Do you find yourself running back and forth, indoors and outdoors, trying to cook and entertain? You can prevent this time-consuming annoyance by properly designing your own outdoor kitchen to function like your indoor kitchen. No, this doesn’t mean you need a large outdoor kitchen or lots of money. In fact, a small one might be just what you need—but what exactly do you need?

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas and Design Elements

Looking for a little inspiration? Avoid those unnecessary trips with the following outdoor kitchen ideas! Make a list of priorities so you know what you’ll need to keep you from going over budget.
1. Prep, cook, serve, clean. Make sure your outdoor kitchen has all these essential spaces.
2. Keep the dining area close to your outdoor kitchen. This will give your guests a great place to sit while you cook and will keep the party close to the kitchen.
3. Outdoor Refrigerator. When the time comes to cook, your raw meat and veggies should be within reach, which is why you’ll want a handy outdoor refrigerator. You’ll need to plan for electrical work to make this convenience happen.
4. Outdoor Kitchen Grills. Of course, outdoor kitchen grills are essential. If you often entertain large groups, look for a 36-inch or larger gas grill. Don’t cook outdoors often? Have space restrictions? Choose a portable gas or charcoal unit that can be tucked away when not in use.
5.  Plan Counter Space. Next to your outdoor kitchen grills, give yourself at least 15 inches of landing space to for prep work, and filling plates or serving platters.
6. Kitchen sink. This little luxury ensures easy meal prep and entertaining, but requires extra planning for plumbing and electrical lines outside. Also consider your climate before adding permanent kitchen appliances outdoors.
7. Power. Provide built-in outlets so you can run additional appliances like a blender or stereo system. It’s so much safer than running extension cords.
8. Heat. Fireplaces, fire pits and heaters, each freestanding or wall-mounted, are great ways to extend the season for your outdoor kitchen. How about considering outdoor stoves or pizza ovens? There are plenty of options available for all budgets.
9. Lounge Seating. For comfortable seating and flexible entertaining, add cushioned outdoor furniture or an outdoor dining table and chair set to your patio space.
10. Lighting. Lights are a great asset to a functional outdoor kitchen. You’ll be able to keep an eye on your food after sunset without a flashlight.
11. Celing Fan. Is your outdoor kitchen going to be in an enclosed area? Keep the hot, heavy air moving with a ceiling fan or two.
Your kitchen is the heart of the home, where your family and friends gather and mingle during parties. Achieving the perfect outdoor kitchen may mean expanding your outdoor living space to accommodate for an outdoor stove and outdoor kitchen appliances. To draw a crowd—and keep them entertained—consider working with a professional landscaping or pool company, which will have the experts on-hand for advice and budget-saving materials.

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