Summer Kitchens

A Little Shade Helps You Make The Most Of Your Outdoor Space

Tara Bradley Connell, Writer
Reading Time: 3 minutes
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Everyone enjoys moving the party outside — as long as no one is sweltering in the heat. Staying cool and comfortable is the key to creating an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area that will make it a favorite place for family and friends to gather all year long. Whether you decide to cook inside and bring the food outdoors or move the entire cooking experience to the patio, here's how to ensure your al fresco affair is a five-star party all the way.

Outdoor Misting Systems

A variety of options, from fan misters to standing misting systems, let you cool down an area without drenching people in water. Misters turn water into a gas. The gas attracts the surrounding air and brings the temperature down. Some varieties, such as outdoor misting fans, only require a hose hook-up and an electrical outlet. Larger systems may need a pump, which keeps the water pressure high enough to deliver the mist to a more expansive space.

Retractable Awning

Retractable awnings can be a worthwhile investment. They protect outdoor furniture and fixtures from the elements and provide a comforting space for guests to enjoy the weather without the effects of sun or rain. Extended awnings can also help block the sun from the interior of the home including and protect furniture, curtains and flooring located in sunlit areas. Choose an awning that, when closed, can blend into the home without too much overhang. A proper closed connection will protect the awning so that it lasts for years to come.


Fandeliers are fixtures that are part fan, part chandelier. Not only do they work double time as a light and a fan, they also take up less ceiling space and come in a variety of sizes and styles. Bonus: Fandeliers are quickly becoming more mainstream. You might be one of the first of your friends to have one, so it makes for a great conversation piece.


The open-lattice roof of a pergola doesn't completely block the sun, but it can provide shade from direct sunlight — and add a bit of style to your home. Dress it up with vines such as bougainvillea or jasmine, which can create a natural oasis. As the plant grows, it will create even more shade.


A patio umbrella is a quick fix for an area that gets too much sun. Many patio sets feature umbrellas that complement the space and provide protection from the elements. When choosing an umbrella, be careful to note the material. PVC pipe, aluminum and brass are all great options that won’t rust or warp.

Seating Options

No one likes a hot seat!

Wicker and basket-weave seating are common choices for outdoor areas, but the heat can make them stick to people’s skin and leave unwanted marks. More comfortable options include smooth surfaces without a lot of texture, such as teak, vinyl, olefin fiber or canvas.

The bottom line: Shading your seating area, creating a calming breeze and incorporating smooth elements into the layout can help you transform any outdoor space into a luxurious entertaining area that will keep you and your guests comfortable, no matter what the weather.