If you’re looking to maximize your backyard space, outdoor kitchens can add beauty, value, and motivation to spend time outside. It will expand your living space and allow you to cook, eat and entertain in style. And this is not just for summer BBQs—a well-thought out space can be enjoyed well beyond the summer months, and your home will become the go-to space for comfortable living. Consider the following things before getting started on your outdoor kitchen project.

Foundation for Outdoor Kitchens

Start from the ground up. Outdoor Kitchens require durable flooring material that’s easy to clean, can be pressure washed if necessary, and withstand lots of foot traffic. Be conscious of the weather and the overall weight of the appliances you’ll install.

Think about beauty, but flooring should first and foremost be functional and safe, especially in a space that can get wet and potentially slippery or have to hold up to grease or food stains. If you are working on your space on an existing deck, consider re-staining or painting the deck not only to match the new renovations but also to make sure it’s in top condition.

The Layout

Draw out your floor layout in advance and be open to options that may not be your first instinct. Of course you want easy access to your indoor refrigerator while you’re cooking on the grill, but think twice about putting it too close to the entrance to your home—you want to keep foot traffic away from potential hot hazards and you’ll want to avoid smoke rising back into your home. On this example, think about the general wind patterns also, both for grill smoke and for any other needs like citronella candle scents.

To maintain the current view from inside the house to outside, place outdoor kitchens to the side or at an angle so as to not block that view. Think about the overall flow of your yard—do your kids throw a frisbee right where you want to put your grill? Will there be enough space for a table in between the pool and that retaining wall? Make sure you plan ahead so as not to compromise the areas of your yard that you currently enjoy.

Make sure you give yourself enough space for your cooking needs, adding counter space to set heavy platters and storage drawers to keep glasses and BBQ tools easily accessible. These cabinets and countertops need to be waterproof and more durable than those you have inside, so many times stone or steel are good options as they are also easy to clean and maintain. Be sure to coordinate your flooring, counters, and cabinets for a sleek and modern look. Think about how much storage you’ll need—will you be entertaining a large number of guests year-round? Or just your family during the summer? Take that into account in your planning.

The Appliances and Accommodations

You may have specific entertaining needs in mind, which may warrant several cooking and refrigeration appliances. Many outdoor kitchens include a grill (both gas or charcoal), a sink, and a small refrigerator. Some kitchens even include specialty appliances such as a beer tap, a smoker, a warming drawer, or even a hibachi grill.

When designing your space, make sure whichever appliances you choose can make it through rain and sun. Stainless steel and ceramic are great options that are durable and require low maintenance. Think about where your outdoor sink will be hooked into the water supply—will it be at the hose or the home’s supply? Will you need a plumber to make that happen?

Being aware of the size of these appliances is absolutely necessary in determining the size and layout of your space. It’s important to leave enough space between the appliances and to think about how they’ll work with each other.

Consider having various counter heights—traditional 36” high counters are perfect for standing pre-meal work and cooking; 30” high surfaces are ideal for sitting and eating; and 42” high bar tables are great for standing or resting food and beverages. Combining all three of these heights will allow the space to be functional and flexible, and it will also maximize the space should you want to have a party catered.

Finishing Touches

Tables, chairs, couches, and decorative objects will complete your outdoor space. Choose pieces that are functional, but that complete the look and feel you want. Specialty lighting will help with the ambiance, as can a small fountain or pond. If you’re working with a smaller space, consider chairs that can stack when not in use. This also comes in handy when winterizing outdoor kitchens.

Depending on your yard, you may want to add a pergola or retractable roof to allow usage in rain or extreme heat. You can also incorporate patio umbrellas for coverage, or overhead fan or mist sprays for very hot locations. 

For colder locations, heat lamps or fire pits can extend the use of outdoor kitchens into the fall.

For areas with pesky bugs or mosquitos, you can add netting around the dining area to help protect against pests.

Enjoy Your Space!

The best outdoor kitchens bring the comfort and versatility of your indoor kitchen outside. They are as welcoming as a living room and as entertaining as a family room, and you will want to spend lots of time there. An outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a grill and table and chairs, or as elaborate as a fully outfitted cooking space with built-in appliances, a sink, and seating. Your ideal space can become a reality with the help of design professionals.

Enlist the help of J&S Landscaping to make it exactly what you want—call us today!