Building an Outdoor Kitchen

Tuning available outdoor spaces into enjoyable living areas continues to remain popular with many homeowners. The “outdoor room” has certainly progressed in concept beyond a few rattan chairs and a fire pit. These days, people design and install entire kitchen spaces outdoors, compete with granite countertops, stainless appliances and a flat screen TV or two just to keep up with the world while dinner is simmering away. Not to mention a perfectly sized Exhaust Hood to prevent vapors and smoke from bothering your outdoor guests. 

There are several factors to keep in mind when planning an outdoor kitchen. Some may seem obvious, while others might very well elude your attention without being specifically mentioned. Here is the benefit of one veteran cook’s outdoor kitchen-building wisdom, just as relevant today as it was when he was toiling away, courtesy of Food & Wine:

Spend some time thinking through orientation and position: It’s simple, right? Just put the grill there and the sink there and the wine refrigerator there…looks good enough. Except that that arrangement might not work so well in reality. Especially if those items are located relatively further away from your home’s indoor kitchen – from which you’ll be carrying and ferrying all sorts of items…remember? Also consider where the sun will set (or rise, if your thing is an outdoor breakfast) and position chairs and tables accordingly. It’s no fun eating outdoors when you’re constantly squinting.

Add an herb garden in the vicinity: How cool would it be, right as you’re putting the finishing touches on your dinnertime pièce de résistance, to take a step or two over to your thriving herb garden, snip or grab a handful of fresh basil, thyme or parsley, and garnish each dish as your guests marvel at your ingenuity?

Plumbing requires attention: This may seem a no-brainer, but when you are building an outdoor kitchen, all of the plumbing must be installed from scratch – unlike an indoor kitchen, where the rough parts are already in place. No matter how simple the scheme, some parts of the plumbing will require venting, which requires careful planning. At minimum, consult a professional.

Put a backstop on counter spaces: Or get used to various items crashing onto your deck (or, worse, a guest’s lap).

Don’t get cute: Because sometimes cute looks “goofy”.