Whether you’re looking to create the perfect outdoor kitchen to entertain your family and friends, have an enjoyable outdoor space for preparing and enjoying an intimate meal, or simply combine your love for cooking and being outside, there is a lot of appeal to building the outdoor kitchen of your dreams right in your own yard.
For many, the focal point of the outdoor kitchen is the grilling station–it makes sense, given how naturally grilling and outdoor dining fit together! If warm-weather get-togethers are what you are after with your outdoor kitchen, consider making the grill, stove, or range the star of your kitchen. You might consider something like an island station in the middle of your space, with your grill central to the area. Or, you can opt to maximize your counter space in your outdoor kitchen by putting your cooking appliances in the corner. Wherever you decide your cooking location is going to be, most people build around this area with a wood or stone counter area that serves as the “centerpiece” of the outdoor kitchen, and then build off of that.
The grill (or maybe even a pizza oven!) isn’t the only appliance you should consider. Will your outdoor kitchen have a refrigerator, or even a freezer? What about a sink–and will it have a garbage disposal? Asking these questions will help you determine whether you need to configure plumbing solutions first. You may need to set up your water lines and disposal pipes well before you start building anything. In any event, the first step is to consider the appliances that will feature in your outdoor kitchen, and then plan accordingly.
You should also consider the elements that come into play when cooking outside. Unlike cooking indoors, you will have a much better-ventilated grilling area, but you and your guests will also be much more exposed to the heat, sun, wind, insects, and other variables. How comfortable your outdoor diners will be depends on how much shade, seating space, and shielding from the elements–smoke from your grill included–you can provide. You may be limited by what your outdoor space has to offer, too. If you are building your outdoor kitchen under a gazebo or on a deck, you should work to the strengths of your area. Another point to consider is how much you’ll use your outdoor kitchen–if it will get heavy usage, it is well worth your effort and investment to build some outdoor kitchen cabinets for storage. Rather than having to run in and out to your indoor kitchen to grab supplies and dishes, having a specific outdoor set of cooking equipment can be extremely handy, and a set of quality outdoor cabinets is the perfect place for it all. Place settings, canned goods, grilling equipment, cleaning supplies, and more are all prime candidates for storage in your outdoor kitchen cabinets, since they’re all items you’ll want to have handy, but not necessarily out in the open at all times.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider materials. Simply put, some materials don’t weather as well as others. Outdoor porcelain and ceramic tile are timeless, sturdy choices that can create a wide range of looks from rustic and classic to more modern and chic. Granite countertops are incredibly durable, as are marble countertops, and both can stand up to the weather admirably. Concrete or brick options are also popular for outdoor kitchens, but they do tend to limit the range of aesthetic options you have available. Your countertops will be the most visible element to most of your guests in your outdoor kitchen, so most of the character your space gives off will come from your decisions here.
Putting together your dream outdoor kitchen is a lot of work as a DIY project, but it is a rewarding endeavor if you build it according to the vision you create. The basic process involves building a series of wooden frames, securing the material of your choice to the outside using mortar or other similar materials, adding cabinet space and doors, and securing the countertops of your choice, all before finally adding in and hooking up your outdoor kitchen’s appliances. It is an involved process that is best done with multiple people–just like enjoying the end result will be!
By committing to the experience you want to get from your outdoor kitchen, you can plan and build accordingly to create the ideal setting for entertaining your family and friends.