Outdoor Kitchen Ideas That Work

by Lee Anne White

Over 300 ideas covering today's range of outdoor kitchen equipment and furnishings plus top-notch design advice combine to create the only outdoor kitchen design sourcebook you'll ever need. Inside you'll learn how to make smart choices about what you really want in your outdoor kitchen and dining areas plus options for how to combine everything to create an outdoor environment that works for you.

Special features include:

  • Details that Work: highlights a special element that can put its mark on an outdoor kitchen of any size
  • The Essentials: comparison charts that provide the most important information you need to make smart buying decisions
  • Design Galleries: showcase even more options for everything from cabinetry and countertops to lighting, furnishings, and accessories
  • Putting it All Together: case studies that show you dozens of outdoor cooking and dining spaces that work in a range of sizes, styles, and budgets

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Planning an Outdoor Kitchen

Design for the Way You Live 
Putting It All Together : Adding On an Outdoor Room 
Create a Casual Environment 
Putting It All Together: Backyard Family Fun 
Choose the Right Location 
Putting It All Together: Casual Poolside Entertaining 
Consider Your Conditions 
Putting It All Together : Weathering the Elements 
Budget Realistically 
Choosing a Design/Build Team

Chapter 2: Designing a Kitchen That Works

Visualizing the Space 
Putting It All Together: Making the Most of a Small Backyard
Putting It All Together: Outdoors from Dawn to Dusk
Configuring the Kitchen Layout 
Putting It All Together: Entertaining a Crowd 
Addressing Practical Matters 
Putting It All Together: On the Veranda
Drawing Up Your Plans

Chapter 3 Grills, Smokers, and Wood-Burning Ovens

Grills and Smokers 
The Essentials: Grill Types 
The Essentials: Fuel Options 
Putting It All Together: A Versatile Outdoor Kitchen?Grill, Bake, or Smoke 
Side Burners 
Grill Accessories 
Grilling Tools 
Wood-Burning Ovens 
Putting It All Together: Pizza Oven As a Small-Space Solution

Chapter 4: Cabinets, Counters, and Appliances

Design for Function 
Putting It All Together: Adapting Commercial Kitchen Equipment 
Putting It All Together: A Kitchen with Abundant Storage
The Essentials: Sink Materials 
Cold Storage 
The Essentials: Built-In Cabinetry 
The Essentials: Exterior Cabinet Finishes 
Laying Out the Components 
The Essentials: Counter Materials 
Putting It All Together: A Rustic Retreat

Chapter 5: Eating Areas

Designing a Space for Dining 
Putting It All Together: Craftsman-Style Pergola Complements House Renovation 
Bar Seating 
Covered Dining Areas 
The Essentials: Shade Structures 
Putting It All Together: An Attached Dining Arbor 
Dining Tables and Chairs 
Putting It All Together: A Tropical Dining Island

Chapter 6: Designing an Outdoor Room

Anatomy of an Outdoor Room 
The Essentials: Floors 
The Essentials: Walls 
Putting It All Together: Almost Like a Day at the Beach 
The Essentials: Types of Outdoor Lighting 
Outdoor Hearths 
The Essentials: Outdoor Hearths 
Putting It All Together: Fireplace Anchors an Outdoor Room
Outdoor Furniture 
The Essentials: Outdoor Furniture Materials 
The Essentials: Types of Outdoor Seating 
Accents and Accessories 
Outdoor Media




Do we really need another kitchen? Admittedly, more than one person posed that question when they heard I was writing a book on outdoor kitchens. But these folks obviously haven't had the pleasure of preparing and cooking food in a thoughtfully designed outdoor kitchen or relaxing and entertaining in a cozy outdoor room.

In truth, we probably don't need outdoor kitchens. But I have met homeowners who would gladly give up their indoor kitchens before parting with the one on their porch, patio, or pool deck. These homeowners are spending more time at home with their families and friends than ever before because they've discovered the joy of cooking and entertaining outdoors. And for me, that's the bottom line. An outdoor kitchen is about more than cooking food. It's about spending time with those we love, having fun preparing the food we eat, and rediscovering the natural world that's as close as our own backyards. Besides, you've heard it before--food just tastes better when it's cooked outdoors.

An outdoor kitchen doesn't have to be elaborate. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money. And it probably shouldn't look just like your neighbor's outdoor kitchen. That's because it should be designed based on the way you entertain as much as the way you cook. It may be as simple as a cozy grilling and dining area on a small deck or as complex as a custom-built kitchen with cabinetry and appliances in a poolside pavilion. As long as you use it and enjoy it and it meets your needs, that's all that matters.

Traditionally, the grilling season lasted from Memorial Day through Labor Day. But thanks to the interest in outdoor living and an onslaught of new products from manufacturers, it's not unusual for folks to grill out year-round now. What we're cooking outdoors has changed, too. It's no longer just burger and hot dog fare. These days, you'll find friends and family roasting chickens, deep-frying turkeys, smoking ribs, simmering a pot of stew, stir-frying vegetables, baking pizzas, and flipping flapjacks outdoors. And rather than retreating to the house when the food is ready, homeowners are spending their evenings under the stars, beneath a fragrant, rose-draped pergola, or gathered around an outdoor hearth.

In this book, you'll find ideas to help jump-start the planning process for your own outdoor kitchen. But even more important, we hope you'll gain a better understanding of the design process, because every outdoor kitchen really is different. We also hope the book will help you become a better shopper, and that if you team up with a designer or contractor, a better understanding of the design process will lead to a more collaborative relationship. In the end, we hope you'll keep in mind that it's really all about relaxing and having a good time with those you care about most.