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Outdoor Kitchens: A Guide for Everything You Need to Know

an in ground pool in the front with hardscape tan pavers on the patio and walls with a bench swing and outdoor kitchen in the background

Outdoor kitchens have become an increasingly popular addition to homes, extending the functionality and enjoyment of living spaces beyond the confines of traditional indoor kitchens.

If you have been thinking about installing a backyard outdoor kitchen, we’re sure you have questions. If you know this addition to your home is a definite yes, then we can assume you have a Pinterest board or a few hundred screenshots, photos, favorites, and folders of ideas swirling in your head.

Where to start?

Have a plan and a budget. Shiny new things can distract you, and a plan can often fly off the “grill.” You must have a hardline budget, which reduces wasted time and spending.

And the next question you may ask yourself is, how much will an Outdoor Kitchen cost me?

How Much Do Outdoor Kitchens Cost?

2024 trends show an increase in the cost homeowners are willing to spend on an outdoor living space. The market is estimated to grow by 40%. People who already have their outdoor kitchen oasis say incorporating a well-equipped and eye-pleasing outdoor kitchen was one of the best investments they put into their homes.

As of 2023, outdoor kitchen costs range between $6,121 and $25,180, with a national average of $15,534, but they offer a high return on investment, according to Bob Villa.

a graph showing the cost of installing an outdoor kitchen with national average cost of $15,543

picture credit by Bob Villa

However, the pricing will vary depending on a few different factors, such as:

  • Size
  • Materials
  • Appliances and features
  • Installation
  • Labor and permits
  • Framework
  • Flooring
  • Countertops & Cabinets
  • Utilities

Ok, so that’s more than a few. It is a long list.

Let’s add one more thing to that list and place a star next to it.

You want to hire a reputable, experienced outdoor living designer. They will help you decide the best options for your budget and needs. Better yet, they have 3D rendering landscape design software that will allow you to see the design they created for you before you even begin.

Voila! Everything is done. You can make any adjustments, and in weeks, it’s done.

As you progress in this process, let’s break down some of these considerations to determine which items you can use for your outdoor kitchen design. Let’s get cooking!

Outdoor Kitchens and Islands: Stylish and Functional

gray and white marble countertop on an outdoor kitchen

Investing in an outdoor kitchen island can be a game-changer for your backyard. With the right island, you can extend your living space, enhance your entertaining, and increase the value of your home.

After you’ve completed your budget and design, you need to decide what kind of outdoor kitchen island you want. Add only durable materials that can withstand the elements.

Many different types of outdoor kitchen islands are available, each with unique features and benefits.

Popular Types of Outdoor Kitchens Islands

  • Stainless steel islands: Stainless steel islands are durable, easy to clean, and resistant to rust and corrosion. They are also a popular choice for modern and contemporary outdoor kitchens.
  • Stone and paver islands: Stone islands are made from natural stone, such as granite, marble, or slate. They are a beautiful and luxurious option for outdoor kitchens, and they can add a touch of elegance to any space. However, stone islands can be more expensive than other islands and more challenging to maintain.
  • Concrete islands: Concrete islands are more durable and affordable than stone islands. They can be stained or painted to match any outdoor kitchen design. However, concrete islands can be heavy and difficult to move.
  • Brick islands: Brick islands are a classic and timeless option for outdoor kitchens. They are very durable and can withstand the elements. However, brick islands can be expensive to build and challenging to customize.
  • Wooden islands: Wooden islands are more affordable and versatile than other islands. They can be painted or stained to match any outdoor kitchen design and customized to fit any space. However, wooden islands are less durable than others and require more maintenance.

Before you begin, consider the climate in your area when choosing materials for your island. If you live in coastal areas or near the beach, you must understand how salt and humidity will affect your island. You want your investment to last.

Outdoor Kitchens Sinks: A Must-Have for Your Culinary Oasis

different shades of gray bricks, stainless steel appliances in an outdoor kitchen with palm trees and a black aluminum fence in the background

Outdoor kitchens should have every convenience your indoor kitchen has. You don’t want to find yourself washing and prepping in your sink and going back and forth from inside to outside your home. Some tend to look this detail over until they find themselves using both kitchens and not thoroughly enjoying the total value of the outdoor kitchen they had built for them.

That is why they become increasingly popular year after year, allowing homeowners to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while preparing delicious meals.

Outdoor kitchen sinks provide a convenient and sanitary way to wash hands, fruits, vegetables, and utensils. They also eliminate the need to constantly run back and forth indoors—did we mention that a few times on purpose? Yes.

