16 Best Outdoor Kitchen Lighting Ideas – Easy Designing Tips

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tips on designing lighting for outdoor kitchen

Even though very often lighting is the last thing to plan while designing an outdoor kitchen it plays a crucial role in using one. It not only builds up the ambiance but also is necessary for after-sunset convenience.

What outdoor kitchen lighting ideas are worth using? There are 5 types of lighting worth considering in each outdoor kitchen design:

  • task lighting for cooking&preparation,
  • under counter lighting,
  • dining/ bar area lighting,
  • fan with a source of light,
  • fire pit.

For satellite kitchens, two more sources of light should be added: pathway lights and stair/ step lights.

Obviously this amount of fixtures will influence a budget and might result in the necessity of adding another electrical circuit. How to figure which type of lighting is essential, which one is nice to have, and which one can be omitted?

Outdoor kitchen lighting ideas

outdoor kitchen lighting ideas

Blind dining might be a fun adventure once in a while, but blind cooking is a different subject. So to perform preparing and consuming after sunset in a safe environment, lighting is going to be a necessity.

Properly designed lighting will not only increase usability but also add beauty to the area. Light can be used to emphasize specific areas, like an island or wall with a unique texture. Light fixtures and light sources can also be focal points at night. There is plenty to choose from and a lot of them have this grand look after sunset.

Even though look might be something to look for, outdoor lighting is really essential to safety outside after sunset. First of all, it gives comfort as what is happening around might be controlled with sight. Second of all cooking with no light is really a hazard – you can get injured and also serve uncooked dishes (I will not even mention finding stuff in the dark…). The third thing is eating without seeing the dish is way less pleasurable.

Therefor some sources of light need to be added. Let’s dive into specific designs for inspiration.

Outdoor kitchen lighting for cooking and preparation

Cooking and preparation of food require light. Unless you don’t mind eating uncooked food, or food with insects (oh yes, ants do not mind traveling in the dark). I chose a few inspirational lightning options for this area.

Contemporary outdoor kitchen lighting ideas

outdoor kitchen countertop lighting

The contemporary kitchen above has a lot of firm lines created by shelf, countertop ground, ceiling, window grill, and smoker. I like a lot of chosen fixtures – they’re modern and functional.

The whole area is illuminated by accent lights installed on the ceiling. As cooking requires quite a lot of light additional lamps have been installed to illuminate the grill area and most used part of the countertop, between hot and wet zone (so grill and sink).

Advice

If you have a white wall in your outdoor kitchen that can be used to show movies it’s worth considering a projector. That is an idea, not every outdoor kitchen owner is going to dig, but in my opinion, it just makes the area more classy, and different (you can find inspiration in the picture above).

Modern outdoor kitchen lighting ideas

Patio on a picture above is an amazing space – it accommodates a swimming pool, sitting area, dining area, garden, and outdoor kitchen. Each of these spaces is illuminated by different fixtures.

The dining area and part of the kitchen are illuminated by fans with light sources. This is an excellent solution as it not only brings light but also keeps flying insects away (and who likes mosquitos company in the evening should keep it to himself).

outdoor kitchen wall light fixtures

As two fans would not be enough to keep the space bright enough this project included adding light fixtures on the wall above the working countertop. It provides enough light to use the kitchen after sunset, but is delicate and follows our need as humans to live in a natural cycle. The later it is the less light we should get, so finally, we can easily fall asleep.

Advice

To follow a natural cycle of the day dimmer was invented. When the night starts light can still be pretty strong, but the later it gets the less intensive light should get.

Outdoor kitchen under counter lighting

Putting led lights under an outdoor kitchen countertop is a must. It’s a low-cost job that is going to make your outdoor kitchen both: accentuate your outdoor kitchen at night and make it way easier to use.

So basically how does it work? There is always an overlay of the countertop in an outdoor kitchen. Thanks to this overlay you can stick the led tape under the countertop so it doesn’t show. Well… until it’s dark. Then this source of light starts to be really useful. The tape needs to be connected to power, so it is important to plan this light source while designing.

Who needs it most? I’d say anybody who has cabinetry and appliances under a countertop. It is going to make using under-countertop space convenient. But that is not all. It also illuminates the whole kitchen, so even using countertops or grill is more comfortable.

