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Designing a Modern Outdoor Kitchen

Designing a Modern Outdoor Kitchen

Have you ever wished you could combine the joy of cooking with the experience of being outdoors on a beautiful day? Why enjoy only alfresco dining when you can cook outdoors, too? With an outdoor kitchen, you can prepare incredible meals and serve them on the patio. 

Outdoor kitchens are becoming increasingly popular. Whether you’re looking to add resale value to your home or just create an outdoor living space you and your guests can enjoy, the possibility of an outdoor kitchen is worth exploring. Here’s what you need to know before building a place where you can make memories.  

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas  

A beautiful outdoor kitchen starts with an idea. And just like you wouldn’t begin a painting by focusing on the fine details, you shouldn’t start designing your kitchen without focusing on the basic layout first.  

Designing an outdoor kitchen on your own can seem overwhelming, especially if you haven’t planned one before. Don’t feel like you have to do it all alone — a design consultation can help you decide on what you want.   

However, before you go into a consultation, it can be helpful to have a general idea of the sort of space you’re looking to create. Start by considering some basics.  


Having a general idea of where you want to place your outdoor kitchen is a good starting point. The most important consideration is whether you’d like it to be attached to your home or detached.  

Having an attached outdoor kitchen makes it convenient to travel to and from your home while preparing meals and dining outside. However, for some homes, building an additional attached structure can place more strain on the foundation of your home. An expert can help you decide whether an attached outdoor kitchen is safe for your home.  


Some homeowners prefer a covered outdoor kitchen. Others would rather work with a partially covered space. Each has its advantages. A completely covered space provides maximum protection for your outdoor appliances. It also makes it possible to cook outdoors even when it rains.  

However, some people find they don’t feel as though their kitchen is truly outdoors unless it’s partially uncovered. If you’d like the best of both worlds, this option is a smart choice.  

Water Supply  

Your indoor kitchen has a sink and water supply, so it might seem obvious that an outdoor kitchen should, too. However, that’s not always the case.   

If you’re looking to reduce the total cost (and especially if your outdoor kitchen is directly connected to your home), you might be able to run inside when you need water and keep your outdoor kitchen cooking only. For maximum convenience, having an outdoor water supply is a good idea.  

Type of Fuel  

If you enjoy cooking, grilling, or smoking, you likely have strong opinions on what type of fuel produces the best results. Fortunately, when it comes to creating an outdoor cooking space, you have plenty of fuel options to choose from.  

  • Electric can be convenient, but it’s important to ensure outlets and electrical wiring are protected from rain, snow, and other wet weather.  
  • If you enjoy smoking meat and other foods, you might consider adding a pellet grill or pellet smoker to your setup.  
  • For your grill, charcoal is worth considering — it’s less convenient than gas or propane, but some people think it imparts better flavor.  
  • Propane is more expensive than natural gas, but it burns more slowly, so you end up using less over time.  
  • Natural gas tends to burn much faster than propane does, so it may cost more over time.   

Of course, depending on the types of appliances used, some people opt for more than one type of fuel. Your design consultant can help you decide which is best.  

Kitchen Island Shape  

Your kitchen island is another important consideration. Larger kitchen islands give you more space for food preparation, and they might also give you more storage space. These are some of the main options people choose from:  

  • L-Shaped: Maximize counter space without getting in your way  
  • U-Shaped: Make it easy to reach everything while taking up minimal space  
  • Linear: Simple and economical and great for multiple people preparing food  
  • Galley: Long, narrow islands that maximize walking space on either side  

If you are eager to create a fully customized space, you might also want to consider a custom-shaped kitchen island that suits your unique needs exactly.  

Outdoor Kitchen Designs 

Once you have an idea of the general layout and frame, you can start looking more closely at the actual components of the kitchen. You probably don’t want to include every single option below. Instead, choose the ones that will best suit your design and cooking needs. These are some of the basic parts of many outdoor kitchens you might want to consider.  

