Outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity as they are the perfect way for expanding your living space and maximizing your time outdoors during the warmer months of the year.
While most people will instantly think of summer and BBQ’s when an outdoor kitchen is mentioned, the truth is that if it is well designed you can enjoy using it for most of the year.
An outdoor kitchen is so much more than just a place to prepare food. In essence, it is a combination of a living room, family room, dining room and kitchen – with a whole lot of fresh air. From having a simple weeknight dinner outside to hosting a bash under the stars with family and friends, an outdoor kitchen will quickly become the focal point of your home.
There are plenty of designs floating around for outdoor kitchens from simple, DIY friendly to high end and elegant. No matter what your style or budget is, there are still some must-know planning tips for outdoor kitchens that you should be aware of.
Finding the best location for your outdoor kitchen is an essential first step. There are a few important factors to consider such as wind patterns – the last thing you want is smoke from the BBQ pouring into your home. Another consideration is the distance from your indoor kitchen to your outdoor kitchen. Often, large serving dishes, specialty utensils or glassware will be shared, and a shorter distance will be less frustrating for the host running back and forth. Finally, take the view from inside your home into consideration. Plan the outdoor kitchen design so that it does not block your view. This is usually accomplished by building it on a side wall or angle.
It may come as a surprise that flooring is a very important part of your outdoor kitchen. On top of looking fantastic, it needs to be able to withstand the weather conditions from all four seasons, be able to support the weight of the appliances installed and hold up to spills and stains. If you anticipate your outdoor kitchen receiving a lot of guests and traffic, you will thank yourself later for choosing a durable floor that will last.
Make sure to carefully consider what appliances you will need and how many. Knowing what appliances you will install and their size will help plan the layout and design of your outdoor kitchen. It is important to know the details of your appliance sizes so that adequate space is left around the grill area, that there is enough counter space for food prep and that there is enough space for more than one person to move around the kitchen, which is usually important for those that love to entertain or may hire caterers.
Counter height will need to be decided for both food prep and dining. Most people find counters 36” high comfortable for food preparation and cooking, however, depending on your height you may want to choose another height. The other main counter consideration is if you want guests to be able to sit and eat, usually a 30” height is used or if you prefer your guests to stand and mingle at a bar table, a counter height of 42” is recommended.
If your outdoor kitchen will be part of a larger landscaping project, make sure to include it as part of the overall design. This will not only help ensure the best location but especially if you are adding a hot tub or pool it will make sure that the look is seamless, and the kitchen integrates into the style and landscaping of the rest of your outdoor space.
Finally, don’t forget the finishing touches. Make your outdoor kitchen feel comfy and like home by choosing the perfect furniture, decor, and accents. Tables, chairs, cushions, and dinnerware can create a unique look but make sure that the products are weather resistant and can handle the outdoors. If you will be entertaining large groups occasionally, choose furniture options which can be expanded or stacked and stored neatly until needed. Like any room, lighting always adds an ambient touch. Hanging lights, torches, candles and outdoor LED lights all lend plenty of options to choose a style and mood to suit your taste. And finally, don’t forget the outdoor fireplace!
To find out more about designing a kitchen and transforming your outdoor living space, download a backyard escapes guide here.