If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

How To Design An Outdoor Kitchen - Tips From 40 Interior Designers & Chefs (Part 1)

by Minuca Elena April 12, 2021

Outdoor kitchen

Maybe you want to have a barbeque or to throw a cocktail party. Either way an outdoor kitchen is a perfect place in which you can relax with your friends, show your MasterChef skills, all while enjoying the nice, sunny weather. 

Although, an outdoor kitchen has become a frequent addition to a house, creating a functioning and welcoming space in which you can cook, store food, and entertain your guests is quite a challenge. 

For the best results you should hire an interior designer but we know that not everyone afford to pay one.

So, to help you make your research easier, instead of you having to read tens of blogs to find out how to take on this DIY project, we reached out to 40 interior designers and food bloggers and asked them the following question:

How to design the perfect outdoor kitchen?

Keep reading to see what the experts had to say.

If you like the ideas of any of the experts from this roundup, just click on the name of their website, (above the photo, next to each expert's name) and you will find a link to his or her website. If there isn't nothing written next to their names, then click directly on their names to visit their websites.

Special thanks to Ana Cummings which has designed the gorgeous kitchen that you see in the image above.

Ana Cummings - ANA Interiors

Ana Cumming

  1. Decide how you want to cook outdoors, what kind of grill, how big? How will it be powered? Is there enough space?
  2. Do you require a counter and sink? These are great for prepping and washing up.
  3. A built-in bar fridge or wine cooler is great for warmer weather. There are nice bar carts and trolleys you can fill with ice and beverages that are portable as well.
  4. Decide how you want to eat outdoors, some prefer a full table and dining chair experience, while others prefer more of a lounge seating arrangement and cocktail tables.
  5. Do you need your outdoor kitchen covered from the elements? Whether it be full sun or pelting rain or snow, you’ll still want to be able to cook outdoors with relative ease.
  6. Lighting is critical, will you be cooking during daylight hours or will you be entertaining at night? Having some extra lights above in your outdoor kitchen makes tasks more enjoyable.
  7. If you’re using your outdoor kitchen at night, what will the temperature be like? Will you require more warmth? I’m always amazed at new technology when it comes to patio heaters, you don’t need to use gas or propane, now there are more efficient infra-red and electric models on the market that heat people directly and not the objects around them.
  8. Make sure to have enough table ware, glass ware and place settings. Reusable is best.
  9. Locate the perfect seating placements and furniture groupings. Add colourful toss cushions for welcoming comfort. Always invest in the proper covers for when the outdoor furniture is not in use. It will make the items last longer and they will stay nicer and cleaner for future (nobody wants to sit on a soiled & dirty chair or cushion). Use outdoor textiles for draperies, upholstered cushions, rugs and placemats.
  10. Don’t forget to add some greenery or plants. It’s nice to have a few pots with herbs in them for last minute garnishing touches.

You can see here more images of an outdoor kitchen I designed for a client in St. Maarten, Caribbean.

Beautiful outdoor kitchen

Daniel Stanley - Lima Stanley Design

Daniel Stanley

Whether you’re looking to hire a professional designer or looking to take on this project yourself, it is always smart to keep in mind B.A.F.D..

When I am designing an outdoor kitchen for myself or for a client, I always ask about Budget, Accessibility, Function, and Design.

Budget 

The budget all depends on the professional level and the number of appliances you prefer, in addition, to the materials needed in order to build it; also, keep in mind that if you’re hiring a professional to build your space, then the cost of labor will also need to be discussed.

The higher the level of appliances, the amount of appliances to install and materials will greatly impact the budget and the cost of labor.

Accessibility 

Your outdoor kitchen is to be the heart of your outdoor entertainment area. You want to make sure that when planning the location, it should be accessible to your other forms of entertainment. Why is this important?

If your outdoor kitchen is too far from the house, pool, patios, it will then isolate the one’s using it the most. You’ll no longer feel part of the fun and no one wants to feel isolated or pushed off to the side during all the fun going on.

Functionality

It’s always important to think how any new project is going to function with your needs and wants. Write down the ways you want your outdoor kitchen to function for you.

If you’re a master griller and need three different grills and smokers, then be sure to plan for this; however, if you’re the modest weekend griller then maybe three different styles of grills and smokers would not function well for you.

Also, keep in mind on how many people you are going to be entertaining on average. If you are going to have large weekend parties then maybe the need for a fridge to allow more food and drink space should be added.

The functionality of the space will also directly affect the budget, so it’s good to have a great understanding on how this space will function for you and your guests.

Design - Now the fun part, the design. The design should always keep the function in mind, so that you are designing a space large enough for the demands of the space.

Once the size of the space is agreed upon, it’s time to think of the materials to use in order to complete your project.

My personal rule of thumb is to look at your yard or house for inspiration. If your yard is currently landscaped with a tropical theme, be sure to design your outdoor kitchen with this in mind, doing so will allow your new project to fit in your current space and give the entire backyard a coherent design all around.

If you do not have a landscape theme, not to worry. I always like to review the house’s architecture and color.

If your home is a Craftsman style or Mid Century Ranch style, design the outdoor kitchen with this in mind. It will help your new project to fit in and look like it’s always been there and not stick out like a sore thumb.

