7 Ideas for Outdoor Bars and Kitchens to Add Entertaining Space

Make dining outside even more enjoyable with these stylish and functional ideas for outdoor kitchen bars—including DIY projects and budget-friendly designs.

More than just a green space, backyards are often considered an extra living area for cooking, dining, entertaining, and relaxing. Homeowners are now outfitting their yards with outdoor bars and kitchens, replicating the comforts and convenience of indoor dining. Options for a backyard bar range from a simple high-top with stool seating to a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with a sink and mini-fridge. You can build your own 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.

two metal bar chairs at corner table yellow water can below
Matthew Benson

1. Build a DIY Outdoor Bar

Outdoor bars and kitchens 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.

multi-level back deck with outdoor dining, kitchen and lounge areas
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 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). In addition, you can often customize the layout with your choice of materials and extras, such as a pizza oven, refrigerator, or sink.

Cedar Bar Cart on outdoor porch with various plants
Jason Donnelly

3. Incorporate Storage for Supplies

Your outdoor bar should have adequate storage to limit the trips needed to haul supplies outside. Keep cooking utensils, drinkware, cocktail ingredients, napkins, and other essentials in a convenient spot accessible when cooking or enjoying refreshments outdoors. 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.

outdoor kitchen with stone patio and picnic table
Kathyrn Gamble

4. Designate Seating Areas

The simplest outdoor kitchen includes only a grill and a spot to set cooking supplies, which works well if you have a limited budget or a small space. However, you'll need to include seating elsewhere to complete the area. A settee or sofa covered in outdoor fabric can be 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.

outdoor bar with floating counter

5. Personalize with Color and Pattern

Along with being durable and weather-resistant, the materials you choose for your outdoor bar and kitchen should reflect the style of your house or your personal aesthetic. Combine wood, stone, tile, metal, and paint to create your desired look. 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.

completed concrete block bar with buffet of fruit lemonade and desserts
Cameron Sadeghpour

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 from cedar boards to serve drinks and desserts.

detail of outdoor kitchen with plants hanging from arbor
Aniko Levai

7. Add Shade for Comfort

The ideal location for outdoor bars and kitchens is a spot with a mix of sun and shade. Keep it cool during hot summer days 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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