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10 Tips to Build an Outdoor Kitchen and Extend Your Backyard Oasis

Last updated May 19, 2022| Cooking

Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. This means it’s time to get outside!

Nothing says “summer” like a backyard barbecue, and what better way to extend your backyard oasis than by building an outdoor kitchen? Whether you’re hosting friends or family, having a party, or just want more space for cooking, the benefits of building an outdoor kitchen this summer are plenty.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve put together a list of 10 tips that will help make your kitchen come alive this summer.

Why Build an Outdoor Kitchen?

Building an outdoor kitchen is great for those warm summer days and can be the perfect way to extend the living space in your home – it’s great when you’re hosting family or friends, as well as during parties!

Besides, an outdoor kitchen has proven to increase the value of your home, which is always a plus!

An outdoor kitchen also adds value to any event – whether it’s hosting family for dinner, entertaining guests at your next party, or simply cooking up BBQ hamburgers on the grill. It doesn’t take much time and effort but will make an impact in its own right.

Keeping smells outside is a plus to an outdoor kitchen, as well. No matter how delicious the smells may be coming from your grill or stovetop, cooking food indoors can fill up a house with strong scents that are hard to get rid of. An outdoor kitchen can help keep those distinctive aromas outside where they belong!

Whether you’re looking for more cooking space or just a way to spend more time outside, building an outdoor kitchen this summer is the perfect way to enjoy your outdoor living space!

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10 Tips to Build an Outdoor Kitchen This Summer

To help you get started, we will go over some helpful tips and things to consider when designing and building your outdoor kitchen.

1. Consider the size of your outdoor space

First, you need to consider the size of your outdoor space. This will of course determine the size of your kitchen.

An outdoor kitchen can be as big or small as you want it, depending on the size of your yard and what you plan to use it for. It doesn’t have to be a large, bulky structure; a small countertop and sink can still provide plenty of space for cooking outside!

A covered porch or patio is also an excellent place for an outdoor kitchen, with the added bonus that it’s protected from rain. To save more room in your backyard (or front yard), consider using a grill on wheels so you don’t need as much clearance when turning food over.

2. Choose a layout for your outdoor kitchen that suits you best

Depending on your specific wishes, one kitchen layout might be better than another.

Do you need more room for food preparation? Or do you only have space for an island with an extra stovetop burner or two? These are just some of the questions you will need to consider.

For example, if you want to be able to cook outdoors while also entertaining guests in the house, a U-shaped outdoor kitchen is ideal. If you plan on cooking outside only and are willing to give up space for storage or seating areas, an L shape outdoor kitchen may suit your needs best.

The size and layout of the available area will dictate the best outdoor kitchen design for your needs.

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3. Create a design plan

Create a well-thought-out design plan for your outdoor kitchen before construction begins. This will make it easy and efficient to follow during installation, saving you time and headaches.

Design plans should include the specifics of your outdoor kitchen, including:

  • Layout
  • Dimensions (length and width)
  • Details about stovetops and counter space. For example, will you be cooking on a gas or electric range? If so, how many burners are needed in total for all appliances?

Another important aspect you need to plan for when you build an outdoor kitchen is utilities. Will you need to re-route gas lines or electrical wiring? How many power outlets do you need? This information should be included in the design plan as well.

When making your outdoor kitchen design plan, consider these questions:

  • How many people do I want to cook for at once (maximum)?
  • How much storage do I need?
  • How much counter space?
  • What style of outdoor kitchen do I want? (rustic, modern, contemporary?)
  • Do I need a sink with my outdoor kitchen? What about sinks for washing dishes and hands or even laundry machines.

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4. Invest in quality materials to ensure durability and longevity

Price/quality is important to consider with any project. There are a number of reputable manufacturers in the outdoor kitchen space and they all have different price points. Some people prefer to save money on cheaper materials while others would rather invest more upfront for higher quality items that will last longer, such as stainless steel or even brick.

It’s important to do your homework in advance, and think about how much you want to invest in your outdoor kitchen.

5. Unsure about what to do? Consult an expert

If you’re unsure of how to get started with building an outdoor kitchen, consulting an expert is always a good idea. It might cost you a little more upfront, but it will definitely save you a lot of headaches and potential problems along the way.

