Your home’s outdoor kitchen can be just as functional and beautiful as your interior spaces when you try out these innovative ideas.
Taking your meal outside for a big neighborhood BBQ is a summer staple for most families, but in recent years the way we do this and our concept of an outdoor cooking area have changed drastically. During the pandemic, enjoying an at-home cooking experience was a necessity; now, families are maintaining the regular use of outdoor kitchen spaces to connect.
Homeowners are looking to bring the comfort and style of their interiors to their outdoors, crafting gorgeous outdoor kitchen spaces that feel like home. Let's look at ten new and exciting design ideas for transforming your outdoor space into an extension of your home’s welcoming living areas.
When you don’t have a ton of space for your outdoor dining area, the kitchen and outdoor living space can share the same small patio under a pergola.
Cooking under a small pergola is doable if you keep your outdoor kitchen along the back side of your home, covered by the pergola extending from the roofline. Placing a patio table a few paces away allows traffic to pass between the table and the cooking area while staying underneath the cover of your pergola. PS: Your table can also double as extra food prep space.
Pergolas can be constructed with lattice-style trellis, allowing vines to wind and climb through the latticework, creating a new shaded living area each summer or shielding your guests from the harsh noonday sun. Consider a modern metal material that enhances the metal roofline of your house.
Pergolas are an excellent solution to setting up an outdoor dining space that isn’t permanent. Your kitchen can be picked up and moved in a matter of minutes — seriously, time us. If you’re moving your outdoor kitchen away from your house, lay down simple pavers or outdoor tiles in a mid-century geometric design that plays up the modern outdoor kitchen look while being easily removed later.
Though most pergolas would be considered semi-permanent fixtures in your home, you can always substitute an awning as a temporary solution with the same functions without requiring construction.
You may want a combination of the two styles: A solid pergola frame with a retractable canvas awning. Adjust this awning depending on the time of year to cover all or a portion of your patio space.
Don’t give up on the idea of a custom outdoor cooking area for those smaller patio spaces! You can have all the pleasures of a built-in grilling station as long as you double-check the scale.
When you want to have it all in a patio kitchen, be realistic about the monstrous grill you had your heart set on. Most mere mortals do just fine with a small to medium-sized grill, and when you can have the beauty of a stainless steel grill that fits into your custom brick grilling station, downsizing can be a pleasure. Good things come in small packages, after all!
The other side of your grill station can be a countertop prep area over a built-in mini fridge. The combo of the refrigerator, prep space, and gas grill all in one small area is everything you need to throw a summer party.
If your patio space allows, you can increase your cooking space a bit by making your grill station L-shaped and adding a cooling griddle nest to your grill while moving your prep area to the other end of your kitchen. Use the layout tool in Spoak’s design suite to whip up an outdoor kitchen design that allows room for your seating area.
Letting your home’s kitchen do double duty as a cooking space that easily serves your patio area is a smart way to take a meal outdoors.
The easiest way to let your home’s kitchen service your patio is by establishing a pass-through window between the kitchen and the patio. Build a bar top extending from the kitchen side onto your patio. Line up some barstools at your outdoor bar for a real cabana bar and grill experience at home.
The windows can be sleek metal sliding windows to complement your home’s modern design style or traditional farmhouse accordion windows. Install an out-swing awning style window to up the beach cabana feeling of your space.
When outdoor decor blends seamlessly with indoor furniture, you can double your entertainment space by simply sliding your patio doors open. These days, modern home builders are incorporating sliding glass doors that are essentially floor-to-ceiling windows that open the entire living room up to the patio area.
Match your outdoor furniture with your interior decor for the smoothest transition — a shabby chic interior and a shabby chic exterior.
The same galley style that makes a small indoor kitchen functional works outdoors too. Using the back wall of your home as the appliance wall for your outdoor galley kitchen makes running electricity and plumbing from home easy.
It’s time to dream up your custom space. Imagine this: A long granite countertop parallel to your grill station for extra cooking space with room for a mini fridge underneath. The custom cabinetry beneath the granite counter has space for storing outdoor cooking utensils. You pull up the bar stools to this counter for prepping and eating. Last step: Add the final images to your design portfolio (and enjoy!).
If you’re looking for a DIY way to make your outdoor kitchen look custom, construct a simple wooden frame for your cooking station and pour concrete counters on top.
