5 Tips for Better Outdoor Kitchen Designs

TIP #1: Shed some light.

Lighting design is a crucial element of any outdoor kitchen. You want enough lighting to be able to see what you’re doing without spoiling the ambiance. To give your outdoor kitchen the feel of an indoor kitchen, think pendants. Low-voltage hardscape lighting attached to masonry walls will add delicate textural light. Lighting inside of cabinets and near cooking surfaces will help with functionality. String lights can add a festive touch and can be put on a circuit that’s controlled by a switch. Commercial grade string lights are often dimmable, so keep that in mind. Rule of thumb: plan all lighting before installing your kitchen so you can run all of the wiring, outlets and switches on the front end instead of having to retrofit. It’s always a good idea to include some overhead outlets in your plan, just in case you want to add string lights seasonally.

TIP #2: Think long-term.

The primary thing to remember about an outdoor kitchen is that everything is exposed to the elements. Be sure to choose durable building materials and outdoor-rated products that are designed to take the abuse. Yes, sometimes that means spending a little extra money on the front end, but the money will go further in the long run when everything lasts longer. It’s also wise to protect your investment by sealing porous surfaces and purchasing covers for exposed appliances.

TIP #3: Sometimes bigger is better, but read the fine print.

Think about how you plan to use the space and plan accordingly. Bar-sized sinks save counter space and will do the trick for washing your hands or rinsing a glass. But if you plan to actually rinse a platter or fill a pitcher, you’d do better to install a standard kitchen sink. When purchasing appliances like grills, refrigerators and ice-makers, read the specs carefully. The dimensions don’t always equate to cubic feet of usable space. Also, you’ll often go through ice quickly, so make sure the unit you buy can keep up with your production needs. If you plan to entertain often, roll-top beverage coolers hold significantly more cans and bottles than a standard counter-height refrigerator. That’s exactly why restaurants and bars use them.

TIP #4: You’ll want more space than you think.

At the the end of the day, you’ll likely wish you had more prep space, more outdoor seating space, more storage space or more cooking space. It’s often hard to conceptualize the finished space in the planning phase. However, if you’re working with a Belgard Authorized Contractor, you can get free virtual reality designs. When you put on the VR goggles, you can immerse yourself in the design and look up, down and all around to make sure you will have all the space you need.

TIP #5: Plan ahead.

First of all, you can never have enough outlets. Someone always wants to plug in something — a blender, a lamp, a charger, a laptop, a streaming device. Some of those outlets should include usb ports, too. Also think about what you might want to add to your kitchen down the line. Even if you don’t plan to use any gas now, it’s not a bad idea to plumb a natural gas line, even if you just cap it for now. You never know when you might want to add a fire feature, outdoor heater or a high intensity burner. Constantly changing out butane tanks is a pain, and retrofitting for natural gas later can be a costly endeavor.

For inspiration and kitchen design ideas, visit the Belgard Outdoor Kitchen Pinterest Board.

5 Fiery Ideas for Building Your Outdoor Cooking Station

Kitchens are definitely one of the hottest trends in outdoor living design, and the centerpiece of any outdoor kitchen is the cooking station. Whether you have a gourmet outdoor kitchen, a modest grill island, or you’re planning to build something in the future, we have some fiery ideas for outfitting your outdoor cooking station to improve the functionality of your space.

1. Lots and Lots of Prep Space 

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas Prep Space

Any home chef needs room to breathe if he or she is to succeed in making their culinary masterpieces. Regarding outdoor kitchens, this is no different. With an expansive prep space at hand, your kitchen is optimized for efficiency at any and all stages of cooking. You can never have too much countertop space, which will keep you from having to run back and forth inside during meal prep. Plus, countertops can also function as serving tables and bar-style dining areas once the meal is ready. If you’re working with a grill island, or you simply don’t have the square footage for more countertops, considering using a rolling cart that you can move when not in use.

2. A Spot for Every Cook in the Kitchen

Indoor Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

A summer pool party can easily bring in upwards of 25+ people. The guest list always seems to grow somehow. No matter how many guests show up, it helps to have multiple cooking surfaces in addition to the standard built-in outdoor grill. Plus, although charcoal enthusiasts will swear the flavor is superior (this blogger agrees), you simply don’t always have the time to wait for the coals to be “perfect” and sometimes just need to be able to turn on the gas and get to grilling. And if you talk to anyone who has a griddle or a brick oven in their outdoor kitchen, be prepared for a lengthy conversation on how they don’t know how they ever lived without it. Other popular cooking surfaces include ceramic kamodo-style grills and gas burners for large pots or frying.

