Tips for Planning Your Outdoor Kitchen

Living in a southern climate sure has its perks! It’s not all that unusual to enjoy outdoor entertaining as early in the year as March or as late as October. Beyond entertaining, having a comfortable outdoor space can serve as a quiet retreat for you and your family. If you’re planning a dream outdoor kitchen, let these tips guide you in striking the perfect balance between performance and style to create a stunning entertaining space:


Your Blank Canvas. You’ve already identified the area on your property where you want to build your outdoor kitchen. It’s a blank canvas full of potential. Before you make another decision, evaluate the position of the sun during the times you are most likely to be outdoors. This information is useful not only for minimizing glare and the heat of direct summer sunlight, but it is also useful for determining how you can maximize the availability of natural light throughout the year.


Also consider prevailing winds in your area and if there are any existing or planned structures that may block or reroute the flow of air. You wouldn’t want your guests sitting downwind from the grill!


Location, Location, Location. Once you have made the initial assessment of your space, consider the placement of your primary elements—the grill and water source. Think first about the existing placement of your utilities. Can the necessary elements of the outdoor kitchen be designed around what’s already there, or will required reconfiguration need to be incorporated into the budget?


Next on the list is the position of the grill or primary cooking element. Are you a multi-tasker who enjoys entertaining guests and cooking at the same time? Or do you prefer to focus your attention on grilling the perfect steak? The answer to this question may help you decide if your grill should be facing toward or away from where your guests will congregate. Try positioning your grill within a short reach of where your ingredients lie—in the fridge, on a shelf or even in your own vegetable garden.

Functionality. Select materials and fixtures (countertops, cabinets, floors, lighting, etc.) that are suitable for outdoor conditions and, more importantly, easy to clean! Consider space-saving elements like mini appliances, bar height seating (doubles as useful counter space), and creative built-in storage solutions.


When planning your counter space configuration, a good rule of thumb is to have at least 24” of surface on one side of your grill and 12” of surface on the other side. If you’re incorporating a sink, make sure to leave at least 18” of space on either side.


Needs vs. Wants. Browsing magazines or the Internet for inspiration, you will quickly find the sky is the limit when it comes to outdoor kitchen design: pizza ovens, warming drawers, dishwashers, ice machines, televisions, fire pits…you get the picture. Decide which of these elements you really need, and then let your remaining space and budget dictate how many of the “wants” make the final cut.


Don’t forget the basics! Make sure these essential components do not slip through the cracks: plenty of storage and shelving, trash and recycling, and extra electrical outlets.

Spending long summer nights and crisp fall evenings in your dream outdoor kitchen sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? The professionals at The Cook’s Station are just a phone call or email away and we’re ready to help you get started. Schedule your visit today!

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