6 Things to Consider When Designing an Outdoor Kitchen


Californians have the distinct advantage of being able to enjoy the outdoors year-round thanks to the mild climate in the state. Considering this fact, adding an outdoor kitchen can help homeowners maximize the enjoyment of their outdoor space.

In fact, outdoor kitchens are a hot commodity in this part of the country, and expand the living space by allowing homeowners to cook, eat, and entertain while enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer.

Here are 6 tips for creating an amazing outdoor kitchen for your home.

1. Decide on the Location

The first item on the agenda is determining exactly where you want the outdoor kitchen to go. The answer you come up with will depend on a few things. For starters, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have to travel very far from your indoor kitchen to the outside to carry food items and dinnerware back and forth. As such, you might want to consider placing the outdoor kitchen somewhat close to the entrance to your indoor kitchen.

Consider how much traffic takes place in your yard, and if there are any children at play. A steaming hot barbecue shouldn’t be placed too close to where the kids normally run around.

Lastly, you might want to choose a location that will minimize the odds of smoke from the grill wafting into the house. Think about the overall wind pattern in your backyard to help you position your grill accordingly.

2. Establish a Layout


How well your outdoor kitchen works will largely depend on its layout, so be sure to clearly lay the foundation of the kitchen before you take your plans any further. Think about how you want your grill to be configured relative to the dinner table, and consider how the refrigerator works where you plan on putting it relative to the grill and serving station.

The same sort of ‘triangle’ layout that’s used for indoor kitchen design – whereby the sink, fridge, and oven/stove are laid out in a triangular fashion and are no less than 4 feet apart and no more than 9 feet apart – applies to outdoor kitchens too. The more elaborate the design and the more items you choose to include, the more carefully you’ll need to consider the layout.

3. Select the Size of Your Appliances

Your overall design plan will be affected by the number and size of appliances you plan to include. You might want to use many appliances and have specific entertaining needs in mind. Think about how all of these appliances will fit in with your design plan, how much space to allow for each appliance and its respective size, and how they will work together.

Don’t cram your appliances too close together, and make sure to leave ample space on either side of the barbecue so you have enough room for utensils, platters, and other items you’ll need handy. 

4. Include Utilities in the Planning Stage


You’ll obviously need to hook up your grill (if it’s gas), fridge, and sink to bring a power and water source to them, so make sure to include where these pipes and wires will be laid out before you start building. It’s a lot easier to install your gas, plumbing, and electrical lines before your kitchen is built, so plan accordingly

5. Incorporate Lighting and Entertainment

Consider adding some task and ambient lighting, as well as some entertainment to allow you and your guests to further enjoy your outdoor kitchen.

Task lighting is obviously needed for food preparation in the evening hours, but ambient lighting – such as under-counter LED lights or recessed lighting in the flooring – can help create the mood you’re looking for. In the same way, adding a speaker system can let you play your favorite tunes as you enjoy your outdoor kitchen space.

6. Add Some Shelter


The bright California sun can be sizzling hot, especially if you sit under it for more than a few mates. Adding some shelter can help you enjoy your meal without being blinded by the sun’s rays and dripping in sweat from its heat.

In addition, shelter can also provide some protection from any sudden rainfalls, no matter how scarce they may be. One of the more common and esthetically pleasing shelters that you may want to consider is a wood pergola, which can take the edge off the sun while still allowing ample natural light come through.   

The Bottom Line

If you’re contemplating creating a private outdoor oasis where you can enjoy a good meal prepared right in your own backyard, a fully-equipped kitchen can be a welcomed addition. But before you start piecing this space together, make sure you take the above tips into consideration to avoid winding up with a finished product that will need major modifications after the fact.