Planning an Outdoor Kitchen

Summer is approaching, and your dream of hosting the entire family for a July 4th barbecue or evening dinner party in the comfort of your own backyard is about to become a reality. You’re ready to upgrade your lone charcoal grill into a full-fledged outdoor kitchen, but where do you begin?

Outdoor kitchen planning means you will expose your appliances, cooking zones, and outdoor dining furniture to the elements year-round, and this change may seem overwhelming. Luckily, once you view a few outdoor kitchen designs and follow some basic rules you’ll find that your outdoor cooking area plans won’t be difficult to execute.

Palm Coast 7-Piece Dining Set

Outdoor Kitchens Vs. Indoor Kitchens

Indoor kitchens are naturally protected from extreme temperature fluctuating and from rain, snow, wind, and direct sunlight. This means that more planning and tougher materials must be used when designing and building your outdoor kitchen. We’ll cover a few tips further below to limit the headache, such as reducing the amount of plumbing and electricity in your outdoor kitchen. Some basic rules:

  • Outdoor kitchens require regular maintenance and cleaning. You should always clean your grill after each use, as leftover grease and food bits can attract rodents and mammals. Check your gaskets, wiring, and plumbing once a week to prevent significant damage.
  • The materials you use outdoors should be weather-resistant. For floors, this means stone or concrete. Granite counters are a great choice, as are our HDPE-lumber outdoor furniture items.

As you begin the planning stages, ask yourself three important questions:

  • How often do I cook outside?
  • What food will I cook regularly?
  • Will my outdoor kitchen also be an entertaining area?

First Step: Get Inspired

If you only plan to cook meats and occasional meals like burgers and hot dogs you will only need a modest outdoor kitchen, likely a grill with counter and storage space. However, many outdoor kitchens feature more functional appliances and areas while blending into the space beautifully.

Before you begin measuring and making decisions view several outdoor kitchen plans and designs online to find options you love, and commonalities between all designs.  Browse photos of outdoor kitchens on HGTV and The Spruce to spot designs you love.

While clicking through images you will find many practical solutions to the problems you anticipate. For example, one great solution to include plumbing and electrical components without ballooning your budget is to plan a partially-covered outdoor kitchen. In this layout your grill, counter seating, and outdoor dining furniture can be situated fully outdoors, while part of your kitchen including a sink, stove, and additional countertop space can sit flush against your outer wall, covered by a canopy or roof.

Second Step: Plan Your Outdoor Kitchen

Now that you have a rough vision of what you want it’s time to solidify the main elements.

Measure Your Outdoor Kitchen

Gather a pencil, measuring tape, graph paper, a carpenter’s square, and a ruler — it’s time to measure the outdoor space where your kitchen will be located.

Read our exhaustive guide on measuring outdoor spaces to get a handle on exactly how much space you have to work with, and how many pieces of furniture can comfortably fit into your outdoor kitchen area while still allowing space for walking, cooking, and chatting.

How to Measure Your Outdoor Living Space

Choose a Layout

Once you know what’s possible, select a kitchen layout based on what elements need to be present in your outdoor kitchen and what layout allows for enough dining and entertaining areas.

Many homeowners with square, traditionally constructed patios or porches opt for an L-shaped outdoor kitchen accompanied by an island or a square kitchen along three sides of the space, with dining tables in the middle. A great setup for smaller spaces is an L-shaped design with a grill and countertop space on one side and counter height dining chairs on the other side of the L so your family can chow down on grub while you cook.

Nautical 7-Piece Dining Set

However, you might intend to build your outdoor kitchen in an oddly-shaped space without clear sides. If this is the case, stick with rounded or triangular outdoor kitchen layouts to access your cabinets and appliances easily. You can situate a small dining area across from your designated cooking station to talk to your guests while working your magic in the kitchen.

Still unsure how to plan your outdoor kitchen? 

RTA Outdoor Living has created a free outdoor kitchen design software to help you easily create a 3D model in minutes.  Don’t forget to tag your new outdoor kitchen with #POLYWOOD.

Third Step: Purchase Your Outdoor Kitchen

Purchasing a prefabricated outdoor kitchen set is a great option if you have space and are not comfortable with outdoor construction. Selecting a prefab outdoor kitchen from a reliable manufacturer like Big Ridge Outdoor Kitchens will eliminate the stress of planning an outdoor kitchen from scratch. These sets are designed by professionals and include the appropriate balance of storage, appliances, and cooking space to bring your outdoor kitchen to life.

When choosing counters don’t stray from durable, weatherproof materials like stone, brick, and concrete. Consider your climate and investigate which materials will best withstand the unique climate issues in your area. When selecting appliances like your grill and your sink opt for stainless steel. The durability of stainless steel is complemented by a smooth surface that makes for fast, simple cleaning as grime accumulates.

POLYWOOD® Outdoor Dining Furniture

The entertaining and dining sections of your outdoor kitchen should also use weighty, durable materials that are easy to clean and resilient even in pounding rain or beating sun. Our selection of outdoor dining furniture is constructed with an exceptionally-durable, low-maintenance recyclable lumber that won’t fade, rot, crack, chip, splinter, peel, or rot.

Here are some of our favorite options for furnishing your outdoor kitchen area with dining zones and seating:

Modern Adirondack Dining Set

Give your family a comfortably contoured area to pass the time while you perfect the seasoning on the latest batch of ribs. This fashionable dining set combines the contemporary aesthetic of our modern Adirondack chair redesign with a rustic farmhouse flair for a casual yet timeless look. The adults can relax into a Modern Adirondack Dining Chair while the kids can slide in and out of the spacious bench for easy access.

Modern Adirondack 6-Piece Rustic Farmhouse Dining Set with Bench

Coastal Dining Set

This dining set that seats six is a perfect design segue to connect your outdoor kitchen to a pool or view of the sea. The carefree sling-style creates an airy coastal style that is a breeze to clean year-round. The rectangular shape for this POLYWOOD dining set makes it ideal for larger square spaces separated into zones, or as a space alongside your outdoor kitchen for gathering, feasting, and conversing.

Coastal 7-Piece Dining Set

Vineyard Bar Set

Smaller outdoor kitchens where you want diners and cooks to be side-by-side can benefit from an elevated bar set perfect for breakfast, lunch, or an evening drink. The Vineyard 5-Piece Bar Set features a compact design that occupies less square footage than other options while still providing plenty of table space for meals, drinks, and finger food. With seating for four, what’s not to love?

Vineyard 5-Piece Bar Set

By avoiding common pitfalls like easily damaged materials or a cramped layout you can transform any deck, patio, or porch into a magnificent outdoor kitchen filled with a top-of-the-line gas grill, stainless steel appliances, durable counters, and comfortable POLYWOOD outdoor furniture to seat as many guests as you want. When they get a whiff of your signature BBQ recipe the entire neighborhood will make their way over to wine, dine, and soak in the sunshine.

What layout did you use in your outdoor kitchen? Share your outdoor kitchen design secrets in the comments below!

To help you plan your space, check out the POLYWOOD Outdoor Furniture Planner. We’ll ask you about the size and shape of your space, 5 quick questions total and then provide you with up to three furniture set results.

21 thoughts on “Planning an Outdoor Kitchen

  1. I’m looking to add something like this to my home. There is plenty of space for it, it just needs to be added on. I’ll probably have to get a professional to help me as I do need to figure out a layout first.

  2. I was thinking of renovating my kitchen but having a second kitchen outdoor sounds like a better plan. Thanks for sharing how to get it done. I will probably start working on it next month and gonna follow your article for it!

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