3. Throw Some Shade

Outdoor Living Space Terrace

Unless you live somewhere where it rarely rains and the temperature is always mild (a.k.a. California), you’re going to need your cooking station to be covered. It gets HOT standing in front of a grill. And no one wants to hold an umbrella while flipping burgers. Keep in mind that shaded areas do not have to take away from the beauty of your patio entertainment area but can become a design element in itself. This can be accomplished with an earthy pergola, a farmhouse-inspired pavilion or a colorful canopy. For a more natural aesthetic, consider integrating some flowering vines, ivies or other climbing plants. To add a festive atmosphere, you can never go wrong with edison-style string lights.

4. Be that Person with the Outdoor Brick Oven 

Outdoor Brick Oven Ideas

Yes, we’ve already mentioned brick ovens, but they are so worth mentioning again. There are two prominent benefits of cooking in a wood-burning brick oven versus a traditional oven: the better dispersion of temperature and the additional level of flavor. And there are more options than you might think. Belgard offers a full line that range from mobile and countertop brick ovens to gorgeous stone-clad brick oven kits for a custom built-in look. Aside from the swagger that accompanies having one, a brick oven presents numerous cooking opportunities for amazing wood-fired meals. Even though an outdoor brick oven is often referred to as an outdoor pizza oven, it is not just for cooking pizza. Here are a few brick oven recipes to get the creative juices flowing!

5. Seating for Your Audience… (umm, guests)

Outdoor Seating
HGTV® Dream Home 2019. Photo credit: HGTV. Used with permission.

Preparing dishes in the kitchen is a visually stimulating affair. With you home chefs out there putting on shows, why not give your audience a front row seat? Bar seating or built-in seating near the cooking station creates a cozy atmosphere to enhance the outdoor cooking experience. An additional bonus to constructing permanent seating is that you won’t have to fuss at your kids for leaning too far back on the chairs. With no chair legs to break, rust or unravel, the only things you’ll need to change out each season are the throw pillows.

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How Would the Outdoor Living Spaces of the HGTV® Dream Home 2019 Look in Your Backyard?

Photo: HGTV. HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC.  Photos © 2018 Scripps Networks, LLC.  Used with permission; all rights reserved.

How many times have you flipped through the pages of a magazine or watched a makeover TV show and wondered, would that design idea work for my house? Often, we love how something looks in one environment only to find out we’re not as in love with it in our own. Well, if you’ve fallen in love with the beautiful outdoor living spaces of the HGTV® Dream Home 2019 (and who hasn’t) and would like to visualize what those products would look like in your personal home environment, Belgard has the online tool for you!

Belgard’s new online Project Visualizer will allow you to upload photos of your home and experiment with design ideas using the products that created the stunning outdoor living spaces of the HGTV Dream Home in Whitefish, Montana. Whether you’re interested in renovating your driveway, converting your patio to an outdoor living room, adding an outdoor kitchen, or enhancing your backyard in some other creative way, upload photos of your existing space and use the easy-to-navigate tools to position Avalon Slate pavers, Noon porcelain pavers, Tandem® Wall, Tandem® Columns, UNICO Bullnose step units, and the Bordeaux™ Elements fireplace and grill island into your design.

The click-and-drag tools will allow you manipulate the shape of paver fields and walls and will even allow you to create curved walls. All elements are kept to scale, appearing smaller or larger depending upon where it is positioned in the design–adding to the realism of the design. You can also rotate design elements to make the paver pattern flow in a different direction or change the angle of any of the three-dimensional elements. When you’re finished with your creation, you can even save and share the project.

Try the Belgard Project Visualizer Now

PROJECT PROFILE: Southern California Outdoor Living Project of the Year

Southern California Outdoor Living Project of the Year - ©2018 Western Outdoor Design & Build
©2018 Western Outdoor Design & Build

Presenting the Belgard SoCal 2018 Best Outdoor Living Project featuring Lafitt® Grana Slab in Montecito and Toscana color blends. The spectacular outdoor living space of this San Diego home features a classically shaped pool with a paving stone pool deck and a raised spa that doubles as a water feature.

