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6-Steps to Building Your Outdoor Kitchen - Stono Outdoor Living

6-Steps to Building Your Outdoor Kitchen

Building an outdoor kitchen is a process that requires knowledge and planning, but it sure makes your backyard and patio more enjoyable.

Building an outdoor kitchen can be daunting, but anyone can do it with the right information and steps to follow. This guide will tell you how to build your outdoor kitchen in 6 simple steps.

Step 1: Outdoor Kitchen Size

It’s important to understand how much space each appliance needs for it all to come together in harmony. Generally speaking, small outdoor kitchens (10 feet) should allow enough room for a grill, cooktop stove top, sink, and storage drawers; medium-sized kitchens (16 feet) need room for all those plus a refrigerator; while large models (20+ feet) may require additional space if they include extra cooking appliances such as smokers and griddles.

Of course, having ample ‘landing spaces’ around each appliance is also key - this allows plenty of maneuverability when working in the kitchen, so everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
No matter what size your dream outdoor kitchen ends up being – big or small – proper planning is essential before construction begins so that it meets all expectations from design aesthetic through to functionality. When done correctly, it will be aesthetically pleasing and highly practical, so hosts can spend more time enjoying themselves with guests than worrying about running out of plates or checking on food progress!

Step 2: Outdoor Kitchen Shape

Before making decisions about your kitchen shape, it’s important to consider factors such as size, style, placement, and available resources. The most common shapes for an outdoor kitchen are L-shape, island, galley, and U-shape. An appropriate choice for small outdoor kitchens is either an L-shaped or island design, whilst medium and big ones can have more varied shapes that best fit the area. Modern style usually works well with a galley or island, whereas traditional would be better served by one of the closing shapes like G-, U-, or L-shape.

Open spaces look bigger, so if space is constricted, opt for something that will help open it up rather than close in on itself (e.g, avoid double counters). It’s also important not just to consider what looks good but also what practicalities need considering – gas/ water/electricity connection should all be factored into where your kitchen goes and how it's shaped! Thinking through all these elements before deciding on a shape will help you create the perfect outdoor kitchen environment this summer!

Step 3: Plan Your Zones

Arranging an outdoor kitchen requires knowledge of the 5 different outdoor kitchen zones: hot, cold, wet, dry, and serving. This ensures that you build an efficient and effective design of your ideal layout by assigning separate zones throughout certain usage areas:

  • Hot Zone: The hot zone is the cornerstone of any outdoor kitchen and should be the first element to plan out. This area typically consists of a grill, burners, smoker pizza oven, and other cooking apparatus. If there were only one zone in an outdoor kitchen, it would undoubtedly be this one.

  • Dry Zone: It is necessary to have a countertop and storage in this zone. The dry zone of an outdoor kitchen is essential for creating a functional space. It should be located next to the hot zone, but it can also benefit from having a wet zone nearby. When planning this area, consider adding features such as a long countertop, warming drawer, marinating drawers, storage drawer, towel dispenser, pans, and pot cabinets if you have the budget available. These features will make your outdoor kitchen more functional and enjoyable.

  • Wet Zone: Access to running water is essential in a wet zone. Additionally, connecting the outdoor kitchen to hot water makes the cooking and cleaning experience easier. The wet zone typically includes having a sink, trashcan (trash drawer), and cabinet for cleaning supplies.

  • Cold Zone: The cold zone contains a refrigerator, an ice maker, or a freezer and should be kept at a distance from the hot zone. This is because appliances in these zones have different purposes; while one cools food items, the other cooks them.

  • Serving Zone: The serving zone is where you can entertain your family and friends. It can be an alfresco dining set, a bar counter in your kitchen, or a combination of both. This zone has to have some counters and chairs for guests. You can also get a beverage center, kegerator, storage for plates, and cutlery. The serving countertop should be planned with multiple heights to maximize its usefulness.

When deciding on the location of the serving zone, it’s important to consider how close (or far) it should be from other zones, such as cooking areas so that the chef can interact with guests but not too close so that cooking sounds are not annoying nor splashes reach them.

Step 4: Plenty of Ventilation

It's important to remember that having good ventilation will help protect people from potential injuries or property damage in case of a leak. For an outdoor kitchen to be safe, adequate ventilation should always be considered when planning its design and construction process.

Installing proper ventilation for an outdoor kitchen is a key step to keeping it running safely and without any problems. Properly venting natural gas requires vent panels placed as high as possible, four to six feet apart. On the other hand, propane needs vents spaced out at least four feet and as low as possible since this fuel is heavy.

Step 5: Give Yourself Room For Storage

Before purchasing storage cabinets for your outdoor kitchen, it’s important to consider the grill and sink you have chosen. These appliances may need lines such as water or gas run to them to be operational. This can take up more space than expected, leaving no room for storage underneath.

Access doors may be your only solution- allowing easy access to the area below without compromising on your other features. You must factor these things into consideration before making a purchase of any storage cabinets for your outdoor kitchen.

Step 6: Use the Right Appliances for the Job

Outdoor kitchen appliances look similar to their indoor counterparts, but the difference lies in their construction. Outdoor appliances should always be used for outdoor kitchens as they are designed with tougher materials and special features such as waterproofing or rustproofing that make them more resistant to heat and weather conditions. Indoor appliances won't survive outdoors as they won't have these protective qualities and will quickly deteriorate, discolor or even break down over time.

Investing in quality outdoor kitchen equipment will ensure your outdoor space remains enjoyable for many years to come.


Building an outdoor kitchen is an exciting project, and with proper research, planning, and execution, you can create something truly unique. We hope this guide helps you better understand the process so your outdoor kitchen dreams can come true!
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