When choosing an outdoor sink, there are a few factors to consider, such as:

  • Material: Stainless steel is a popular choice for outdoor sinks because it is durable, easy to clean, and resistant to rust and corrosion. Other options include stone, concrete, and even wood.
  • Mounting type: Drop-in sinks are installed above, while under-mount sinks are installed below. Drop-in sinks are generally easier to install, while undermount sinks offer a more seamless look.
  • Size: The size of your sink will depend on the size of your outdoor kitchen and your needs. A single-bowl sink is sufficient for a small kitchen, while a double-bowl sink is better for a larger kitchen.
  • Accessories: Many outdoor sinks come with various accessories, such as a cutting board, colander, and soap dispenser. These accessories can make your outdoor cooking experience even more convenient. We will discuss all accessories later in this guide; keep reading.

With so many great options available, there is sure to be an outdoor sink that is perfect for your needs. So ditch that indoor kitchen sink and take your culinary adventures outside!

Sun, Sand, and Sizzling Steaks: Appliances for Outdoor Kitchens

brown outdoor kitchen cart with a green pizza oven in between gray brick and pavers on the ground

If you live near the beach, you know it isn’t just about sunbathing and sandcastle building – it’s also about enjoying delicious meals with a stunning ocean, lake, or waterway backdrop. And what better way to do that than equipping yourself with the right appliances for outdoor kitchens near coastal areas?

However, choosing the right appliances for your beachside oasis can be tricky. You should have something durable enough to withstand the salty air and harsh sun yet stylish enough to complement your coastal vibe.

Here are the common types of kitchen appliances used for outdoor kitchens:

1. Outdoor Kitchen Grills:

  • Gas grills: These are the most popular type of outdoor grill and come in various sizes and styles. They are easy to use and clean and provide consistent heat for grilling all types of food.
  • Charcoal grills: Charcol grills offer a smoky flavor that gas grills can’t match. They are more challenging to use and clean than gas grills, but many prefer the taste of food cooked on charcoal.
  • Pellet grills: These grills use wood pellets to generate smoke and heat. They offer a more complex flavor than gas or charcoal grills and are easy to use.

2. Side Burners:

These are small burners that are mounted next to the grill. They are ideal for simmering sauces, cooking side dishes, or keeping food warm.

3. Outdoor Smokers:

Because these specialized appliances are used to cook food at low temperatures for long periods, they are perfect for smoking meats, fish, and vegetables.

4. Outdoor Pizza ovens:

These are designed to cook pizzas at very high temperatures. They are a great way to enjoy delicious homemade pizza in your backyard.

5. Outdoor Refrigerators:

These are designed to withstand the elements and are perfect for storing food and drinks outdoors.

6. Outdoor Ice Makers:

These appliances are a great way to keep your drinks cold and refreshing on a hot day.

7. Outdoor Trash Compactors:

These appliances can help you reduce the amount of waste you produce, which is excellent for the environment.

8. Outdoor Dishwashers:

An outdoor dishwasher can save time and effort for outdoor kitchens, especially when entertaining a large group.

9. Storage:

You’ll need plenty of storage space for your outdoor kitchen supplies. This can include cabinets, drawers, and shelves.

The specific appliances you choose for your outdoor kitchen will depend on your individual needs and budget. However, these are some of the most common and popular options you may want to consider.

From Grilling to Gathering: Outdoor Kitchens Need Paver Patios and Sitting Walls

With pavers and a sitting wall, your outdoor kitchen becomes more than just a cooking zone; it transforms into a vibrant social hub. Imagine hosting memorable gatherings with friends and family, where you can cook, dine, and relax in one beautiful setting.

The open-air environment fosters a sense of connection and invites conversation, making every gathering a true celebration. Plus, with hardscape sitting walls, there is a spot for everyone.

As an additional BONUS, a well-designed deck enhances the functionality of your outdoor kitchen and adds significant value to your property. The deck’s visual appeal and the convenience of an outdoor kitchen create a highly sought-after feature for homeowners, making your property more attractive to potential buyers, which means more money in your pocket.

Cooking Under the Sun: The Delightful Duo of Outdoor Kitchens and Pergolas

an outdoor kitchen made of different color pavers with a white pergola over it in the backyard of a house with palm trees in the background

While pergolas offer a sense of openness, they protect your outdoor kitchens. They can shield the kitchen and dining area from rain and wind, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors even in less-than-ideal weather.

Adding a pergola can take your outdoor kitchen to a whole new level. Here are some benefits of adding a pergola to your outdoor kitchen.

