How to design a Custom Outdoor Kitchen?

Thinking of a design for your custom outdoor kitchen may be easy because you already have an idea of what a kitchen looks like, and that you are basically just taking that kitchen outdoors.

What you don’t know is that there are a lot of factors concerning an outdoor kitchen. Such factors include the changing weathers, the type of appliances you would have outdoors, how big you would like your custom outdoor kitchen to be, and many more.

You also need to consider time, space and budget constraints. You may know, the hard way, that getting everything on your wish list is difficult and stressful. Sometimes, you have to choose to be wise and practical.

What’s good in designing your own outdoor kitchen is that there is no right and wrong. In the end, your wants and needs come first. This article will simply give you guidelines to ensure concrete plans that are not impossible to fulfill.


What are the factors in designing a custom outdoor kitchen?

Weather – The outdoor kitchen should be able to withstand the changing weathers. Most kitchens sport full or semi overhead roofs to protect the kitchen and appliances from sun, rain, snow, and wind. Consider getting waterproof covers for your counters when you won’t use your kitchen for a long while to avoid any corrosion and dirt.

The roof meanwhile, will protect you and your guests from heat or sudden drizzles while in the middle of a gathering. It is best to have semi roof to cover the main parts of the kitchen while a huge folding umbrella to shelter the guests, just in case. Get something fancy looking like the:


Coolaroo 11 Feet Round Patio Umbrella

Gale Pacific, USA 317171, Patio, 90% UV Block, Adjustable Tilt, Smoke COOLAROO 11' Market UMBRELLS, Shade, Round Exterior Umbrella
  • KNITTED shade fabric so it is not waterproof. Designed to reduce temperatures underneath by up to 32°.
  • Knitted fabric provides up to 90% UV block while letting air flow through the fabric.
  • Has a premium crank mechanism and tilt system which allows you to angle the umbrella to block sunlight at various positions.


Ventilation – Place your kitchen in an area where smoke or other exhausts won’t affect the guests. Have vents installed over your grill or burner such as the:


Z Line Stainless Steel Outdoor Wall Mount BBQ Range Hood

Z Line 697-36 Stainless Steel Wall Mount Range Hood, 36-Inch
  • 1200CFM High Performance Dual Motor (4 Speed) with Timer/Auto-Shut-Off
  • High Quality Stainless Steel design
  • Dishwasher-safe Baffle Filters


For the changing weathers that affect guests, have provision for outdoor electric fans during the sweltering days or heaters during the cold months. This is to ensure the comfort of you and your guests while having an outdoor party.

Space – Ensure that you have enough space in your backyard and patio for both the custom outdoor kitchen and dining area. You don’t want the entire kitchen to capture majority of the space, as it would defeat the purpose if the guests dine indoors due to limited space outdoors.

Remember, the placement of the dining area or bar tables should be relatively near the outdoor kitchen. To save up space and enjoy the cook’s company, extend the kitchen counter for dining areas and place bar stools around it. To give you an idea, purchase something like this counter:


Home Styles Woodbridge 2-Tier Kitchen Island

Home Styles Woodbridge 2-Tier Kitchen Island, White Finish
  • Woodbridge two tier kitchen island
  • Made of asian hardwood
  • The compact eating area also has two hidden storage cabinets featuring magnetic push latches


Maintenance – Since your outdoor kitchen will be exposed to the changing weather elements, make sure that the parts and materials you use are engineered for direct exposure to rain, snow, and extreme hot and cold temperatures. If you are going to use wooden cabinets, make sure that they are low maintenance and won’t split, fade, or crack easily.

The best kinds of wood that require very little maintenance are Teak, Cypress, Cedar, Beech and Ipe. Get something like the:


Winsome Wood Storage Cart

Winsome Wood Single Drawer Kitchen Cabinet Storage Cart, Natural
  • Compact rolling storage cart offers multi-use workspace for kitchens
  • Solid beechwood body and handles in natural finish; black lockable casters
  • Includes side towel rail, wide utensil drawer, and large 2-door cabinet with shelf


For appliances, sinks, and other accessories, pick ones that are made of stainless steel. Your outdoor kitchen should be providing you with relaxation, not stress and work.

Design – Many homeowners don’t consider the placement of their appliances important. Take note of the following areas: Cold area, hot area, wet area, and dry area. Design your outdoor kitchen in a way that these four areas will likely work together. An example should be that cold and wet areas should not be directly placed next to each other.

Menu – Basically, the size of your custom outdoor kitchen depends on the appliance you will place. If your menu consists only of simple grilled hotdogs and burgers, you don’t need to purchase side burners and ovens.

But if you want to serve pizzas or be able to heat up dishes or sauté sauces and caramelized onions to top your grilled goodies, then consider investing in a larger outdoor kitchen. If you have limited space but want to serve an enticing menu filled with choices, consider investing more in Kamado style cookers that not only grills, but also bakes and roasts.

An example would be the:


Char-Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker

Char-Griller E06614 Akorn Jr. Kamado Kooker Charcoal Grill - Red
  • 153 Square inch primary cooking area with cast iron grates
  • Kamado style grills promote even heating to enhance flavor
  • Easy dump ash pan for fast and simple cleanup


Guests – How often do you host parties and gatherings? How many guests do you invite every time? Surely, you won’t need double burners and big ovens for hosting a party of five to six people, right? If you have say, 15 guests, and you host at least once a week, then you might want to beef up your outdoor kitchen by adding salad bars or wine coolers. It all depends on how you intend your outdoor kitchen to function and how much you are willing to spend on it.

Storage – To avoid frequent trips inside the house just to get utensils and plates, or ingredients to cook, make sure that your custom outdoor kitchen has built-in cabinets and a refrigerator.

All that you need should be there – cooking accessories, grill tools, placemats and tablecloths, glasses, dinnerware, etc. For food, remember that you only need enough storage; you don’t need big refrigerators and coolers. Ideally, you are only feeding your guests for a day, so have enough storage for the ingredients you will cook for a day.



With all the above factors considered, you should have an idea of how to design your custom outdoor kitchen. These factors play a vital role in ensuring that your kitchen would be a haven and not a problem.

After you have built your plan or design, try taking it with you to the location where you are planning to build your kitchen and imagine it already standing there. Look around, paint in your mind all the factors mentioned, and ask yourself, does everything work harmoniously?

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