How to Design an Outdoor Kitchen


The pandemic gave us a new appreciation for the great outdoors. We just want to spend more time socializing and establishing a deeper connection with nature. That’s why people are currently looking for ways to expand their homes and blend indoor with outdoor living. Investing in an outdoor kitchen is the perfect place to start.

lovely outdoor kitchen with serving peninsula and dining area

Outdoor kitchens have existed for many years, but recently they are becoming more and more popular among homeowners, especially those who love hosting parties and entertaining guests. If you want to learn more about how to design an outdoor kitchen, read our guide below. From cost and ROI to must-have appliances, here is everything you need to know:

WHAT FEATURES SHOULD MY OUTDOOR KITCHEN INCLUDE?

When we hear the phrase “outdoor kitchen”, most of us imagine a simple grill and a few chairs. However, the idea of an outdoor kitchen is constantly expanding and in recent years, it has reached a whole new level.

Today, there are no limits for outdoor kitchen features. At the end of the day, it depends on  your preferences and needs. If you don’t know where to start, read about these popular outdoor kitchen features and how they can improve your dining experience:

  • Cabinets – Most homeowners forget about outdoor kitchen cabinets, but they are essential for any outdoor kitchen. They will boost visual appeal and help you keep the space organized and neat. Plus, you won’t have to run to the indoor kitchen every time you need an extra plate or spoon.
  • Two-sided grill–A grill is an obvious choice for outdoor kitchens, but we recommend choosing the two-sided option. It’s perfect for cooking enthusiasts, but also families with vegans. You can use one grill for cooking meat and the other for vegetables.
  • Side burners–Instead of using the stove in your indoor kitchen, you can get the job done outside. Today, most modern grills have side burners and they are a must-have for larger outdoor gatherings.
  • Pizza oven–Besides pizza, you can use a pizza oven for preparing many dishes, including homemade bread and grilled meat. We recommend choosing a built-in pizza oven. It’s truly a show-stopper and one of the most popular outdoor kitchen appliances.
  • Dishwasher & Garbage disposal–With a dishwasher, you won’t have to carry dirty dishes inside. Instead, you can clean them right on the spot and store them in your outdoor cabinets and drawers. The garbage disposal is not necessary, but it will come in handy if you decide to wash the dishes outside.
  • Refrigerator–A lifesaver for homeowners who frequently host outdoor parties, a refrigerator will make your dining experience a thousand times easier and will definitely impress guests. If you want to keep things cool in your outdoor kitchen, you can also include ice makers and built-in cold beverage bins.

Some extra features you can add to your outdoor kitchen are beer dispensers, warming drawers, blenders, and smokers. Even though they are not essential, these simple products can instantly elevate your outdoor dining experience.  

rustic outdoor kitchen

  

 

OUTDOOR KITCHEN AS AN EXTENSION OF YOUR MAIN KITCHEN

How you design the outdoor kitchen is completely up to your taste. However, consider the distance between your outdoor and indoor kitchen. For example, if you plan to install your new kitchen further from your house, you might need extra appliances like a fridge, beer dispenser, blender, or ice maker.

You might want to make your outdoor kitchen an extension of the main kitchen, or you might want to experiment with style and create something completely unexpected. Whatever you decide, we are sure that it will be the right choice. However, if you want to create the perfect flow between outdoor and indoor space, there are some design rules you should keep in mind. Here are some tips and tricks for designing your outdoor kitchen as an extension of your main one:

STYLE CONSISTENCY

The best way to blend your outdoor kitchen with your indoor one is through style consistency. Take a good look at your main kitchen and start brainstorming on how you can incorporate similar elements outdoors. For example, if your indoor kitchen has a rustic vibe, add some natural pieces outside too.

You can also use color to achieve style consistency and a nice flow between the spaces. So, if you have sage green kitchen cabinets inside, try to include sage green color on the outside too, whether through décor, furniture pieces, or cabinetry.  

EASY ACCESS

Another way to strengthen the bond between your indoor and outdoor kitchen is by making sure they are physically connected. You can build the outdoor kitchen next to your indoor one and add sliding glass doors between them. If the location doesn’t allow this and your outdoor kitchen is further away from the house, you can always improvise.

A brilliant solution is creating a special pathway that will lead from your indoor kitchen to your outdoor one. You can choose the path’s materials based on your kitchen’s design. For example, install a brick path for connecting kitchens with vintage and industrial style, or ones with stone features like built-in outdoor ovens.    

WEATHERPROOFING

Outdoor kitchens are vulnerable to weather. If you want to have the same comforts outside as you do inside, make sure you choose the right materials and provide protection from the elements.  

First, choose materials that can withstand moisture and difficult climates. Nobody wants their furniture to fall victim to rot, mold, or pests. For example, natural wood is vulnerable to moisture and is not a good choice for an outdoor kitchen in a rainy climate.

Next, find ways to protect the kitchen from rain, snow, sun, and wind. You can always use shades and umbrellas, but we highly recommend building a patio cover above the kitchen.  

outdoor dining terrace with kitchen

  

HOW MUCH DOES AN OUTDOOR KITCHEN COST

The cost for a regular outdoor kitchen varies between $5,500 and $35,000. For installation alone, expect to spend between $5,000 and $20,000. However, many factors influence the ultimate cost. Some homeowners have spent well above $100,000 and others have built a nice outdoor kitchen for much less. Everything depends on your location, goals, needs, and vision.

If you want to add handmade or luxurious items, or plan to include built-in appliances, be prepared to spend in excess of $50,000. Every item you include comes with an additional cost and will increase your budget. For example, a kitchen fireplace costs between $1,000 and $4,000, lighting fixtures between $250 and $1,500, and sink installation between $500 and $2,500. If you want to cover the outdoor kitchen and protect it from weather, you can spend from $10,000 (for a simple pergola) up to $50,000 for a full patio enclosure.

The cost will also depend on your house’s condition and access to utilities. For example, installing new plumbing specifically for your outdoor kitchen can cost between $1,000 and $3,000. You should also consider electrical charges (between $50 and $100 per hour), the contractor’s fee which typically ranges between $1,500 and $6,000, and the cost for a building permit.

To avoid any surprises, it’s best to determine the budget before you plan the design of your outdoor kitchen. This way, you will have a much easier time choosing the kitchens’ features such as materials, appliances, décor, and furniture.

beautiful covered outdoor kitchen patio with sitting area

  

HOW MUCH WILL AN OUTDOOR KITCHEN ADD TO MY HOME VALUE?

Outdoor kitchens are great for increasing home value, especially now – after the pandemic. According to a statistic by the National Association of Realtors, an outdoor kitchen’s average ROI is 71%.

Keep in mind that the recoup will largely depend on the kitchen’s design, maintenance, and your home’s location. Enclosed outdoor kitchens with quality materials and useful appliances have higher chances of increasing home value. However, if you don’t show your kitchen the care it deserves, the materials will deteriorate and the buyers won’t be willing to spend more money when the time comes.  

You can also take certain extra steps to ensure that your outdoor kitchen will add more value in the long term. Include products and features which will last longer and which every homebuyer will love and enjoy. Some good examples are fridges, cabinets, built-in ovens, dining tables, sinks, and fire pits. If you plan to move out in a few years or so, you can also check out recent trends and ROI stats to know which style and appliances to choose.

Since exterior spaces yield such a high return, we also recommend building an outdoor dining and entertainment area along with the kitchen. This way, you will increase usable square footage, comfort, and visual appeal at the same time.


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