Want custom-sized and shaped counters? Rely on concrete molds to forge simple one-wall counter styles or larger L-shaped styles. Leave a space in your countertops for a drop-in portable smoker or egg-shaped grill, and make a lower-level concrete base at the right height for the smoker of your choice.
Hint: You may want your outdoor dining table to have the same concrete top for a cohesive look that is durable and easy to clean.
When you have a substantial covered patio, nothing is stopping you from creating the outdoor living room of your dreams. Adding a corner fireplace to your patio design gives the space a more enclosed feeling, while the fireplace brings a cozy ambiance to your alternative living room space on chilly nights.
Position your furnishings around the fireplace as you would indoors, remembering to allow for easy conversational seating while the fireplace is still within view.
Not everyone lives in an ever-sunny climate where perfect weather for that backyard party is a sure thing. As temperamental weather is often to blame for ruining a party, this is when you most need an outdoor kitchen area with a roof. Use a pool house or outdoor work shed as a newly repurposed outdoor kitchen.
With an open pass-through bar, you have all the outdoor living you need while still having a roof over your head. Installing pass-through windows that allow for easy food service from inside your kitchen to the outside bartop is a must. Easy out-swing awning-style windows work perfectly for outdoor kitchens.
With all of the extra cooking and prep space you’ll have inside your kitchen outbuilding, consider installing a real beverage fridge to make outdoor entertaining easy — no ice runs or trudging back and forth to the house for another drink.
When we say outdoor kitchen island, we mean the kitchen island you always wanted to have indoors. What you may not have had space to add to your actual kitchen, you can make this possible in your outdoor space.
Plan for a large rectangular island with outdoor room for outdoor stainless steel appliances and fixtures. What could be more luxurious than a large outdoor sink on your island prep space? Or maybe you’d like to include a real cooktop with burners to go with your stainless steel grill. Don’t forget to leave room for refrigerator drawers beneath your cooktop.
Go for extra comfortable seating around the other three sides of your island with a combination of bar stools and comfy Acapulco-style chairs painted in bright colors. Or attach a couple of old-fashioned porch swings to hang on two sides of your island for a fresh farmhouse look.
Where grilled food can be had on a small portable gas or coal grill, and skillet food can be made inside or outside, nothing quite compares to a wood-fired pizza cooked outside in a pizza oven. Trust us.
Ample online tutorials can be found for instructions on how to create your own patio brick oven for pizza the old-world way. Your oven can become the focal point of your outdoor entertaining space, with patio furniture gathered around — much as you would gather around any fireplace.
If the huge brick pizza oven seems out of reach, you’ll be happy to know there are portable, stainless steel wood-fired pizza ovens that can cook your favorite pizza margherita with no brick or mortar involved.
Though they can include a rolling stand, some electric pizza ovens have legs and can be set on a custom-built surface. You may pour your concrete cabinets with a lower section meant as a dedicated pizza oven stand or purchase a heat-resistant table to place it on.
With all of the lines blurring between indoor and outdoor cooking spaces, there’s one element that allows your outdoor kitchen to be completely unique: the amount of greenery surrounding it.
Consider designing a plant wall as a backsplash. You can install it above your outdoor workstation so that watering the plants from the faucet is a snap.
If you have a large outdoor kitchen island (and the weather is sunny enough), rest a planter in the center for a row of multi-hued succulents to be planted as a year-round centerpiece.
Just as it’s nice to keep the chaos of a busy kitchen separate from your dining area indoors, you may want to keep the grill station separate from your outdoor seating. Work with your existing landscape design to create different zones in your outdoor area.
A living wall of vines climbing a trellis can create a soothing backdrop or a corridor between spaces. A green wall will break up the ample open outdoor space of your yard or patio and designate smaller, more intimate zones.
Green walls can take some time to grow the necessary length to form the privacy screen or outdoor accent wall you’re going for. Fill in those gaps on your trellis by wiring shallow planters or individual pots to your living wall and filling them with herbs. Now you have the green accent wall your outdoor kitchen was missing, plus a handy herb garden.
Nothing is better than relaxing over a meal alfresco with family and friends. Put some of these outdoor kitchen design ideas to the test to level up your patio space.
Photo Credit: (Left) Salva Lopez
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