How to Build the Outdoor Kitchen of Your Dreams

Outdoor kitchen with brick wall and outdoor appliances and grill

April 12, 2021 by Lexi Klinkenberg

An outdoor kitchen can be a major benefit to any home, making it possible to hold barbecues, pool parties, and picnics without having to cook indoors and miss all the fun. The right outdoor kitchen can increase property values and boost satisfaction with added outdoor living space. 

However, all outdoor kitchens aren’t made the same, and the wrong kitchen for your space can compromise your summer plans. Before charging ahead with building an outdoor kitchen, be sure you have a solid plan in place that ticks every box.

Choose a location for your outdoor kitchen

Properties with large yards can offer plenty of areas to build an outdoor kitchen, but choosing the right space in your yard can make or break kitchen success. Make sure you do your research or contact a professional before building out your space or you’ll potentially find yourself with an awkward layout.

When picking a place to put your kitchen, consider factors like:

  • Proximity to pools, patios, or other favorite backyard features
  • Accessibility from exterior doors
  • Privacy from neighbors
  • Storage and security
  • Ease of installation

Determine features to highlight

Every chef has individual preferences. Some love grilling with gas, while others are dedicated to charcoal. Kegs and taps may matter to summer party fans, while an ice chest for blending chilled drinks could be priority number one for others. Regardless, it’s critical to understand that an outdoor kitchen isn’t intended to be an equivalent of an indoor kitchen. Instead, it’s a separate space to meet unique demands and likely won’t be able to accommodate the same functions and appliances as inside spaces.

When planning your kitchen, know what priorities matter most to you. This can mean the flow of your cooking space, what appliances you’d like to have, any extra amenities you can’t live without, and especially the appearance of your outdoor kitchen. Determine what you want to highlight in your outdoor kitchen – before the ball starts rolling and it’s too late.

Hire the right contractor

The right contractor can be the difference between an amazing end result and a failed project. Without someone who can see your vision and properly execute it, you may be left with a subpar kitchen that doesn’t meet your needs.

When vetting contractors, it’s important to look beyond the basics, like price. Instead, be sure to also consider:

  • Experience with similar projects
  • Completion timeline
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Creativity and flexibility

Select flooring

Flooring isn’t often considered in exterior projects, but it can play a big role in how to build an outdoor kitchen space. In an outdoor kitchen, flooring needs to be safe to use while cooking, easy to clean, weather-resistant, and in line with the style preferences that will guide the rest of your kitchen decor.

If you’re not sure what kinds of flooring are common in outdoor kitchens, speaking to your contractor can help you narrow your choices and determine the right avenue to take when choosing wood, tile, stone, or concrete to use as flooring.

Shop for countertops

Like choosing flooring, shopping for countertops is a decision that must be informed by style as well as functionality. Your counter needs to be the right size and shape for cooking expectations, but also in line with the overall look and feel you want from your kitchen.

And, like flooring, outdoor conditions need to be part of the evaluation process. Unless your kitchen will be completely covered and closed off at all times, countertops must be able to stand up to rain, wind, hail, high heat, and potentially low temperatures. So, if you live in an area like Phoenix, AZ, your countertops need to be able to withstand high temperatures, or if you live in Vancouver, BC they need to be rain resistant. Choose your countertop with appearance in mind, but durability as well. A counter that can’t stand up to your cooking demands or the local climate will not be effective. 

Select your appliances

The appliances you choose when building an outdoor kitchen will define its cooking abilities. The wrong appliances, such as those meant for indoor kitchens, or ones that don’t fit the space can limit efficiency and can minimize both its current value and resale value. 

When choosing appliances, use those graded for outdoor use, whether that means better durability or more weatherproofing options. In addition, keep size and scale in mind. For example, if you’re planning on hosting large barbecues, you’ll need a bigger grill than a standard residential product. 

Note that in colder climates, appliances that require electricity or water lines may need to be winterized to prevent frozen pipes and other seasonal damage.

Choose proper lighting

Lighting may seem like an afterthought in a kitchen that will be at least partially lit by the sun, but the lighting you choose can make a difference in providing an accessible cooking area. Further, the right lighting can keep an outdoor kitchen functional after dark.

Hanging lights, floodlights, lights built into a backsplash, or outdoor lanterns can all be effective choices depending on your space. Evaluate your usage plans, the location of your kitchen, and professional advice when it comes to knowing how to build an outdoor kitchen space. Regardless of personal preferences, always make sure lights are appropriate for outdoor use.

Decorate your outdoor kitchen

Once the basics are built out, selecting decor is the final step in how to build an outdoor kitchen. This can include adding wood or stone accents, potted plants, a fire pit, a patio, a comfy outdoor couch, or a table and chairs. How you decorate will depend on your own preferences, as well as what the space itself can accommodate.

While decorating, also consider whether you may want an awning or roof area to provide shade while cooking or to safeguard kitchen equipment from the weather. Some appliances, like refrigerated units, are best kept out of direct sunlight, so some cover could be advantageous.


An outdoor kitchen can be the perfect way to add a mini oasis to your backyard. The ideal complement to a spacious patio, a pool, or lovely landscaping, an exterior kitchen can make hosting parties or simply relaxing with friends and family a little easier. With the right location, a clear plan, a talented contractor, and educated choices about flooring, countertops, appliances, and decor, it’s possible to turn your yard into the entertainment destination of your dreams. 

Originally Published on Redfin 

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