First, envision your outdoor entertaining expectations. What kinds of menus will you be preparing, and for how many people? Will there be multiple cooks? Do you want an island with raised bar for seating? They'll determine equipment choices, furniture selection, storage needs—and, of course, the floor plan. And be sure to factor minimum allowances into your plans as recommended by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, including:
• 36" width for walkways
• 42" width for work aisles (48" for multiple cooks)
• 15" length of counter next to appliances
• 24" width per person for seating
Next, determine how you would like your outdoor kitchen laid out: in one straight line, a galley, an L-shape, a U-shape, or an island. Site selection may be based on access to electricity, gas and plumbing, all of which need to be rated for exterior use. If you expect to re-enter your primary kitchen often, locate the outdoor kitchen nearby. Other considerations include capturing views, maximizing privacy, sun orientation, and wind concerns—so be sure to take these into account as well. If screening for any of these is needed, it can be added through architecture, landscaping, awnings, or umbrellas.
Refrigeration and cooking equipment should be rated for outdoor use, sized to accommodate your entertaining needs, and versatile in its performance. Under-counter refrigeration, grills and cooktops, warming drawers, ice making, and storage preserve your view and leave ample counter space. The Sub-Zero outdoor refrigerator features heavy-gauge stainless steel and an insulated cabinet to keep cold in and heat out. Whether built-in or cart style, grills should be made of durable materials to withstand the elements, plus feature convenient details like halogen illumination, hood lift assist, warming racks, rotisserie, a built-in smoker box, and optional side burners.
Now the fun part—materials, color, and textures! When done right, these elements can create personality and visually connect your space to the home's interior. Don’t be afraid to think of the outdoor space as an extension of your indoor design, which means implementing fabrics and details that look like they could live inside (like the leopard stools featured here). Just be sure that countertops, backsplashes, furniture, and upholstery are scratchproof, stain-proof, and all-weather rated. Countertops of stainless steel, concrete, natural stone, quartz, or tile will hold up to the elements. Plus, slight angles on countertops, drip edges, and flush-mount sinks can channel rain off counters and away from walkway
A full or partial overhead structure like a pergola or roof helps visually define an outdoor kitchen, and provides support for lighting. A roof enables you to use your kitchen in any weather, and it provides easier installation of indoor-style amenities like television and stereo. (Just be sure to install proper ventilation for cooking.) Adding a heater, too, can also extend your kitchen's seasonal use into cooler months.
Success in outdoor living naturally involves a smart lighting plan. Even the chilliest nights feel warm and inviting with the gentle, indirect light of wall sconces and the comforting glow from pendant andtable lamps. Outdoor-rated task lighting is helpful for prep work, serving, and clean up. Hidden directional spotlights dramatically highlight creative tile work and foliage; path lights guide the way to a fire pit at woods' edge, or down to the beach, extending your embrace of outdoors even beyond the boundaries of your outdoor kitchen.