Amy Bloomer - Let Your Space Bloom

Amy Bloomer

Here are my tips for designing an outdoor kitchen:

1. Consider the elements wisely

For cooler temperatures, you may want to include a fire pit to gather around as a cozy retreat to the weather. If that doesn’t suit your tastes, then creating room for an outdoor space heater is smart.

When the temperatures soar in the summer, a shaded kitchen creates a more comfortable cooking and entertaining experience. Plant some nearby trees and/or incorporate an awning or pergola in the design for added shade. In seating areas, consider a patio umbrella.

2. Plan your layout thoughtfully

Be mindful of where you place appliances. Keep in mind the optimal locations for hot and cold zones. For example, a refrigerator should not be placed directly next to a gas grill.

3. Select your materials wisely

Outdoor kitchens need to withstand the elements so it’s important to select materials that are durable.

4. Select appliances that suit your needs

There are so many options including grills, smokers, refrigerators, kegerators, etc. It’s important to include only what you will use most frequently to reduce the maintenance required.

Mihaela Buzec - RENTCafe

Besides choosing your style and defining the layout of the kitchen, probably the most important thing is to choose durable materials for it.

Considering that it will always be outside, you need to prepare everything that goes in this kitchen for temperature shifts, rain, perhaps snow, depending on where you live.

By investing in high quality, outdoor-oriented materials, you will prolong the life of your kitchen and make sure you won’t have to spend a lot on repairs.

For the design itself, think about how functional it will be. What will you do in this space? What appliances do you need?

Will you need a source of water and gas, or a place to store your wood? What are your surroundings and how can you make the most out of them?

Consider all of these questions and before you even begin building it, go stand in the area you want to convert and imagine yourself cooking there.

Also, remember to take into consideration lighting and installing additional sources.

Ambiental lighting can transform your outdoor space into an everyday vacation spot, but when you’re having a party and you’re cooking outside, it won’t be enough.

You will need a serious light source for when cooking runs a bit late, so keep that in mind as well.

Diana Miulescu - La Nuc Design

Diana Miulescu

Like any space I design, I like to have both a functional and an aesthetic component.

Regarding the function, an outdoor kitchen needs a cooking space that contains equipment for barbecue and / or oven, refrigerator, sink, cooking space, a dining area for family and friends and a lot of places for lounging.

Cabinets and countertops should be made of materials that are suitable for outdoor space and that require low maintenance.

From the design point of view, for the outdoor kitchen, one can choose any style that is in accordance with the rest of the house and with the personality of the owners so that together they form a unitary look.

For example, if you want a rustic look, you can choose a wooden table, a built-in grill that can be incorporated into an island, covered with natural stone. A niche for wood brings a warm and natural touch.

Wood and plants suit any style, whether you choose a more modern minimalist style or an elegant classic one.

Depending on the space, if you want to provide an intimate and a cozy atmosphere, wooden pergolas with hanging plants are very useful.

For those who love colors, colored chairs or cushions and colored fabrics can be used for relaxation places. An eye-catching sign can be a statement piece that pleases the eye.

The atmosphere can be completed by adding a fresh look, using pots or planters with aromatic plants, garlands with light bulbs for the evening and a few lanterns with candles on the table that will bring a special glow.

With all of the above you will have your special outdoor space.

Jen Naye Herrmann

Jen Naye Herrmann

When designing an outdoor kitchen, consider the functionality of the space.  How many people do you entertain and how?  Is it often buffet style or a set table? 

Designing the right layout is the first step to a great outdoor kitchen. 

Then, prioritize what's most important to you. Is it cooking individually or as a group, gathering around a big island? An outdoor kitchen is an extension of your home and it should be treated as such. 

If you're a more relaxed group, consider an outdoor pizza oven.

If grilling is your go-to in the center, make the grill adjacent to the entertaining area so you can cook and converse with guests. 

Plus, a large or extendable table close by if you don't have an island is always a win! 

Jessica Harrington - Jess Finessed

Jessica Harrington

When designing your outdoor kitchen space, placement is everything!

You want your kitchen to be a hub for socialization, and to be close enough to other entertaining zones to where you can be part of the action as you are cooking.

Adding ledges around the kitchen for drinks encourages mingling.

Lastly, don't forget adequate coverage; a kitchen placed within a covered patio or under a pergola allows for enjoyment despite inclement weather, and for year-round use.

 Toby Schulz - My Maid

Toby Schulz

Here’s a quick strategy when designing your dream outdoor kitchen: location, appliances, lights. We just call it ‘LAL’, and it works perfectly every time.

LOCATION

Quick access to the indoor kitchen, dining area, or living room area is key here.

We find that placing your outdoor kitchen near these common areas just creates good movement and flow, and people become more relaxed with this kind of layout.

Probably because cleanup is much easier this way, too!

APPLIANCES

Your basics should include a sturdy barbecue grill and a fridge big enough to hold rounds of cold drinks, for starters.

You can then build it up with a pizza oven as everyone loves pizza, a juicer or blender for those impromptu cocktails, and a good range hood.

Throw in a speaker for some relaxing music and there’s your dinner party kit right there.