And it gives the wow factor. If you don’t mind impressing your guests led lights might be this little, inexpensive touch that is going to accentuate your outdoor kitchen the way that is going to wow them.

There is one more factor to discuss about led lights. They usually come in sets with remote, that allows you to change their colors whenever you feel like it. Some people do not like anything but white light, some enjoy more colors. Led lights suit everybody regarding their preferences (which may even change in time).

Advice

If you love to celebrate specific occasions in your backyard led lights may help in creating the mood. It’s amazing how you can decorate your outdoor kitchen with color. For example, during Christmas, you can make them green, red and white, and 4’th of July they can be red, white and blue.

celebrating 4th of july with re, white and blue led light colors

Outdoor kitchen dining area lighting

Light at the dining area is super important. If it is too bright it may cause your guests to eat really fast and go home earlier (this is a trick used in restaurants to serve more customers a day). As a matter of fact, dimmer might help in keeping guests comfortable as long as possible. It doesn’t really matter if your dining area is fancy or simple – light can be the touch that makes it space everybody wants to be in.

Upscale outdoor kitchen dining area lighting ideas

upscale outdoor kitchen dining area lighting ideas

This fancy outdoor kitchen takes a lot of space with its dining and sitting area. During the day it receives a lot of natural light, as it is covered only with pergola. At night outdoor lamps are keeping the space bright enough.

As this outdoor kitchen has two dining/sitting areas it’s important to make them both illuminated. Each of them received a light fixture. Additionally, the further one is equipped with a fire pit. What a stunning space!

Advice

Light fixtures used for the backyard need to be approved for outdoors. If your outdoor kitchen is fully covered lighting should be rated for damp location, otherwise for wet location. Rating should be visible on the lamp’s box.

Simple outdoor kitchen dining area lighting ideas

Simple outdoor kitchen dining area lighting ideas

On the contrary, this area is pretty simple. This covered patio is lovely. Wooden roofing and flooring give this space such a natural feeling, emphasized by the rustic table with metal chairs. Color of elevation and french doors are a beautiful background for the patio.

Finishing the space with string lights was a perfect move. It feels coherent and alluring. As string lights would be not enough to illuminate the whole area additional lamps where installed on the exterior wall of the house.

I bet owners do use lampions and candles to create the perfect mood in this area.

Advice

If you want to brighten up your dining space with string lights dust them quite often, as spiders are going to enjoy them as much as you do.

Modern outdoor kitchen sitting area lighting ideas

Modern outdoor kitchen sitting area lighting ideas

This is a space to die for. Patio with absolutely no stairs, covered, connected with the living room by sliding glass doors. A dream. It really is an inviting warm space with a natural feeling. All the materials used seem to be natural (wood, brick, stone). Sofa covering is in a neutral palette which enhances the design even more.

This sitting area has basically two light sources – chandelier and candles placed on a rustic wooden candle holder. It seems to be enough for chilling and relaxing. Dimmer in this area is really a key to perfect lighting design.

Advice

Placing a chandelier on your patio is a lovely idea but it makes it much more difficult to rearrange the space in the future, so has to be planned wisely.

Outdoor kitchen bar lighting

An outdoor kitchen bar needs a specific light to work well. Depending on the time of the bbq party intensity of the light changes. Usually, guests need more illumination for eating and less for drinking. Let’s dive a bit into bar lighting.

Meditorrienian style outdoor kitchen bar lighting

Meditorrienian style outdoor kitchen bar lighting

This outdoor kitchen is grand. A bar in the middle and an additional two cooking spaces make this structure memorable. As it is huge and stand-alone, designing lighting was a rather difficult task to perform. So how did they create a solution that works during day and night?

lighting an outdoor kitchen bas with fan

First of all this outdoor kitchen area has layers of lighting. Let’s start at the top. A double ceiling fan with light is a great option for such a layout. Point lights to help with cooking and preparation/ stress architecture. Wall lights on both cooking units and a bar. String lights to enhance the mood. Plenty of layers!

Second of all those lights are planned for activities in specific parts of the kitchen. It’s different where food is cooked and where alcohol is served.

The bar has a ceiling fan with light, but most used are string lights and water lamps attached to pergola. This is a party spot to remember, for sure.

string lights at outdoor kitchen bar

Outdoor kitchen fan lighting

Having a fan outdoors is a blast. It can have two more features that are handy outside: light and mist. Yep, there are super-fans out there.

