While outdoor kitchens have always been a favorite of homeowners, they never gained traction until the pandemic. Finally, after months of sheltering inside, many are ready to start entertaining in the relative safety of their house.
From being reserved as a feature in a luxury home, it is currently becoming mainstream. Even if you do not have a large backyard, you can create an outdoor kitchen. However, designing one is not an easy task. From the layout to the appliance, there are so many factors to consider.
Our article brings everything you need to know about an outdoor kitchen, designing and planning, benefits, modern outdoor kitchen designs, essential features, and much more.
Designing the Perfect Outdoor Kitchen
While it seems that your outdoor kitchen is an easy task, it is much more than that. Picking a grill and a fridge are probably the easy parts. However, outdoor cooking space is built for durability, endurance, ease of use, and function, to name a few.
The two elements that set an elegant kitchen apart in terms of design and style are countertops and cabinets. Here are the key factors you need to consider when designing the perfect outdoor kitchen.
The layout is the key to an efficient kitchen. There are several outdoor kitchen layout options for you to choose from.
- L-Shaped right and left-aligned
Each layout has its own pros and cons. Talk with your architect and builder to choose the right one suitable for your needs. Once you’ve selected your desired layout, it is time to choose the other features.
An important point to note: Ensure that your outdoor kitchen is an extension of the indoors by maintaining similarity in design and style. Place them closer to each other, connected by a sliding door if possible.
Much like your indoor kitchen, the one outdoor also requires cabinets. The popular choice of cabinet for outdoor kitchens is stainless steel. They are the choice of designers and architects for their beauty, style, durability, and elegance. It can fit seamlessly into any outdoor appliance, including smoker, grill, sink, and bar unit.
Other options for cabinets include frameless European styling with overlay doors and drawers with double-wall construction.
Countertops in the outdoor kitchen need to hold up against time, and more particularly, weather conditions. They should be structurally sound and still maintain their beauty over time. Furthermore, they should also complement your home and the landscape.
However, not every countertop is suitable for outdoors. The most popular countertop materials are granite, soapstone, and concrete. Other characteristics to look out for are UV resistance, color stability, strength, high resistance to impact, scratches, abrasions, etc.
One of the advantages of an outdoor kitchen is including appliances like a grill, smoker, side burner, and even a pizza oven. Even the most affordable kitchen can hold a couple of these appliances. First, however, the cabinets need to be planned accordingly.
Having a beverages station is essential if you are planning on entertaining. If not a complete bar setup, at least a refrigerator, icemaker, kegerator, or sink integrated into your outdoor kitchen is a must.
Think along the lines of a bartending island, integrated with a built-in fridge, shaker doors with panel inserts. Not does it not occupy any space, it also makes everything accessible and within reach.
Having a covered outdoor kitchen comes with its own challenges, like ventilating the smoke. With covered spaces rising in popularity, you need a hood that blends with the surrounding. Adding a muffler makes outdoor cooking much easier by reducing the sound and the smoke from the cooking.
With the growing number of condos and apartments, the demand for an outdoor kitchen in the shared space continues to rise. Whether it is a poolside facility or a rooftop, the kitchen can be integrated anywhere. However, it should be ADA-compliant so that everyone can share the outdoor living space.
You need appropriate lighting for your backyard, especially if you are planning to entertain. Moreover, you will need adequate light when handling sharp knives and preparing food.
Think about a statement overhead light for a smart and stylish look. You also string fairy lights for a cozy and whimsical setting.
The outdoor kitchen is often subject to elements, even in pleasant regions. Hence it is crucial you choose the best materials to withstand wear and tear.
- Marine-grade plywood or polymer sheets are ideal for cabinetry. They are durable and waterproof.
- Stainless steel surfaces should be of grade #304. Though it lasts long and doesn’t rust, you need to clean and treat it periodically. However, the screws made of other materials may rust.
- Avoid glazed or porous tiles and stone for flooring. They become slippery when wet. Furthermore, concrete, brick, ceramic tile, and natural stone make for ideal outdoor flooring.
Ensure that the surfaces are UV treated(wherever needed).
Is an Outdoor Kitchen Worth It?
According to reports, adding a kitchen outdoors adds an ROI of 55% – 200%. But this largely depends on the architecture, materials, and also climate.
An outdoor kitchen is a beautiful addition to your living space. Not only do you get to spend relaxing evenings outside, but you also entertain and share meals with friends and family. Moreover, they can last as long as ten years, provided you maintain the space and clean the appliance properly.
In short, the outdoor kitchen is worth the money you spend on them as long as it is feasible to dine outdoor for a large portion of the year.
Benefits of Outdoor Kitchens
An outdoor kitchen is practical, stylish, and more than that, it is convenient. However, designing it can be pretty intimidating. Understanding the benefits can help you make a decision:
- Outdoor kitchens can add value to your home.
- It makes it easier to entertain if it involves food and drinks. In addition, you’ll have more room for your guests.
- An outdoor kitchen is incomplete without a grill. And grilled meals are healthy since it uses less oil.
- With a cooking space and a countertop, you can cook your meals outside, especially in the hot summer months.
- You can save on utility bills. Cooking inside heats the home in the summer months. And you would have to use your air conditioner over time to combat the heat.
- An outdoor space with integrated cooking makes family time more relaxing. You can spend more time under the stars and enjoy the fresh air.
What to Consider When Designing Outdoor Kitchens
There’s a lot to consider before you commit to an outdoor kitchen. Here are some factors that will help you arrive at outdoor kitchen ideas suitable for your space and needs:
- How far are your outdoor and indoor kitchens? Ensure that you use them together.
