So you have a patio and want to put an outdoor kitchen on it? That is an excellent spot! The outdoor kitchen patio has plenty of advantages, and only a few flaws, most of which come from the grill proximity to the house. There is nothing though, that cannot be addressed.
The patio is the most convenient, and usually the most budget-friendly location for an outdoor kitchen. It very often comes with ready-to-use flooring, covering, and access to utilities. A variety of sizes and plans are available, most common of which are: an island, L-shaped, and a galley.
This is all very nice, but you have to design an outdoor kitchen on your patio and wonder how to start? Or your patio is small and the design has to be very precise? Maybe you wonder if a grill so close to the house is a good idea? Let’s dive a bit deeper into all of these queries and more.
12 simple steps of outdoor kitchen patio design
Patios are an excellent spot for an outdoor kitchen. There are plenty of reasons for that. First of all, this is a very convenient location. House is just a few steps away, so it is easy to bring stuff in and out.
The roof, floor, and utilities are usually in place too. This means not only a shorter timeline of the building process but also a significantly smaller budget. In other words: creating a fully-functional second kitchen on a patio is not only possible but affordable.
12 steps of designing an outdoor kitchen patio:
- Draw your outdoor kitchen area in scale
- Choose the space and shape for an outdoor kitchen
- Choose the size of your outdoor kitchen
- Put a grill into your design
- Add other essentials and appliances
- Add storage
- Add lighting/ fans/ electric sockets to your design
- Choose finishes
- Choose the covering (optional)
- Hire a crew (optional)
- Apply for permits (optional)
- Buy all the materials (optional)
- Start construction
As you can see creating a great kitchen outside requires a bit of planning. Believe me, all the time you spend on it is going to pay off. Usually, a massive part of the budget is taken by jobs that have to be done by professionals – so plumbing, electrical, and so on. When you are in control of the project you’re able to cut off some of the jobs, which may become handy budget-wisely.
It is important to know each step well, as it makes execution both easier and less expensive. Under each step, you’ll find a description with tips. Read it carefully and make notes with whatever you find important.
1. Draw your outdoor kitchen area in scale
Let’s start from step 1 – so drawing the whole patio area. This step can be made in an application, or on the paper. The goal here is to figure out how much space can be dedicated solely to an outdoor kitchen. The smaller the space the wiser and more precise decisions have to be made. There are several things that have to be marked, like:
- utilities placement,
- doors and windows,
- anything that cannot be replaced.
A patio is an area placed very close to the house, so it is crucial to take as little natural light from inside as possible. If windows are low placing an outdoor kitchen in front of them may not be the best idea from this point of view.
2. Choose the space and shape for an outdoor kitchen
Step 2 of creating an outdoor kitchen patio is picking a space for an outdoor kitchen. There are multiple ways it can work. The most common outdoor kitchen patio locations are against the house, or along the side of the patio. The main goal of placement is to fit your needs.
There are plenty of outdoor kitchen shapes that can be used on patio, like:
- along the wall.
You wonder which one is which? Just take a look at this gallery:
Each shape has its advantages. For smaller spaces what works great is an L-shape and an island, as they’re both visually open. If your space is not limited you can choose whatever suits your needs and fit the appliances you dream about. The more length your outdoor kitchen has the more appliances it can fit.
Some shapes work better for specific styles. For example, modern looks best with straight lines delivered by islands, and galleys. Traditional is going to look great with U-shape and L-shape. If your preferred shape is not a top choice for your style do not worry. Finishes are going to do the trick.
And while we’re at placing stuff on your patio – do you want to be able to eat there too? If yes it is necessary to dedicate a space for dining. It is actually very easy to place it on your plan with these design tips.
24″ is a minimum width per person, comfortable personal space is 30″, and to get a luxurious experience it should be increased to 36″.
The bar serve counter should be at least 12″ deep, as standard plates are 9″. Tabletop standard id 38″. It is also crucial to have a cantilever to allow knees movement (12″ for bar hight, 18″ for countertop height).
