kitchen appliances

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas: What To Consider When Planning

outdoor kitchen ideas

Back in the ‘90s, outdoor entertaining was a simple affair. It was common to buy a basic grill for the backyard and call it a day. As grills evolved to include side tables and other bells and whistles to appease savvy cooks, the outdoor kitchen began its own evolution.

Today, your backyard is prime real estate for an outdoor kitchen. Even before Covid hit and we were forced to embrace the homebody life, outdoor kitchens were catching on. They vary greatly in design and functionality but always deliver a welcome enhancement to any home.

Whether you opt for the modest version with a grill and a few key pieces to assist with your BBQ efforts or decide to go for a full-on outdoor kitchen experience with a refrigerator, sink, stove, grill, and the works—you have a lot of factors to consider.

In this article, we’ll go over some of the main considerations for planning your ideal outdoor kitchen, such as:

If you need some outdoor kitchen inspiration, visit Atherton Appliance & Kitchens to get your imagination flowing. After all, the first step to creating any personalized outdoor space is to start with a vision.

Purpose and vision

The first thing to consider when planning an outdoor kitchen is its purpose. Will it be used mainly for cooking, or will it also be a space for entertaining guests? Will it be a standalone feature or a part of a larger outdoor living space? Will you be prepping and cleaning inside or outside? These are essential questions to ask yourself, before getting in too deep, so you can plan accordingly.

Functionality is the next big part of your outdoor kitchen equation. Consider the type of meals you’ll be preparing, the appliances you’ll need, and the storage space required. If you are using your outdoor kitchen strictly for cooking, then a refrigerator or extra storage for dishware will be optional.

However, if you intend to design an area for entertaining guests, you need to take stock of your available space and have suitable storage options and refrigeration. There are several ways to customize your outdoor kitchen to suit any style of outdoor cooking your family prefers. Whether you want a quick-heating gas pizza oven, smoker, cooktop, or grill, there are plenty of ways to accommodate your go-to cooking method.

Designing your dream outdoor kitchen should be fun, so have fun with it! You can make it resemble your existing kitchen and have similar design elements or decorations, or you can go in a whole new direction and shake things up a bit.

Layout and space

The location and layout of your outdoor kitchen is the next significant factor to consider. Once you know the purpose of your space, you need to scope out your garden or yard to determine how you can bring your vision to life.

Your outdoor kitchen should be in an area that is easily accessible for both the cook and the guests maneuvering around. You’ll want to design your layout so that it creates a good flow yet still serves its function. Try to choose a location near a patio or deck so guests can easily move between the outdoor kitchen and the seating area.

It’s equally important to position your main cooking areas in a place protected from wind and other harsh elements that pop up throughout the seasons. Having a source of shade is also helpful to ensure your cooking experience is more comfortable during the hotter months. If you opt for a roof of some sort, just be sure to include some ventilation.

Having a straight wall to position your major appliances and heavily used areas tends to work in your favor. The benefit of having your outdoor kitchen hug your main house is the ability to move things in and out faster. It’s also nice if you happen to have a recessed wall near your garden to work off of. But when your outdoor kitchen is separate from the main house, it acts as a standalone zone with its own appeal.

No matter where you end up positioning your outdoor kitchen, be sure you are working with level ground so that all of your appliances and structures have a sturdy base. If you are working with a small space, you can lay tile that accentuates a zone. Small spaces force you to prioritize your preferred way of cooking since you have limited real estate, but there are a lot of versatile setups that can work in tight spots.

Materials and appliances

Outdoor kitchens are at the mercy of the elements, so you should choose weather-resistant materials that are durable and easy to clean. Stainless steel, concrete, and stone are popular materials used for appliances and the surrounding area of most outdoor kitchens. Since your cooking station and cleaning areas are subjected to the weather, it’s best to stick to non-porous materials to make maintenance more manageable.

As you’re contemplating the materials you want to include throughout your outdoor kitchen, you should also consider the appliances you need based on the purpose of your outdoor kitchen. Before making any appliance decisions, it’s vital to determine if your home is equipped for gas since it may need the proper connections to support gas-powered appliances. It would be a major headache to order a gas grill, pizza oven, or cooktop only to discover you don’t have the right setup.

Sometimes homeowners with a gas line to the house still opt for electric appliances due to the unit’s features. It boils down to personal preference, but either way, you will want a decent gas, electric, or charcoal grill since they are a staple of any outdoor kitchen. Smokers are also a growing trend allowing you to enjoy savory aromas while entertaining or cooking.

You can have some fun and interject your personality when selecting the countertops adjacent to your grill or cooktop, while preserving functionality. Check out all the color options and styles we offer at Atherton Appliance & Kitchens to get an idea of all the choices you have to work with.

Space permitting, you must consider the cabinetry and side tables you’ll want to incorporate with your outdoor kitchen. Again, you’ll want to choose a durable material such as stainless steel or even the marine-grade aluminum that Urban Bonfire is known for. It’s the perfect material for  long-term quality in extreme climates.

Suppose you have enough room to set up your outdoor kitchen with an entertaining area. In that case, consider including refrigeration for easy access to wine or other beverages and a place to store food that needs to stay chilled. Be sure to think about the electricity and plumbing feeding your outdoor space, as this is crucial to setting up a successful outdoor kitchen.

Lighting and safety

Nothing sets the mood quite like lighting. More importantly, lighting helps keep you and your guests safe. If your space has steps or social areas, consider dim lighting to illuminate pathways and soft, warm lighting for seating areas. Consider both task and ambient lighting, as you’ll want brighter light around the central cooking zone.

In addition to lighting to keep your family safe, you should always make sure there are no branches or low ceilings without ventilation anywhere near your cooking zone. When choosing your materials for worktops, be sure they can resist high heat, and ensure your gas connections are always tight and regularly inspected.


The cost of outdoor kitchens can range from as little as $500 for your most basic setup to about $13,000 on average. The extreme end of the spectrum can cost you closer to $40,000 and up, but that’s considering a major overhaul and all the bells and whistles.

For example, the customizable nature of Urban Bonfire averages around $8,000, which includes heavy-duty drawers, a trash and recycling module, refrigeration, and some shelves. Their more robust models cost around $13,000 but offer many more features. You can check out the Urban Bonfire options here. Kalamazoo also provides a wide range of customizable options to fit your budget.


An outdoor kitchen can be a wonderful addition to your home if you love to entertain guests, cook meals, or simply spend time outdoors. Still, careful planning is necessary to ensure that it meets your needs and provides a comfortable space for you and your guests.

When you combine all the factors, you can create a functional and attractive outdoor kitchen that meets your needs and enhances your outdoor living space. With careful planning and attention to detail, your outdoor kitchen can become the centerpiece of your outdoor entertaining and cooking experience.

At Atherton Appliance & Kitchens, we’ve been helping families find the right appliances for their unique homes, and we would be honored to help you with your upcoming outdoor kitchen project! Please reach out to us today, and our friendly team will guide you through the process and answer any questions you have.