You already have a dream kitchen in your home (or maybe you don’t, but that’s a whole different topic) and the idea of a luxurious outdoor kitchen to spend the hot summer mornings, warm spring nights and even the crisp fall days is something that has always been on your “dream home” bucket list.
Before you begin with an idea, you need to envision where you want the project to go and what features will set the scene for your perfect outdoor kitchen. Do you want gorgeous soapstone or sleek granite counter? What about coverage for those rainy days?
Let’s face it, you know you sort of want to be the envy of the neighborhood with your outdoor kitchen and so you want to get all of the designs and the details just right.
Some of the things that are important to consider for an outdoor kitchen design include:
- Location (Backyard, Patio, Deck, Courtyard, Rooftoop?)
Don’t worry, that list may look overwhelming, but it’s really not. The kitchen planning stage is exhilarating. Let your imagination run wild — and then, in the end, you can reign yourself back into reality and adjust to fit your space and budget.
Now, let’s take a look at some of my favorite outdoor kitchen ideas to help you get inspired for your new outdoor eating and entertainment area.
1. An Idea to Bring Both the Living Room and your Kitchen Outside
Your guests are sure to want to sit and mingle while you are on grill duty if you design an area with a relaxing living room vibe that just happens to include a few kitchen elements.
Notice, like an indoor living room, the statement fireplace and stylish yet comfortable seating is the focal point of the space and the kitchen elements, while impressive in their own right, are tucked away.
2. Host An Outdoor Watch Party with this Outdoor Kitchen Idea
You can invite the crew over to enjoy the game — or let’s not be shy, it could even be the Bachelor — with an outdoor television that rivals your inside entertainment area. With this Outdoor Kitchen Idea, the convenience of a barbecue grill, refrigerator, and sink, you don’t have to go far to prepare your watch party grub.
Another option is to mount the television behind bar seating – you will never have to leave the house to watch a game again! Just remember to find a t.v. that is rated for outdoor use. Not only is it designed to be protected from the elements, but the picture is also optimized to reduce glare and perform in natural outdoor lighting.
3. This Outdoor Kitchen Idea Will Make Even The Best Chefs Drool
If you want the main focus of your outdoor kitchen to be cooking (novel idea, right?) there are many options to add innovative and high performing cooking elements. Even the gas grill, featured in every outdoor kitchen, can go above and beyond with features like fuel gages, flamethrower ignitions and a smoker built right in.
The combinations are endless and there are so many outdoor appliances for any cooking task, including:
- Ceramic grills and smokers
- Vent hoods
- Cooktops with gas or ceramic tops
- Outdoor ovens
- Pizza ovens
4. Blend You Outdoor Kitchen With The Elements
With beautiful natural surroundings, you can make your outdoor kitchen ideas blend in seamlessly to the backdrop allowing you to escape and enjoy the serene and peaceful vibe. This kitchen brings the natural elements with the rich color of the deck, real wood cabinetry, and a bamboo backsplash.
5. Location? Where To Put Your Outdoor Kitchen Idea?
You will need to figure out where you want your kitchen to be situated. It is very convenient, and the most common to see outdoor kitchen placed just outside of the back of the home. This is great if you eat a lot of your meals outside because you also have easy access to the indoor kitchen, but there are other options.
A location by the main house is the most conventional choice, but who wants to be conventional? Check out the stunning water backdrop of this outdoor kitchen idea. I recommend scouting out your space and if there is a spot that will feature a natural landscape to optimize your outdoor kitchen experience.
Look at how beautifully the wood elements of the kitchen are framed by the lush woods in the distance.
6. The Layout Can Make Or Break Your Outdoor Kitchen Design
Depending on your space, there is an endless array of kitchen layouts to choose from. This is a great example of an outdoor kitchen idea that needs to be placed on a long wall.
An L-shape is a great option for extra storage or amenities, like a wine fridge.
A U-shape layout is perfect for adding bar seating.
Even if you don’t have much space you can still make a striking small outdoor kitchen idea.
7. Choose The Right Kitchen Countertops For Functionality & Style
The elements can give a beating to your outdoor kitchen and so it is a must to research and choose the most appropriate materials to use. The countertops are one of the most important choices you will make, and with the right direction (mine, of course!) you will be able to select a countertop that will stand the test of time.
- Granite is the most popular, given the variety of color options and its ability to withstand the weather.
- Concrete gives an industrial look and is untouchable in terms of the climate and wear and tear.
- Wood portrays a more rustic look and would fit in perfectly in a kitchen with natural surroundings.
- Tile can be used in a variety of designs using plain tiles or even decorative tile patterns to create a focal point.
- Quartz can be used but I would recommend only using this is a covered kitchen.
- Soapstone is another natural element that works well outdoors because it is non-porous and can withstand freezing temperatures.
8. Be The Life Of The Party With This Kitchen Idea
I love outdoor kitchen ideas like this one. This space with its unpretentious sophistication and pops of vibrant colors. The seating setup is spectacular with a conversation area and a place to enjoy some drinks while the cook is cookin’.
9. Kitchen Size Matters – Really, It Does!
If you are planning on hosting full-fledged dinners with a substantial number of guests and you have space, this outdoor kitchen design is fantastic. Look at that dining area — it is reminiscent of a glamping paradise or a high-end lodge with five-star al fresco dining. It is definitely somewhere I would want to hang out!
