Outdoor Living Project Guide

Outdoor Kitchens: How to Create the Open-Air Kitchen of Your Dreams

Because everything tastes better alfresco.

Open-air kitchens with island seating, full wet bars and dedicated grilling stations; these are the things outdoor living dreams are made of. And as the outdoor living trend heats up, they’re becoming not only increasingly popular, but also increasingly accessible. Homeowners across America are taking the backyard BBQ to new levels — embracing alfresco features from pizza ovens and blender stations to luxury cabinets and countertops. And they’re enjoying an extended living area, increased property values and an enhanced quality of life as their reward.

“Outdoor living has benefits to the quality of your life,” says Russ Faulk, chief designer and head of product for Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. “Cooking and dining are two of the most enjoyable outdoor living activities. The food tastes better, and moving the cooking outdoors can take the drudgery out of preparing everyday meals.”

Of course, creating your ideal outdoor kitchen requires careful planning — particularly when it comes to layout, utilities and materials. So, it’s important to fully develop your vision and evaluate your options before putting your plans in motion.

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Start With a Site Assessment

Before you begin designing your outdoor kitchen, it’s important to carefully appraise the dedicated space. According to Faulk, you’ll want to consider:

  • Can your new kitchen be easily connected to existing home utilities?
  • Is it conveniently located near the indoor kitchen?
  • Is it sheltered from the elements?
  • Can the space be leveled if necessary?
  • Will a permit be required?
  • What local codes and restrictions may be applicable to your project?

  1. Check building codes before you begin
  2. Position your outdoor kitchen near your indoor kitchen for convenience
  3. Plan for adequate gas, electricity and water
  4. Address the elements
  5. Consider long-term maintenance
  6. Complement your interior space
  7. Don’t skimp on the grill

The proximity of your outdoor kitchen to your indoor kitchen is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, explains Faulk. That’s because the placement of your outdoor kitchen area will determine which capabilities you will need to incorporate to maximize its functionality. An outdoor kitchen tied closely to an indoor kitchen can rely more heavily on the indoor kitchen’s proficiencies and utilities, so it demands less in terms of prep space, appliances and plumbing. Faulk recommends working with a designer to determine the best placement for your outdoor kitchen; this will ensure that you have a plan for how the two spaces will work together.

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