On a warm summer's day when the kitchen feels like an oven, it is a great idea to cook out on the deck. Even when the temperature is "just right," an outdoor barbecue area is an ideal place for informal gatherings and meals with family and friends. Whether built into a section of the deck or positioned nearby, a barbecue/cooking center functions best when it isn't too far from the house -- transporting dishes and foods can be tiresome -- but not so close that smoke and odors can drift indoors. It's also wise to place the barbecue a distance from overhanging limbs. This will prevent heat damage to leaves and assist in fire safety.
Simple kettle-style units that use charcoal briquettes and built-in masonry designs work perfectly well, but gas-fueled barbecues have become popular alternatives. Regardless of the equipment, though, augmenting the cooking area with counters, shelving, storage, and perhaps even a sink can be a real bonus for frequent entertaining. Even if a deck plan can't accommodate a mini kitchen, setting aside an area for storing essentials, such as charcoal and utensils, can make cooking outdoors a breeze.