Outdoor Kitchen Paver Patio - ©2018 Western Outdoor Design & Build
©2018 Western Outdoor Design & Build

Adjacent to the pool sits a well-equipped raised outdoor kitchen that features a paver patio, multiple cooking surfaces, ample storage and built-in  stainless appliances. The kitchen is accented by industrial string lighting and flanked by a rustic covered outdoor living room and dining area.

Natural Stone Outdoor Fireplace - ©2018 Western Outdoor Design & Build
©2018 Western Outdoor Design & Build

An eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional design elements, the covered area includes a stunning natural stone outdoor fireplace, infrared heaters, a built-in television cubby, and a large dining area — making it the ultimate year-round outdoor entertaining spot. Installer Western Outdoor Design & Build incorporated natural stone accents throughout the space to tie the design together.

Pool Patio Paver - ©2018 Western Outdoor Design & Build
©2018 Western Outdoor Design & Build

Readers’ Choice Top Outdoor Kitchen Designs

With National Grilling Month coming up in July, we reached out to the more than 80,000 subscribers of our monthly Outdoor Living by Belgard eNewsletter to visit our Outdoor Kitchen and Outdoor Grill Island Pinterest boards and vote on their favorite designs. The votes have been tallied, and here on the top 5 outdoor kitchen designs in each category.

Top 5 Outdoor Kitchen Designs

Belair Wall Outdoor Brick Kitchen
#5 – Featuring the chiseled stone look of Belair Wall®, this al fresco kitchen includes both a gas grill and a wood-fired outdoor brick oven with a built-in wood box. This well-equipped kitchen also includes an ice-maker, outdoor dishwasher, custom bar sink and multiple durable stainless cabinets.

Lafitt Rustic Slab Outdoor Kitchen Design
#4 – This L-shaped kitchen is positioned adjacent to a covered Lafitt® Rustic Slab patio that offers ample seating for guests to visit with the outdoor chef during meal prep. Stacked-stone veneer adds a rustic elegance to complement multiple stainless outdoor appliances and a double grill.

Weston Stone outdoor kitchen design
#3 – This contemporary Weston Stone® outdoor kitchen includes a multi-functional granite countertop that provides a large linear area to accommodate food prep, serving and dining space. Weston Stone was also used for an adjacent landscape wall to visually tie the design together.

Weston Stone outdoor brick oven kitchen design
#2 – A raised bar opposite the grill allows guest to enjoy conversation with the outdoor chef during meal prep in this lovely Weston Stone® outdoor kitchen. A quaint lantern-style light fixture adds both ambiance and functionality to the wood-fired brick oven. Weston Stone was also used to construct a coordinating decorative wall that adds charm to the overall design.

Belair Wall Stone Outdoor Kitchen Design
#1 – This simple, yet elegant Belair Wall®outdoor kitchen garnered the most votes from our readers. The perfect space to entertain, this kitchen includes an oversized granite countertop that provides ample prep and serving spaces, as well as bar-style dining. The L-shape design puts everything within arm’s reach and opens to a covered Lafitt® Rustic Slab patio with additional seating, which creates a communal atmosphere.

Top 5 Grill Island Designs

Weston Stone L-shaped Grill Stone Kitchen Outdoor
#5 – This Weston Stone® L-shaped grill island offers clean, contemporary lines and a raised bar opposite the prep area for dining. Coordinating shades of Urbana® Stone pavers are laid in a running bond pattern on the adjacent patio to add a cohesive look to this eclectic space.

#4 – Rustic rough-hewn Celtik® Wall pairs with a contemporary granite countertop to create an L-shaped grill island that is the perfect complement to this eclectic outdoor living space. The flagstone design of Mega-Arbel® pavers help define the cooking area of the Lafitt® Grana Slab patio. Charcoal colored Old York™ pavers tie in with the color of the countertop to add a contemporary geometric border design.

Stone Patio Outdoor Kitchen Design
#3 – A built-in arbor made of reclaimed wood and wrought iron accents adds rustic charm to this attractive Weston Stone® grill island. Coordinating tones in the Lafitt® Rustic Slab patio complement the design.

Stone Outdoor Kitchen Design
#2 – The simple lines of this Weston Stone® grill island allow it to blend seamlessly with the structure of the adjacent home. A raised backsplash and granite countertops add a tailored look. The angled extension allows for additional prep and serving space without overpowering the sitting area of the Mega-Lafitt® paver patio.

