One of the greatest benefits of Arizona is the ability to enjoy outdoor living year round. And with a little assistance from the professional designers and installers at the Unique Companies you can easily increase your usable living space by 50%. An outdoor kitchen and living area offers more than just a place to sit outside, it offers function, space and enjoyment that is only limited by your imagination. So when considering your dream outdoor living oasis, invest time and thought to not only save yourself some money but also to ensure that the Unique team is able to turn all of your dreams into reality.

Outdoor BBQ Islands
When you begin to contemplate your BBQ island don’t just think of is as a standalone feature. Picture it as an integral piece in your outdoor kitchen. Imagine more than just a place to throw some steaks on the grill because it can be so much more. Creating a full function outdoor kitchen allows you to have a second complete entertaining area and one that keeps you in constant contact with your family and guests. Consider these key criteria when planning your new outdoor BBQ and Kitchen area:
• Location is key
1. When you are visualizing your outdoor kitchen be sure to keep ease of access in mind for both bringing items out of your house and taking food to your eating area.
2. Also pay attention to the proximity to windows in your home so that you are not limiting your views from inside your home.
3. Consider the traffic flow from your home to other areas in your yard and be sure that the only path to the pool and entertaining areas is not through your kitchen work triangles.

• BBQ island design and features
1. Explore your options for cooking surfaces as this is one of the main functions of the island. Grills are just the beginning. Check out smokers, side burners, rotisseries and other cook surfaces. And don’t forget to consider a custom pizza oven to add a whole new flair to pizza night!
2. Storage is always a must on a BBQ island. Consider storage drawers as well as cabinets to be sure that all of your outdoor cooking utensils are at hand when you need them.
3. Cold storage from a fridge is also a great feature for any BBQ area but the capacity of these units can be limiting. In addition, accessing the fridge can bring a lot of traffic into your cooking area. Consider an ice chest type cooler that allows for quick access to cold drinks from the perimeter of the island. This reduces traffic and keeps everyone safe.
4. Many homeowners tend to shy away from a full sink and facet only to regret it each time they cook outside. Consider the convenience of rinsing hands and dishes when you are cooking. Also understand that adding a functional sink after the fact will cost several times more than installing it at the time of construction.
5. As you select your appliances take into account the harsh climate that they will need to endure. Buying quality outdoor kitchen appliances is as smart a choice as buying chef quality appliances for your indoor kitchen. You will be rewarded with a great cooking experience and reliability for many years.
6. Consider your work triangles in your outdoor kitchen as carefully as you did when designing your indoor kitchen.
7. Include plenty of seating for family and guests around your island. This allows you to still be part of the party when you are cooking. It provides much the same result as an open floorplan or great room does inside your home.

• Consider year round use
1. Don’t use your current patio as a frame of reference for how often you will enjoy your outdoor kitchen. You are creating an entirely new feature and space and it will be far more functional and enjoyable than your patio.
2. Plan for all seasons by adding a ceiling fan for the spring and fall when you just need to move a little bit of air. Misters can block the searing heat of summer and bring the enjoyment back to grilling even in August. And a fireplace or fire pit can be the perfect heat source on those cool winter nights.
3. Everyone in Arizona looks forward to the day that they can turn off the AC and welcome the fresh air back into their home. But with a little planning you will have the perfect living area to enjoy fresh air every day of the year right in your own backyard.

• Creature comforts and style
1. Again, think of the BBQ island as a feature in your outdoor kitchen and add your personal design taste to create character. You might want bright colorful mosaic tile for your work surface or thick natural stone with a variety of earth tones.
2. As you begin to narrow down items such as the work surface and bar top, speak to your Unique designer if you are not familiar with the care that each surface might require. This can help you to make the best selections for your taste as well as your lifestyle.
3. Find a color palette that you really like because the color of your BBQ island, bar and stone is not as easily changed as a coat of paint on your kitchen walls. Classic earth tones are always stylish and can provide a good anchor for your outdoor kitchen. Pops of color can be introduced in bold fabric seat covers, throw pillows, dishes and art pieces. And all of these can easily be changes to give the area a new feel in a few years.

Adding outdoor living and dining space to your home is going to offer you the opportunity to change your lifestyle. Invest time to explore your options and consider new and unique uses for these spaces. Only then will you to get the most out of your addition. And then as you visualize and verbalize these desires and expectations to the Unique design team, they will be able to provide you with a plan to turn your backyard into useable living space that you will be able to enjoy every day.