Outdoor Kitchens in the Landscape

Adding an outdoor cooking space offers another delectable way to enjoy your yard.

By Kelly Roberson


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Outdoor Kitchens
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Time for Dinner

    A stylish outdoor kitchen offers plenty of amenities.

    Outdoor kitchens can be shielded by a roof, which lengthen their seasonal use and enjoyment. If you add a roof, let it play a dramatic part in enhancing the architecture of the home.

    Carefully consider material choices (and their maintenance) before installing an outdoor kitchen. Here, the roof provides some shelter, but the wood cabinets will need regular staining and sealing to maintain their finish.

    If an outdoor kitchen is at grade, water accumulation may be a concern; here, a drain gets rid of excess moisture.

    Lighting an outdoor kitchen enables the cook to work and guests to eat after dark; include both overhead and task lights (the ceiling fan and above the grill lights, respectively).

    If a kitchen functions as a stand-alone outdoor room, storage and cooking surfaces should be a part of the design.

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Pull Up a Chair

    An outdoor kitchen invites relaxation.

    Even if your outdoor kitchen stands away from the house, it should be visually cohesive with the design and material choices used on the house. Here, the outdoor cooking space flows seamlessly from a retaining wall.

    Looks can be deceiving: This outdoor kitchen, equipped only with a cooktop, a small stretch of countertop, and a fridge, is quite small, but the mortared stone and expansive grill make it appear grand.

    If the grill is built-in, it will be more difficult to replace, if necessary. Do your research to make sure your grill is durable and will accommodate your cooking needs.

    If an outdoor kitchen is fairly close to a house, some elements and, therefore, some expenses, may not be necessary. Here, the kitchen has a fridge and grill, but no sink.

    Plantings on the slope and in containers soften the neutral stone.

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City Cooking-Space

    A slim spot in a city yard contains a hardworking outdoor kitchen.

    There's no need for a sweeping yard in order to have an outdoor kitchen, as this narrow slice in an urban landscape proves.

    Use a fence to shield the work surface and provide privacy.

    Material choices reinforce the finishes used on the rest of the home -- in this case, horizontal cabinet lines repeat the home's brick pattern.

    Don't be afraid to break-up the kitchen in order to fit it in a small space.

    To reduce maintenance, choose a countertop that's particularly durable, such as stainless steel.

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Off the Shelf

    Dress up unpretentious concrete and pavers to make an outdoor kitchen design statement.

    Dining surfaces can be stand-alone, but they also work when integrated into the kitchen; here, the countertop is elevated and extended into a round tabletop.

    A variety of paving materials offers visual contrast and delineates different areas in an outdoor space.

    A fence sits on top of the kitchen's backsplash, visually extending the lines of the outdoor room.

    Simple materials, such as the plain concrete block that forms the foundation for this kitchen, can appear grand when used with a keen eye for design.

    Certain woods, such as ipe or jarrah woods, are more weather-resistant and make maintaining your outdoor kitchen less work.

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Cooks in the Kitchen

    An expansive outdoor kitchen offers an abundance of cooking options.

    Mapping traffic patterns and focal points in kitchens is key; here, a central circulation area directs cooks and visitors. A wood-fired oven offers a grand visual statement.

    One grouping of lighting or a variety of complementary fixtures can be integrated into an outdoor space. Here, lanterns above the work surfaces and at the wood stove do the trick.

    More grill surface invites increased outdoor kitchen use. Here, three separate cookers -- a smoker, a gas grill, and a ceramic grill -- offer plenty of cooking options.

    A separate, elevated concrete pad ensures drainage around and under the cooking surfaces.

    A trellis visually defines one cooking area from another.

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Chow Time

    This outdoor kitchen makes use of budget-smart features.

    Thoughtful design details, such as the intricate, carved wood window, add visual variety to a kitchen wall.

    Outdoor-friendly fabric hung on a curtain rod offers a less expensive option to pricey cabinet doors.

    If an outdoor kitchen has no overhead shelter, every item that is built-in or left out must be able to withstand the elements. Here, durable concrete countertop bears the elements.

    Paving stones set in a random pattern offer visual variety underfoot.

    A pergola over the cooking and eating spaces provides shade and shelter.

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Under Shelter

    Plants and a roof shield an outdoor cook space.

    If an outdoor kitchen is built in stages, it helps to create an overall design plan in order to include key elements. Here, wood storage for the fireplace was built into the cabinet spaces in the kitchen.

    Grills that are not built into the kitchen design, such as this stand-alone version, offer flexibility, particularly if the cooking surface needs repair or replacement.

    Here, framed stained glass offers a visual backdrop to the work surface.

    If an outdoor kitchen is to be sited at or near the border of a yard, a dense series of plants (here, bamboo) can screen the view.

    Plants, such as a vine that rambles up a corner piece, can also soften the edges of built-in elements, helping to better integrate them with the landscape.

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Inside to Out

    An outdoor kitchen makes its location work to its advantage.

    Use the location of an outdoor kitchen to solve design challenges. For example, a connection to the house, as in this kitchen, eliminates the need for storage space or a fridge.

    Two eating areas -- one more casual at barstool height, the other a formal dining table -- offer multiple spots for guests to relax.

    An overhead roof shields this kitchen, but eliminates much of its natural light. A skylight cut into the roof lets in the sun.

    Extend the use of an outdoor kitchen by incorporating a built-in heater.

    Durable but simple material choices -- a stained concrete floor, stainless appliances, wood countertop -- maintain the sleek style of this kitchen.

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Welcome to the Cookery

    A porch offers space for an outdoor kitchen.

    Tiny nooks, such as this one in a covered porch, can include all the amenities of bigger spaces, including cook surface, sink, and storage.

    A coveted spot close to a house can work to an advantage, making it easier to run gas and water lines off existing ones inside.

    A mounted cut-out of a fish breaks up what would be a visually boring stretch of wall space.

    Because it is essentially an extension of the house, consistency in materials -- painted brick, for example -- is key to integrating this outdoor kitchen in its surroundings.

    Instead of its own dining space, this kitchen makes use of both interior rooms and an exterior patio table.

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Grill Ready

    A few extras add up to a big bonus in this outdoor kitchen.

    If your outdoor kitchen includes an overhead structure, such as a pergola, wire it for electricity and include a ceiling fan for air circulation.

    The patterned brick used underneath the cook and work surfaces holds up to the outdoors and offers visual interest

    If there's little room for storage, include extra storage options, such as a hanging rack for utensils or cookware.

    The area around an outdoor kitchen can be damaged by foot traffic. A small stretch of river rock on the less-used side protects the grass from being worn down.

    A stretch of countertop extends from the cooking surface in order to offer more square footage for serving and eating.

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