By Alan Eadie, Jeff's Outdoor Landscape Designer
An outdoor kitchen is one of the most beautiful and practical spaces you can add to your home.
When well designed, outdoor kitchens become natural gathering spots where you and your family will enjoy cooking, grilling, and sharing a meal together. You may have big dreams for this space, but once you start planning, you may find it’s even more complicated than planning an indoor kitchen remodel. Where do you begin in order to ensure you’ll create an amazing outdoor kitchen? Here are our top outdoor kitchen design tips to help get you started.
1. Choose your appliances first
When they start planning their outdoor kitchen, most people immediately head to the backyard and start looking for the best spot to place it. It’s better to start by thinking about the appliances you’ll want to include. Your choices will help to determine the size and layout of your outdoor kitchen, and there’s no use planning the location until have a better idea of its footprint.
So choose your appliances first. You'll likely want at least a grill, a sink, and a small fridge. Beyond those basics, you could add a pizza oven, stove top, ice box, side burners, full-size refrigerator, and more.
2. Plan where to put the kitchen
After you’ve chosen your appliances, you can calculate how much space you'll need for them, plus some room for countertop prep space and eating space if you wish. A good rule of thumb is to place the sink, grill, and countertop prep space in a triangle; this is called the work triangle. The sides of your kitchen triangle should be between 4 feet and 9 feet for optimal convenience while you’re cooking.
Once you have the general layout of your kitchen planned, you can think about how you want to orient it in your backyard. Think about safety first. For example, you shouldn’t put the grill near the side of your house or wooden elements where it could start a fire.
3. Select quality materials
When choosing materials and finishes for an outdoor kitchen, you should keep weather-resistance at the top of your priority list. For countertops, it's hard to beat granite. It can handle a wide range of weather conditions and is simple to maintain. Quartzite and concrete are also good water-resistant options. Marble, quartz, and soapstone may not stand up to weather well enough.
For flooring, safety is a top concern. You don’t want a floor that gets slippery after a little rain or from pool water. So avoid porous or glazed tiles. Stained wood, brick, and concrete can offer the traction you need to be safe.
4. Don’t forget storage space
One common mistake homeowners make when designing their outdoor kitchen is neglecting storage space. You’ll need cupboards and drawers for utensils, plates, cups, and any other items you’ll need while cooking and eating. A refrigerator, even a small one, will make your outdoor kitchen much more practical. Also, saving a bit of cupboard space for your non-refrigerated food will also make it easier to cook outside, without having to run back into the house for buns.