LIGHTS

Lights are ALWAYS a good thing in an outdoor kitchen. The easiest trick is to put hanging LED lights on a trellis and place battery-operated LED lamps in random areas of your kitchen for ambient lighting.

They’ll amp up the wow factor of your outdoor kitchen without having to spend that much.

Peter Despotopoulos - Moro 

Peter Despotopoulos

The first thing to consider when designing the perfect outdoor kitchen are the appliances and the layout of those appliances for the space to be functional.

Depending on size, you will need to consider a BBQ/grill, refrigerator, trash receptacle, sink, and possibly, “to go all out,” a warmer drawer and/or pizza oven.

Secondly, the countertop. Granite is the best option for an outdoor kitchen countertop. It is very durable and will not be damaged by the sun or heat.

It is not a porous stone so it will not absorb stains easily as well, especially if coated and/or sealed properly. Plus, there are about 200 different granite colors and varieties to choose from.

Lastly, you can’t have a perfect outdoor kitchen without beautiful cabinets. Here you have a couple of options in aesthetics and materials. Stainless steel cabinets are most popular when it comes to outdoor kitchens, where many companies offer many door styles and powder-coated color options.

You can also opt for a natural wood material like teak, cypress or even bamboo. Or of course you can dress your outdoor kitchen in a brick or tile.

Cheryl McColgan - Heal Nourish Grow

Cheryl McColgan

The perfect outdoor kitchen is such a fun project, especially now with more focus being put on enjoying time with a select few people outdoors during the pandemic. As a recipe developer, I often use my outdoor space for cooking.

My current setup includes a grill with a side burner and a smoker. If you’re creating an outdoor kitchen from scratch components to consider include, wood fired oven/pizza oven, built-in cooktop and refrigerator and permanent tent or other covering and heaters that makes using an outdoor kitchen possible year round.

For a less permanent setup, you can purchase outdoor kitchen islands or modular components. This type of setup is great for those who prefer to take their outdoor kitchen with them when they move. 

Ashley J. Saunders - My Dream Haus

Ashley J. SaundersYou'll want to start simple when designing an outdoor kitchen and keep adding elements as you feel the need or have the budget.

For me, the perfect design would feature a large gas grill, dual bowl sink, two fridges (one for drinks, the other for meat) and a pizza oven.

I'd also incorporate multiple seating areas including a bar for eating and a more casual set-up complete with fire pit.

Of course, my design will cost quite a bit of cash as it's expensive to plumb an outside sink and safely run electricity. Not to mention the cost of building the basic structure. That said, if you can use the space throughout the year, then it's worth the investment.

As with designing any room or space, it's worth considering what features you want, need and can't live without. Starting with the essential features, sketch a few ideas, leaving room to add elements you might want to.

Next, consider your budget and how you can achieve your desired design. You might have to build the structure this year and save up for some components, adding them as you can afford. It's also worth looking at marketplaces such as eBay and Facebook for deals on materials and components.

Building an outdoor kitchen can be a multi-year project but is worth the effort if you end up with an additional space that you use during the summer to relax and entertain.

Melissa Eboli - Via Melissa

Melissa Eboli

When it comes to designing the perfect outdoor kitchen, you want to be prepared with the proper tools and setup, to minimize frustrations when cooking outside.

I recommend a 36” or 48” high-end grill, with a minimum of 2 side burners so you can prepare multiple items at one time and not feel limited to grill space.

I also recommend an ample amount of counter and prep space, in addition to having an outdoor sink and outdoor refrigerator. An additional item to have, but not a necessity is a griddle as well.

You also want to consider the direction of wind when placing your grill so that you are not in a downwind when cooking to avoid getting smoked out, but rather position the grill so that the typical wind flow moves away from you.

Ligia Lugo - The Daring Kitchen

Ligia Lugo

Evaluate what you have to work with and make a plan.

When preparing take into consideration the amount of space you have, the electricity, lighting, and plumbing.

Hire a contractor.

You might be tempted to DIY this project but a professional can spot many of the problems before work on the project has even started.

In addition to the design, a company will also help you with any permits and ensure everything is up to code.

There are a lot of factors to manage when it comes to making an outdoor kitchen so having someone manage those for you will save you a lot of hassle and prevent costly mistakes.

Select durable materials.

An outdoor kitchen will be subjected to not only oil, grease, and moisture like an indoor one, but also to the elements. That's why flooring materials like poured concrete or sealed stone are a perfect choice.

Choose the right appliances.

One of the major differences between indoor and outdoor kitchens is the appliances. Outdoor kitchens often get the impractical appliances that are too big, dangerous, or impractical to keep inside.

Some of the typical outdoor appliances are pizza ovens, open-fire grills, and smokers.

Chris Spear - Chefs Without Restaurants

Chris Spear

I would say that you need to look for versatility in equipment. A lot of people tend to buy some thing that can only be used for one or two things.

Obviously, a grill is a fantastic option, but I think there’s other pieces of equipment to consider as well. I would say that an outdoor oven is much more versatile.

You can pick up a pizza oven relatively inexpensively right now. They are for so much more than just pizzas though.

