Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas (100’s of Photos)
An outdoor kitchen is not a commonplace element for any home, so the idea may seem foreign at first.
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We hope to demystify and clarify this unique design, sharing the potential for utility and beauty with all. You may also be interested in our extensive feature on outdoor patios, so be sure and check it out!
Perusing the gallery below, be sure to note the varying ways that the outdoor kitchens are integrated with their respective homes.
These kitchens run the design gamut, from fully external cooktops and counters to nearly fully-enclosed rooms attached to houses. The common element is, of course, their functionality as a kitchen. Everything else is up for grabs!
An outdoor kitchen is perfect for entertaining, and such a space is sure to impress your guests as well as provide a cool, comfortable environment in which to dine.
We hope that you find this eclectic collection as inspiring as we have. The notion of combining two of our favorite activities – cooking and spending time outdoors – is irresistible!
Find more backyard ideas in our definitive guide to backyards!
What is an Outdoor Kitchen?
An outdoor kitchen is a cooking space outside. It’s more than a solitary grill. It requires additional elements that a kitchen has such as counterspace, refrigerator, cabinetry, etc.
In some cases the difference between a grill and outdoor kitchen is blurred because some grills are mini-kitchens unto themselves.
Another important element, in my view, is a dining area adjacent to the kitchen space. If you have just a grill and then you eat inside, it’s not really an outdoor kitchen space. But when you add a dining area, you’ve created a full outdoor dining and kitchen space.
- Enjoy the outdoors.
- Convenient: If you like grilling, it’s more convenient to grill and eat outside than grilling and then bringing it all into the house. Moreover, if you have a fully stocked outdoor kitchen, you’re always ready to cook and dine outside.
- Fabulous grilled food. If you like grilled food, then you’ll love an outdoor kitchen.
- Entertaining: With larger, open spaces, it’s great to entertain people outside. They like it too.
- Looks cool: A nice outdoor kitchen looks really cool.
- More to take care of. Every room you add to your home, including outdoor space, needs to be taken care of.
- Limited use: If you live in a rainy or cold climate, you won’t get as much enjoyment as you might like.
- Eat grilled food: If you don’t like grilled food, you’re not going to love food from the main cooking apparatus, namely the grill.
- Lots of back and forth: Unless fully stocked with dishes, etc. there is a lot of hauling kitchen stuff back and forth.
- Takes up patio space: If you built it but don’t use it much, it’s a big waste of space.
Types of Outdoor Kitchens
There are many options for an outdoor kitchen. Here’s some basic decisions you must make.
Your outdoor kitchen will be placed in one of the 4 following settings. There’s no single best option; it really depends on your home, property size and existing backyard features.
- Patio Kitchen
- Rear Porch Kitchen
- Deck Kitchen
- Balcony Kitchen
Check out our gallery above and you’ll see examples of all four settings.
- Covered: The obvious advantage is you can enjoy the space in wet weather and be shaded in hot weather. It really is a great option unless you love being in the sun.
- Uncovered: This is a great option for sun-lovers, although I have to admit the covered feature is my preference given I like the shade and live in a wet climate.
- Partial: By partial, I’m referring to one with a pergola above or partially covered.
Shapes and Layouts
There really are a lot of shapes and layouts. The following are some of the more popular layouts:
- Single line: This is very popular and simple. The kitchen is a single line along the edge of the deck, patio or balcony. It takes up the least amount of space.
- Galley: Larger outdoor cooking spaces are a galley design. This is for those serious about cooking outside.
- L-shape: If you like plenty of counterspace and want a larger cooking area, you can create an L-shaped outdoor kitchen.
- U-shape: If you’re really serious, you’ll have a large U-shaped kitchen. This does take up quite a bit of space though.
What about the island?
While kitchen islands are popular inside, they aren’t so much for outdoor kitchens. It takes up too much space and it really isn’t necessary if you’re primarily grilling.
You can have tiny kitchens or build mammoth outdoor kitchens. It really boils down to your budget and space. You don’t want your entire patio to be the kitchen; you must be judicious in how much space you devote to cooking.
It can be as small as 6 feet long by 18″ deep consisting of a grill and a little counterspace. Or it can be hundreds of square feet and include every kitchen amenity you can imagine. It boils down to three things:
- Your available space;
- Your budget; and
- How serious you are about cooking outdoors.
Grill: The grill is the heart of the outdoor kitchen. While you can have an oven, stove and wood-fired oven, usually the grill is the primary cooking appliance. You could argue a grill is a necessity for an outdoor kitchen.
Oven: More and more elaborate outdoor kitchens include a full-blown oven or wood-fired pizza oven. This makes it possible to cook a variety of dishes, not just those you can do on a grill.
Counterspace: I think some counterspace is necessary for any grill area to be considered an outdoor kitchen. The materials used to create the counters can vary and include rock, brick, wood and stainless steel. Brick and rock are very popular for creating the base in which the grill is placed and counter tops placed on to of.
Drawers and cupboards: If you have the counters installed, you might as well create storage drawers and cupboards below. This way you can fully stock your outdoor kitchen so it’s always ready for action.
Refrigerator: Many include a mini refrigerator built into the cabinetry or brickwork. This is a terrific feature for keeping food and beverages cold. Much more convenient than a cooler.
Bar: One smart design element is incorporating a bar with bar stool seating as part of the outdoor kitchen. You can add an elevated tier to the counters for a bar counter or build out a separate bar area on the deck/patio.
Fireplace: Many include a fire pit, wood-fired oven or a built-in fireplace. Some are used for cooking while others are merely for having fires.
Adjacent Dining and Lounge Areas
An outdoor kitchen would be incomplete without at least a dining area. There are exceptions such as small balconies, but otherwise, if you built a full outdoor kitchen, you should incorporate a dining table. This makes for full outdoor living space.
I also love outdoor living rooms with patio sectionals and lounge chairs. Of course having a kitchen, dining area and living room area requires a huge patio space, which is not always possible.
Whenever possible, I think it’s a good idea that your outdoor space be created in a similar style to the home exterior and interior. For instance, if you have a chalet style home, continue the chalet design to the outdoor living space. Same with modern, rustic, cottage, craftsman, etc.
That said, you’ll notice many outdoor kitchens take on a Mediterranean look because of the extensive use brick and curves. This isn’t a bad look even if your house is a traditional or contemporary design… just go easy on the Mediterranean style elements.
Keep in mind though that brick isn’t the only option for building outdoor cabinetry. In fact, you can easily use wood, especially if covered. Your countertops can be similar to your indoor countertops… my point is that your outdoor kitchen need not take on a rustic Mediterranean style, which you see so often. With some planning, you can create a modern or contemporary or chalet style outdoor living space that will look fabulous as part of your overall property design.
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