Outdoor kitchens are fast becoming the final centerpiece for a perfect outdoor living space. Why? Because they are a fantastic way to expand your living and the entertaining area outside while being of practical use to everyone.
An outdoor kitchen is an excellent addition to any home. Not only does it add value to your property, but it also provides a place to entertain friends and family. There are several things to consider before adding an outdoor kitchen to your home, and I’ll go over them here.
There are many different types of outdoor kitchens available. So let me give you my suggestions for mapping this project out.
Know Your Budget Before You Get Started with Anything
Your budget may help you decide if you’re going into this with a DIY plan or if you will be hiring licensed and insured contractors. You may need permits pulled, and you should look into any HOA or municipal guidelines and rules about adding things to your backyard. You might need to do a little of both. You will probably need to hire licensed professionals if you plan on adding electrical and/or natural gas.
You need to budget for all of this. Also, your budget might determine the kind of outdoor kitchen you get versus what you want. I mean, I’d love to have a full-blown brick or stone-built kitchen in my backyard, but for one – it would outdo my neighborhood standard, and also, I can’t afford it. So… a nice table and a pizza oven it is!
Choose Your Location Carefully
You’ll need enough space to accommodate your needs, so consider placement before building. The location should be easily accessible to everyone who uses it. An outdoor kitchen can go on the back porch or patio, but building it off the house may make sense.
Make sure there’s enough space between the grill and any other furniture, so people have room to move around freely while cooking or eating outside. Also, keep in mind that a grill gets hot, and smoke will be involved. You may want to set this area away from your entertaining area.
If there’s only room for a small grill and some seating, that’s all you need! However, if you’re planning on having larger gatherings with lots of food, you’ll need more space for serving stations and cooking equipment.
Select Your Preferred Style
There are so many different styles of outdoor kitchens that it’s easy to find one that fits your home’s current design. You can even mix up different looks if parts of your house and yard already incorporate a specific style. Remember, color scheme matters.
A traditional outdoor kitchen is usually located near the house, as it typically includes a grill, sink, and refrigerator. This type of design is perfect if you already have an existing structure or patio area around which you’d like to build your outdoor kitchen.
Contemporary and Industrial
This style graduated from a traditional design but with an aesthetic influenced by modern elements. This design uses sleek lines and modern shapes that are often reflective of high-end kitchens in homes today. The ones I’ve had and seen usually have a lot of brick and stainless steel. They also might have a very industrial decor standard, like pipes and stained wood surfaces.
An open-air kitchen allows you to integrate your outdoor space with the surrounding landscape fully. This design often includes fire pits and cooking areas that are not enclosed or near your house. Open-air kitchens can be used year-round and are ideal for entertaining large groups of people who want to enjoy the fresh air while they cook.
Rustic or Influenced by Nature
If you love nature and want to incorporate elements of it into your design, consider a look that is actually graduated from an open-air design but with an aesthetic influenced by nature. A rustic kitchen uses natural materials like wood and stone to create an elegant look. This look often includes wooden cabinets or walls, stone or concrete countertops, and plants or flowers around the area.
In addition to being easy on the eyes, this style also helps keep things cool during hot summer months because the materials used absorb heat more efficiently than other materials such as glass or metal. If you plant the landscaping correctly, you can ensure privacy and shade.
Choose the Type of Outdoor Kitchen and Its Accessories
Outdoor kitchens come in many different styles, sizes, and configurations. Some are built as an extension of the home, others are stand-alone structures, and yet others are designed to be portable. The most important thing is to ensure that your outdoor kitchen has enough space for everyone who will use it.
By accessories, I mean what kind of components you want to bring together to make up your outdoor kitchen other than the basic grill and cooktop. You need to choose if you’ll have counters, and if so, what kind and what kind of countertops. Do you want a sink? A mini-fridge? You decide.
Gravel or Paver Patio with a Grill Station
A gravel or paver patio is an excellent choice for an outdoor kitchen because it is easy to maintain, creates a more natural look, and is less expensive than other options. You can build an outdoor kitchen near your existing grill with just a few materials and some skill.
An outdoor kitchen built on a gravel or paver patio will offer you more flexibility when designing your space. Pavers and gravel can be spread around current patio spaces to provide an adjacent space connected to the original. Or you can develop gravel and/or pavers into a new area away from the initial outdoor living space. This helps keep that smoke away.
