Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen can allow you to enjoy cook-outs and BBQ parties. To make an outdoor kitchen construction project successful, having a solid plan is a good idea. When planning for an outdoor kitchen, consider these things – functionality of the area, good grill, and wise usage of space.
Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen

Everybody loves a good cook-out, but few people look forward to the work that comes before and after the party. From preparing the grill to serving the food to cleaning up at the end of the day, the effort involved is enough to make any host give up. That’s why outdoor kitchens are fast becoming the ‘in’ thing in home design. Why run to the kitchen every five minutes if you can cook outside, where all the fun is?

But for all their convenience, outdoor kitchens take a great deal of work to set up. It’s not as simple as moving all your kitchen equipment to the backyard; in the first place, you’ll still need an indoor kitchen for those everyday dinners. There’s also the cost—if you’re planning an outdoor kitchen, be prepared to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment and renovation. Here’s how you can make the most of your money and design the perfect outdoor kitchen for your home.

Get a good grill. The grill is the centerpiece of any outdoor kitchen. It’s where ninety percent of the cooking happens—you don’t expect to be baking cookies or making stew in an outdoor party. The type of grill you choose determines the look and scale of the entire kitchen. If you choose a high-end grill with all the trimmings, you can go easy on the rest of the equipment. Otherwise, you can spend an equal amount on the grill and everything else, which gives you a good balance of functions. If you’ll be rearranging your kitchen from time to time, a mobile grill may be best for you.

Choose function over form. Nothing’s stopping you from choosing the grill with the shinier black finish, but all else being equal, the better choice is always the one that’s more likely to last. Outdoor kitchens take a lot more abuse than indoor ones, so you want to make sure your tools are up to the challenge. They may be larger and bulkier, but they’ll do the job better than the sleek and stylish choices. Go for the less fancy but more useful stuff, and compensate with an efficient layout and good décor.

Use low-maintenance materials. Even if you only use them once a week, outdoor kitchens can deteriorate faster than those indoors. Rain, wind, heat, and humidity can all take their toll on your outdoor kitchen. It helps to know the basics of material design when choosing your equipment. Stainless steel is best for sinks and cookware, while stone and ceramic work great for countertops. If you’re using natural stone, you’ll need to reseal it every year. Also take note of their heat retention properties. Some materials cool faster than others and will not warp or melt as easily.

Complement your indoor kitchen. Expect a lot of traffic between your indoor and outdoor kitchens, even on regular days. It’s okay to repeat some of the equipment, such as knives and cutting boards, but try not to get anything you already have. Think of which tasks you can do indoors during an outdoor party, such as pre-cooking the meats or blanching the vegetables. Make sure there’s a clear path connecting both kitchens—you shouldn’t have to go through another room or step over any obstacles on the way.

Match your home’s exterior. Your kitchen will look a lot better if it goes well with the theme of your home. Think of your exterior wall as your outdoor kitchen’s backdrop. Look for tiles and countertops that complement the existing colors, and add a bit of texture to contrast with the smooth, solid wall. Also consider the landscape of your outdoor area. If it’s a large concrete patio, you can soften it up with warmer colors and light details; if it’s a grass-covered backyard, wooden furniture will look great against the green.

Use your space wisely. The work zone principle applies to both indoor and outdoor kitchens. Divide your kitchen into ‘zones’ for preparation, cooking, and other common tasks. There should also be a wet zone and a dry zone, especially when you’re working with meat. If you have a small kitchen, simply set aside separate areas for handling wet and dry ingredients and leave as much open counter space as possible. Place your entertaining area in front, so that visitors don’t have to go through the kitchen to get seated.

Create good lighting. Lighting is often the most overlooked part of outdoor kitchen design. But it’s just as important as indoor lighting, perhaps even more because you have to complement outdoor light. Concentrate on task lighting—smaller lights designed to facilitate the cooking process. Put up lights on areas you use most often, such as the sink and grill. Finish off with a warm-toned ambient light, preferably fluorescent, to illuminate the rest of the kitchen.