Gazebo outdoor kitchen dining space lighting with fan

gazebo outdoor kitchen dining space lighting with fan

Under this pergola, a lot of parties happened. It is a simple structure but has everything a good al fresco dining space should have. Guests are protected from the sun, and from rain. A big table with comfy chairs is going to make entertaining easy.

This area is illuminated by a fan. It provides enough light for this area, especially with the mood lights, candles on the table are going to give. Everything is clean and inviting.

Pergola outdoor kitchen dining space lighting with fan

Pergola outdoor kitchen dining space lighting with fan

This classic small outdoor kitchen under the pergola look is complemented with jacuzzi right next to it. Even though space is not ginormous it is amazing, isn’t it?

Both dining and sitting areas are illuminated with fan lights. These are four-point lights that light up the whole area. For setting relaxed mood candles are always the perfect choice, and here they’re used too.

Outdoor kitchen with fire pit ( or fireplace)

Fire brings people together. It doesn’t really matter if it’s the bonfire, fireplace or fire pit. Most of the people love to stair it and gather around. It not only gives much welcome heat at night but also illuminates the area.

Classic outdoor kitchen fireplace

classic outdoor kitchen fireplace

Oh what a spot for cooking and relaxing! Even though space is limited it has so many features. Neutral colors are amazing at building a relaxed look, aren’t they?

This is actually a pretty brave move to illuminate the whole area only with a fireplace, as above. Few candles on the mantle will add some mood light too, but it is not going to be enough to illuminate space enough for cooking. In such a space, one of the grill lamps would help a lot.

To relax though such amount of light should be just fine.

Two-sided fireplace at an outdoor kitchen

Two-sided fireplace at outdoor kitchen

Covered in the stone two-sided fireplace is just an amazing solution for a backyard. It closes off a bit an outdoor kitchen behind, but one-sided fireplace would close it off even more. Thanks to this fireplace the whole space is much more interesting and inviting.

This kitchen has a lot of light sources – from wall lights to spotlight and fireplace. All of them make the space useful day’n’night. A fireplace brings new functionality to this space too. After the main course, guests can create their dessert out of old-fashioned marshmallows.

Outdoor kitchen with a fire pit

outdoor kitchen with a fire pit

The fire pit is such an amazing addition to the outdoor kitchen area. It creates a natural gathering space for the after-the-meal time. It heats the place well and looks so good outside. No matter what type you choose it is going to add to outdoor kitchen design and give heat when it’s cool outside.

Pathway light

If you chose to have a satellite outdoor kitchen, placed in some distance from home it is necessary to guide your guests with light from your house to the outdoor kitchen.

Outdoor kitchen with torches

outdoor kitchen with torches

Torches are amazing fixtures at any backyard really. It looks good and impresses guests. In short, they are something to consider if they fit the style of your backyard.

As they’re strong accent they’ll, no doubt, lead your guests exactly where you want them to go. There is something tribal about them, so they bring a lot of excitement too.

Classic outdoor lanterns for an outdoor kitchen

classic outdoor lantern for an outdoor kitchen

If you’re looking for something more classic outdoor lanterns might just suit your needs. There are so many different styles, that you can spend weeks trying to pick the perfect fixture. You’re going to use it for some time so it might be actually worth the work.

Lanterns are not only illuminating the space but also adding character and beauty to the backyard. You can find fixtures that need power and do not (for example solar).

outdoor kitchen lantern

Outdoor kitchen stair lighting

Outdoor kitchen step lighting

If you want to be safe around the stairs at night some sort of fixture needs to be added in this area. Even one step, for somebody who is not aware of it’s existence, might result in injury. This is night finale we’re not looking for.

This sort of light can be added during stairs construction (the easier way), but also later on (fewer choices). Stair light will make your guests feel safe, as they do not have to know your backyard landscape by heart. It is also going to be useful to you, as even if your satellite kitchen is pretty independent occasionally you’re going to bring loads of food and drinks to it.

I hope this article was an inspiration to you. If there is anything you think should be added please let me know in the comment section below. All remarks are valuable to me, as I try to create a complete resource for outdoor kitchen planning.

Magdalena Dutkiewicz

I like looking for solutions that lead to specific plans. Of course, looking for inspiration for outdoor kitchens is something I really enjoy too. But translating it into an action plan is something that pushes me to act.

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