What to Consider When Designing an Outdoor Kitchen

outdoor kitchen design considerations

Designing an outdoor kitchen is a fantastic way to enhance your home’s living space and enjoy more time outdoors. Whether you’re dreaming of summer barbecues, cozy family gatherings, or elegant outdoor parties, an outdoor kitchen can cater to all these needs.

However, careful planning is required to ensure you have plenty of options on what to choose and where to buy, so let’s take a look at the key factors to consider when designing your outdoor kitchen.

1. Location

The choice of location is pivotal for the functionality and enjoyment of your outdoor kitchen. It’s important to consider proximity to your indoor kitchen to streamline the flow of ingredients and utensils back and forth.

Also, think about the smoke from the grill; you’ll want to position the grill in a place where smoke won’t blow into the house or overwhelm the seating area. Additionally, take into account the direction of the sun throughout the day. A kitchen facing west might get too hot in the late afternoon, making dining uncomfortable, while one facing east will catch the morning sun, which could be preferable.

2. Layout and Size

The layout should cater to your cooking and entertaining style. If you love hosting large gatherings, a U-shaped layout offers ample countertop space and creates an inclusive environment for guests.

For smaller spaces, a galley or an L-shape could be more appropriate. Ensure there is enough space for kitchen essentials such as the grill, sink, and refrigerator, as well as ample countertop for meal preparation. The size of the kitchen should also allow for easy movement around appliances and should be proportional to your outdoor space to maintain aesthetic balance.

3. Weather Considerations

Your local climate will heavily influence your outdoor kitchen’s materials and design features. Consider non-porous and waterproof countertops like porcelain or engineered stone in areas with heavy rainfall.

For sunny locales, materials that do not heat up excessively, such as light-colored tiles or natural stone, would be ideal. Incorporating a pergola, canopy or umbrellas can provide shade on sunny days and shelter on rainy ones. For colder climates, installing heaters or a nearby firepit can extend the usability of your kitchen into the cooler months.

4. Materials

Choosing the right materials is crucial for the longevity and appearance of your outdoor kitchen. Stainless steel appliances are preferred for their resistance to rust and ease of cleaning. Outdoor porcelain, soapstone, and glazed tiles are great options for countertops due to their durability and resistance to heat and weather conditions.

For cabinetry, consider powder coated stainless steel, which can withstand moisture and temperature fluctuations better than any woods or plastic composite. The flooring should be durable, slip-resistant, and able to withstand high heat and heavy foot traffic.

5. Appliances and Equipment

Select outdoor kitchen appliances based on your culinary habits and the frequency of use. A high-quality grill is essential for any outdoor kitchen and can be supplemented with smokers, pizza ovens, or even side burners for additional cooking options. A refrigerator and a sink are also vital for food storage and preparation.

When selecting these, ensure they are rated for outdoor use to withstand weather elements. If you frequently entertain large groups, consider investing in additional features like a beverage cooler or a built-in ice machine to enhance convenience and enjoyment.

6. Storage and Prep Areas

Adequate storage and preparation areas are key to maintaining an organized and functional outdoor kitchen. Opt for cabinets and drawers designed for outdoor use, crafted from materials such as stainless steel to withstand the elements. Your storage should accommodate all necessary cooking tools, dining ware, and cleaning supplies, simplifying the outdoor cooking experience and keeping essentials at hand.

Likewise, sufficient countertop space is crucial for food preparation and can double as a serving area during gatherings. Features like pull-out cutting boards or spice racks can enhance functionality and efficiency.

7. Lighting

Good lighting is essential not only for cooking after dusk but also for creating an inviting atmosphere. Task lighting should be installed directly above grills and prep areas to facilitate safe cooking, even under low-light conditions. Ambient lighting, such as soft LED lights or strategically placed solar lanterns, can enhance the mood and make the space welcoming for guests.

If possible, include dimmable options to adjust the lighting based on the time of day and the type of activity. Solar-powered lights are an environmentally friendly choice, offering ease of installation and low energy costs.

8. Seating and Dining Areas

The seating and dining configurations should complement the aesthetic of your outdoor kitchen while providing comfort and functionality. Consider the flow of movement between the cooking area and where guests will be seated. Options like bar seating can be great for casual interactions, while a dining table set might be better suited for sit-down meals.

Materials for outdoor furniture should be durable and weather-resistant, such as teak, powder coated aluminum, or woven resin. Adding cushions with durable outdoor-grade fabric will increase comfort and add a splash of color to the decor.

9. Budget

Setting a budget at the outset helps guide the decision-making process and ensures that the project remains financially manageable. Allocate funds based on priorities — splurge on high-use features like the grill or oven, while you may opt for less expensive alternatives for elements like decor or ancillary appliances.

Always include a contingency fund for unexpected costs, which are common in construction projects. Research various products and materials to find the best deals without compromising on quality, and consider phased installations if budget constraints limit doing everything at once.

10. Professional Help

While some aspects of outdoor kitchen design can be DIY projects, certain tasks such as gas fitting, electrical work, and extensive landscaping should be handled by qualified professionals to ensure safety and compliance with local codes.

A professional designer can also offer valuable insights into optimizing layout, choosing materials, and integrating appliances effectively. They can help transform your vision into a practical design that fits your space and budget while ensuring that all elements are harmoniously integrated.

Bringing Your Outdoor Kitchen Vision to Life

In designing an outdoor kitchen, careful consideration of layout, materials, and functionality ensures a space that’s not only beautiful but also highly functional. Whether it’s cozy family barbecues or large social gatherings, a well-planned outdoor kitchen will enhance your home and lifestyle.

If you want to realize your outdoor kitchen dreams, consider partnering with Creative Living. Creative Living specializes in modern outdoor living solutions that blend style, functionality, and durability. From bespoke outdoor kitchen designs to choosing the right appliances and materials, our team at Creative Living is dedicated to helping you create the perfect outdoor cooking and entertaining space that aligns with your personal style and the unique challenges of Colorado’s climate. Visit us at Creative Living to explore our wide range of outdoor kitchen designs and solutions, crafted to meet the highest standards of quality and innovation.

Get the best news and deals!


Micheline lives in Colorado with her family. Her graphic design degree and experience led her to advertising up and down the East Coast, from Philadelphia to Miami. Micheline curates unique pieces and designs spectacular outdoor living spaces with a modern edge.