When the Living Is Easy

The living in summer might be easy, but that’s assuming you’ve done some hard planning. Summer grilling may seem far off, but believe it or not, it’s time to start planning an outdoor kitchen. If you have been considering adding an outdoor kitchen, it can take a while from start to finish to ensure your space is, shall we say, shish kebab ready.

‘Tis the season to plan for the spring project. This includes determining design, ensuring availability of materials and appliances, and lining up a qualified contractor to do the work. Good news. LJ’s Kitchens and Interiors can help you with all of this!

However, there are a few things to first consider before planning recipes.

What to Consider When Planning an Outdoor Kitchen

  1. First, ask yourself what you want in an outdoor kitchen. What is your goal? How will you use the space?
  2. Only after considering your objectives, ask yourself how your space could meet that objective in terms of your home’s layout and the surrounding landscape.
  3. Then consider magazines, TV, and your neighbors’ outdoor kitchens for some style inspiration. Remember: It’s not keeping up with the Jones’s – it’s gathering inspiration from them. 

Ask yourself:

  • What kind of food do I want to cook?
  • How many people will need to fit?
  • Do I need child-safety features?
  • If you already have an outdoor kitchen, what do you find yourself wishing for every time you cook? Do you ever think, “It would be nice if …” or “It would really be convenient if…” Let’s see if we can’t solve it!

Key benefits of an outdoor kitchen: 

  • Will increase your home’s value
  • New menu choices
  • Great place to gather with family and friends
  • One of the best ways to spend a summer afternoon or evening!

The grill

This is an absolutely essential item! We can’t wait for grilling season.

Excitement aside, there are still decisions to make on which grill. Consider a grill island to save money, but invest in a high-quality grill. This doesn’t mean having all the fancy bells and whistles. For example, side burners aren’t necessary. A 36-inch grill will suit most needs nicely. In other words, the grill can be simple, just make sure it’s high quality.

Counter space

Designers suggest at least 12 inches of food prep and landing space on either side of the cooking surface. Popular countertop materials include:

  • Ceramic tile
  • Stone
  • Concrete 

Get cozy

Some ideas for adding the feeling of warmth to your outdoor kitchen:

  • Fireplace
  • Pizza oven
  • Fire pit 

Integrate the kitchen with the house

Figure out ways to make the outdoor kitchen look like it belongs with the house, as a natural extension of your main living area. Incorporate structural elements such as pergolas, screens, and plantings to shape the space. 

A thoughtful transition

The materials you use for your outdoor kitchen should fit with the design of your home and landscaping. Blending is key. For example, consider using the same trim and stone used on the house for your outdoor kitchen.

Go with the flow

Make sure that the layout of the outdoor kitchen is conducive to your needs. For example, if you have a pool, how far will someone have to walk to get a drink?

Is bigger better?

Usually. While common wisdom would say ‘no,’ providing ample space for guests to sit comfortably is something you’ll never regret.

Let your kitchen shine

Make sure you install enough lights. You need to see food to properly cook at night. It’s also nice to see the food you’re eating. Dining areas should have ambient and ornamental lighting. This might only require a $25 clip-on light for the grill, but however you integrate lighting into your space, just don’t overlook it.

Give me shelter

Whether it’s a freestanding umbrella, a pergola, or an overhang off the house, believe it or not there’s going to be a time when there’s too much sun again! 

Get fired up!

One of the great things about outdoor cooking is preparing things you can’t make indoors. Now you’ll be able to explore recipes that require high temperatures. Oh, the possibilities! 

Cooking and beyond

If this is a space you will want to hang out in a lot, create the outdoor living space to support it. TVs, weather shades, and heaters are all options.

Just envision what it is you want for your space, and LJ’s will help you make it happen!

What is the frequency?

Warming drawer, wine tap, dishwasher? Keep it simple. Ask yourself how frequently you’ll be making use of each option.

Outdoor sink

An outdoor sink can cost $1,000 to $2,000. Designers typically suggest locating your outdoor kitchen close to your indoor kitchen. 


Consider buying an undercounter beverage refrigerator UL-approved for exterior use, and the outdoor GFCI to power it, instead. Or, buy a plastic cooler! Or, just grab them out of your regular refrigerator. While cold drinks are necessary, extra appliances are not. That said, if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your outdoor kitchen, the purchase might be justified.

Additional amenities

Like a refrigerator and sink, these might be things you’ll want for your space; but consider how much you will actually use it before you decide. All-inclusive, here’s our list:

  • Built-in gas grill
  • Cabinet storage
  • Dishwasher
  • Fireplace
  • Large seating bar
  • Refrigerator
  • Separate side burners
  • Sink
  • Warming drawer
  • Wine tap

Plan ahead

You’re going to be living with it for years to come; don’t make it look like an afterthought. Let these tips be your guide and talk with our designers to discuss what designs and options are right for you and your space. And remember, the last step is enjoying your new outdoor kitchen! It’s worth looking forward to, but you won’t be able to enjoy it next summer if you don’t start planning now!

Let’s Start Planning!

LJ’s provides design expertise and installation when it comes to planning an outdoor kitchen of your dreams! Contact Us and speak with our friendly and knowledgeable staff about your design and material needs. We can help you start planning your outdoor kitchen today!