Below you’ll find most common dining table sizes with space they’re going to take out of your patio.
|Space size||Table shape||Table size||Number of chairs|
|5′ x 9′||square/ round||36″||2|
|9′ x 9′||square||40″||4|
|9,5′ x 9,5′||round||42″||4|
|9,5″ x 11′||oval||42″x60″||6|
|10′ x 10′||round||48″||6|
|11′ x 11′||square/ round||60″||8|
|9,5′ x 14,5′||ractangular||42″x100″||10|
As you can see a table with chairs takes quite a lot of space from the patio. Knowing the spacing may help you with picking table shape and size. And if the number of seats makes you unhappy there is a solution for that as well.
Extendable table is a great option when you have some space for dining at your patio, but just not enough. But what if your space is so limited you simply cannot put a dining set outside? Or, occasionally, you host big gatherings that one table is not able to accommodate?
3. Choose the size of your outdoor kitchen
An outdoor kitchen on a patio should have a size proper to the owner’s needs. If you’re going to use it from time to time there is less sense in adding a sink or refrigerator to the construction. But if, on the other hand, your outdoor space is going to be used on daily basis, spending extra cash on more length and appliances might be a good idea. How to figure out what you actually need?
The first thing is finding the proper size. There are basically three outdoor kitchen sizes: small, medium, and large.
|Size name||Total length||Includes|
|Small||10′||grill, cooktop, sink, storage|
|Medium||16′||grill, cooktop, sink, storage, refrigerator|
|Large||20’+||grill, cooktop, sink, storage, refrigerator +|
A patio is an amazing spot for an outdoor kitchen, as even a small design is going to work there fine. An indoor kitchen is usually close enough to allow omitting a refrigerator in a small outdoor kitchen design. This one is going to be more than enough for family gatherings.
A medium outdoor kitchen, which truly is a fully-functional package, is going to fit most people’s dreams. It fits all the essentials and has lots of countertop space.
If you need a spot for more than 1 chef at the time a large outdoor kitchen size is for you. 20’+ is enough to fit basically anything you need – from pizza oven to Argentinian grill. You name it.
4. Put a grill into your design
Placing a grill in the design is a crucial moment, that requires a bit of knowledge.
First of all, grills placed under the roof usually require installing a vent hood. The goal of it is not only reducing the amount of smoke (which may be not satisfying) but also reducing fire hazards. Basically when the fire starts a vent hood controls it. It is not worth omitting this element in your design if it is needed (grill instruction states it).
Second of all grilling produces smoke. Even the best vent hood is not going to take all of it in. This smoke can not only irritate you and your guests but also get into your house. Before you’re going to put a grill on your patio it is important to figure the direction of the wind at your backyard.
And while we’re at a grill it is time to make a decision which model you are going for. If you’re not sure yet what you need please read my guide about outdoor kitchen essentials. It is important as built-in grills come in a number of sizes.
If you’re going to have a specific model in mind put it in scale on your design and add landing space on both sides of a grill. Landing space is a part of a countertop that is dedicated to the specific appliance.
As wrong spacing is the main outdoor kitchen remodel reason it is important to follow design rules from the very beginning.
5. Add other essentials and appliances
The grill is already in place and you wonder what else should be installed in your outdoor kitchen? Take a look at my list of outdoor kitchen essentials. Picking all you need is the first step of the process. Another one is placing all the appliances in proper order and zones.
There are 5 outdoor kitchen zones: hot, dry, wet, cold, and serving. A hot zone is an area where cooking appliances are based, so not only grill but also burners, smoker, pizza oven etc. A dry zone is a countertop space with storage. A wet zone is where the sink is based. A cold zone is an area for the refrigerator. A serving zone is where people eat.
If your space is not very limited it is worth adding also other zones. There are multiple rules though that should be followed. Not every zone can be placed next to each other.
Next to a hot zone is a dry zone. This is a place where countertop space is crucial. It usually has a hot zone on one side, and wet zone on the other.
A wet zone needs access to water. If you have a water connection on your plan it would be super useful to place a wet zone close to it (and save on contractors work).
