete with feathered and furry friends. Follow her renovation journey on Instagram here.

For more on outdoor entertaining, pick up a copy of the August issue of Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms magazine, on sale now.

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