5 Ideas for Outdoor Kitchen Designs

By: Sara Elliott

© 2013 Discovery Communications

The exciting thing about an outdoor kitchen is the outdoor part -- taking the steamy, smelly and hot work of preparing a meal into the open air. The garden is an inspired place to entertain, too. No more cutesy coasters. No more worrying about Uncle Joe accidentally dropping his quesadilla behind the couch cushion (and not mentioning it), or worrying about your youngest running amok with the Kool-Aid. No matter the mishap, you're a length of garden hose away from a clean slate.

These five outdoor kitchen design ideas will help you get the family out of the house and into the yard where they can be messy to their heart's content without giving you acid indigestion.


5: Build It to Last

This sucker isn't going anywhere!

Landscape features take a beating from the elements. You want some far future archaeologist to stumble on your barbecue pit and marvel at your penchant for grilled hot wings and coal cooked corn. For that to happen, you have to build with solid materials that'll withstand most of what Mother Nature has to offer. If your toddler's trike can upend your seating, or the family dog can wag down your outdoor grill, you need reinforcements -- fast. Materials like brick, stone, concrete and stainless steel are pretty indestructible. Use them, and you won't have to worry the next time the wind blows.


4: Embrace Tiki Tacky

Tiki lamps, grass-roofed beverage stations and ocean glass accents will alert your neighbors and guests that you'll be serving fruity drinks, and all your meals will be decorated with piquant pineapple and kiwi garnishes. You could do worse than decorate your outdoor kitchen with a Polynesian theme. Those intimidating, carved wooden masks will keep the crows away, and even the bravest squirrel will think twice before risking his nuts trespassing in your yard.


3: Make it Retro

We're not talking about a hibachi and a couple of weenies on sticks. Think Mel's open-air diner with a red, black and chrome theme and enough 50's music playing on the recessed juke box to rock the neighbors into a class action suit. Yes, it's time to paint polka dots on the pool liner and invite Annette and Frankie over for your personal brand of surf and turf. Before the Beatles, Gidget was making waves on her surfboard, and you can make waves, too, by creating an outdoor kitchen that's way more fun than a sit-down in your dining room.


2: Add a Focal Point

Ever dreamed of a summer bonfire with red embers burning long into the night? It doesn't have to be a pyro-fantasy. You can have a renewable blaze on your patio, one that will kindle at your least whim (and access to a gas line). Just install a fire pit in your outdoor kitchen seating area.

Think water is more soothing than fire? No problem. A fountain, pond or other water feature can give your outdoor kitchen a focal point that will keep your family away from the flat screen long enough to enjoy a few ribs and some potato salad. If your exacting standards demand more than basic elements like fire and water, how about installing that flat screen in your outdoor kitchen instead of in the game room? Just think of it as an updated drive-in movie -- without the car.


1: Start an Alfresco Restaurant

Have you ever visited one of those trendy bistros where they grow herbs in their tree lawn and tack plastic sheeting around their tiny patio? You can build one of those of your very own. Invite your friends to partake of your home-grown and stuffed tomatoes -- for a small gratuity -- in your backyard eatery. If you're having trouble making ends meet, installing your own alfresco luncheonette is one way to pay for those shiny stainless steel appliances. It's also a nifty way to make use of the bounty from your victory garden -- at a profit. So, who's the savvy entrepreneur now?


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  • Concrete Network. "How to Design a Trendy Outdoor Kitchen." Undated. (4/2/11).http://www.concretenetwork.com/outdoor-kitchens/how-to.html
  • Concrete Network. "Outdoor Kitchens and Concrete Countertops." Undated. (4/2/11).http://www.concretenetwork.com/outdoor-kitchens/
  • DIY Network. "Building an Outdoor Kitchen." Undated. (4/2/11).http://www.diynetwork.com/building-an-outdoor-kitchen-introduction/video/index.html
  • Kalamazoo Gourmet. "Sample Outdoor Kitchen Plans." Undated. (4/2/11).http://www.kalamazoogourmet.com/sample_kitchens.php
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