Homeowners Guide to an Outdoor KitchenHomeowners Guide to an Outdoor Kitchen

Designing an outdoor kitchen can be an exciting project, for sure - but it can also be a stressful one. While some design elements are obvious - oven, stovetop, food preparation areas - others may be less intuitive.

In this handy guide, learn the major steps to take to design an outdoor kitchen you and your guests will love to use.

Step 1. Consider permits versus no permits design.

The very first step you need to take before you do anything else is consider whether you want to mess with applying for permits.

As Bob Vila states, there are options either way. With some turnkey outdoor kitchen sets, you may not need to apply for any permits at all.

While this may mean forgoing customized masonry and other design elements, the payoff can be a cheaper, faster and easier outdoor kitchen setup.

Step 2. Location really is everything with an outdoor kitchen.

While it may feel tempting to put your outdoor kitchen farther away from your house, there can be significant issues associated with this, as Wayfair explains.

For example, how easy will it be to secure and protect your outdoor kitchen elements when inclement weather blows through? What about wind and direct sunlight? Wind can be an especially important safety factor to think through before you choose your location.

You may also soon get tired of running back and forth from the main house getting ingredients and supplies. The closer your outdoor kitchen is to your main house, the simpler and safer everything becomes.

It can also be more economical in that you may not have to run any extensions for your plumbing, electrical or gas lines if your outdoor kitchen is located less than 20 feet from the main house.

Step 3. Consider the configuration of your outdoor kitchen.

This Old House shares three basic configuration options that the majority of outdoor kitchen designs typically use: along one wall, L-shape or U-shape. A fourth option might be a standalone island where your appliances are located.

The amount of space you have is the primary consideration here as well as the number of cooks in the kitchen.

When you are choosing the configuration, think through where the guest seating will be and how many guests you plan to entertain at one time. Sometimes plotting out guest seating first can make it easier to decide where to put your appliances.

Step 4. Choose weatherproof and waterproof furnishings.

Even if you plan to enclose your outdoor kitchen to some degree, the whole idea of having an outdoor kitchen is to have the experience of being close to nature.

This can be great for you and your guests but not so great for your appliances, fixtures and furnishings.

Consider how easy it will be to clean or dry upholstery, cushions, food preparation surfaces, cabinetry and awnings after bad weather.

If you live in a very humid climate where it is warm much of the year, finding mold-proof furnishings can be equally important so you don’t have to keep replacing your textiles.

Step 5. Decide if you want your outdoor kitchen to be seasonal or year-round.

This is another design decision where you may need to decide based on whether or not permitting will be required to bring your outdoor kitchen vision to life.

For example, if you want your outdoor kitchen to be a year-round option, you may need to install outdoor heating elements or build a fully-enclosed patio and deck to make your kitchen usable in winter.

During the winter season when the daylight hours get shorter, you will also need to consider weatherproof lighting so you can still enjoy cooking outdoors in the evening.

With these big design decisions taken care of, you can move on to the fun part - choosing your appliances, fixtures and furnishings and creating your customized outdoor kitchen!