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Ideas for Outdoor Kitchens


Cooking outdoors can be much more than setting up a grill on a patio. Here are some ideas for outdoor kitchen design that will make your mouth water

It's true, you can cook any food indoors, with the exception of smoking, and have all the necessary conveniences at your fingertips. So, why in the world would you want to install a kitchen outside?

Just as food seems to taste better when cooked outdoors, so does the act of cooking in an open environment seem to be more fun, more adventurous, more family-friendly. It's similar to the excitement of visiting a new restaurant - without leaving home.

The outdoor kitchen has become a popular gathering place during the summer months and, in many parts of the world - all year long. From budget-conscious grilling areas with awnings and a chimenea to courtyards turned to bungalows, folks are gearing up for outdoor cooking.

When you're ready to build your own, an array of outdoor appliances to meet every cooking need awaits.

You first need to decide on a budget and a design. If you're adding water, electricity and a gas line, you'll probably need a building permit as well. For a few thousand dollars, you can purchase a mobile setup that has it all. It won't require any permits and can be rolled into the garage during the worst of winter weather.

Many manufacturers now make outdoor versions of every indoor appliance you could possible use or want. Wine coolers, built-in pizza ovens, refrigerator with ice-maker, and dishwasher. It's all waiting for you and your pocketbook.

Sticker shock may set in quickly. After all, these appliances and gadgets must withstand the elements. That means stainless steel and other long-wearing materials, which raises the cost. Not to mention the cabinetry and countertops. You can choose from a selection of all-weather woods, or build a base of bricks and concrete blocks. Add a stucco coating to blocks for a finished look.

During the design phase, determine how you want the kitchen work areas to flow. If you want a dishwasher, how close is it to the sink? What about counterspace? Do you have plenty of countertop area between the sink and the built-in grill? Lay your cabinetry out beforehand, especially if you are going to install a warming drawer, refrigerator, and/or small hot water heater.

You may want to add that special pizza oven while drawing up plans. A brick, wood-fired oven is definitely a luxurious touch - who cannot resist the lure of a bubbling pizza straight off a paddle? Now that's pure Mediterranean style.

If you're not going to add all the bells and whistles, then think about convenience. Your indoor kitchen should continue working in tandem with the outdoor space. Consider an outdoor location in close proximity to the indoor kitchen for the inevitable back and forth errands. If you do not have extra space for a standalone island, you can also build your outdoor cabinetry against a wall. This may make it easier to tie into existing plumbing and electricity.

Think about where your guests are going to hang out as well as additional workstations for helpers. People gravitate toward fire and cooking areas and you do not want them underfoot. You may want to add a bar area to the back of an open cooking island or an offset free-standing counter island where guests can watch the chef, the fire, and still munch on foods and chat.

Additionally, you'll want to make use of your kitchen when the temperature cools off a bit. Look for commercial-style ceramic heaters or design a full-blown outdoor fireplace. What about when it's too hot? You can build a gazebo, trellis with vines, or purchase a misting system strong enough to cool off the immediate area.

Don't forget lighting. Now that you are spending more time outdoors in a new kitchen, you want to be prepared for shorter days and longer evenings enjoying the fire, the grill, and a tasty meal.


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