The reason for placing refrigerator close to the wet zone is a food taken out of it often needs washing.
You learned a bit about outdoor kitchen zones. If you want to get to know more go to my ultimate guide about outdoor kitchen zones.
The next step of adding appliances to your plan is adding landing spaces on both sides of your appliances. What is the lending space? This is a countertop space you have to dedicate to each appliance, so it is functional. Omitting these spacing in your design is a really bad idea, and the main cause of an outdoor kitchen remodel. These numbers are as below:
|Grill||24″ on one side,|
12″ on the the other
|Cooktop||12″ on both sides|
|Sink||18″ on both sides|
|Pizza oven||24″ on one side, 12″ on the other|
|Keg||12″ on both sides|
|Under-counter fridge||15″ of open counter above|
This is a crucial knowledge to design an outdoor kitchen well, so let’s talk about it a bit more.
So the minimal space between the cooktop and a sink is not 30″ (12″+18″), but 27″ (18″x1,5). So each time you add an appliance you add also countertop space on the sides of it.
6. Add storage to outdoor kitchen on a patio
Now we’re getting back to the dry zone for a minute. Storage is actually one of the outdoor kitchen essentials. And there are so many options you can use!
The first option is the cabinets. There are plenty of things to store in them, from pans & pots to… fire blankets. If you wonder what can be stored in an outdoor kitchen check this list.
And we can start upgrading. Drawers. We love them inside, as it is so much easier to keep them clean and organized. Drawers are usually better-utilized spaces, as you can easily grab stuff from the back. They are excellent for storage, but not only. How about marinating and warming drawers? Have you considered adding some?
7. Add lighting/ fans/ electric sockets to your design
That is a subject I personally love. Lighting is an amazing way to transfer spaces into something new. How to work it at an outdoor kitchen patio?
There are three strategies. The first is simple, and its goal is to well-illuminated spaces when used. The standard lighting strategy is simple + supplemental lighting. Sophisticated is taking standard to another level – producing an effect.
There are basically three lighting types: ambient, task, and accent.
The ambient lights goal is to illuminate the whole area. Fixtures that help with that are a fan with light fixture, chandelier, string lights, sconces, recessed lights.
Task lighting is used where work takes place. At an outdoor kitchen patio, it is going to be usually above a countertop, but it depends on the specific design. Fixtures that can be used to achieve this goal are scones, recessed lights, grill lights, above countertop lighting, pendant, and so on.
Accent lights’ goal is to stress the specific element of the area. It can be a wall structure, art, or a plant. Fixtures that can help with the subject are pendant, track lights, and landscape lights.
If you want to use lighting to enhance the style of your outdoor kitchen I created an article about it. It is available here.
Dimmer is a very important feature at outdoor kitchen patio. It allows your body to prepare well for rest. The later it gets the less intense light should be. Or if you want to make your guest eat quickly and leave make it shine the brightest it can.
As I mentioned before fan is an ultimate fixture for an outdoor kitchen. Depending on the space you work with the size and number of fans can vary. Just take a look at this table.
|Space size||Fan size|
|up to 75 sq ft||29 – 36 in|
|76 – 144 sq ft||36-42 in|
|144 – 225 sq ft||44 in|
|225 – 400 sq ft||50-54 in|
I assure you, it is totally worth it. And if you’re not sure if it is going to winterize well you can always use a portable one. More about fans and lighting design you’ll find in my Beginners Guide to Outdoor Kitchen Design.
Last, but not least, the thing is to add sockets to your design. If you’re really going to cook outside a blender or other powered by electricity tool may become handy.
8. Choose finishes for an outdoor kitchen patio
Close to house location makes picking finishes much easier, as choices are limited. Why is it so? The design of an outdoor kitchen located on a patio has to correspond with the house exterior well, both with the color scheme used, and materials.
Another thing to remember about is the backyard neighborhood. Going with natural materials, that look well with plants, is always a good idea.
Recommended materials for outdoor kitchens are:
- granite/ quartzite for countertops & facade (more about types of stone),
- 304-grade stainless steel for appliances, cabinets, drawers,
- exotic wood,
- concrete (works best for mild winters locations),
- outdoor rated tiles.
