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Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchen Layout Options

Five common layout designs for outdoor kitchens

  • outdoor kitchen island This small island unit just outside the back door is the most efficient way to create an outdoor kitchen in a limited space. The sink indoors suffices to allow all the countertops to be used for prep and serving while still accommodating a trash compactor and refrigerator.
  • l shaped outdoor kitchen This fully covered outdoor kitchen features a L-shaped layout with plenty of counter space and seating around the outside to make it easy to plate the food and serve it right there beside the grill.
  • u shaped outdoor kitchen This U-shaped outdoor kitchen with its split level dining bar demonstrates how a relatively small space can be well designed to include a wide range of features due to the extensive counter top space and cabinet options underneath.
  • outdoor kitchen layout This U-shaped layout features plenty of under counter storage spaces and a wing dedicated to the grill where it's smoke and spatter is well away from diners on the opposite side.
  • elaborate outdoor kitchen This elaborate outdoor kitchen is in its own structure that requires the same degree of precise layout coordination as an interior kitchen demands. Note the separation of the seating area with its fireplace and television from food prep and grill to keep guests comfortable in every season.
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Kitchen layout featuring the many basic designs below demonstrates the basics of kits and other prefabricated elements, but it doesn't speak to how these various spaces are used. Professional kitchen designer, Dawn Whyte of Lake Street Design Studio in Michigan provides us with important conceptual relationships that are as vital to an outdoor satellite kitchen as they are on an interior kitchen remodel.

"We break down the layout into four activity zones that make it easier to cover all the bases. There is a Prep Zone, a Cooking Zone, a Clean-up Zone and an Entertaining/serving Zone. The Prep and Cook zones flow together on one side, and the Cook zone and Serving Zone come together on the other side. This keeps incompatible activities separated." Using Whyte's zone planning method can be vital to creating a custom outdoor kitchen.

Prep zone: This is often an island with a counter top, warming drawer, food pan storage, cold storage, sink, drain board, trash and built in power towel dispenser.

Cooking zone: The grill is located here as well as side burners, smoker and pizza often.

Clean up zone: Hot water is essential here as is a garbage disposal which allows plates to be cleaned but washed later indoors.

Serving/entertaining zone: Make sure prevailing winds will not drive smoke from the grill in this direction. "We often use partitions and walls to block the wind when it can't be avoided, " says Whyte. "We also prefer an exhaust hood over the grill to remove smoke altogether."

"Everybody ends up in the kitchen to sit, lean on the bar, so we like to use a raised bar and bar stools adjacent so the cook is in the middle of the party. By integrating entertaining zone with cooking, you get a more pleasant experience for cook and guests."

If you would like to experiment with different layouts check out this online design tool from Eldorado Stone.

Contributing Author:

Maureen Gilmer, contributing writer for Landscaping Network, author and syndicated columnist

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