Stumped about how to start designing an outdoor kitchen? Let these 15 tips guide you -- and get you cooking outside. See how to incorporate not only a grill but also other kitchen necessities, such as a sink, refrigerator, and more.
Outdoor kitchen surfaces must be able to withstand your climate's weather conditions. Select durable materials such as stainless steel, shown here, and stone, slate, tile, or stucco, Make sure all countertop surfaces and hardware are recommended for exterior use. If you want to install a kitchen on an existing deck, verify that it structurally can support the kitchen's additional weight before you build.
Cooking in an outdoor kitchen is a great way to take advantage of the sunshine, fresh air, and your homegrown vegetables and herbs. If you don't have a full-fledged kitchen garden, you can still take advantage of the growing season: Place a few pots of often-used herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and more near your cooking prep space for ready-to-pick ingredients.
To maximize the hours you can spend using -- and enjoying -- your outdoor kitchen, you'll need to plan for varying levels of light. Overhead lights, such as these recessed cans and trio of pendants, are key to making the most of your grilling and eating spaces. They are also UL-rated Wet, to withstand the weather. An outdoor ceiling fan helps to keep air moving and increase the comfort level in a semienclosed outdoor kitchen space.
Before you build your outdoor kitchen, consider the types of cooking surfaces you will want to use, such as a stand-alone range or a smoking grill. Then design your kitchen with those elements in mind. Here a built-in niche provides a convenient place to tuck a smoking grill when it's not in use and shields it from the rain and snow, extending its life.
Rain, wind, even extra-sunny days can hamper your use -- and enjoyment -- of an outdoor kitchen. Make the most of your grilling-and-dining area by covering your kitchen space overhead. A full roof, as used here, is one option; other ideas include a partial roof, a pergola, or an outdoor umbrella.
Working in an outdoor kitchen can be a challenge if you lack spots to stash everyday necessities. Think through what you want to have on hand to determine what kind of storage you need. If you're not close to your interior kitchen, make sure to include cabinets or a cart to store grilling tools, utensils, plates, and serving pieces. Will you have a fire pit? Then including a place to keep your woodpile dry is key. The handier it is to cook and entertain in your outdoor kitchen, the more you will take advantage of it.
Even the smallest of outdoor kitchens benefit from amenities to accommodate prep and cleanup. Next to a built-in compact and dishwasher, a cabinet under the sink is the perfect dry place to store fire logs, charcoal, and cleaning supplies.
Keep forks and spatulas off the countertop with a drawer -- or a simple metal bar with hooks hung above or next to the cooking prep area is convenient for easy access to large, frequently used outdoor kitchen items.
There are few things more tiresome than having to traipse back inside from an outdoor kitchen in order to wash your hands or meal items. Try to include even a small bar-size sink, next to the grill.
Particularly for space-challenged outdoor kitchens, clever inclusion of seating can increase countertop space and encourage convivial gatherings. Here, a bar-height space neatly dovetails with the cooking spot and has enough space for a few stools.