I wrote more about the test in this blog post. If you only have a chance it is worth performing. From the results, you’ll know how often your countertop needs to be sealed.
The type of materials matters a lot, as it increases an outdoor kitchen’s longevity. And so does another factor: covering.
9. Choose the covering for an outdoor kitchen patio
An outdoor kitchen on a patio can be covered in multiple ways. If you’re lucky you already have a roof over your head and you do not have to use your budget for the enclosure. Otherwise, read more.
There are multiple ways to cover an outdoor kitchen on a patio, like:
- sail shade,
Nonpermanent solutions, like umbrella and sail shade, are excellent for dining&entertining, but no so much for the cooking section of an outdoor kitchen. They’re going to stain easily and are a fire hazard. Their advantage is using when needed – so even if they cut a bit of light during usage, they can be folded.
A pergola is an amazing solution for an outdoor kitchen. It’s not cutting a lot of light off as the roof and gazebo do but is also providing some shade. With canopy, it is really excellent protection from the sun. It is, in general, the best solution for climates that do not experience a lot of rain and snow. Pergolas work great on patios – it doesn’t really matter if your outdoor kitchen is located next to the house or in some distance.
A gazebo is a solution that works well for patio outdoor kitchens located in some distance from the house. The great advantage of a gazebo is protection from elements – sun, rain, and snow are not an issue here. Gazebos come in a huge variety of styles, so it is pretty easy to build one resembling house looks.
Adding a roof over the patio is quite an expensive project (on average $7,000 – $11,000) but as a result, you get w coherent space. The roof protects an outdoor kitchen from the elements very well. When using a roof in design it is very important to take extra care about safety (installing a vent hood over a grill may be a must for such covering). It can cut off some part of the light from the interior of the house.
10. Hire a crew for an outdoor kitchen patio
Now lets talk a bit about finding a proper crew. First thing to do is asking around. Check your families’, friends’, and neighbors’ backyards for outdoor kitchen and ask them if they’re happy with it. If yes asking for a contractors’ number is a next step.
If you cannot get any recommendations traditional way, using an internet is an option. First of all, you can ask on your Social Media accounts – some of the more distant people you know can advise you.
If you want to be more private about your project using a service like home advisor is an option. You have to type in data into the survey, like your zip code and desired elements of the project. As a result, you’ll get up to 4 free offers from local contractors. It is always a good practice to check their rating on Google (simply type contractors name in and look for opinions).
11. Apply for permits
This is actually a pretty important step to perform. If you build an outdoor kitchen on your deck without permits you may receive a demolition order. Not every outdoor kitchen needs a permit though.
When are do you need a permit? First of all, when you work with utility lines (gas, plumbing, electrical). Second of all if your outdoor kitchen is placed close to property lines (this one is called zoning requirements).
You may have to pay for it up to $500, but your outdoor kitchen is going to be legal and safe.
12. Buy all the materials for your outdoor kitchen
If you’re going to work with a contractor there is a huge chance he’s going to take care of the shopping. If you’re a DIYer, the tips you’re going to find below may save you a substantial amount of money and a lot of nerves.
First of all, it is important to start shopping ahead of time. The shopping list should be ready several weeks before the construction. And the best time to shop is in the winter.
Why is it so? Well, not a lot of people think about grilling at that time of year. Shops still do have appliances they want to sell. The demand is declining, and prices go down. This way you can save a couple of hundred $.
Even if you plan to build in the spring buying elements in winter is a good idea (if you have a place to store them).
What can a package include? Cabinets, drawers, grill, refrigerator, burner, and more.
If you decide to buy stone look for a seller who is going to agree for you to check your slab features.
13. Start construction
You are ready to welcome a new built on your patio and new era of entertaining at your property! Lucky you!
I hope this article helped you in designing your outdoor kitchen on a patio. Was there a tip you found especially useful? Or maybe you want to share your tip, so others can take this process easier? Please share your thoughts in comments section.