Screened Summer Kitchen Ideas | Home Guides

Not just a pleasant outdoor space to cook in warm weather, a screened summer kitchen saves you money on air conditioning by keeping unwanted heat radiated by stoves and ovens out of your house. Summer kitchens usually include at least one cooking appliance, ranging from an inexpensive, portable propane burner to an elaborate outdoor brick oven or grill. As a small, repurposed gazebo or porch, or a large, new backyard structure with high-end finishes, the size and scope of a screened summer kitchen can vary to suit your style and budget.

Preservation Station

Canning and pickling fresh summer produce creates a lot of unwanted heat in the home, making it a perfect job to do out in a screened-in summer kitchen. The screens keep flies away from food and allow breezes to cool the air while removing lingering odors. Provide large, durable, easy-to-clean surfaces for food preparation — such as a wide table or a long countertop — for all the peeling and chopping activities necessary for preserving food. Add plenty of shelving and storage bins to your summer kitchen to keep preserving tools, dishware and cutlery off work surfaces and safely out of the way. Consider hanging a chalkboard or white board for making lists to keep track of ingredients and tasks. As a decorative touch, hang collections of attractive trays and baskets from the ceiling or under shelves for easy access when carrying jars and fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden.

Vegetated Screens

Play up the screen theme by adding trellises around the outside of the screened summer kitchen for growing your favorite vines and climbing plants. Locate the summer kitchen near a garden or build deep planting boxes around the perimeter of the structure to allow grapes, beans, cucumbers and other climbing fruits and vegetables to grow up around the structure. Lush, green foliage around the screens provides attractive views while you cook and shades the summer kitchen from the hot sun. Growing fruits and vegetable close at hand makes preserving and cooking a little quicker and easier. Also hang pots of herbs and flowers from the roof edge to further block the sun and add touches of color and texture.

Socializing Space

Screened summer kitchens provide delightful outdoor entertaining opportunities; Guests can gather to cook and mingle around an outdoor grill or sit around a large dining table while still being close to the food preparation activity. The screened-in summer kitchen provides a welcome escape from pesky insects while allowing you and your guests to still enjoy the views and breezes. Retractable screens or large, screened double doors helps to open up the space and allow guests to easily flow in and out of the summer kitchen when insects are less of a problem. Choose durable, weather-resistant teak, cedar or metal dining furniture to withstand the rain and spills common in a screened-in summer kitchen. Consider adding an outdoor fireplace to your summer kitchen to extend the outdoor entertaining into the cooler nights or months. Hanging lights and lanterns adds to the functionality and atmosphere of the space in the evening.

Eco-friendly Systems

An out-of-the-way shed or outbuilding for your screened summer kitchen might make running electrical power from the house a little difficult, but you can use that inconvenience as an opportunity to try out some eco-friendly, off-the-grid systems. A homemade solar oven on sunny days reflects the sun’s rays into an insulated box to heat your food. Or build a solar food dehydrator to collect and direct warm air over herbs or thin strips of fruits and vegetables on screens to dry and preserve them for the winter without having to use electricity, gas or propane. Attach solar water heating tubes to the summer kitchen’s roof to heat water for washing and cooking or install solar-electric panels to power a mini-fridge or cooler.

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