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The Ultimate Planning Guide to Design Your Dream Outdoor Kitchen

By The PHD Team
Published June 8, 2022

Having an outdoor kitchen is a dream for every homeowner. It is a space where you can enjoy meals and snacks, host gatherings and parties, or just spend a lazy Sunday lounging with the family. But for starters, building an outdoor kitchen can be challenging. Certain factors need to be considered such as weather, available area, orientation, and other external elements that may affect the design. In this guide, we’ll talk about the basics of planning for your outdoor kitchen and walk you through the planning checklist used to kickstart the initial design phase.  

blueprint layout of a outdoor kitchen
Cazayoux Residence

The Planning Phase

In the planning phase, you need to determine two things. The first is the location of the kitchen and the second is all about the planning scope and budget. 

view of back of house with back porch and outdoor kitchen
Johnson Residence


Where do you want to place your outdoor kitchen? Is it close to the house? Or away from it? To make an informed decision, find out the advantages and drawbacks of each certain location so you will be able to assess which location would fit best according to your demands. If you place it near the house or on the patio adjacent to your kitchen, it will be easier to access and the plumbing and electrical fixtures will be integrated smoothly as well. However, certain drawbacks come along with building an outdoor kitchen very close to your house. When cooking, you may want more ventilation to keep smoke from entering your house. Moreover, there is less versatility in kitchen layout and arrangement.

If you decide to build it away from the house, on the other hand, you can create a distinct outdoor entertaining space in your yard. Your outdoor kitchen will have a one-of-a-kind setting and vibe and there is a lot of leeway in terms of location and design.

3D rendering of back porch with kitchen and outdoor seating
Laken Residence

Scope and Budget

Write a list of the things you want to include in your outdoor living space. Think of the amenities, appliances, and design features you want to have in your outdoor kitchen. From that list, categorize them into the most important and the least important so you can purchase or set your budget aside to buy the most important things rather than those that you want to have but are not necessary. 

Here’s a list of common kitchen components present in an outdoor kitchen.

  • Grills, whether built-in or freestanding
  • Food preparation and bar sinks
  • Refrigerators
  • Islands and countertop modules
  • Storage
  • Trash bins
  • Bars, bar chairs, and bar tables
  • Tables and chairs 
  • Floor finishes
  • Structures that provide shade
  • Lighting and decoration
outdoor kitchen with fridge, two grills, sink, and chairs
Maggard Residence

The Designing Phase

Now that you have determined where you want to place your kitchen as well as your scope and budget for the project it’s time to jump into the exciting part – designing.  Deciding if you would like a dining area and living space for outdoor furniture will help determine the appropriate size and layout of the outdoor kitchen.

Designing the outdoor kitchen is a fun and exciting phase of the project but it’s also a very complex task that requires the help of an architect and a contractor. To make your project run smoothly with fewer errors, it is recommended to hire a contractor. 

In any type of project, communication is very important in making it successful. So, communicate effectively with your designer and contractor to finish the project within the budget and the timeline. Be there in every phase and be clear with your vision when explaining it to the designer. 

outdoor kitchen with island and fireplace
Glasgow Residence

Kitchen Appliances

What are the appliances you want to have in your outdoor kitchen space? Choose appliances and fixtures designed specifically for outdoor usage. Below are common examples. 

  • Grills
  • Side burners
  • Power Burner / Crawfish boiling station
  • Outdoor Refrigerator
  • Smoker
  • Pizza Oven
  • Beverage Area
  • Sink
  • Ventilation
  • Outdoor TV
  • Patio Heater
outdoor kitchen island with sink and beer tap
Cazayoux Residence

Outdoor Furniture

Decide on the seating. Do you want to have a lounge area and an alternative dining area? Or would you prefer to have minimal seating with a bar counter? Assess how big your area is and whether or not your desired seating arrangement would fit perfectly within the space. When it comes to choosing furniture, select chairs, and couches that are meant for outdoor use. One of the most common materials for outdoor furniture is rattan chairs to give a more tropical or coastal feel. Metal is also utilized to complement contemporary and modern homes. 

back porch with outdoor table, chairs, and couches
Maggard Residence


Outdoor lighting is available in a variety of styles and sizes, making it simple to accentuate the design of your home, provide a safe environment, and add elegance to your outdoor kitchen. Examples of these lighting fixtures are:

  • Flush Mounts
  • Wall Lights
  • Landscape lighting
  • String lights
  • Outdoor Lanterns
  • Pendant Lights
  • Security Lights

Lighting an outdoor kitchen can make a huge difference in the overall design and visual aesthetic of your outdoor space, especially during the night. Consult an architect or interior designer to make your lighting design composition coherent and well-executed. 

covered back porch with kitchen counter and grill
Cypress View Residence

Ready to make your dream kitchen come to life? Request a proposal today.