TIP NO. 1: Layout (Form Follows Function)

Sketch out and dimension the space available. Locate the access points and incorporate the flow of people as part of the design. “The cooking area, dining area and pool are all essentially outdoor rooms”. Plan your entire outdoor entertaining space as part of a overall plan. Use canopies, outdoor fans and fire pits to extend the use of the space. A good design responds directly to how people use it.

TIP NO. 2: Organize (Identify Usage Zones)

Once the size and space has been determined, separate the kitchen in 4 usage zones. A. Preparation, B. Cooking, C. Serving D. Entertaining. (See Fig.1) Some zones may overlap. Here are a few questions to ask: How much counter space will I need? How does the outdoor kitchen connect with the indoor kitchen? Can the chef interact with guests while cooking? How many people can the space comfortably entertain? How much food preparation will be done outside vs. inside? Make a checklist of all your questions and ensure that the design addresses them all.

Figure 1

No 3: Design Parameters (Standards)

Plan for the best practical placement or installation of the necessary gas, water and electrical supply. Ensure that all dimensions conform to established ergonomic standards. See Fig.2:

  • Standard countertop height is 36″. (Sometimes the counter had to be raised to 38″ to accommodate a fridge.)
  • An acceptable range is 36-38″. (Make sure the counters are lower than height of your client’s bent elbow to the ground.)
  • Bar counter height may vary from 42″-46″ tall. (Select barstools ahead of time to let the height of the seat dictate the final height.)
  • Bar stools are typically 28″ tall, but vary depending on styling and manufacturer.
  • Cantilever a minimum of 10 inches to allow room for knees on any type of counter.

Figure 2

No 4: Safety (Built In Features)

Make sure that all local and state safety codes are incorporated into the design. If your outdoor equipment is gas operated – propane or natural – shut off valves need to be conveniently local for easy access. Allow for ventilation throughout the structure, in case of a leak. Insist that all electrical work is done by a licensed electrician using only outdoor rated electrical equipment. Provide adequate task lighting (see the sizzle on your steak) as well as ambient lighting for after-dark socializing and entertaining.

No 5: Usability (Ease of use and maintainability)

Choose high quality, low-maintenance materials and equipment that will hold up in an outdoor environment. “The easier it is to clean and maintain, the more use you will get from your investment”. High-quality stainless steel equipment provides a sanitary surface that’s easily cleaned and corrosion-resistant. Counters and patio materials should be grease resistant and able to withstand high temperatures. Natural stone and tile products don’t fade or degrade outdoors.

Figure 3

Bonus Tip: Setting (Create spatial identity) 

Last but not least. Create a distinctive identity for your outdoor kitchen. Anything from classic elegance to Key West informal is achievable within the framework of the existing architecture. Work with a designer or contractor that can translate your vision into reality, without ignoring any of the above mentioned tips. Done right, an outdoor kitchen can become your most valuable outdoor space.

We can go on – there is much, much more information out there regarding equipment options, construction methods and accessories. Please see a few of our completed projects. Follow us us Facebook or shoot us an email should you have any questions! We will be glad to help.