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8 Tips For Creating an Outdoor Kitchen

ozgurcoskun / iStock /

ozgurcoskun / iStock /

Got a patio set? That will do… but serious entertainers are taking their outdoor dining spaces to the next level.

Meet the outdoor kitchen. It’s more than just a grill—it’s a bona fide prepping, cooking, and serving room that lets you take the joy of making a meal into the great outdoors. No more missing out on the party as you get things ready indoors, and balancing plates is now a thing of the past.

Ready to build your own outdoor kitchen—or just fantasizing about have one? Here’s how to go about setting up a five star kitchen al fresco.

Start With Space
The scale of your outdoor kitchen will depend on two major things: your budget and your space. Assess whether your patio area large enough to accommodate a full-scale kitchen. If not, see if you can expand it. Look for an area that will give you a little room to grow, if you choose to add on to your outdoor kitchen.

Location, Location, Location
You don’t want to throw your outdoor kitchen anywhere. Use a strategic eye: for instance, look for an area that is close to a water hook up and an electrical source. Keep your outdoor kitchen close to the dining space, but not so close that the two get in the way of each other. Your grill should also be placed far enough from your home’s doors and windows to avoid filling your house with smelly smoke every time you cook a meal.

Lay It Out
Galley and L-shaped outdoor kitchens are popular shapes, because they work with walls, fences, and dividers that are already in place in your yard. Plan for flexibility: incorporate fold-out counters and islands on wheels that let you expand or reduce your kitchen size as needed.

Zoning Time
Your outdoor kitchen will include several different zones. Areas can include a food prep zone, a cooking zone, a plating zone, a serving zone, and an entertaining zone. Map out your outdoor kitchen plans and identify where each of these zones is located. Consider whether or not the flow makes sense: for instance, you don’t want the entertainees to get in the way of the cooking, but you also don’t want to isolate the chef on the other side of the yard!

Think Material
From your counter tops to your appliances, be sure to choose materials that will hold up to the elements. Waterproof materials are essential, and easy-to-clean surfaces are a must to avoid attracting wildlife and pests.

How Big?
When it comes to the outdoor kitchen, the sky is the limit to have big you can go. Wood-burning stove? Why not! Ice maker? Sure! Wine cellar? Now we’re talking.

Keep it practical by considering how you will use your outdoor kitchen. Simple family dinners will require smaller appliances and less gear than multi-course meals for a crowd.

Stick With the Style
There are a lot of fun themes that could be used for an outdoor kitchen, but try to keep the décor along the same lines as the style of your home. Consider architectural details, landscaping, and your home’s interior decorating style to create a cohesive look inside and out.

Consider the Chef
Build a space that will keep the chef cool and comfortable. Covered space means shade from the hot sun and protection from sudden downpours. Don’t forget about building in additional lighting so that kitchen can be used long after the sun sets.


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