What’s not to love about an Houston outdoor kitchens? There’s the grill, the sink, the table and the cupboards—all necessities of a great outdoor kitchen. Then there’s the experience; nothing beats eating an outdoor-cooked meal with friends and family.

But some of the things about an outdoor kitchen are not necessarily the most obvious. Here are three cool features that are important, but sometimes not appreciated as much as, say, the outdoor grill.

The bar

No outdoor kitchen is complete without a comfortable place to enjoy an adult beverage.

A quality bar transforms your space from a food-preparation and dining area into the perfect place to unwind and relax after returning home from work, entertain and celebrate special occasions.

Of course, no bar is complete without comfortable stools, a wine cooler, enough counter space for a margarita machine and a refrigerator to keep the beer cold. Or even better: a Kegerator. That’s the advantage your outdoor space has over your indoor kitchen–nobody questions why you installed a Kegerator–mostly because all of your of-age guests will appreciate it as much as you do.

The way they keep you cool

Nobody has to tell you that the sun in Houston can be downright oppressive, which is why building an outdoor kitchen with coverage is a cool idea.

The good news is that you have options. You can go with a gazebo-like structure, a pergola, an arbor cover or a full-fledged structure connected to your home. All are great ways to blur the lines between indoor and outdoor dining—just make sure your ceiling is properly vented or you’ll be looking through smoke from the grill.

While covering your kitchen can protect you from the sun, it won’t do anything to help you beat the heat. This is where a ceiling fan comes into play. Not only will it keep the air circulating, upping your comfort quotient, but it will also up the cool quotient of your space—think Casablanca or a beachside bar in Cabo San Lucas.

And if you really want to increase your comfort quotient, think about adding an outdoor air cooler along with the fan. You may never want to cook inside again.

The light

Once the sun goes down and the day’s heat has given way to the cool breezes of the, chances are good you’ll be looking for a little light.

A fire pit can illuminate your space while making it more versatile. Need to spark a little romance? Light a fire and transform your kitchen into a romantic backyard getaway. Conversation growing a little stale? Ignite it with a fire, which is sure to make people feel more at home and comfortable.

Of course you can always tell your guests its time to go home by walking over and flipping on the lights. An outdoor kitchen without adequate lighting can work, but it can also seem like glorified camping.

Overhead lights let you enjoy the dining experience at all hours of the evening. Lights in the food-preparation areas make them easier and safer to use.

So when you’re designing your outdoor kitchen, do not forget to plan for lighting.

These are just three cool and oft-forgotten features of an outdoor kitchen. You probably have your own favorite features and necessities—maybe you’ve read about them or enjoyed them at the homes of friends and family. If you’re thinking about creating an outdoor kitchen for yourself, call Increte of Houston today and schedule a free in home consultation with one of our top quality design staff. They’ll be more than happy to make sure your space is full of cool features.