With summer now in full swing, it is time to look forward to barbecues and outdoor dining!  If you love to grill and spend summer days and evenings eating al fresco, cooking outside, and entertaining family and friends, then you know how important it is to have the right set up for outdoor cooking.  A full outdoor kitchen design includes everything you need for weekday family dinners, weekend barbecues, and more!

At its most basic level, you approach an outdoor kitchen design like you would an indoor design, but with some key differences.  Start with determining your requirements, then look at location and layout, and the products that fit your style, practical needs, and budget.  An experienced design professional can work with you to create an outdoor kitchen design that is a highly functional and stylish extension of your indoor living spaces.  What you need and how much it costs, much like with an indoor kitchen design, depends on your personalized requirements and the materials and products you incorporate.

outdoor kitchen cabinets

What are some of the benefits of an outdoor kitchen design?

  • You have everything you need at your fingertips when cooking outdoors. If you like to cook outside, it is essential you have an organized set up with all your supplies to hand.
  • Ample, customized storage means the items you keep outside are not only organized but are protected from the elements.
  • You can relax and create your favorite foods with the right cooking appliances, from grilling to smoking meat to gourmet pizzas.
  • Everyone can relax when you have ample seating, the right lighting, and the perfect combination of sun/shade/heat to create a comfortable environment.
  • It’s fun! We all love barbecues, but a fully outfitted kitchen design means you can really make the most of your outdoor space with not only food, but beverages, entertainment systems, and more on tap.
Outdoor kitchen storage

How do you get started?

First, determine your requirements and examine your available space. What type of cooking do you like to do?  What are your beverages of choice when dining outdoors? This will inform the appliances you need, as well as how much storage and workspace.

What is your available space for an outdoor kitchen? Is it next to your house, or located further away?  Is it fully open to the elements or partially enclosed, perhaps in a pergola, enclosed porch, or under an awning?  Is there an existing structure or landscaping you are working around, or are you starting from scratch?

Layout is just as important for your outdoor kitchen as it is for an indoor kitchen.  Break up your outdoor kitchen layout into zones including cooking/food prep, dining, beverage center, and entertainment to create a highly functional design.

For an outdoor kitchen you also need to consider everyone’s comfort, making it the ideal space to hang out and extending your outdoor dining season.  Incorporate shelter, shade, and heat into your seating areas.  This could include shade from a nearby tree or else an awning, pergola, or patio umbrella.  For heat, include a fire pit or outdoor gas heater, to make sure everyone is cozy on the chillier evenings.

What’s next?

Based on how you plan to use your outdoor cooking and entertainment spaces, determine exactly what you need. This could include:

Great Grilling!

There are a variety of cooking options for your outdoor kitchen design, but a grill is usually the centerpiece.  Depending on how often you cook outside and what type of cooking you do, a standard grill may be sufficient. If you cook outside frequently and like to do more than grill meat, you may want to install a smoker, a larger, two-sided grill, a rotisserie, or even a pizza oven.  Include side burners and you can do all your cooking in one place, without having to go back inside the house!  When cooking for larger groups, a warming drawer is helpful.

outdoor kitchen grill

Keep it cool.

A refrigerator is essential to a fully outfitted outdoor kitchen design.   This allows you to keep beverages, condiments, salads, and other perishable items cool while you prepare the meal.

Cool storage is also key to make sure your favorite beverages are on hand.  This could include a separate beverage or wine refrigerator, a fridge drawer, a built-in kegerator, ice maker, or other specialized appliances.  Don’t forget small appliances like a blender to whip up smoothies or favorite cocktails, and make sure you include well-positioned outlets to plug them in.

Make sure you go for durable options that can operate outdoors and stand up to your local weather.

outdoor kitchen design with kegerator

Space for storage.

The last thing you want in the middle of grilling is to realize you left your favorite spatula inside.  Include ample storage in your outdoor kitchen design with drawers and cabinets to hold all the tools and supplies you need to keep the summer barbecues going.  You may want to keep a set of dishware intended for outdoor dining here too.

Make sure you have countertop space suitable for food preparation and serving.  If space allows you may want to include a bar area for guest to sit and sip drinks while you grill.

Any materials you choose must be durable, low maintenance, and able to withstand the elements.  Stainless steel is a popular choice for both cabinetry and countertops, but granite, concrete, and tile also offer hardy options for outdoor countertops that enhance your style.

outdoor kitchen seating area

Lights, camera, action!

Lighting and entertainment are essential to creating a fun, relaxing outdoor living space.  First, consider how much natural light you get and then add light fixtures where you need it. Include targeted task lighting in your cooking areas, and accent seating areas, walkways, steps, ledges, and more with additional lights.  A fireplace or fire pit enhances outdoor lighting, plus offers heat and ambience to your set up…not to mention it’s perfect for roasting marshmallows. Can anyone say s’mores?!

If outdoor cooking, dining, and entertaining is your idea of summer fun, then it may be time to consider designing an outdoor kitchen that has everything you need.  Check out more kitchen design ideas in our remodeling gallery and contact us today to get started. We are available for in store appointments or online design consultations.  Call us on (517) 482-0748 or click here to schedule an online appointment.