A Shaded Oasis:

A pergola provides essential shade for your outdoor kitchen, creating a comfortable and calm space even during the hottest days. This allows you to extend your cooking and dining hours outdoors, enjoying the sunshine without worrying about sunburn.

Adding Architectural Interest to Backyard Kitchens:

Pergolas offer a visually appealing element to your outdoor space. The open-air structure adds depth and dimension to your backyard, while the latticework creates a beautiful interplay of light and shadow. You can enhance the look by adding climbing vines or hanging plants, creating a lush and inviting atmosphere.

Why Adding a Bar to Outdoor Kitchens is a Good Idea

gray pavers on the ground with an outdoor kitchen and bar outside the backyard of a home with sun shine in the background

Creating vibrant outdoor kitchens is all about creating opportunities for enjoyment and connection. With a stylish and functional bar, get your drink on! From cocktails to smoothies and everything in between, drinks are just a step away.

Instead of building a basic outdoor kitchen, adding a bar enhances your cooking experience and turns your backyard into the ultimate watering hole. Here are great reasons why people install a bar in their outdoor kitchens.

1. Kitchen Bars Enhance Entertaining:

Outdoor bars are built for fun and gathering. They provide a dedicated space for guests to mingle, relax, and enjoy the outdoors while you prepare delicious food. Whether you’re hosting a casual barbecue or a formal dinner party, a bar instantly elevates the atmosphere and encourages interaction.

2. Increases Functionality:

Beyond being a social hub, a bar can significantly improve the functionality of your outdoor kitchen. It can serve as a prep area with additional counter space for chopping vegetables, mixing drinks, or plating food. You can also incorporate a bar sink for easy cleanup and convenience.

3. Adds Value and Style:

A well-designed bar adds a touch of sophistication and luxury to your outdoor space. From sleek and modern to rustic and charming, there are endless design options to match your style and enhance the overall aesthetic of your backyard. This increases your enjoyment of your space and adds significant value to your property.

4. Extends the Cooking Zone:

Adding a bar creates a more expansive and versatile cooking area. You can incorporate appliances like blenders, ice makers, or a margarita machine, allowing you to prepare a wider variety of dishes and drinks, exceeding your guests’ expectations and creating a truly memorable experience.

5. Encourages Outdoor Living:

Incorporating a bar provides an additional reason to spend time outdoors. It becomes a natural gathering place for enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and beautiful scenery. This encourages healthy habits and promotes a more relaxed and connected lifestyle.

6. Accommodates Different Needs:

Whether you’re hosting a family gathering, a romantic evening, or a sporting event watch party, a bar can be adapted to suit your needs. You can adjust the seating arrangements, add bar games, or incorporate a TV to create the perfect atmosphere for any occasion.

7. Variety of Options:

The beauty of outdoor bars lies in their versatility. You can choose from various styles, materials, and sizes to find the perfect fit for your outdoor kitchen and budget. From built-in bars to portable options, there is a bar out there that will perfectly complement your existing space and personal preferences.

8. Increases Enjoyment:

Doctors know that stress can cause a list of health concerns. You also improve your health by creating a comfortable and inviting environment to relax, unwind, and connect with loved ones.

A bar adds a touch of magic to your outdoor living experience, whether you’re enjoying a glass of wine with friends or watching the sunset with family.

Fire Up the Fun: Why an Outdoor Fireplace is the Soul of Your Outdoor Kitchen

backyard outdoor brick fire place wit pavers on the ground and a silver outdoor kitchen in the background surrounded by trees

Picture this: the setting sun paints the sky in fiery hues, casting long shadows across your backyard. The air is alive with the crackle of flames and the scent of sizzling food. Laughter spills from the gathering around a rustic stone fireplace, the warm glow illuminating happy faces. This, my friends, is the magic of an outdoor kitchen with a fireplace.

Beyond its undeniable charm, here’s why adding an outdoor fireplace to your outdoor kitchen is a decision you won’t regret.

Reasons to Add a Fireplace or Fire Pit to Your Outdoor Kitchen

Ambiance and Warmth:

Forget harsh overhead lights and chilly evenings. A fireplace instantly transforms your outdoor space into a cozy haven, beckoning you to linger long after the sun dips below the horizon. The flickering flames create a mesmerizing ambiance, setting the mood for intimate conversations, joyful celebrations, or simply quiet moments of relaxation.

Culinary Companion:

Forget about shivering over a cold grill or battling the wind to stoke the flames. An outdoor fireplace extends your kitchen, providing warmth and comfort while you cook. Sear steaks to juicy perfection in the radiant heat, simmer stews in the gentle glow, or toast marshmallows for a sweet, gooey treat.