Built-in Grill  

For many people, the built-in grill is the star of the outdoor kitchen. This is a must-have!  

Access Doors  

At some point, you will need access to your plumbing, gas, and water lines. Without an easy access door to get to them, troubleshooting and repairing issues becomes a recipe for frustration.  

Side Burners  

When you’re preparing multiple items for a meal, everything is rarely done at exactly the same time. When you have a side burner, you can cook a side dish while grilling or keep a finished dish warm as you wait for everything else to get done.  

Trash Can(s)  

This might seem like an obvious item to include. However, in the excitement of selecting everything for an outdoor kitchen, it’s easy to forget the humble trash can.  

While you can include a stand-alone trash can with an outdoor kitchen, it’s often wise to include one that’s built into the cabinetry. That way, it won’t blow away, and if you forget to empty it at night, you won’t have to worry about wild animals getting into the trash.  

Vent Hood  

When you’re grilling (and especially if you’re grilling in a covered space), smoke buildup can irritate your eyes and make the air hard to breathe. Fortunately, a vent hood easily solves that problem. It funnels the smoke upward and away from you and your guests. 

Island Vent Panel  

Even though your new kitchen is outdoors, it still needs to be ventilated — and the more ventilation you have, the better. Many people choose to include a vent panel on the kitchen island.  

Insulated Grill Jacket  

This might sound like a trivial consideration. However, an insulated grill jacket is an absolute must if your cabinets or kitchen island is flammable at all. An insulated grill jacket is a small addition, but it has the potential to save you from a devastating fire.  

Expanding Your Cooking Options  

There is nothing wrong with an outdoor kitchen centered around a grill. After all, a grill (and especially a grill with a side burner) can be used to prepare just about any meal. But what if you want the ability to cook a brick-oven pizza, smoke a brisket, or scramble eggs on a griddle? When you add more cooking options, your meal possibilities expand!  

Pizza Oven  

You haven’t had pizza until you’ve had it cooked in a specialty pizza oven. Add one to your outdoor kitchen, and you and your guests can enjoy restaurant-quality pizza anytime you want.  


The flat top of a griddle makes it easy to cook just about anything you don’t want to grill. You can cook eggs, hamburgers, veggies, and more. It’s almost like having an outdoor stovetop.  

Kamado Grill  

This versatile, egg-shaped Japanese grill is good for roasting, grilling, and smoking. It’s famous for cooking foods without drying them out, and it’s easy to use, too.  


To really smoke a cut of meat properly, you need a smoker separate from your grill. Whether you prefer chips or pellets, a quality smoker can expand your cooking horizons.  

Outdoor Refrigeration  

You don’t absolutely have to have refrigeration for your outdoor kitchen. However, being able to access all your refrigerated ingredients without running back and forth from the house certainly has its advantages. There are several options you might consider. 

Outdoor Refrigerator  

Whether you’re storing meat before grilling or keeping prepared side dishes cool, having a refrigerator right where you need it makes outdoor cooking much more enjoyable. Some people opt for a full-size fridge, but if you want to keep costs down, you might consider a smaller-sized fridge.  

Outdoor Freezer  

Some people prefer to stick to only an outdoor fridge. However, if you like to stock up on meat, having an outdoor freezer to store it can certainly free up space in your indoor freezer.  

Ice Maker  

Usually, when you’re preparing a meal for yourself, your family, or guests, that meal includes something to drink. You can always run inside when you need to get ice for a drink, but part of the magic of an outdoor kitchen is being able to stay outside. When you add an ice maker, you can prepare drinks with ease.  

Beverage Cooler  

Whether you have a dedicated outdoor refrigerator or not, having a beverage cooler as part of your kitchen keeps sodas, water bottles, beers, and more within arm’s reach. 

Wine Cooler  

Wine is a delicate beverage. Storing it outside without climate control — even briefly — is a bad idea. Preserve its delicate flavor with a specialized wine cooler.  