I really hate cooking indoors during the summer, so it’s a great option to cook almost anything you put in a traditional indoor oven.

Many of them are wood-fired, but you can also go to the propane route, or get one that does both if you’d like. If it’s in your budget, I think having some kind of outdoor sink is a major plus.

Bintu Hardy - Recipes From A Pantry

Bintu Hardy

An outdoor kitchen is something we all desire - who doesn’t love eating alfresco? But it needs to be perfect and this means careful thought and consideration needs to be put into it.

My perfect outdoor kitchen would have plenty of space - a space for preparation, a grill or BBQ, a pizza oven and even a drinks station would be what I wanted and these all require a decent amount of space.

However this space needs to not take over the whole garden - it can be tough to get it just right!

As well as being spacious, it also needs to suit the garden so nothing too out there in terms of design!

I think the wooden look really does look great when it comes to outdoor kitchens, especially repurposed wood that is made into furniture or tabletops.

There should be a dining set up and even some outdoor furniture for lounging with a drink, where everyone can chat into the night.

Perhaps even some foliage around - whether that is by situating the outdoor kitchen area near some trees or bushes or by dotting potted plants around the perimeter.

Most of all, the design should feel homely - like somewhere you want to spend time and entertain.

Emily Ackerman - A Pinch Of Adventure

Emily Ackerman

Designing the perfect outdoor kitchen takes time and thought.

First things first, a budget must be set. The next thing to consider is what kind of cooking will be done? Will the outdoor kitchen mainly consist of grilling, or will it have a traditional oven and stove top?

Depending on the type of cooking to be done, there may need to be proper weather proofing put into place or a covering overhead.

The one thing that will set an outdoor kitchen apart is the type of fireplace, grill or stove used. Will it need a specialty oven like an outdoor pizza oven or pueblo style fireplace? Specialty ovens or fireplaces can be a great way to take entertaining and cooking to a new level.

One other thing to consider also, is how entertaining will be done. If space allows, a large bar area around the kitchen is ideal for entertaining.

Once these large decisions are made for the outdoor kitchen, then it would be prudent to consider seeing a professional designer and contractor to arrange everything properly and also to finalize details like gas lines or electrical wiring.

There are many things to consider in an outdoor kitchen, just like designing an indoor kitchen, it must be done with thought and consideration for it to last for several decades to come.

 Tiffany Cassidy - Lagnappe

Tiffany Cassidy

Our clients are requesting outdoor kitchens more than ever in the past year.

Outdoor gatherings have taken on a new popularity since the first Covid related shut downs.

The steps to design an outdoor kitchen are much the same as designing an indoor kitchen.

1. Choose your appliances. The appliances are where the function is and they really only come in certain sizes. We can have cabinets made in any size. Being based in the tropics, we always like to include an icemaker. You can never have too much ice for your drinks in the Caribbean.

2. Create the layout that give the best flow to the space

3. Choose your finishes and style. There are so many new cabinet lines specific to the outdoor kitchens on the market. They offer tons of style and are durable in the weather year round.

Despite the popularity of Quartz for indoor kitchens we stick to natural stone outdoors.

Some of the manmade options will discolor with UV exposure so be sure to check the manufacturer ratings before you buy! When in doubt, go with granite it’s classic and will be lasting.

Lisa Young

Lisa Young

Loving the outdoors and being a nutritionist and foodie, the idea of an outdoor kitchen is right up my alley!

Adding an outdoor kitchen can extend your living space and can also be great fun for your social life if you like to entertain or just hang out with family outdoors.

Here are a few things to consider. How will you use the space? What layout would you like? What outdoor appliances will you want? You want to consider your surroundings as well as how much space you have.

You also may want to plant some trees if it is super sunny and hot where you are.

Now, back to the appliances: would you like to add a grill? An ice machine? A built-in refrigerator? Think about what you’d like to maximize your space. Add some lighting and plan your party!

Krystal Sagon - Interior Flow

Krystal Sagon

Ensure the materials you select are heatproof for the high temperatures of a BBQ and outdoor quality to withstand the elements as not all materials are suitable for outdoors.

Ensure the cupboard doors are waterproof boards with a special glue that makes them safe for outdoor joinery use

Get creative with textures and layer them to make it interesting

Look at a feature mosaic to the back wall if you have one to look like an artwork

Ensure you include a hidden bin, drinks refrigerator, a place for your crockery, a plumbed sink, and do your research on selecting the right BBQ or outdoor grill for you.

Having everything at your fingertips and a well thought design will prevent endless trips inside for the items you forgot if there is a place to store them permanently

A feature pizza oven next to your barbeque will look amazing and be toastie-warm on a cold night to share pizza's with your friends and family to gather around

Incorporate bench seating or loose outdoor chairs around your outdoor kitchen so that you are able to entertain while cooking

If the cooking area is not well ventilated and undercover ensure to allow for an outdoor extraction so that your cooking smells do not end up inside your house

Allow for plenty of bench space as you would in your kitchen so that you have plenty of prep area

Use similar materials to your house inside to create a flowing well thought design that links to your home interior.

Katie Riddell

Katie Riddell

For an outdoor kitchen you definitely need a barbeque! There are a lot on the market so choose one that you will enjoy using. Also, you need a small bar fridge.