Tandem Modular Grid Outdoor Stone Kitchen Design
#1 – This contemporary design garnered the highest number of votes in the grill island category. The versatile Tandem® Modular Grid provides the structure for the grill island, as well as a base for the arched arbor and a raised platform for the dining table.

 

Outdoor Kitchen Trends

Just as the kitchen has always been the heart of the home, the outdoor kitchen is quickly becoming the heart of the backyard outdoor living space.  According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), more than 75 percent of all U.S. households currently include an outdoor grill or smoker. However, that’s only part of the story. More and more homeowners are converting patio grilling areas into fully functioning outdoor kitchens that become the central gathering place for family and guests. Check out some of the latest trends.

Bar-style Seating

Bar-style seating has become very popular in outdoor kitchen design for the same reason it’s popular in indoor kitchen design…it creates a communal atmosphere where family members and guests can all interact during the prep and cooking process. It also provides additional dining space, and with the addition of a television, becomes the perfect spot for outdoor tailgating.

Outdoor Kitchen with Bar-style Seating
Kitchen: Weston Stone® Bar Foot Rail: Bullnose Coping.  Pavers: Bergerac® with Old York™ border.

Multiple Cooking Surfaces

Today’s outdoor chef isn’t happy with just a standard grill. Modern outdoor kitchen design quite often includes multiple cooking surfaces — including gas burners, gas or charcoal grills, ceramic smokers,  and wood-burning or gas ovens.

Outdoor Kitchen with Multiple Surfaces
Kitchen: Tandem® Modular GridPavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.

Everything Including the Kitchen Sink

A growing trend in outdoor kitchen design is to include all the “creature comforts” of an indoor kitchen. Nearly every indoor kitchen appliance now has an outdoor-rated version — including ice makers, refrigerators, dishwashers, keg coolers and more. With a fully-functioning outdoor kitchen, there’s no need to constantly run indoors for supplies…everything you need is at your fingertips. Add a stereo system, wi-fi access and a TV, and you can truly live in your outdoor living space.

Kitchen: Celtik® WallPavers: Mega-Bergerac®.

Stainless Steel Cabinets

Stainless steel doors and drawers are popular because they are resistant to rot, weather and insects. Stainless also adds a striking look to coordinate with grills and appliances. Over time, some stains will appear on the surface, but can easily be removed with a stainless steel cleaner, making them look as good as new.

Outdoor Kitchen Stainless Steel Cabinets
Kitchen: Belair Wall®. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.

Seat Walls

Built-in seating has been trending for years in outdoor living rooms, especially around fire features. Now, the trend is making it’s way into outdoor kitchens. A seat wall helps define the space, adds a striking aesthetic, and allows you to provide ample seating for large gatherings to supplement seating provided by barstools and dining tables.

Wall Seating for Outdoor Kitchens
(Left) Kitchen: Weston Stone®. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab with an inlaid Moduline Series® border. (right) Kitchen: Belair Wall®.

Outdoor Kitchen Pizza Ovens

Forget calling for delivery when you can enjoy a homemade pizza with an amazing flame-grilled flavor. Whether we’re talking about economical gas-powered tabletop ovens, or gorgeous built-in wood-fired brick ovens, outdoor ovens are definitely trending. The great thing about a brick oven is that it’s not just for pizza. Nearly anything you would bake in an indoor oven can be cooked in a brick oven. You may never cook indoors again.

Outdoor Kitchen Pizza Ovens
Oven: Bristol™ Series from the Belgard Elements Collection.

Modular Outdoor Kitchens

The Belgard® Elements Collection of modular outdoor kitchen units enables homeowners to have the look of a custom outdoor kitchen for a fraction of the cost and time. Belgard Elements are built in a factory setting and shipped in sections to be quickly installed on-site, meaning your kitchen will be installed in merely hours instead of weeks.

Modular Outdoor Kitchens
(left) Kitchen: Bordeaux™ Series from Belgard Elements Collection. Pavers: Laffit® Rustic Slab. (right) Kitchen: Bristol™ Series from the Belgard Elements Collection. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab with an inlaid Moduline Series® border.

For more ideas and inspiration, see our most recent post on Outdoor Kitchen Designs.