More than that, it’s less expensive than pouring a whole new section for expansion. The only drawback is that you need to be sure your modular kitchen sections are level because gravel and pavers are more likely to shift under anything heavy.
Outdoor Grilling Island
A grilling island is typically a large countertop with a built-in grill and a sink underneath. Most of these islands have storage drawers or cabinets underneath for storing utensils and food preparation items. Another convenience of a grilling island is that it can be placed on any surface, including concrete patios, wooden decks, and grassy areas, if you have a suitable surface material.
An island is another great option for an outdoor kitchen because it allows you to cook multiple dishes simultaneously. If you like entertaining guests or hosting family dinners outside, an island-style outdoor kitchen will allow you plenty of room so guests can gather around while food is prepared.
A Pizza Oven
Incorporating a pizza oven is a great way to add a unique design element to your outdoor kitchen. A pizza oven is an enclosed wood-fired brick or stone structure where pizzas are cooked at high temperatures — usually between 500 and 900 degrees Fahrenheit (260 and 480 degrees Celsius). They also come in a portable variety, but those don’t add value to your property.
Pizza ovens often come standard in Portugal, Spain, or Italy. They are stone-fired ovens, generally built into the outdoor kitchen space included as part of the patio. You can incorporate a modern pizza oven in several ways. Obviously, the masonry style will be the most expensive and yet most appealing option.
The budget comes into play here. We decided on a portable pizza oven for our backyard cooking. We may go with a grill later, but it would be small for just the two of us. The pizza oven is for more than just pizza too. I’ll have to write about it soon. For now, know that a portable oven is convenient, can simply be placed on a table for use, and is not as expensive as an actual stone pizza oven.
You can have the other units involved in an outdoor kitchen along with the oven. It’s not exclusive. But one thing you need to be aware of is that high-temperature output. You will need a placement that keeps everything safe from melting or fire.
Outdoor Kitchen Cabinetry and Appropriate Countertops
Many different countertops are available, but which are best for outdoor use? It depends on what you plan to use it for and what will be installed within it.
If you use a portable pizza oven, you need a countertop that can withstand a lot of heat. Remember how much space you’ll need for prep and receiving when planning to have a cabinet and countertop space outside. Will you add a sink to your cabinets, or will your sink be freestanding (if you even include a sink)? You’ll also want to consider that it’s outside – which requires durability and maintenance.
Granite is one of the most popular choices. It’s durable and beautiful. Unfortunately, granite is one of the more expensive options because it’s difficult to cut into pieces small enough for an outdoor kitchen without compromising its structural integrity or beauty.
Concrete is another popular choice among homeowners who want an outdoor kitchen because it offers several benefits over granite or other materials. It’s easier to work with than granite or marble. Still, it has properties similar to those materials, such as being durable and won’t chip easily when exposed to harsh weather. It’s also less expensive, and in this homeowner’s opinion, it fits better into the outdoor living space.
More important than the countertops is the choice of cabinetry. No matter what materials you decide upon, always be willing to waterproof them. Otherwise, the choice is yours.
What About a Sink?
Adding a sink to an outdoor kitchen isn’t very difficult, plumbing-wise. So long as the kitchen is close enough to an outdoor spigot, it’s doable. If you are okay with the extra work, the sink can also be an addition to your home’s plumbing.
So, what kind of sink will work best in your outdoor kitchen? There are many different types of sinks available, but when it comes to outdoor kitchens, you have two main options: stainless steel or cast iron.
Stainless Steel Sinks
Stainless steel is one of the most popular choices for outdoor kitchens because they look great and are easy to clean. Stainless steel sinks are available in various styles, including under-mount, drop-in, and farmhouse-style countertops. These can be a great choice if you want something that matches your other kitchen appliances!
Cast Iron Sinks
Cast iron sinks are another popular option for outdoor kitchens because they’re incredibly durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions like extreme heat or cold temperatures without cracking or rusting, as other materials might do over time. Cast iron sinks also tend to be affordable compared to other sinks. Since the cast iron on sinks is coated, it will only be vulnerable to rust if damaged. Also, it’s heavy. Therefore it will need well-built support cabinetry.
The Point Is
Outdoor kitchens are an excellent way of adding value to your home, especially if they match a home and yard’s aesthetic. They can be customized to fit your space and needs. Each outdoor kitchen has its own personality. You can make a fabulous outdoor kitchen if you go by your budget and decide on your design, your style, and your accessories and stick to it.