An outdoor kitchen is a wonderful home feature that expands your indoor living space for activities and entertainment. It allows you to get outside for backyard barbecues, family gatherings, and quiet dinners year-round – even on chilly fall and winter evenings.
Today’s outdoor kitchens can be designed and equipped with state-of-the-art grills, refrigeration equipment, storage, and accessories that will rival even the best indoor gourmet kitchens. Here are some important tips to help you design the outdoor kitchen of your dreams.
Plan Your Location
The location of your kitchen will impact convenience for serving and dining, as well as your budget. Outdoor kitchens located close to the house can save you money. With close proximity to your indoor kitchen, you’ll have easy access to appliances, cookware, dishes, and utensils that are stored inside. Kitchens located further away from the house must be self-sufficient. They will require electrical wiring and outlets, water lines, and gas lines that must be run from the main connection at the house and installed by a professional contractor. These additional utility costs can increase your outdoor kitchen costs, so include room for them in your budget.
Select Your Kitchen Equipment
There’s a variety of equipment and accessories to choose from when designing an outdoor kitchen, which makes it easy to select options that fit your needs and budget. The main and most expensive kitchen component will be the grill. You can choose from top quality, professional-grade grills that cook with gas, electricity, wood, charcoal, and even hybrid grills that cook with all of them. Optional cooking equipment includes cooktops; side burners; smokers; rotisseries; griddles; deep fryers; and wood-fired pizza ovens. If you want refrigeration equipment, under-counter refrigerators and freezers; ice makers and bins; beverage coolers; wine coolers; and kegerators for tap beer are available, as well as other options like dishwashers; sinks; mixers and blenders; warming drawers; storage drawers; cutting boards; trash bins; and lighting.
Select Durable Materials
- Flooring – Choose a durable, easy-to-clean flooring material like concrete, brick, natural stone, or sealed wood that will resist spills and stains from food and drinks. For extra protection on concrete and natural stone, use a protective sealer.
- Cabinet Materials – The framework of your outdoor kitchen can be covered with concrete, stucco, brick, natural stone like marble, granite, limestone, slate, river rock, and flagstone, wood, or stainless steel. When choosing cabinet facings, select materials with easy-to-clean finishes and colors that complement your home’s architectural style and materials.
- Countertops – Countertops for your outdoor kitchen can be made from natural stone like granite, marble, and slate, cultured stone (man-made materials), concrete, brick pavers, ceramic tile, and stainless steel. Select countertop materials that are easy to clean and maintain in outdoor weather conditions.
Provide Overhead Shelter
For maximum use and year-round enjoyment of your outdoor kitchen, make sure you provide overhead shelter against sun, rain, and wind. If your kitchen is located on a patio or deck next to the house, you can extend your roof line with a patio cover. If you locate your kitchen away from the house on a remote terrace, you can have a free-standing covered structure with a patio cover or pergola.
Don’t Forget the Extras
After you’ve designed your kitchen and selected all of your materials, make a checklist and don’t forget about the extras that will make your outdoor kitchen complete:
- electrical outlets
- overhead lighting
- adequate storage
- a vent hood
- overhead patio fans
- outdoor heaters
- an outdoor music system