Do remember to use materials that are durable and suitable for outdoor use.

Don't forget to have a nearby seating or dining area outside.

Matt Daigle - Rise

Matt Daigle

Indoor-Outdoor Living Space: A perfect outdoor kitchen blends seamlessly with the indoors. Indoor-outdoor dining and living spaces bring the best of both worlds!

A great way to promote a natural flow is with a large bi-fold or accordion-style patio door.

Leave it open when entertaining or cooking, and close it on chilly nights that are best spent indoors.

Pass-throughs: Sometimes your outdoor kitchen needs a bit of support from indoors.

A pass-through is an affordable renovation that makes it easy to move dishes, trays, or tools without clogging the high-traffic patio door.

The pass-through space is also a great spot for an outdoor eating area that is easily accessed by an indoor chef.

Mercedes Austin - Mercury Mosaics

Mercedes Austin

Designing the perfect outdoor kitchen is about marrying one of the most used functions with a piece of an oasis.

If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, it’s a must to have the outdoor kitchen fully embrace some of the pool views.

Staycations are now more prevalent than ever and by curating a space to achieve this makes life that much more precious from the comforts of your own home.

Sara Plaisted - Lori Dennis

The first thing to think about when designing an Outdoor Kitchen is the location and how much room you have for what you want.

It’s ideal to place the kitchen close to the house and then determine the layout, which could be along the wall, a two-sided galley, L-shape or U-shape for example.

As far as plumbing and appliances, it could be as simple as a BBQ, sink, faucet and refrigerator.

Or you can go big and add an ice machine, dishwasher, beverage cooler, pizza oven, smoker, or a beer/wine kegerator, oh my!

You’ll also need a little room for storage and trash. And don’t forget about lighting fixtures and electrical outlets because you’ll want to see what you’re doing, especially at night.

When selecting finish materials, it’s important that the kitchen blends naturally with the style of the home and the landscaping, but a little more relaxed and casual.

Finishing materials might include a smooth plaster, concrete, brick, stone, tile or wood, along with a durable countertop like Dekton.

Lastly, create a wow moment with the floor or backsplash, or add beautiful wood ceiling pergola that offers structure and shade.

Top it off with comfortable bar stools so guests can sit and relax while you do all the dirty work.

Laura Cerrano - Feng Shui Manhattan

Laura Cerrano

When sitting at an outdoor kitchen patio table, try to arrange yourself to be in a commanding position.

Ideally, a strong commanding position provides you with a clear vantage point of your homes backdoor and backyard entrance. This allows occupants to feel supported and protected.

Be sure to take excellent care of your grill, as grills and stoves in modern-day feng shui relate to health and wealth.

Be sure to clean the grill after every use, provide regular maintenance as needed, and be sure the propane tank is full when in season (or if using it year long).

These are practical tips, yet they still facilitate themselves to encouraging the generation of wealth and health.

Just like with an indoor stove, the modern-day principles of Feng Shui encourage an outdoor grill to be backed by a solid wall. A solid wall symbolically represents fully supporting the cultivation of wealth and health.

If able to, you could also try to position the grill in such a way so the cook has a commanding position as well.

Create a welcoming outdoor kitchen environment by balancing the energies of yin (female: soft textures) with yang (male: hard textures). Most patios will have a floor made of hard textures.

So, its ideal to reintroduce yin energy through the outdoor patio furnishings, such as with soft cushioned seats or even an outdoor area rug.

Feel free to include some more obvious fire element, let that be with artificial lighting that provides a festive, yet relaxed atmosphere for the outdoor kitchen.

If you would love to encourage a group gathering, the addition of a fire pit can do wonders with bringing family and friends together.

Another element that works well for the outdoor kitchen and also promotes a sociable environment is wood element. You could include real plants or in this case, the display and use of an outdoor garden or even a small herb garden.

If you have the option to choose an overall outdoor area to place the kitchen, in general you could look to the Northeast or Southwest as these areas connect to earth element and fire element (mainly provided by the grill) can be supportive to these energy sectors.

Adam Watson - Hollywood Mirrors

Adam Watson

Outdoor dining there's no feeling like it, unfortunatly for myself, in the north of England it rains a lot so the opportunities are rare.

So for me the kitchen would have to have a overhead cover like a retractble canvas roof that you can wind in and out.

I would have a stone-baked pizza oven like an and also a brick oven with plenty of worktop space for serving out.

An outdoor fridge and and also outdoor ice maker are essential for keeping everything close by you don't want yourself and everyone in and out of the house every two minutes. Bring the inside out have all the essential tools close by do it properly.

Built in outdoor speakers for music, Make it like a festival atmosphere with good food and drink.

For those that aren't cooking I would have rattan weather proof seats surrounded by a firepit. With overhead Festoon lights going across the garden for when it gets dark.

Jonathan Prichard - Mattress Insider

Jonathan Prichard

As we build up the perfect outdoor kitchen, we’ve discussed what we need to make it easier and more fun.

The grill is obviously for cooking the food, but having a place to prep the meat and veggies and set the marinade is a must have as well.

