The quintessential Australian summer’s evening is not quite complete without a backyard barbecue to enjoy the joys of the balmy night air with friends and family. Gone are the days where a barbecue is all you have in your alfresco dining area, though – outdoor kitchens with more elaborate set-ups are becoming an increasingly popular inclusion to outdoor and wider home designs and renovations. Read along as Jacqueline Foy of Melbourne Pool + Outdoor Design sits down with Ben Barber, founder of Mojito Outdoor Kitchens, to uncover how you can transform your backyard with the addition of an outdoor kitchen.
Barber’s business, Mojito Outdoor Kitchens, was born when he saw a gap in the market for dedicated outdoor kitchen specialists. He then promptly took the plunge into opening his own company. Now, him and his team are dedicated to helping clients increase the value, practicality and beauty of their homes with Mojito Outdoor Kitchens’ elegant alfresco kitchens. With both beautiful set packages and unique custom-made designs on offer, all of the company’s kitchens are made to order and manufactured at the Melbourne facility. Along with its sleek aesthetic, all door and benchtop suppliers for Mojito Outdoor Kitchens are green Chain of Custody certified, ensuring that the end result is not only elegant and functional, but also environmentally mindful. Alongside Barber’s own extensive building design background, the team at Mojito Outdoor Kitchens has a combined experience of more than 25 years in joinery specification, design and manufacturing, so it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing when it comes to designing gorgeous, custom outdoor kitchens that stand the test of time.
No matter where you live, an outdoor kitchen is a great value-adding feature that allows homeowners to enjoy fresh air and the outdoors more often, and creating more usable space is something that is a top priority for many home buyers. “Outdoor living areas are now becoming as important to the home as your indoor living [space],” Barber says. Your backyard and patio space acts as an extension to your indoor living rooms and kitchen, opening up your space significantly and adding to the atmosphere of your home. Combining an outdoor kitchen with alfresco dining, outdoor lounge sets and a shelter over the space builds a versatile relaxation and entertaining space that can be enjoyed in all seasons, no matter the weather outside.
Compared to other outdoor renovations or improvements, outdoor kitchens can have a much higher rate of return in investment, and this naturally increases with higher quality materials and appliances. A high-quality outdoor kitchen can be a longstanding investment, gifting homeowners a lifetime of use due to being built with materials designed to withstand the tough weather environments that come with being outdoors.
BACKYARD BARBECUE BLISS
“An outdoor kitchen perfectly complements the outdoor space and can tie in with the fixtures and fittings of the rest of the home,” Barber says. “[They] are no longer a big stainless-steel, wheel-in monstrosity,” he continues, “[as] people want to tie them in to their surroundings and interior palette.” Customising your outdoor kitchen and choosing complementing colours and finishes to your home’s interior can give your home continuity. Your outdoor kitchen will look like it was always a part of your home, blending seamlessly in with your indoor living and kitchen areas and helping bring the outside in.
The main difference between the construction of an outdoor kitchen and an indoor one is the materials used, and this is something Barber says you have to be mindful of during the design process. “They must be able to handle the changes in moisture, temperature, sun and rain,” Barber says. “Your standard kitchen materials will rot and weather very quickly,” he continues, explaining that all the materials used by Mojito Outdoor Kitchens are covered under warranty for exterior use, but have the look and feel of your standard kitchen.
YOUR WILDEST DREAMS
Your outdoor kitchen design can be taken as far as you like. From a classic barbecue and a small bench space to a completely built-in kitchen, with all the essentials usually included in an indoor kitchen – electricity, plumbing, sinks and cupboards included. “The most popular layouts are against a wall incorporating a barbecue, fridge and sink, but the options are endless,” Barber says, adding, “We can help with any design [customers] can come up with, from corner or ‘L’ shape units to a bar area around a pool.”
Barber explains that it’s as important as ever to think about your lifestyle and the functionality of your desired space, as well as the area you have available to you when planning out what to include in your design. “Some people love cooking outdoors and will [it] use all year round so it makes more sense to have a higher spec barbecue and appliances,” Barber says. “Understand how large a space you have to work with and which appliances and features you would like,” he says. “With limited space, just stick to the essentials such as a barbecue and maybe a fridge,” he suggests, going on to say that larger spaces, for example four metres or more, open up more opportunity to include larger appliances: large fridges, side burners, sinks, smokers and wood-fired ovens – and even ice machines.
“Any home can really benefit from an outdoor kitchen. We have done very large poolside kitchens to small apartment kitchens, each to suit the customers’ needs and requirements,” Barber says.
Images courtesy of Mojito Outdoor Kitchens