Picture your perfect outdoor kitchen. What do you see? A large table? Friends and family gathered around? A grill smoking in the background? The outdoor kitchen is a dream of many homeowners. The more features, the better.
While most outdoor kitchens have a food prep and dining area, there are many extra fixtures and appliances you can include. If you’re trying to transform your backyard into the ultimate gathering place for cooking and entertaining, here’s what we suggest.
1. Wood-fired Pizza Oven
Wood-fired pizza ovens look great and make fantastic pizza, especially if you can swing for a built-in stone oven. You can make a wood-fired pizza oven on your own, or work with a contractor to have one installed for you. You’ll save a lot of money if you build it on your own, but keep in mind that an experienced contractor may construct one with a better design that will make better pizza. If you’re on a budget, there are many portable low-cost options available.
2. Living Wall
Of all the cool decorations you could buy to spice up your outdoor kitchen, a living wall is one of the most striking. Living walls are vertical surfaces covered with living plants. The plants provide shade and also make a good conversation piece. There are many types of living walls. They can be purchased from a nursery, home improvement store or online, so do your research before choosing the right one for your backyard space.
3. Portable Outdoor Kitchen Island
Kitchen islands are coveted by homeowners who want more cooking space. For your outdoor kitchen, consider a portable kitchen island, which can be moved off to the side when it’s in the way, or when it’s time to close your outdoor kitchen for the winter. These fixtures can be useful in the event that you’re having a large party and need to move it out of the way to make space for seating.
4. Covered Seating Area with Ceiling Fan
Eating outside can be uncomfortably hot when the sun is high in the sky. You can fix this problem by installing a cover to provide shade. For more air flow, add a ceiling fan.
5. Blackboard Wall Menu
What’s the drink of the day? What’s on the menu for lunch? Tell your guests what to expect with a cute and attractive blackboard wall menu, placed near your kitchen setup.
6. Nearby Herb Garden
A herb garden can be attractive and also impressive to guests if you remove snippets to help during food prep. Plant your favorite herbs in a pot or in the ground, or if you have a living wall (see suggestion #1), plant your herbs there!
8. Matching Backsplash and Countertop
Just as there is a matching backsplash and countertop in your indoor kitchen, you can also have these features in your outdoor kitchen. Granite and soapstone make the best outdoor natural stones because they’re very durable and resistant to fading. Natural stone is easy to clean and lends a very attractive aesthetic to your outdoor kitchen.
Work with a professional fabricator to choose the countertop material for your outdoor kitchen. Avoid stones that contain synthetic materials like quartz, as this material can fade easily in outdoor settings. If you choose to install granite in your outdoor kitchen, don’t forget you’ll be required to seal it periodically to protect it from precipitation and freeze/thaw cycles.
9. Specialty Appliances
There are a million specialty appliances that you can consider for your outdoor kitchen space including a warming drawer, drink cooler and ice maker. All of these features are non-essential, but do add an element of fun to your space. These appliances are also good for entertaining.
10. Fire Pit
Do you spend a lot of time outside after the sun goes down? A fire pit makes that more possible and more rewarding. While the term fire pit implies that there’s an actual hole in the ground, fire pits can take many forms including above-ground bowls or stands. For the easiest to use and most impressive looking fire pit for your money, have one professionally installed and hooked up to your home’s gas line.
11. Outdoor Bar
If you love entertaining, nothing compares to having an outdoor bar with chairs where friends and family can sit and talk while you prepare drinks or food. Work with your contractor to have a sink and draft beer dispenser installed. Installing a bar prevents liquor bottles from cluttering your kitchen workspace and also provides more places for friends to sit when you’re hosting a party.
What’s a bar without a blender? Buy a quality countertop blender that you can hide in your cabinets when your outdoor kitchen is not in use. The blender will come in handy when you’re preparing margaritas, daiquiris or smoothies for your outdoor events.
A range is actually a surprisingly practical addition to your outdoor kitchen. With access to an outdoor range, you can cook all side dishes alongside the entrées that you’re preparing on the grill and in the wood fired pizza oven. As a bonus, you can also use your outdoor range to cook outdoors in summer, so you can avoid heating up your kitchen.
14. Electrical Outlets
You’ll think of a million reasons to install extra electrical outlets once the kitchen is finished, so go the extra mile and have the outlets installed during the kitchen’s construction. You’ll thank yourself when you’re looking for a place to plug in the extra cafe lights, or when you’re seeking a free outlet for that blender you just bought.