The Ins and Outs of Outdoor Kitchen Design – A Multi-Part Series

A multi-part series to provide you with outdoor kitchen design inspiration and guidelines.

Part 1 - Do you dream of having an outdoor kitchen? Take a short quiz to help you reach your outdoor kitchen goals.

The recent popularity of outdoor kitchens is expected to continue being a hot trend. Not only are the warmer southern climates featuring a rise in outdoor kitchen growth, but the colder northern climates are too. They offer a good return on investment (ROI) should you decide to sell your home and they also provide you with an enjoyable and functional outdoor living space.

When it comes to creating your outdoor kitchen, the possibilities are endless! It can be large or small...from a simple "portable" or modular unit, i.e., a grill with countertop space on either side to a grand custom-designed, fully functional outdoor kitchen/living space complete with grill(s), refrigerators, freezers, sinks, counters, and lots and lots of storage space. They can be designed near pools, on patios, within gardens, or almost anywhere that you desire to have an enjoyable outdoor living space.

As you can see, while they may seem like a luxury, there really are no set rules for defining a space as an outdoor kitchen. With a little imagination and helpful resources and design guidelines such as this, you will find that no matter what type you may fancy, it is sure to become a central location for your family and your friends to gather while enjoying the great outdoors.

Following is a short and fun questionnaire to help you begin determining your outdoor kitchen design goals. The answers to these questions will help provide you with a brief introduction to outdoor kitchen options customized to your desires and requirements. Have fun and remember there are no right or wrong answers!

To complete the questionnaire, read the following five questions and choose the one option which most closely describes your outdoor living space and its overall function and purpose:

1. Where are you located?

a. In a very cold climate with long, harsh winters and fairly mild summers (such as Alaska, and upper North American states, etc.)

b. In a moderate climate with average rainfall and warm sunny days, and occasional or limited snowfall (such as mid-Atlantic areas, etc)

c. In a warm, mostly sunny and dry southern climate (note: little rainfall, low humidity, temperate climate throughout the year - such as Arizona, etc)

d. In a tropical, hot and humid southern climate (note: tropical storms or heavy rainfall, high humidity and temperature are common - such as coastal areas, South Florida, etc)

2. Generally, which best describes how you plan on using your outdoor kitchen?

a. Informally - mainly for small gatherings of family and friends (approximately 5-10 people).

b. Special Occasions - birthdays, anniversaries, etc. (up to 25 people).

c. Extra Large Gatherings - family reunions, large parties, etc (more than 25 people).

d. All of the above

3. How often do you plan on using your outdoor kitchen?

a. Only for special occasions or gatherings, i.e., a few times per year.

b. Several times a month.

c. One or two times a week.

d. All the time (three or more times a week).

4. How much outdoor space do you have available for your outdoor kitchen?

a. Very little space to accommodate much more than a grill with some limited counter space and possibly some seating.

b. A moderate amount - my ideal outdoor kitchen could contain a grill, a sink, some storage cabinets, counter space, and a small seating area.

c. A large amount - I can accommodate a grill, a sink, storage and prep areas, counter space, a larger seating area for a larger number of guests, and any other additional items I might wish to have such as a refrigerator, waste receptacle, pizza oven, etc.

d. The sky's the limit - whatever I can dream I can accommodate!

5. What is your expected budget? (note: this should include the price of a built-in grill)

a. $5,000 or less.

b. $10,000 or less.

c. $15,000 or less.

d. $15,000 or more, cost is not my most important consideration.

Now let's tally up your choices - for every (a) answer give yourself 5 points, for every (b) answer give yourself 10 points, for every (c) answer give yourself 15 points, and for every (d) answer give yourself 20 points. Total your points and locate your total below:

Mostly A's - 30 points or less: While you may not have much space and/or money to work with, there are options available for you. Consider a nice built-in grill with side cabinets which can be manufactured with variety of different materials such as Starboard, PVC or Wood. Later, as space or money allows, you can easily upgrade and add to your outdoor kitchen space.

Mostly B's - 35 points - 50 points: If you answered with mostly B's, you see yourself as utilizing your outdoor space on a rather frequent basis and would like some additional amenities. Depending on your expected budget, this could include either a basic single "wall or line" construction or the larger and popular L-shaped kitchen design. Your choice of material can also be Starboard, PVC, and/or Wood.

Mostly C's - 55 points - 75 points: If you fall within this category, you are definitely on the road to having a very well thought-out and carefully planned outdoor living space that is both functional and enjoyable. A wide range of options are available to you in terms of kitchen design and layout, as well as form and function, with a great deal of additional amenities. Always dreamed of having an outdoor pizza oven or maybe a nice fire pit or even a fireplace? No problem! You are certainly following a path to success in planning your outdoor living space which can provide you years of outdoor living enjoyment using a variety of material options such Starboard, PVC, or Wood.

Mostly D's - 80 points or more: Congratulations! The sky is the limit for you! You have many design options available and may even wish to consider a more custom-designed space and the use of a designer specializing in outdoor kitchens to help you in your decision-making process. Your material choices and design options are endless in completing the outdoor kitchen of your dreams in a choice of materials featuring Starboard, PVC, and/or Wood.

It is hoped that you have enjoyed this brief and thought-provoking questionnaire to help you along your path in designing your dream outdoor kitchen space.The next article in this series will take this questionnaire a step further in terms of really nailing down some of the more detailed space planning aspects of your outdoor kitchen project such as kitchen shape, location, water availability, etc. This is sure to be an equally informative and enjoyable article.

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