When Kerry Orcutt moved to Silver Oak on Palmer Ranch, she wanted to build a network of new friends. Outdoor entertaining had been a big part of her life in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and she was determined to create a home that functioned for parties inside and out.
Orcutt joined several newcomer organizations and used the get-togethers to scope out the dos and don'ts of outdoor decorating in Sarasota's humid climate. She applied what she learned to the design of a high-performance kitchen that happens to be outside.
Orcutt created an 18-by-24-foot cooking-eating-conversation area adjacent to her indoor family room, and a vast lanai that flows from living room to pool. "I love large parties with candlelit table settings," she says. "This layout accommodates 40 for dinner."
More than 50 percent of new homes here are plumbed and wired for patio kitchens. Add to that the growing number of older homes retrofitted with elaborate outdoor kitchens, and you've got an important new lifestyle trend.
But in many cases, layouts are not yet as efficient as those for indoor kitchens. Orcutt created plenty of prep space, and borrowed step-saving tips from kitchen designers to provide easy access from sink to cooktop, with everything close at hand.
With an ample kitchen sink, cleanup of pots and grills can be done outside. Orcutt finds that bar or prep sinks typically specified outdoors are too small and therefore inefficient.
Tongue-and-groove cabinet doors in cedar were chosen to repel insects attracted to other woods, and to soften the look of hard-edged stainless steel appliances chosen for easy care.
Allow for counter space on either side of the barbecue grill and sink. Too many outdoor kitchens are configured without regard for tools, prep and serving areas.
A 42-inch covered barbecue with warming shelf and rotisserie is the outdoor kitchen's quintessential piece of equipment. This one's a top-of-the-line Alfresco grill from Mullet's Appliances.
A 14-inch Alfresco two-burner cooktop is a must for Orcutt, who says she cooks fish and Maine lobster frequently, but always outside because odors linger longer indoors.
The Best hood from Mullet's is large enough to extend beyond the cooking surface on all three sides; Orcutt says too many vent hoods are too small or improperly vented.
Countertops in taupe tile are accented with mosaic backsplash and coordinating medallion insets with grape cluster motifs, a practical and good-looking treatment from Fisher Tile.