Everyone loves an outdoor kitchen. It’s luxurious, it’s fashionable, and it makes for great outdoor parties. Who doesn’t dream of flipping burgers or tossing salads in the warm glow of the setting sun while your friends mill around, grabbing drinks and enjoying the cool outdoor breeze?
Most homeowners have already jumped on this trend for the sake of upping their home’s equity and entertainment value. If you’re thinking of catching up, now is definitely the time to do so! And if you’ve never actually designed an outdoor kitchen before, here are some steps to make that process easier.
If this is your first time designing an outdoor kitchen, we highly recommend you look for inspiration first. You might already have a rough idea of what you want, but it doesn’t hurt to get fun ideas or fresh perspectives from pre-existing designs.
Check out home magazines or websites like Pinterest or Tumblr to see what other people have done to extend their living space. By doing so, you have a rough idea of what’s trendy and what’s not, and you can adjust your design accordingly to be as modern or as unique as you want it to be.
You might also find statement pieces like appliances, countertops, small decorations, tables, chairs, or barstools that you never saw before but now want to include. Searching for previous designs to draw inspiration from can really help design an outdoor kitchen that incorporates all the best possible elements that suit your taste.
Assess Your Surroundings
Now that you kind of know what you want your outdoor kitchen to look like, you need to assess the actual space you have to make sure what you want is feasible. An outdoor kitchen typically has four zones: the hot zone, the cold zone, the wet zone, and the dry zone. You want to make sure all four zones have enough space to fulfill their function.
For instance, the hot zone is where the actual cooking happens, ergo there needs to be space for your grill and oven. The cold zone is where you keep your refrigerator and freezer to store food. As their names suggest, the wet zone is for your sink and beverage tubs (if any), and the dry zone is the general prep area (where most of your counters will be) and eating area.
Most professionals recommend leaving about 16 inches of countertop space between each amenity, just to make sure you have room to cook, clean, wash, prep, and dish.
Create a Realistic Budget
Once you’ve (mentally) put together the outdoor kitchen of your dreams, it’s time to be a realist. You obviously don’t want to be bankrupt once the kitchen is done, but you don’t want to be too stingy either. After all, an outdoor kitchen, on top of being functional and fashionable, can help raise your house’s total market value. It’s basically an investment.
Ergo, you need to create a realistic budget that you can stick to without making too many compromises on time, labor, or quality. Do your research and shop around a little to get rough averages for everything, from materials to appliances, labor cost and professional fees. For instance, a basic outdoor kitchen with a simple patio, grill, and wooden countertops can run anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the appliances and construction materials used. On the other hand, a more luxurious, expansive setup with top-of-the-line appliances and high-end marble countertops can cost upwards of $50,000.
Once you’re comfortable with your outdoor kitchen design, we highly recommend seeking professional advice. Even if your goal is to be as hands-on as possible with this project, it would be good to get a professional’s opinion regarding the feasibility of your design in respect to the actual space you have to work with. You can also benefit greatly from their expertise, as they can recommend more cost-effective solutions, clean up your design, and refer quality sources for materials and labor.