Create The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

It's the weekend and your friends and family want to hang out at the hottest new barbecue spot in town. Where are they headed? To your house where you are grilling up a few steaks on your brand new Alfresco grill or maybe smoking a large chicken in the green egg. It's the new place to be. Everyone is talking about how functional your new space is and how much fun it is to hang out at the bar top while you cook. But before you can get things sizzling you will need to start creating your ultimate space.

Before you hire a professional for your outdoor kitchen

There are many professionals who specialize in designing outdoor kitchens. Many have experience in landscape or patio design, and understand how this kitchen should relate to the rest of your outdoor space. Before looking for a professional to design your outdoor kitchen, have a clear understanding with regards to what you want your kitchen to look like, what components need to be present, and how you want to use it. You’ll want to look for a professional who is licensed, bonded and insured (if these are requirements in your state) and check their BBB ratings (which is available on Porch). You’ll also want to verify that they are knowledgeable about current building codes and permits, as some jurisdictions require permitting for outdoor structures, electrical work or gas lines

The right location matters

Ideally your outdoor kitchen will be located close enough to your indoor kitchen so you don’t have to walk too far to retrieve supplies, but far enough away as to not pose a fire danger to your home. Because a full outdoor kitchen is nearly as large as an actual indoor kitchen, most homeowners place it wherever there is enough space for the equipment as well as any overhanging structures like an arbor or gazebo. You’ll want to make sure that there is also room to accommodate tables and seating to complete your outdoor entertaining area. If you have a swimming pool or spa, placing the outdoor kitchen near this area can allow you to create a swim-up dining or bar area.

Plumbing and electrical needs

An outdoor kitchen often includes many of the same conveniences as an indoor kitchen. An outdoor kitchen may have overhead lighting, outlets to operate small appliances (like a blender), a sink, refrigeration, ice machine, televisions, heating lamps, ceiling fans, ventilation, and other electrical and plumbing needs. Because of the complexity of a fully equipped outdoor kitchen, a licensed professional should be hired to complete the plumbing and electrical requirements. It’s a good idea to have a detailed list of your desired appliances and features you want for your outdoor kitchen before the project begins so that the plumbing and wiring can be laid out accordingly. It may be difficult to add on features once the kitchen is complete.

Flooring in the outdoor kitchen

Your choice of flooring is important for your outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchen floors are subject to a lot of wear and tear like stains, oil or grease spills, water, foot traffic as well as dirt and debris. It also needs to be able to support a heavy amount of weight. For these reasons, many experts advise sealed stone, pavers or poured concrete. Regardless of your flooring choice, you’ll want to ensure that the surface is angled towards a drain (most patios are slightly angled for water drainage) or angled away from the home.

Grill, BBQ and other cooking appliances

The cooking appliances you choose to use outdoors are entirely up to you. Some at-home chefs prefer the speed and convenience of a gas grill, and may even install a dedicated gas line. While others prefer the flavor of traditional charcoal or a wood-burning smoker. In addition to a grill or BBQ, some outdoor kitchens also feature a wok, pizza oven or side burners. Like the other components in your outdoor kitchen, you’ll want to communicate your appliance needs to your designer before the project gets underway.

Countertop space

Just like your indoor kitchen, an outdoor kitchen needs a good amount of counter space. You’ll need a place to queue up food ready to be cooked and a place to rest food that’s done cooking. You’ll also want room for beverages and possibly space for an eat-in area or bar seating. Although most people agree that you can never have too much counter space, you’ll want to aim for at least 24-inches on either side of the grill.

Other storage needs

When it comes to outdoor kitchen design, there is no shortage of accessories available for your home. You can install built in trash and recycling cans, built in firewood stations, drawers for cutlery and utensils, cocktail stations, paper towel holders, wine racks, or a cleaning supply station. Like all of the other elements, it’s a good idea to have this wish list right from the beginning of your design stage so that the kitchen encompasses everything you need and want.


Lighting shouldn’t be an afterthought when setting up your outdoor kitchen. Lighting should be installed not only so you can see what you are cooking once the sun sets, but to help with safety when walking around outdoors. It’s important to consider the type of lighting for your outdoor kitchen. Bright flood or safety lights can often blind the eyes at night, so low-level lighting can help illuminate walkways, stairs or transition areas. LED spot lights are great for above the cooking areas. Having an even amount of lighting is better than having only one or two really bright lights. Be sure the light fixtures you choose are designed for outdoor use.

Shading, heat and cooling

Outdoor kitchens that are designed with a cover or partial cover can ensure that the kitchen can still be used in inclement weather. Depending on your regional climate, some homeowners add outdoor fans, cooling misters, or heating elements to help make this outdoor space comfortable. Cooking outdoors in the summer can often be really hot and uncomfortable for the chef, so adding some type of shading can make this space much more enjoyable. Be sure that the outdoor grill or BBQ has enough clearance under the shade structure so as to not pose a fire threat.

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