Outdoor kitchens have become increasingly popular additions to backyards and patios over the past several years. An outdoor kitchen provides a dedicated space for cooking, dining, and entertaining outdoors, letting you enjoy nice weather and extend your living area.
With the right planning and design, an outdoor kitchen can become a highly functional and aesthetically pleasing extension of your home. This blog will provide 9 tips to help you build your dream outdoor kitchen.
1. Decide on the Optimal Location
Selecting the right location is one of the most critical decisions when planning your outdoor kitchen. You’ll want to choose a spot that receives ample sunlight to keep the space bright and welcoming.
Make sure it is protected from strong winds that could blow around lightweight items or make cooking difficult. The ideal location is near the home’s back entryway or doors for convenient access to the kitchen indoors. However, don’t place it directly against your home’s exterior or flammable structures.
Consider existing trees, landscaping, utilities, and views when selecting the site. An outdoor kitchen expert can help you optimize the placement and layout. For grills, place them away from overhead obstructions like overhangs. Taking the time to choose the best location will pay dividends for years to come.
2. Choose the Must-Have Appliances
The appliances included in your outdoor kitchen will be dictated by your budget, available space, and how you plan to use the space. For most homeowners, a large gas grill with ample cooking surface area is the essential centerpiece appliance.
To supplement the grill, you may want to incorporate other amenities like a smoker, pizza oven, small refrigerator, sink, ice maker, or beverage center. Before deciding on the grill, consider consulting a best grill brands guide to ensure you’re investing in a high-quality, long-lasting product that suits your needs.
Also, take an inventory of what you already have available indoors to avoid unnecessary purchases. Be strategic and selective in choosing appliances to get the functionality you need without going overboard and blowing your budget.
3. Maximize Functionality in the Layout
When designing the layout of your outdoor kitchen, keep functionality front and center. Be very intentional about the placement of appliances, cabinetry, counters, and seating areas.
Position items to allow for easy movement and access from all sides. Place high-use appliances and features like your grill, sink, and fridge in the central zone of the space. Allow ample room around appliances for fully opening doors and drawers without obstruction.
Incorporate multiple zones in the kitchen, such as defined grill, prep, and dining stations, to help segment different activities and uses. An outdoor kitchen designer can be invaluable for optimizing the workflow and layout.
Keep sight lines open from seating areas to entertainment spots like a TV or fireplace. A functional layout ensures your outdoor kitchen is user-friendly for years to come and meets your cooking needs.
4. Include Plentiful Storage and Preparation Space
Don’t skimp on storage capacity and countertop space when planning your outdoor kitchen. Include ample cabinets, deep drawers, pull-out pantries, and open shelving for stowing cooking tools, serving platters, pantry items, and everything in between.
Built-in racks and spice drawers keep essentials neatly organized. On the counter front, allow a minimum of 3 feet of landing space on either side of appliances for food prep.
Use counters at varied heights — 36 to 42 inches for prep and serving tasks, and 40 to 44 inches for comfortable eating. When selecting countertop materials, durable and low-maintenance options like granite, engineered quartz, or tile work best outdoors. Having sufficient storage and spacious counters makes time spent cooking and entertaining outside efficient and enjoyable.
5. Add a Roof or Shaded Structure
Adding a permanent roof or a flexible shaded structure like a pergola provides invaluable shelter from sun, rain, and snow. This protection expands the seasons when your outdoor kitchen can be comfortably used nearly year-round.
A permanent roof offers weather protection in all conditions and accommodates lighting, ceiling fans, and speakers. A pergola made of weather-resistant wood or cable is a lighter option you can outfit with climbing vines for some afternoon shade.
The height of the structure should allow ample clearance for your tallest appliances, like a grill. Just be sure to check with your local building department on requirements for permitted structures before constructing. A roof or pergola elevates your outdoor kitchen from a fair-weather amenity to a highly functional space.
6. Create Inviting Seating and Dining Areas
Any outdoor kitchen needs to be outfitted with comfortable, durable seating and dining areas to make it easy for family and guests to relax, dine al fresco, and entertain. Opt for furnishings like chairs, sofas, and dining sets made from weather-resistant materials like teak, powder-coated aluminum, all-weather wicker, and weather-treated cushions.
Barstools lined up along a counter or kitchen island create casual seating for people to gather. Position some chairs and sofas near the grill so guests can comfortably chat with the chef while prepping meals. A dining table and chairs accommodate meals outdoors.
When selecting furnishings, consider how many people you want to seat and your overall design aesthetic. Durable yet cozy furnishings transform your outdoor kitchen into a enjoyable space made for making memories.
7. Add Personal Touches
While functionality and durability are very important in an outdoor kitchen, you also want to infuse personality and style. Add splashes of color by painting or tiling walls in your favorite hues. Display potted herbs and plants on the counters and walls. Include fun decorative touches like wall art, chalkboards for leaving messages, and your favorite accessories.
Use your color palette and choice of materials like wood, tile, stone, or metal. For a cozy feel, incorporate items like curtains, cushy seating, and soft lighting, or create a sleek, modern look with concrete, metal accents, and contemporary pendant lighting. The design choices are endless, so take time to infuse your unique style.
8. Plan for Easy Maintenance
When selecting materials, appliances, and finishes, opt for those that clean up easily without showing dirt, stains, and grime. Appliances like grills and refrigerators should have accessible components to simplify cleaning. Incorporate a sink, garbage disposal, and trash/recycling bins to allow for easy clean-up during use.
Use drip pans, trays, and mats below appliances to catch spills. Schedule a deep clean of the full space at least twice a year and do quick touch-ups after each use. With smart product choices and habits, you can minimize required maintenance time and keep your outdoor kitchen spotless.
Creating a stellar outdoor kitchen requires thoughtful planning, savvy design choices, and careful attention to detail. Use these tips when building your outdoor cooking and entertaining oasis.
Focus on durability, safety, lighting, storage, and comfort while also infusing personal style. With proper preparation and execution, your outdoor kitchen can become one of your home’s most enjoyable and functional spaces.