Ideas for...Outdoor Kitchens

Alfresco parties are a lot easier (and more fun!) with an outdoor kitchen. These souped-up versions offer great ideas for designing your own dream space.

Outdoor Kitchen Built on the Back Deck

Photo by Lisa Romerein

Laid-back Dining

Not every kitchen needs a formal dining table. Ample seating around a coffee table gives this space a comfortable vibe. Eliminate stress over spills by upholstering with stain-proof fabrics.

• Install acrylic panels over an arbor to prevent downpours from spoiling the fun while allowing plenty of light to flood in on sunny days.

• Paint new brick the same color as existing brick for a seamless look. Using one paint color helps when you can’t match new materials with old.

• Position your kitchen close to the house so you don’t have far to lug groceries and supplies. Or, equip the outdoor room with its own refrigerator, dishwasher, and storage space.

U-Shaped Outdoor Kitchen

Photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Cater to a Crowd

Chefs love U-shape kitchens for good reason: Everything’s within easy reach, and the open workspace allows busy hosts to mingle with guests.

• Keep the mini-refrigerator and other appliances under the counter so they don’t block the ocean view.

• Design a countertop that serves double duty as a prep area and dining surface. This broad concrete counter accommodates both the chef and an appreciative audience.

• Umbrellas provide affordable (and portable) shade. Measure your seating area and size your umbrella accordingly.

Mediterranean Style Kitchen

Photo by Douglas Hill

A Subtle Approach

You hardly notice the kitchen components on this patio―and that’s a good thing. The cooking area doesn’t detract from the Mediterranean style or take up too much space.

• Use plate-glass and crank-out casement windows to protect cooks from wind and rain without obstructing the view.

• Incorporate punches of color to energize a neutral space. Here, vintage wicker furniture was painted a vibrant green to coordinate with the accent floor tiles.

• Carefully consider lighting. Size chandeliers and lanterns to fit the space. Add task lighting over kitchen prep areas, if necessary.

White and lightly lit open air kitchen surrounded by three walls that face an wood deck

Photo by Brian Vanden Brink

Under Cover

Because a ceiling protects the wood cabinets and interior-grade appliances from the weather, this fully loaded kitchen has both indoor style and outdoor ambience.

• Maximize seating with a bar-height countertop and stools. Guests who tend to congregate in the kitchen can be near the action without being in the way.

• Paint walls and ceilings bright white to make your outdoor room appear larger.

• Choose furniture options that allow for flexibility. The covers on these director’s chairs can be easily replaced as they age or modified to suit the season.

• Mix up your flooring. Here, hardworking, easy-to-clean ceramic tile defines the cooking space, while decking sets off the dining area.

A deck incorporates a grill, a pizza oven and a prep area for outside cooking.

Photo by Eric Roth

Easy Conversion

You can make a corner of your deck an outdoor kitchen just by adding a grill and prep area. Here there’s also room for a stucco-covered pizza oven.

• Include appliances that aren’t practical in an indoor kitchen, such as the pizza oven.

• To save space for lounging, use the perimeter of a deck for your kitchen area.

• Position your grill or fire pit to keep smoke from wafting into seating areas or back into the house.

Stainless steel grill center with waming drawers and a rotisserie cooker

Photo by Jean Allsopp

Basic, But Better

Ready to shop? Every outdoor kitchen starts with a great grill. Even if you don’t have a lot of space to work with, you can fit up-to-date equipment in a compact area.

• Choose modular components for customized installation.

• Opt for materials such as stainless steel and granite that can weather an outdoor setting.

• Stack appliances in tight spaces. This five-burner grill features a rotisserie cooker, and the entire unit sits atop two warming drawers.

Stainless steel outdoor grill for a deck

Photo by Jean Allsopp

Bright Ideas

• Plan your kitchen to suit your cooking style. Casual cooks may need only a grill island, while experienced chefs may want a rotisserie, smoker, warming drawers, or even a lobster-boil cooktop unit. Consider a large sink for cleaning the day’s catch.

• Pellet grills use small wood pellets to cook foods and infuse them with flavor. While these grills may cost more than traditional choices, they are clean burning and energy efficient.

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