An outdoor kitchen is a luxurious way to expand your living space and improve your ability to entertain and enjoy a back yard. Here are a few tips on how to plan for yours.

Scrutinize Your Space

For starters, consider where you want to put your outdoor kitchen. Think about how it will fit in the yard and work with the rest of the landscape. Find out if you’ll have to run lines for electricity, plumbing, and gas, and talk to a contractor about cost effective ways to position your appliances for easy access to utilities. Realize that seasons will certainly affect the use of your outdoor kitchen, so plan for proper shading, from umbrellas to pergolas in the summer, and heat, by firepit or outdoor heater in the winter.

Select Your Appliances

What types of appliances would you like built into your outdoor kitchen area? There are many to choose from, but give some honest thought about what you will actually use the most. Traditionally, the focal point of an outdoor kitchen is the grill, and again, there are many options. While some go so far as to even include an oven in their outdoor kitchens, a grill that can smoke, grill, roast and bake conserves space and may make it easier on your budget. Outdoor refrigerators are also popular to help preserve foods before and after cooking, but give some thought as to how much you’ll actually use it and what size refrigerator you’ll need. If you’re going to include a bar, think about an ice maker, a kegerator, and storage for a blender and other appliances.

Plan Your Layout

L-shaped designs are popular choices for outdoor kitchens in that they offer convenient locations for both cold and hot zones. Since outdoor refrigerators already have to work hard against the heat of summer, don’t put it next to the grill or stove. Have a designated cold area for refrigeration and ice makers, and a hot area for the grill and other cooking appliances. Also consider the rest of your functional zones, like the wet area near the sink and bartending station, and a dry area for meal preparation.

Pick Your Materials

The countertop for your outdoor kitchen needs to be able to endure whatever the weather may bring, so choosing material that will withstand the elements is important. Natural stones like granite, soapstone, and marble have been withstanding elements for eons, but there are also a few manmade materials, like quartz and tiles that are practical choices. Also consider what materials you’d like to use for the cabinets, and start to imagine the décor, including the seating, plants, and other accessories. Some outdoor kitchens even include a built in herb garden.

Design Your Lighting

Lighting serves two purposes. The most important is to ensure that your cooking area is well lit and safe for you to prepare meals in. The second is to create the ambiance you’re looking for when you want to enjoy an evening meal outdoors with your family or when you’re entertaining. Also bear in mind that you may also want to incorporate a few citronella candles or tiki torches to help keep insects away.

Develop Your Budget

Once you figure out what you want, see how much it’s going to cost. Before you start putting your outdoor kitchen together, go through the budget line by line and see where you can cut costs and implement more cost effective measures and materials. However, when considering materials, realize that the higher costs of quality materials can also be an investment if they can help by not having to replace them.

After you’ve decided how you want your outdoor kitchen to look and feel, you get to decide if you want to hire a contractor or to do the project yourself. Unless you’re an ambitious and devoted do-it-yourselfer, you’ll still have to hire professionals to install utilities like electricity, gas, and plumbing, as well as the countertops. We hope this helps you as you create the outdoor kitchen you’ve been dreaming about, and don’t forget to visit our showroom for natural stone ideas!