- The design and architecture should complement your home.
- Integrate your new outdoor kitchen with other areas to have a cohesive feel.
- How will you install the utilities(gas, electricity, and water)?
- You may want to plan for an entertainment center even if you are not planning on putting one right now. Choose a spot in the shade to protect the electronics from direct sunlight.
- What is the layout? Ensure that the fridge, grill, and sink are in a triangular setup.
- Plan for the three zones; cooking (BBQ, cooktops, oven), cleaning-prep (sink, trash, counter), and refrigeration. Set aside space for storage
- Proper lighting is essential for the ambiance and also for safety. So, install lights around the prepping and cooking spaces. And also, illuminate near the dining area, steps, and other uneven spots.
- What appliances do you need in your outdoor kitchen? Remember that you have a cooking range, full-sized refrigerator, oven, and more in your kitchen. So, consider mini appliances as it gives you space for work surfaces and entertainment areas.
- Appliances should be practical to withstand the elements.
Essential Features of Outdoor Kitchens
First and foremost, incorporate the features that you cannot use in your indoor kitchen like your grill, wood stove, smoker, etc. With a few more elements in your outdoor kitchen, it could quickly become an outdoor oasis. You don’t need to go too far over the top; Just a few essential elements as mentioned below:
- Eating surfaces like a dining table
- Enough seating for your family and guests
- A firepit for colder nights
- An entertainment system
- A ceiling fan in the covered areas for those sultry days
- Ventilation for covered areas
- A bar
Maintaining an Outdoor Kitchen
Before you commit to a backyard kitchen, you may want to consider maintaining the appliances and surfaces. Taking care of your outdoor kitchen will help it last. Also, consider a design that is easy to maintain and clean. Here are a few pointers on caring for an outdoor kitchen:
- Cover your grill, counters, and other appliances when not in use. This helps to protect from rain, wind, sun, and extreme weather.
- Use sliders on the bottom of your furniture to protect your deck from scratch marks.
- Clean the counters after every use. Regular cleaning not only keeps it sanitary but also ensures that it lasts longer.
- Clean your grill and bbq after every use. Brush it down with a brush, and wipe off the racks.
- If you are living in a colder climate, consider putting your grill and furniture in the storeroom. Us protective covers over the counters and other immovable surfaces.
Design Tips for Planning the Perfect Outdoor Kitchen
Now that you are well into the process of planning and designing an outdoor kitchen, you might be realizing how strenuous it is. Here are a few tips to help you design the perfect outdoor kitchen:
- Hot areas (grill and cooktop), cold areas (refrigeration), wet areas (sinks), and dry areas(prep, counter, and storage) should work well in coordination.
- Hire an architect to help design an outdoor kitchen if possible.
- The outdoor kitchen opens a whole new world of additional cooking options such as smoking or open-wood flame. Ensure that the indoor and outdoor kitchens work in symbiosis so that they can be used together when entertaining.
- Your backyard kitchen should be easy to maintain. Consider materials that can endure the weather and rigors of being outside in the elements.
- Counter, patio, and deck should be able to withstand high temperatures.
- Natural stone counters require regular sealing. In the case of granite, use cultured granite with UV stabilizers.
- Include task lighting and ambient lights for after-dark entertaining.
- The cooking area, dining area, and entertainment coexist. Do not isolate the cook from the party.
- Incorporate shade trees, pergolas, awnings, etc., in the cooking and dining areas.
Custom Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas
While dining outside can be fun, ferrying food from within the house and outside is a pain. If you enjoy being outside on a warm summer evening, you may want to invest in an outdoor kitchen.
It can be as simple as a tiered car cart, prep surface, and a grill, or a full-on outdoor kitchen with everything. Here are a few outdoor kitchen designs currently in trend:
- A pizza oven surrounded by potted plants set on pavers and a bluestone countertop lets you have a piece of Italy right in your backyard.
- Cedar cabinets and a steel counter give your outdoor kitchen a modern feel.
- Don’t have much space? A refrigerator tucked away in the drawers, a prep surface, sink, and a BBQ make for a stylish and functional kitchen.
- Are you looking for a maintenance-free, budget option? A customizable outdoor kitchen with tons of storage space, grill, and prepping area is enough for any large family.
- For an outdoor kitchen with a farmhouse vibe, construct a cozy corner kitchen with reclaimed wooden pallets. With an awning overhead, you are entirely shaded by the weather, be it hot or cold.
- A sleek stone fireplace, grill station, and wooden pergola add a beautiful outdoor kitchen cum dining area.
Take outdoor cooking to exhilarating new heights with this outdoor kitchen cottage. Measuring 250-sq ft, the kitchen cottage by interior designer Marcus Samuelsson gives a new definition to outdoor entertaining.
Outdoor kitchens have benefits as well as drawbacks. However, you may want to go with one if you:
- Have a large backyard
- Enjoy spending time outdoors
- Have a budget large enough to cover an outdoor kitchen
- Entertain guests often
Before jumping into it, take your time and explore all your options for the right design and layout.
The cost of building the outdoor kitchen of your dreams depends on the materials and the appliances. Instead of attempting yourself, enlist a contractor to provide you with an estimate. High-quality products do not have to come at high costs. Shop around for affordable products with premium quality.
Pro Remodeling is a local, family-owned business established in Tucson in 1971 and is regarded as one of the most trusted, best run, and customer-friendly contractors that provide the best home remodeling Tucson has experienced. If you are interested in improving the value of your home by adding an outdoor kitchen, contact the experts at Pro Remodeling today for your free quote.