It’s easy to think of an outdoor kitchen as a luxury. But even if you have your great uncle’s rusty Weber grill parked on top of two concrete blocks in your backyard, you’ve already got the beginnings of a fine outdoor kitchen.
Everyone wants their outdoor space to feel like their own little piece of paradise. Whether for entertaining friends after work, sharing dinners with family al fresco or simply relaxing after a long day, our backyards are our personal retreats. If you’re looking to make yours even more incredible, we’ve rounded up the latest trends in outdoor kitchens and dining spaces to help you picture your backyard oasis.
Most people prefer stone countertops for their outdoor kitchens. Granite and soapstone are popular, durable options. Tile is a less expensive alternative that can allow some creative freedom. If you’re considering other materials, speak to an expert about how much maintenance and what potential problems you’re looking at down the road.
Hands-down, the most popular choice for outdoor kitchen appliances, drawers, and cabinets is stainless steel. It can stand up to outdoor conditions and it’s fairly easy to clean. It’s also easy to match to upgraded appliances and features you might add on later. But if you want a custom look, stainless steel can offer that too: with powder coat finishes, the cabinets can be any color or mimic a number of natural textures, including wood.
Marine-grade polymers are gaining in popularity as an alternative. However, it may not be as long-lasting as stainless steel. And there’s the fact that it’s combustible. If you go this route, talk to your installer about what precautions you need to take.
Some people like the look of masonry or stucco outdoor kitchens because it offers them the ability to completely customize their space. The downside to this option is that all that stone can be a real bear to install, and the setup will take up a lot of space in your yard.
While it would be nice if we were talking about friendship, we’re actually getting a little more practical: you want your devices to work out there. Bluetooth speakers, projectors, TVs, phones, and more will need lots of ports and electrical outlets to keep working out there all summer long. If nothing else, you’ll probably want to plug in the margarita machine now and again.
Fire pits, gas heaters, and fire tables can help you stay outside even when the temperature dips. Many families are turning to multiple sources of heat outdoors to ensure that everyone stays cozy all year long.
Made in the Shade
For most of us, a dinky patio umbrella just ain’t gonna cut it. Safely covering your outdoor kitchen area means that not only can you grill in any weather, but also that your setup is just as protected from the elements.
More people are building permanent gazebo-type enclosures that often serve to section off the kitchen and bar area. These Pergolas are popular options for people who want to add a little shade to a large area of their patio space. These structures don’t offer the same protection from rain, but they’re lovely and allow you to use vining plants to create a natural roof. Canvas is another great cover option!
It’s Not Delivery
Pizza ovens are a hot trend right now. Compact stainless steel units have hit the market, making wood-fired pizza as close as your backyard.
It’s All About YOU!
The old thinking about outdoor spaces was a focus on entertaining first: amenities were built for the enjoyment of friends and colleagues rather than the family living there! According to a houzz survey, nearly 4 out of 5 homeowners were focusing their home project plans on what would help them enjoy their own home more. And outdoor spaces were no exception.
While it’s nice to dream about 4th of July barbeques and graduation parties, that’s really a fraction of the time you’ll be spending in your outdoor space. So instead of thinking how you’ll accommodate your guests, think first about how you and your closest loved ones will be using the space most often.
If you’re thinking about your own use first, one thing you might downgrade right away is your grill space. Why sacrifice the space all year long to accommodate a monster grill that would serve maybe two or three parties a year? When the party rolls around, call a friend to bring over a backup grill, or rent one from a local party rental company.
Also consider whether you really need a lot of seating space. Put it like this: would you rather have quantity or quality? Many homeowners are opting for more comfortable, luxurious seating over plentiful seating that’s not something they could really relax on when guests aren’t over.
No Need for Debate...
It used to be that you had to pick a side: gas or charcoal? Well with the new class of grills, you no longer have to choose. Hybrid grills allow you to cook it your way. Add a smoker to your setup and everyone will come to the table smiling.
If you are previously committed to a grill, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with adding a second grill to the lineup. People who own ceramic charcoal grill/smokers already know this well: variety is the spice of life!
While at-home bars have always been a popular feature of outdoor kitchens, homeowners are definitely investing a little more in these spaces. Personal kegerators, ice makers, wine fridges, and more are making outdoor bars a little more swanky.
When you’ve gone through the process of designing and installing an outdoor kitchen, you want the space to feel like it’s finally, truly your little piece of paradise. So it’s natural that you’d want to put your personal touch into the design.
Many homeowners are incorporating a pop of color into their outdoor kitchens (and yes, Kentucky blue is a popular one ‘round these parts.) From stool cushions to custom knobs, the possibilities are just about endless.
A word of caution: if you plan on selling your home down the road, refrain from making these little personal touches too permanent.