Your indoor kitchen probably has several drawers and cabinets. When you want a kitchen to be stocked well, you need storage to keep everything neat. Before speaking with an outdoor kitchen designer, it’s a good idea to know roughly how much storage space you need.  

Sinks, Faucets, and More  

If you opt for an outdoor kitchen that includes running water, you might want to consider adding ice bins, sinks, and faucets. 


You wouldn’t do away with your sink and running water in your indoor kitchen. Why do without in your outdoor kitchen? If you anticipate needing to wash pots, pans, or many dishes, consider a larger, deeper sink without a center divider. A faucet with a sprayer attachment also simplifies cleanup.  

Ice Bin and Condiment Trays  

Need to keep your condiments and sauces cool? A bin of ice with trays for condiments will take your entertaining to the next level.  

Coolers and Ice Bins  

When you’re hosting a large gathering, you can never have too much ice for your coolers. Overflow bins can be great for keeping drinks cool.  

Outdoor Kitchen DIY  

Can you build an outdoor kitchen yourself? If you’re extremely handy or you have construction experience, you may be able to build a great outdoor kitchen. However, in most cases, it’s best to leave it to the professionals.   

Poor-quality workmanship isn’t the only danger you run into with DIY kitchens. If the electrical wiring is done incorrectly, you run the risk of injury or even death by electric shock. Gas lines also present dangers if not installed correctly.  

Outdoor Kitchen Kits  

If you’re considering an outdoor kitchen and want something straightforward and easy, kitchen kits are worth a look. These are usually ready-to-assemble sets that only fit together in a particular way. It’s like getting a bookshelf in the mail — you put it together yourself, but there’s no way to customize it.  

You can certainly choose this option, but depending on the brand, you might find that the kit doesn’t have the staying power of a high-quality, custom outdoor kitchen. You also must work with the design and components it comes with.  

Modular Outdoor Kitchens  

Modular outdoor kitchens are kind of like kits, but they have some customization options. They come in self-contained “units” that you can arrange within a frame.   

For example, if you have a modular kitchen that includes a grill, a sink, and a beverage cooler, you could choose which module goes next to which as you place the modules within the frame.  

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this option. But if you have a particular aesthetic in mind or want your outdoor kitchen to be as long-lasting as possible, springing for a fully customized kitchen might be worth it.  

Premade Outdoor Kitchens  

If you want an outdoor kitchen that looks as much like a custom build as possible (without being an actual custom build), a premade kitchen is a good choice. Many premade kitchens appear to have appliances built into stone walls — just like custom builds.  

Here’s the problem. Premade outdoor kitchens are usually delivered to your door and dropped. It’s up to you to maneuver them into place. Because many of them weigh upwards of 1,000 pounds, it can be next to impossible to do so yourself.   

In most cases, you’re better off hiring someone who has the right equipment to move a premade kitchen.  That is, unless you work with Stono Outdoor Living, our preassembled standard-size options weigh only 300 pounds. 

Prefab Outdoor Kitchens  

“Prefab” is another name for pre-made kitchens.  

Outdoor Kitchen Frame Options  

The frame of your outdoor kitchen serves both an important structural purpose and a key aesthetic purpose. It’s one of the most important considerations when designing your space. Here are some common materials:  

  • Metal: Metals like steel resist weather and corrosion and have modern looks  
  • Wood: Creates a rustic look but burns easily — you’ll need fire-resistant coating  
  • Brick: Ideal for creating a classic look that’s also fire-resistant  
  • Cinder Blocks: Economical choice that’s both strong and resistant to flame  

Building a frame from scratch can be a great way to create a completely custom kitchen. If you wish, you can even incorporate multiple materials into the same frame.  

Outdoor Kitchen Cost  

Every outdoor kitchen is different, so it’s impossible to give you an accurate price figure without more information. Very bare-bones setups will cost considerably less than those that include all the bells and whistles.  

However, if you want a ballpark figure, outdoor kitchens usually cost from about $6,000 on the low end to about $26,000 on the high end. The average cost is around $16,000.  

