There are few things better than an outdoor-cooked meal and few things as enjoyable as prepping that meal outside, too. A well-designed layout and weather-smart materials can help to create a functional, beautiful collection of outdoor appliances and outdoor kitchen cabinets. Whether you've got a small nook or want a full-service, open-air room, use these tips and ideas to create a practical, pretty space.
Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet Materials
Outdoor kitchen cabinets must be able to withstand heat, cold, rain, and snow. They also should be able to be regularly cleaned to maintain their beauty and use. That means that there are fewer options for materials than inside a home. Outdoor kitchen cabinet materials include:
• Stainless steel: Weatherproof and tough, resistant to stains and corroding, and easy to clean, stainless-steel outdoor kitchen cabinets work with a variety of garden and landscape styles. There are different construction methods for this type of outdoor kitchen cabinet, but the stainless steel should feel very sturdy. One concern: It can get very hot in direct sunlight.
• Polymer: Incredibly resilient to water, polymer is a plastic that doesn't rust or deteriorate; you sometimes find it used in boats and other marine vessels too. It also resists fading and is easily cleaned.
• Stone, brick, or stucco: Often found in pathways or other hardscape landscape accents, stone, brick, and stucco may also be used for outdoor kitchen cabinets. While the frames that the brick, stucco, or stone rest on are sometimes prefabricated, these outdoor kitchen cabinet options must be constructed on-site. That can be an advantage over stainless steel and polymer, though, because stone, brick, or stucco can be custom-fit to any location. These types of materials are also typically very resistant to the elements, although stain-resistance varies.
• Wood: Not all wood is suitable for outdoor kitchen cabinets. Typically varieties such as teak, ipe, and cedar, which can also be used for decks, may be used for outdoor kitchen cabinets. However, any wood outdoor kitchen cabinets must be periodically refinished and resealed. They can fade but are sturdy against the elements if well cared-for.
Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet Layout Options
How outdoor kitchen cabinets are assembled depends on limitations of space, needs, and budget. However, certain design rules still hold true, no matter how those factors differ.
• Focus on traffic and zones. Outdoor kitchen cabinets arranged to support a work triangle makes for a prep and cook space that functions well. That means creating interconnected spots for a sink, cooking, prep, and cold storage, such as a small fridge.
• Define the edges. Many outdoor kitchens are adjacent to a home, while others are located elsewhere in a landscape. A shift in materials -- lawn to pavers, for example -- can provide a visual signal for the boundaries of an outdoor kitchen. Traffic from other parts of the yard to, through, and around an outdoor kitchen should also be part of the planning process.
• Establish design cohesion. Although the outdoor kitchen may have its own collection of materials, it should pick up on texture, colors, details, and design cues from the rest of the landscape and the home's architecture.
• Create a focal point. Many outdoor kitchens rely on a grill or fireplace as a visual starting point, a place for the eye to start and move around the space. Other options include a seating area with a trellis or pergola, or even a pretty assembly of outdoor kitchen cabinets.
• Make it a room. Your family and your guests will get more out of your outdoor kitchen if you include as many amenities as budget and space allow. That may include a small refrigerator, hidden trash, comfortable seating, side tables, lighting, outdoor heat, music, and more.