Here is another inspiring example of an outdoor kitchen with a wide-open space and comfortable seating. It is perfect for entertaining with ample refrigeration and an ice chest to keep those beverages chilly.
Even with a smaller area, your kitchen can still make an impact. Choosing the right layout and materials can optimize the space.
10. An Outdoor Kitchen Should Stay With The Theme Of The House
The traditional style of this home is continued in the outdoor kitchen and dining area. The green tile is a throwback, but staying with the character of the home makes a cohesive flow from the indoors into the outdoors.
This outdoor kitchen design integrates seamlessly with the home using the same colors and materials throughout.
11. Your Outdoor Kitchen Should Be An Extension Of Your Living Space
Do you ever wish that you had more space in your home? Well, an outdoor kitchen/living space is the perfect way to increase the usable living space you have. Let’s face it, I would probably find myself spending most of my time outside if I had this luxe couch and that backyard fire pit!
12. This Idea Incorporates a Modern Kitchen Design Built Into A Courtyard
Not all outdoor kitchen ideas are for the backyard or patio. This design is built into a courtyard. The wood detailing is exquisite and the built-in seating bench is fab — you could even change the cushions to try out a different color scheme!
13. Light That Outdoor Kitchen Up!
Depending on your setup there are many ways to incorporate lighting into your outdoor space. Here, where there is no covering, the string lights bring just enough light for those intimate evening gatherings.
If you have a full ceiling the possibilities are endless with recessed lighting and ceiling fans.
Even with a freestanding pergola, you can have it wired and add a pendant or other lighting.
14. Outdoor Kitchen Ideas with a Flare For The Dramatic
The massive stone wall with the intense fire backdrop will command the attention of anyone who visits. It is more like a work of art than a kitchen. I always recommend letting your creativity flow — the outcome can be fantastic!
The way that the light reflects onto the wood decking off of the geometric tiles on the ceiling and wall creates a unique effect that will be seared into the memory of anyone who has the pleasure of seeing it. Again, coming up with a dramatic statement for your outdoor kitchen will impress even your most discerning (dare I say snobby?) guests.
15. Outdoor Kitchen Cabinets Are For More Than Storage
The cabinet selection is not only about the and the way your outdoor kitchen looks but also the function and the differences you face when designing an outdoor space versus an interior kitchen.
Sleek cabinets can match a mid-century modern design.
Steel cabinets match the stainless of the grill giving the kitchen a seamless look.
16. To Cover Or Not To Cover your Outdoor Kitchen
Having a covered outdoor kitchen design can have many benefits — including not getting soaked in the unexpected downpour that starts when your ribs are only halfway done — but with the right climate, one where there is not a lot of rain or snow, you can get away with an uncovered space.
If you are going to go unprotected it is essential to pick elements that can make it through the changing seasons. A perk of having a ceiling from a design standpoint is the ability to be able to install interesting lighting or fan options.
Frequently Asked Questions about Outdoor Kitchens:
Here are some of the most frequent questions I am asked about designing an outdoor kitchen:
1. Does an outdoor kitchen add value to a home?
Not to kill the mood, but you need to decide if investing in an outdoor kitchen is the right move financially. If you are investing in an outdoor kitchen to increase the resale value of your house…DON’T! If you are creating a kitchen that will enhance your life and make you happy now it is definitely something you should do.
2. What is the best outdoor kitchen countertop material?
I covered this a bit above, but here are a few more pointers for picking the best countertop:
- The most durable materials for use outdoors are concrete, stone or natural stone.
- If you choose a different material, be realistic about its longevity.
- Choose a countertop that fits in with the style you are going for.
- Consider your climate. If you live somewhere with snow and freezing temperatures your needs will be different than someone living in a tropical climate.
3. Can you use normal kitchen cabinets outdoors?
Generally, a cabinet manufactured for indoor use will likely not work outdoors without modifications. However, some styles may be usable with weather-proof modifications – it never hurts to ask! There are also full lines of outdoor-approved cabinets.
4. What are the “must-haves” for an outdoor kitchen?
This list could get very long, but here are some of my absolute must-haves:
- Style – you want to spend time in the space so take the time to design it so it appeals to your tastes.
- Ice Maker or freezer – it is essential to always have ice on hand for drinks, who wants to keep running back and forth to the house? Not me!
- Trash – yes, it is not glamorous, I know, but having a hidden storage space for trash and recycling will keep it out of view of your guests.
- Sink (and a dishwasher if you are feeling extra fancy!) – it is always nice to have easy access to water, and it is even nicer when you don’t have to take the dishes back into the house to wash them!
- A grill – while this is an obvious addition to the list, make sure you take the time to research models and your plans for the use of the grill.
- Other cooking appliances – if you are going to do a lot of cooking outside it is also essential to add burners or a pizza oven.
5. Do outdoor kitchens need to be covered?
It depends. Are you going to spend a lot of time outside when it is hot, raining, or even snowing? If so, a covering would be essential. However, there are options for temporary shelter like a retractable awning. Again, you will need to evaluate your individual needs to determine if you need a cover.
So, there you have it. All the Outdoor Kitchen Ideas you need to get inspired to start designing your dream outdoor kitchen. I hope you can take my advice and create a dynamic space that will make your guests swoon and give you a place to relax and unwind.