Sure, the kitchen inside works, but who wants to carry spices and utensils and dishes back and forth? We need a prep table with storage underneath for sure!

It should have shelves and places to hang the spatula and tongs, as well as a door so you can close it and have it look nice while you’re not using it.

Seating for an outdoor kitchen is very important. We need somewhere to sit with shade that won’t be too hot or too cold and somewhere to set our lemonade and/or adult drinks!

There should be ample, comfortable seating and an umbrella and plenty of room on the table!

Like most people in an indoor kitchen enjoy seeing their family in the living room, we want to see our family outside too, so the outdoor kitchen needs to overlook the rest of the backyard.

That way, you get to see people playing cornhole and running down the slip and slide!

Let’s not forget, we want our outdoor kitchen to look nice too! There should be lighting for when the sun starts to go down and we want to be able to hear music while we’re enjoying each others’ company.

The outdoor kitchen needs to be fun, relaxing, easily accessible, and make everyone feel included!

Toni Sabatino

Toni Sabatino

The perfect outdoor kitchen can vary depending on climate, landscape and the architectural style of the home.

Outdoor seating space, possible outdoor TV, speakers, water and fire features can combine to make the perfect outdoor living space to complement the grilling and prep space.

When considering the cooking equipment, take a good look at the options. Both built in and portable grills offer so much from extra burners, to rotisserie to smokers and even outdoor pizza ovens.

Climate considerations for winterizing outdoor plumbing and refrigeration are also important. Working with a professional designer may save you time and money.

Think about living your best lifestyle, take advantage of views and garden scapes and get the best equipment you can afford!

Megan Dufresne - MC Design

Megan Dufresne

When designing the perfect outdoor kitchen, the first step is to take into account how you and your family use your outdoor space and what is and is not important to you in outdoor kitchen design.

Will children be playing around the area? Do you entertain guests often? Your outdoor kitchen should work with your lifestyle, first and foremost.

Climate and surrounding environment will also impact your design choices.

Always choose materials that will withstand harsh UV light as well as rain or snow where appropriate. Appliances and furniture should be moisture resistant and non-rusting.

Thinking about these things from the very beginning of a design project will give your outdoor kitchen longevity and save you money in the long run.

A few must-haves for any outdoor kitchen are a sink with garbage disposal, a refrigerator with a freezer that makes ice, and a cooking appliance or two, like a barbeque, pizza oven, or rotisserie spit.

These items bring function to your kitchen and make outdoor cooking a breeze.

After the basics are in place, the options for outdoor kitchen add-ons are endless. Maybe a designated beverage trough is just what your outdoor kitchen counter needs. Or maybe adding a warming drawer will take it to the next level.

Finally, no outdoor kitchen is complete without seating. Whether you choose a full dining table and chairs, or comfortable lounge seating, putting some thought into where you'll enjoy all the great food and drinks you will create in your outdoor kitchen is important.

Make sure to opt for furniture that is large enough to fill the space while leaving ample room to easily move around from seating area to kitchen and back.

 

Jayme Muller - RTA Outdoor Living

Jayme Muller

Designing the perfect outdoor kitchen may seem daunting or stressful, but it doesn’t need to be. You don’t need to be a design expert or invest a lot of time, or even pay a professional for a high-quality rendering.

Using your imagination and five simple steps, you can design the perfect, custom outdoor kitchen for your unique outdoor living space.

1. Consider which design layout will work best for your outdoor space: L-shaped, U-shaped, galley, or straight. 

You may have an aesthetic preference, but it is also important to factor in existing structures and doorways, as well as functionality needs.

2. Determine the ideal length(s) for your outdoor kitchen layout. This requires measuring your space — again, accounting for walls, doorways, deck or patio dimensions, and steps.

3. Decide which grill and appliances fit your needs. The grill type and size you select will depend on your fuel preference (pellet, gas, electric) and the number of people you typically cook for.

For appliances, think practically about how you will use your outdoor kitchen. Would you rather keep drinks in a refrigerator, or will a drop-in cooler suffice? Do you have plumbing access for a sink? What about trash and storage? More counter space or a side burner?

Ask yourself these questions and more when choosing appliances so no space is wasted.

4. Decide where you want your grill and appliances to live within your outdoor kitchen layout. How do you want the space to flow based on the way you typically cook and prep food? Be sure your appliance configuration feels natural and not awkward.

5. Choose your countertop and finish style and colors. This can be as simple as matching the color of your home, deck, or patio — or going bold with a contrasting look in color or texture.

While function is key, your perfect outdoor kitchen should also reflect your home’s personality and your own, too.

For a free 3D rendering of your perfect outdoor kitchen design, use this free outdoor kitchen design tool to walk through the above steps.

Joe Raboine - Belgard

Joe Raboine

One of the top items on the outdoor living wish list is an outdoor kitchen. But, with so much information available online, there is a lot of confusion on what to consider when designing the outdoor kitchen that works for you.

Extend Your Indoors Outdoors: Outdoor kitchens are the ultimate home addition, allowing homeowners to truly enjoy their backyard space. Grills, ovens and more can be built into a sophisticated outdoor kitchen.

Shape and Configuration: Depending on space availability, there is an ideal shape and configuration for a homeowner to consider.