They can help you decide which kitchen equipment and tools to use, which materials are best, and give advice regarding countertops, cabinets, appliances, and lighting.

The areas they’ll typically focus on are the kitchen sink and dishwasher, outdoor refrigerator placement, water supply lines to your outdoor kitchen area, countertops materials (and prep space), cabinet design and storage.

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6. Plan for storage

Include plenty of counter space with storage options like drawers or cabinets below (or above) the counters for convenience when cooking outdoors all day long

By choosing a location for refrigerators or freezers and cupboards or shelves for dishes and cooking utensils.

Make sure you have enough storage space for pots, pans, dishes, utensils, etc., as well as other necessities like spices and oils for cooking!

Looking for an easy way to add additional storage? An outdoor kitchen cart/island could be a great option!

7. Design a comfortable seating area for your guests

Not only the kitchen itself is important, you will also need to think about seating and comfort for your guests.

Perhaps a large table for the food to be displayed or maybe some outdoor furniture like chairs and couches.

Whatever you do, make sure it is both functional and comfortable so your guests can enjoy themselves!

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8. Think about lighting

Don’t forget about lighting! Quality exterior lights can make a big difference in how enjoyable meals are outside. Both for practical reasons as well as to create the right outdoor atmosphere.

If you are planning on hosting evening parties, consider adding a string of lights that can be turned on at dusk for some cozy night dining.

Add lighting fixtures around the perimeter, inside, or both to provide adequate illumination at nighttime hours as well as accentuate any decorative features you may have installed in your outdoor cooking area such as plants.

Consider adding lighting under the cabinets if it’s going to be dark outside when you’re using it at night time!

What kind of lighting do you want? How many light fixtures will you need? It’s important to think about this beforehand.

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9. Get the necessary permits

While this may not be required in some places, your city or town might have regulations such as how close it is allowed to other structures and if there are any specific utilities needed for installation. Always make sure to check at your local city or town hall to find out if this is the case for you.

If your outdoor kitchen requires a permit, it’s best to get that in hand before construction begins so things will go much smoother and be less stressful throughout the process. You may also need permits for any electrical or plumbing work — don’t forget about those!

10. Add a cooking island

A cooking island is a great way to give yourself more space to cook on and prepare food in different ways. If you don’t have space for a full outdoor kitchen, this is an easy way to make more room and the perfect alternative.

It’s also a great place to store pots, pans, utensils, plates, and cutlery so they’re all in one spot. This will help keep your outdoor living area clear of clutter while you enjoy cooking.

Some Additional Tips to Build Your Outdoor Kitchen

Besides the things we mentioned above, we also recommend taking into account some additional practical tips:

  • The ground surface should be level with a slight slope from one side to the other.
  • Keep all of your outdoor kitchen tools close by so you don’t have to run back into the house for anything when it’s time to cook
  • A great place for a prep area is right in front of the sink. This will make cleanup much easier than walking around while you’re preparing food.
  • Outdoor kitchens can be used all year round, so make sure you have a storage area for your outdoor kitchen tools and appliances when they’re not in use! There are many different options from benches and cabinets to wall storage that will keep everything out of sight but still close at hand.
  • In the summer, have a place for drinks and food ready to go. You don’t want to be running back in and out of the house with every little thing!
  • Outdoor kitchens are an investment that can last you years if done correctly – make sure your outdoor kitchen is safe by using quality materials like stainless steel or stone countertops.

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To help you get started, we recommend the book “Outdoor Kitchens: Ideas for Planning, Designing, and Entertaining“, which discusses many topics involved with building an outdoor kitchen, such as:

  • Design Basics and Choosing a Site
  • Planning a Budget
  • Developing a floor plan
  • Improving Comfort (shade, shelter, heating, and cooling)
  • Selecting Appliances
  • Creating the Food Preparation Area
  • Designing the Dining Area
  • Optional Amenities (lighting seating, TV, audio, etc.)
  • Gallery of Designs: compact, mid-range, and luxury-range designs
  • Resources, Glossary, and Index

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Conclusion

Outdoor kitchens are a great way to extend your backyard oasis. Whether you’re hosting friends or family, having a party, or just want more space for cooking, the benefits of building an outdoor kitchen this summer are plenty. Make sure to plan your outdoor kitchen with these tips in mind and you will be set for many summers of outdoor cooking fun!

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