I admit I am not the cook in our home – my husband does most of the cooking. Therefore, when he wanted to explore designing and building an outdoor kitchen, I was in full agreement (I do not have to cook, and now I will not have to clean the kitchen. Of course I agreed). I am the researcher in our home, so I put my skills to use and began researching tips for building outdoor kitchens as well as ideas for outdoor kitchens. It is amazing how beautiful and functional an outdoor kitchen is, which is why outdoor kitchen design is becoming more popular. The following tips for building an outdoor kitchen are the most practical and useful.
Buy the grill first. Shop for and buy your outdoor grill, refrigerator and any other appliances before you begin to design and build your outdoor kitchen. Because these items may require running electric and gas lines, you should have all of the requirements for your appliances in hand before beginning the construction phase.

Check local building codes. Depending on your location, you may need a permit or be required to meet certain zoning requirements when building an outdoor kitchen. This is not an area where “it is better to ask forgiveness than permission.”

Location is extremely important. Preferably, an outdoor kitchen should be close to your home and indoor kitchen so they can function together if necessary. Furthermore, you need to consider how the traffic flows when you entertain. Do you have a pool, live near a lake, have other outdoor entertainment, and will the cook be isolated from the rest of the guests? Design your outdoor kitchen much like a well-designed indoor kitchen so it functions as an entertainment center for the outdoor “rooms.”

Choose low-maintenance, high-quality materials. Stainless steel is easy to clean, weather resistant and provides a sanitary work surface for outdoor kitchens. The countertops are probably the second most important consideration after the appliances because they will be used as much as the appliances. Don Vandervort’s Home Tips is an excellent resource for researching countertop materials for outdoor kitchens. He breaks down the types of materials you may choose, such as stone tile, granite, glazed ceramic tile, stone slab, concrete and brick and flagstone. Each material has its benefits, but glazed ceramic tile is easy to clean and care for and is stain resistant.

Provide for comfort and shelter. Adding a fireplace or patio heater will extend the use of your outdoor kitchen into the fall and winter. Outdoor fans will provide a nice breeze during the hot summer months, and pergolas and awnings provide shelter from the rain and sun. Outdoor kitchens should be comfortable places to gather, eat and enjoy the company of friends and family.

Lighting design is important. Safety lighting along pathways and steps is essential for an outdoor kitchen. In addition, overhead lighting is a must for the countertop and grill if you plan on using your outdoor kitchen after sunset for food preparation and cooking. Do not forget the lighting for the dining area either. Your guests will want to enjoy the presentation of your meal as well as its taste.