Many companies now offer virtual tools to help design the space so you can get a visual before the build starts.

Material Selection: Take a look at your existing home style and your desired aesthetic when selecting materials for your outdoor kitchen.

Pavers to build walkways, islands, grilling areas and other elements often come in a variety of colors and textures, so you can find what best suits your style.

Zoona Sikander - FCI London

Zoona Sikander

With the weather getting warmer and the lockdown getting relaxed, al-fresco parties with friends and family are the best thing to look forward to.

And while there is a lot to love about these parties, one major drawback is that the host often gets caught up in making rounds from the indoor kitchen to the outdoor table.

Which is why we recommend an outdoor kitchen - it's practical, convenient and it allows everyone to get fresh food without having to miss out on the fun.

But with a range of outdoor furniture available these days, designing the perfect outdoor space can often be a tiring task.

Design experts at FCI London recommend that you start planning your outdoor kitchen with a budget and style in mind.

You also need to be clear about the utility of your outdoor kitchen, for instance, do you only want an outdoor bar and grill or do you want a proper, functional kitchen with every equipment?

This of course depends on how often you'll be using the outdoor kitchen and how much space you have available.

It's also important to keep the weather fluctuations in mind, for instance, if you live in a rainy area, it's best to design a kitchen with a proper rooftop.

Similarly, if you're planning to use the kitchen all year round, you will need to install a fireplace for the colder nights.

And of course, no outdoor kitchen is complete without a proper dining area, so invest in comfortable, weather friendly chairs and an extendable dining table so you can accommodate as many guests as you want.

If you don't have space for extra seats, just buy some stackable dining chairs that can be stored when not in use.

Remember that outdoor kitchens are not just great for entertaining purposes but they're also a great way to add value to your property so it's always best to go for good-quality kitchen appliances and furniture.

While they may cost you comparatively more right now, you'll be satisfied that you're investing in high-quality materials and equipment that will last for decades.

Lauren Noel - Love Remodeled

Lauren Noel

With the increase in the amount of time spent in our homes in recent years, it has become even more important to have well designed, multi-purpose spaces. 

To design the perfect outdoor kitchen, start by thinking about the function and purpose of the space.

Typically, outdoor kitchens are dual function - they serve as a space to entertain guests as well as a place to prepare and cook food.

Given this, consider the elements you want to include.

For example, a wood fired pizza oven, a deep sink and a built in gas grill may be must-haves, whereas lots of counter space isn't as necessary.

A large table in the center of the space allows for guests to be comfortable, yet also nearby while you are grilling the steaks. 

Last, be sure to include temperature control features to enable you to use that outdoor kitchen as much as possible.

Large fans overhead and a fire pit feature can be both decorative and functional. 

Since the kitchen is outdoors, the use of natural, earthy products like stone, wood, and terracotta tile can make it feel like an extension of the surrounding environment, and will create a beautiful design element when juxtaposed with sleek metals such as stainless steel cabinets.

Jessica Formicola - Savory Experiments

Jessica Formicola

Outdoor kitchens are so much fun because you add elements that might not be realistic indoors like a wood fire pizza oven or even flat top grill for killer smash burgers or at home hibachi.

But keep in mind factors like refrigeration or running water that might not be a necessity, but make your cooking experience so much more enjoyable.

Plan for ample counter space with low maintenance materials like polished concrete or stainless steel.

Also not a necessity, but fan and or some sort of roof or awning to block the sun.

This not only helps keep the chef cool, but also protects appliances and finishes from direct sunlight.

Jim Mumford - Jim Cooks Food Good

Jim Mumford

The perfect outdoor kitchen is a fine balance between functionality, accessibility, and ease of maintenance.

First, it should meet your culinary needs, be that with grills, flattops, pizza ovens, etc. I have found that three heat sources is the maximum (you won't use any more, I promise), plus one cooler type area.

Second, understand the layout of your space. Will you use propane or natural gas? Do you have room to install everything safely (many areas have codes specifying how close you can be to the house)? Do you need additional electrical run to your space?

Finally, is this kitchen something you can easily maintain? Outdoor kitchens require more maintenance and upkeep than one would realize, especially if you intend to use it year-round.

Buying equipment that help clean your appliances as you cook and planning on this effort will save much more serious repairs and cleanings down the road.

So, in summary, pick the appliances that meet your needs, plan your space for efficiency and safety, and factor in maintenance into your planning.

Mark Cutler Design

Mark Cutler

To design the perfect outdoor kitchen there are a few things you should definitely keep in mind:

  • Be realistic about what your needs are. Many people get dazzled when they visit the appliance store, which is totally understandable, but creating an outdoor kitchen can get very expensive very quickly. So be true to the way you cook.
  • If you are someone who loves to grill, do you really need that smoker? If you only occasionally use your outdoor kitchen, is that outdoor refrigerator going to create more maintenance than you need?
  • Start with the basics, a great grill, then work out from there. A hot plate is super handy if you are doing multiple dishes, and of course a sink will always be helpful too. After that you need to give a lot of thought to how much you will be actually using the space.
  • I like a lot of countertop on my outdoor kitchen. Not just for prep area but also to layout cooked food buffet style.

