Backyard Designs Outdoor kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is where nature meets culture. It's where the beautiful outdoors inspires seasonal menus and family and friends gather to eat, drink and make memories. It's no wonder, then, that an outdoor kitchen has become a must-have focal point in many backyard designs. Use this handy guide to start planning your outdoor culinary adventure.

Cook up something special

Outdoor cooking has come a long way from the 1950s when dad would light up the briquettes in the charcoal grill on the back patio. Today's outdoor kitchens feature any number of cooking appliances, from gas barbecues and wood smokers to pizza ovens, fridges and more. 

Planning an outdoor kitchen

Location is critical to outdoor kitchen design. A smaller grilling station should ideally be located close to an entrance to the house, preferably off the indoor kitchen, for easy access to appliances, ingredients, dishes and additional prep space. An all-the-bells-and-whistles outdoor kitchen can be located further from the house, since it can function as a stand-alone cooking space. Consider micro-climates in your yard, such as really windy or hot spots, when siting your kitchen.

Budget is an important consideration. A simple barbecue station often costs less than $2,000. A mid-range, partially covered kitchen with a fridge might set you back $10,000. A fully kitted-out cooking pavllion, however, could cost upwards of $100,000. Since very few of us can write our contractor a blank cheque, it's important to consider how much cooking you do outside and what proportion of your project budget you want to dedicate to your resident grill master. Fortunately, a good landscape architect can help you make difficult decisions and think creatively about your design to maximize impact and minimize cost.

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Insider tips for designing a great outdoor kitchen

  • consider traffic flow to avoid crowding and collisions in your kitchen space
  • people love a kitchen party, especially outdoors, so create gathering spaces near the cook for sharing stories and snacking
  • invest in a great barbecue. Too often we've seen people disappointed by their outdoor kitchen because the appliances don't deliver
  • don't overbuild your kitchen so that you don't have room for adequate outdoor dining
  • provide adequate lighting for late-night and winter cooking outdoors
  • consider adding a patio heater to make grilling more pleasant in sub-zero temperatures
  • add a ceiling fan to help keep things cool and discourages insects
  • don't forget maintenance. An outdoor kitchen will be exposed to the elements and will require upkeep.

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