Stainless Steel Outdoor Kitchens  

When you’re building an outdoor kitchen, you want it built to last. Stainless steel is one of the most durable materials available.   

It’s highly impact-resistant and withstands extremely hot and cold temperatures, so it’s unlikely to suffer serious weather damage. Its corrosion resistance makes it a smart choice even in climates with salty, highly corrosive air.  

Outdoor Kitchen Accessories  

When it comes to custom outdoor kitchens, building the actual kitchen is the focus. However, the right accessories will give it a homey feel and make it entertainment ready. 

Patio Furniture  

Patio furniture gives you and your guests a place to relax and unwind. And while upscale furniture can add a refined look to your outdoor kitchen, cheap furniture can have the opposite effect.   

If you choose one type of patio furniture to go with your outdoor kitchen, make it a patio dining set. Nothing beats sitting down to a home-cooked meal you just prepared in an outdoor kitchen. Cooking outdoors and going inside to eat doesn’t have the same appeal.  

If your outdoor entertainment area includes a bar, you also might consider barstools and other furniture. And if you routinely have many people over, a few “conversation sets” — matched sets of chairs — will really make a difference.  

Outdoor Entertainment  

This is entirely optional. However, many people prefer making their outdoor kitchens the epicenters of their gatherings. If you want to keep your guests (or even just family members) entertained outside, you might consider including a TV and speakers. Of course, you need to make sure they are adequately protected from the weather.  

Patio Heater  

Do you need outdoor heating? It might not be an absolute necessity. However, if you want to extend the time you can comfortably cook outdoors, a patio heater can keep everyone comfortably warm.  

Outdoor Fireplace  

If you prefer a heating solution with a more natural feel, an outdoor fireplace may be more to your liking. A stone fireplace can be a visually beautiful addition, and the heat the fireplace generates can add just enough warmth to let you grill outside in the cooler months.  

Fire Pit  

If you want something even more rustic than an outdoor fireplace, go with a fire pit. You can cozy up with friends and family, drink tea or hot cocoa, roast marshmallows, and tell stories late into the night.  

Outdoor Fan  

Even on days when it isn’t excessively warm, grilling outdoors is enough to make you break a sweat. When you have an outdoor fan, you can generate enough air circulation to stay a little more comfortable.  

Air Cooler  

Can you use air conditioning outdoors? Not really. However, a portable air cooler can add a much-needed chill on sweltering days.  

Grill Accessories  

For many, just having a grill in an outdoor kitchen is plenty. However, if you want to expand your cooking experience, you might consider including a few accessories.  

Rotisserie Kit  

Baked poultry is one thing. But rotisserie-cooked chicken is something you can’t beat. If you frequently enjoy roast chicken, a rotisserie kit might be your next upgrade.  

Sear Burner  

Do you love the taste of a good pan-seared steak? Want to add flavor to vegetables without overcooking? Try adding a specialized sear burner to your outdoor cooking setup.  

Smoker Box  

Smoked meat has an incredible taste. But not every custom outdoor kitchen has room for a full-sized smoker. If that describes your setup, you might consider a smoker box. This is effectively a smaller smoker that still lets you impart that delicious smoky flavor to meats, cheeses, vegetables, and more.  

Ready to Build the Outdoor Kitchen of Your Dreams?

A beautifully built outdoor kitchen can help you make the most of your outdoor space for years to come. If you want to create a modern outdoor kitchen that wows you every time you see it, you need the experts at Stone Outdoor Living Co. Take a look at our photo gallery to see some of our recent work!  

Let the experts at Stono Outdoor Living help create your dream outdoor kitchen. Start building your kitchen with our 3D configurator; it's simple and easy to use. Or schedule a no-obligation design consultation to tailor a custom outdoor kitchen design that combines comfort, functionality, and style. We guarantee a perfect fit, free shipping, and easy assembly. Shop Islands or Schedule a Consultation today. 

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