Keri Petersen - KP Spaces

Keri Petersen

With the warmer weather around the corner, now is the perfect time to start planning your dream outdoor kitchen.

Here are my top tips for designing the perfect outdoor kitchen that is beautiful, functional and fun!

Work with your existing space.

Figuring out where to start with your outdoor kitchen design might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Simply begin by taking cues from your home’s existing space to create a seamless design.

This could look like identifying your house’s exterior materials, such as brick, concrete or stucco, and continuing them into your new outdoor kitchen, or carrying your indoor kitchen’s style outside by using matching colors or materials in the new space.

Using materials that complement your existing space will allow you to create the look and feel of a kitchen that was just meant to be there all along!

Choose weather-resistant materials.

Find surface materials that work with your aesthetic but are also durable and weather-resistant.

You won’t be able to enjoy your perfect outdoor kitchen for years to come if your countertops, tile or flooring can’t withstand the elements.

Poured concrete, sealed stone, stainless steel, teak and granite are all super durable materials that can work with a variety of design styles.

Create ambiance with lighting and furniture.

Picking the right lighting for your outdoor kitchen space is as important as it is indoors!

Consider how you plan to use your outdoor kitchen, and base your lighting choices around that.

For example, if you love to entertain, a statement chandelier will turn your outdoor kitchen into a sophisticated entertainment zone! Dimmable pendants or wall sconces will help to set a cozy ambiance.

Also include functional overhead and under-cabinet lighting in the space, so that you can continue to safely cook in your outdoor kitchen even after the sun goes down.

Hinkley, WAC Lighting, and Sonneman all offer great options for outdoor lighting.

Make it comfortable and functional.

Choosing the right outdoor furniture will be a major part of your kitchen design, since it adds that element of comfort, attractiveness and function that every perfect outdoor kitchen needs!

If your outdoor kitchen doesn’t allow for much storage space, find furniture that also doubles as extra storage in the form of a sectional, ottoman or table with hidden compartments.

If you’re opting for upholstered outdoor furniture, whether it’s custom or retail, be sure that it’s made with high-quality water-repellent fabric, such as Sunbrella.

Some of my go-to sources for outdoor furniture include Selamat, Room & Board, and Harbour.

James Fung - NB Design Group

James Fung

To design a great outdoor kitchen, you have to start by forgetting it’s outdoors.

A truly usable and spectacular outdoor kitchen needs to extend the narrative of the home’s interior out to the exterior, and not feel like a separate entity.

Successful outdoor kitchen design reflects the same care and gravitas you apply to the interior, creating a cohesive design narrative between the indoor and outdoor spaces.

Only after we’ve established this narrative do we account for environmental factors, like weather. In rainy climates like the Pacific Northwest, we’ve found it incredibly important to blur the boundaries between inside and out.

By designing these spaces to work together in tandem, residents are better able to use indoor and outdoor kitchens interchangeably, instead of going through a mental process that determines “tonight is an outdoor-kitchen night. ”

Great design naturally encourages people to use both.

Oftentimes, a home’s best views are designed by creating vistas that include perspectives of outdoor kitchens off to the side or in the foreground of exterior living spaces.

Million-dollar-views like these are accentuated when the design of exterior kitchen spaces matches the quality of the interior finishes.

Allison Thibault - Kaleidoscope Design Studio

To design the perfect outdoor kitchen first and foremost, you will want to have a plan. Really think about functionality and what your goals are for the space.

The design of your outdoor kitchen should be complementary to your homes exterior and the surrounding area. It should feel like it makes sense, as if it is an extension of your home.

You will also want to consider the climate when planning your outdoor kitchen. Does it get cold where you live? Consider incorporating heaters or a fire pit into your design.

Does it get really hot? Make sure you incorporate shaded elements to help you cool off.

Similarly, climate will be a major factor when choosing materials such as countertops and appliances for your space. You’ll want to select materials that can withstand elements unique to your home.

Lastly, lighting will be extremely important for your space both from a design aesthetic as well as a functional standpoint.

You will want to make sure that you have bright lighting around your cooking/working area as well as some softer, more muted ambient lighting around your lounge/seating areas.

Ellen Bigs - Pretty Home 

Ellen Bigs

You have always wanted to have an outdoor kitchen and now have the opportunity to do so. That is fantastic. Let us check how we can design the best outdoor kitchen.

When designing an outdoor kitchen, keep in mind that every kitchen appliance that you use inside your kitchen can be used outside too. Most of the time, an outdoor kitchen only brings to mind barbecue pits.

Make sure that your outdoor kitchen is close to the back door. Many people have big backyards so they have it a bit far which makes going to and from difficult.

Decide the type of fuel you will be using. You can choose from various options including electric, propane or charcoal.

Another important thing that you need to keep in mind is the number of people who will be eating. Depending on the number, you will need to decide on the actual cooking area and a potential dining area.

Always try to keep more space as people love to eat at outdoor kitchen so when you have guests, they may insist on eating out.

Thank you so much to all the experts that have contributed to this expert roundup! If you enjoyed reading this post, then please help us spread the word about it by sharing it with your friends and family on social media.
Minuca Elena
Minuca Elena


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.