Year-Round Entertaining:

The beauty of a fireplace is that it defies the seasons. Even on chilly nights, your outdoor kitchen becomes a toasty haven, inviting guests to gather around the warmth. Imagine hosting a cozy autumn dinner party or a festive winter gathering with the fireplace crackling merrily in the background.

Endless Design Possibilities:

From rustic stone and brick to sleek modern styles, fireplaces come in various materials and designs to suit any taste. Choose a wood-burning fireplace for an authentic experience or a gas-powered option for convenience. Add a pizza oven for gourmet delights, or build a smoker for slow-cooked perfection. The possibilities are endless!

Value and Appeal:

A well-designed fireplace isn’t just a functional addition; it’s an investment that adds significant value to your property. It becomes a focal point, drawing potential buyers in and making your home stand out. Plus, it’s a feature that families crave, creating a space that fosters lasting memories and strengthens bonds.

So, why settle for an ordinary outdoor kitchen when you can create something extraordinary? Add a fireplace and ignite the magic. You’ll be rewarded with countless evenings of laughter, warmth, and memories that will forever hold the glow of the fire within them.

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget the finishing touches! Outdoor hardscape lighting can not only light up your outdoor living area but also add a touch of sophistication and whimsicality. Place comfy seating around the fire and add cozy blankets for chilly evenings. Let your outdoor fireplace become the heart of your outdoor oasis, where friends and family gather to create memories that will warm you long after the flames have died.

Outdoor Kitchen Styles for Every Taste

Your outdoor kitchen can be more than just a grill and a countertop – it’s a canvas for your culinary imagination! Let’s explore a spectrum of styles to inspire your alfresco oasis:

1. Rustic Charm:

Embrace the warmth of nature with a rustic-inspired kitchen. Think reclaimed wood countertops, brick ovens for smoky pizzas, and cozy fire pits for post-meal gatherings. Clay pots overflowing with herbs add a touch of Mediterranean flair, while vintage lanterns illuminate your evenings with a golden glow.

2. Modern Oasis:

Are you craving sleek lines and minimalist vibes? A modern outdoor kitchen is your playground. Stainless steel appliances gleam under recessed lighting, while elegant concrete countertops offer ample prep space. Geometric shapes and pops of color add a touch of personality, while built-in planters soften the industrial edge.

3. Coastal Escape:

Transport yourself to a seaside haven with a kitchen that whispers of the ocean. Crisp whitewashed cabinets and weathered wood accents evoke beachy charm. String lights overhead mimic the twinkle of stars, while turquoise accents and nautical décor add a touch of whimsy. Don’t forget a pizza oven for those quintessential beachside pies!

4. Tropical Paradise:

Immerse yourself in the lush vibes of a tropical escape. Lush greenery spills from hanging planters, while vibrant tiles and natural stone connect to the earth. Bamboo accents add a touch of exotic flair, and a thatched roof provides shade for alfresco feasts. Don’t forget a tiki bar for those island-inspired cocktails!

5. Global Fusion:

Embrace the world on your plate with a globally-inspired kitchen. Moroccan tile mosaics dance across countertops while clay tagines simmer on open flames. Japanese teppanyaki grills offer a fiery culinary adventure, and a pizza oven doubles as a tandoor for naan bread perfection. String lanterns cast an exotic glow, and colorful textiles add a touch of bohemian flair.

Don’t Forget the Outdoor Kitchen Lighting

Although you will enjoy your outdoor kitchen during the day, soaking in the sunset and gazing at the stars will be your new favorite. With gorgeous outdoor lighting, dining by night will be easy.

Depending on the look and feel, you can use a bright white, cream, or your choice of color lighting. You can even mix and match colors and highlights. That is where professional landscapers come in handy. Since there are so many options for outdoor lights, it’s best to get an experienced landscape designer like Elite Coastal Landscaping to make it look fabulous.

backyard patio with an outdoor fire place at night with outdoor landscape lighting

Remember, your outdoor kitchen reflects your unique style. Mix and match elements from different types, or let a single theme guide your design. The key is to create a space that speaks to your culinary passions and inspires you to create unforgettable meals under the open sky.

So, get creative, explore your options, and follow the steps in this guide’s first paragraph. Let your outdoor kitchen become your culinary haven!

If you live in Myrtle Beach or surrounding areas, Elite Coastal Landscaping is an award-winning outdoor kitchen designer with over 35 years of experience. Give them a call at 843-712-1814 or email them at elitecoastallandscping@gmail.com