Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas and Essentials

September 01, 2021

Dining al fresco is hard to beat. There’s just something extra special about enjoying a meal with family or friends outside in the fresh air. Here in the Pacific Northwest, where we are blessed with a relatively temperate climate, outdoor dining is possible nearly year-round. It’s no wonder outdoor kitchens are hugely popular. And with today’s all-weather appliances and other amenities available the design possibilities are endless!

If you’ve been dreaming about your own outdoor kitchen, here are our top ideas and tips to make your alfresco cooking and dining even more delightful.

 Outdoor Kitchen vs. Grilling Station

Outdoor kitchens are on par with indoor kitchens. While grilling stations and outdoor kitchens can include many of the same features, what sets the two apart are kitchen essentials like a sink with running water, a cooktop and/or oven, a refrigerator, prep areas, and counter and storage space. Both outdoor grilling stations and outdoor kitchens offer a wide range of appliance and design options, so your ideal set-up will come down to the features and amenities you want to include.

 Smart Kitchen Design

Whether your dream kitchen is a simple set-up or a more elaborate affair, the same design principles apply. A good place to start is to think about the functional zones (i.e., prep, cooking, washing areas) and how each works together. This is where a professional designer can help you create an ideal kitchen layout with all the features you want to be included. A good designer will also provide ideas you probably never thought of!

 Location Matters

Let’s face it, hauling food and utensils back and forth across your yard is not all that much fun. Situating your outdoor kitchen closer to the house will eliminate those long treks. But how close is ideal? Well, that depends on the amenities you want to include. A fully functioning outdoor kitchen with all the essentials probably does not need to be on the other side of the wall from your indoor kitchen. So, what appliances and features you include, and how your indoor and outdoor kitchens will be used together when cooking and entertaining, are key considerations to determine the best location.

location matters

Shelter from the Elements

Protection from sunshine and heat, wind and rain, and everything in between is a must. Beyond adding a roof or pergola, you also want to consider how open-air you want your outdoor kitchen to be. Your house, depending on proximity, can also provide shelter.

Special Features & Amenities

Just like your indoor spaces, you want your outdoor space to be inviting and comfortable and reflect your personal aesthetic. Lighting is essential to the outdoor kitchen and adds to the overall ambiance as dining extends into the evening. There are abundant outdoor lighting options and your designer can help you select the right mix for function and mood. Patio heaters or fire pits can provide both style and warmth.

Here’s a list of key essentials and special features you may want to consider:

essential features

  • Grill and cooktop
  • Warming drawer
  • Pizza Oven
  • Compact refrigerator
  • Sink with running water
  • Food prep areas
  • Trash, recycling, and compost bins
  • Dishwasher
  • Task lighting
  • Icemaker
  • Wine cooler
  • Beer tap or kegerator
  • Patio bar or bar cart
  • Coffee or tea bar
  • Storage for dishes, utensils, glassware
  • Firepit
  • Patio Heaters
  • Specialty lighting
  • Music and other entertainment
  • Dining furniture
  • Barstools

So now that we’ve got you dreaming of all the possibilities, it’s time to start planning. Our experienced designers at Landscape East & West can help you create the ideal outdoor kitchen for your home. We can walk you through all the steps including design, appliance and materials selection, utilities planning, permitting, and installation. Contact us today to get started.