Make cooking and eating a meal outside even more enjoyable with these stylish and functional ideas for outdoor kitchen bars, including DIY projects and budget-friendly designs.

By Jessica Bennett
May 26, 2020
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More than just a green space, your backyard is often considered an extra living area used for cooking, dining, entertaining, and relaxing. Homeowners are now outfitting their yards with outdoor bars and kitchens that replicate the comforts and convenience of dining indoors. According to the Pinterest 100 trend report for 2020, global searches for "outdoor kitchen bars" were up 2,795% between August 2018 and July 2019, compared to the same time period a year earlier. Options for a backyard bar range from a simple high-top with stool seating to a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with a bar sink and mini-fridge. You can build your own DIY refreshment zone, purchase a pre-fab kit, or customize a built-in cooking setup with help from a professional. Check out these creative ideas for outdoor kitchen bars to inspire your own backyard hangout.

Credit: Matthew Benson

1. Build a DIY Outdoor Bar

Outdoor kitchen bars aren't limited to expensive built-in setups. You can create your own backyard bar with a few stacks on cement blocks and a wood countertop. Line up counter-height patio chairs around the outside for seating and decorate with climbing vines or potted plants. To add cooking capabilities, roll up the grill alongside the bar and use the countertop to keep ingredients and cooking utensils close at hand.

Credit: Aniko Levai

2. Consider a Pre-Fab Outdoor Kitchen Bar

For a more high-end look that costs less than custom designs, look for pre-fab outdoor kitchen and bar kits sold at home improvement stores or from online manufacturers. Many of these outdoor islands and cabinetry units, which typically include a built-in grill and countertop area, can be installed without a professional (just make sure it complies with your local building codes first). You can often customize the layout with a variety of materials and extras such as a pizza oven, refrigerator, or sink.

Credit: Jason Donnelly

3. Incorporate Storage for Supplies

Make sure your outdoor bar has adequate storage to limit the number of trips needed to haul supplies outside. Keep cooking utensils, drinkware, cocktail ingredients, napkins, and other essentials in a convenient spot that's easily accessible when cooking or enjoying refreshments outside. If you opt for an outdoor bar design without cabinets or drawers, place a standalone unit, such as a bar cart or rolling island, nearby to boost storage space.

Credit: Kathyrn Gamble

4. Designate Seating Areas

The most basic outdoor kitchen includes only a grill and a spot to set cooking supplies, which works well if you're working with a limited budget or a small space. However, you'll need to include seating elsewhere to complete the space. A settee or sofa covered in outdoor fabric can act as a cozy spot to enjoy drinks or appetizers. Pull patio chairs, garden stools, or a bench up to an outdoor dining table to enjoy the main course.

5. Personalize with Color and Pattern

Along with being durable and weather-resistant, the materials you choose for your outdoor kitchen bar should complement the style of your house or reflect your personal aesthetic. Combine wood, stone, tile, metal, and paint to create the look you desire. Cover a built-in outdoor kitchen island with bold patterned tile, for example, or splash color on bar-height patio chairs with a fresh paint job.

6. Create a Beverage Zone

Supplement an existing grill setup with a beverage zone for a complete outdoor dining experience. This budget-friendly DIY outdoor bar uses cement blocks to form a sturdy asymmetrical base. You can fill the open cubbies with colorful plants or use them to store supplies, such as extra cups and napkins. Use the bar top, made from cedar boards, serve drinks and desserts.

Credit: Aniko Levai

7. Add Shade for Comfort

The ideal location for an outdoor kitchen bar is a spot that receives a mix of sun and shade. Keep it cool during the warm summer months by topping your bar area with a pergola-style roof to block some of the sun's harsh rays. An adjustable outdoor umbrella or retractable shade can also help deflect light as the sun sets.

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