The decision to install an outdoor kitchen might seem like an easy one, but you’ll have a lot of choices to make in the meantime. There is no one right outdoor kitchen configuration for everyone. You must consider how you will use the outdoor kitchen, as well as what space you have available.
When planning your outdoor kitchen area, it is best to think of the design broken down into zones. Some areas could be used for more than one “zone” to maximize use of your space. The primary zones you need to consider are:
- Prep zone: This zone might include cookware storage, cold storage, warming drawer, and sink. You can also add accessories like a drainboard, built-in paper towel dispenser, or hidden trash compartment.
- Cook zone: Obviously, the cook zone includes the actual grill and other cooking surfaces.
- Cleanup zone: You need to have a garbage disposal and hot running water for easier and faster cleanup. The cleanup zone and the prep zone are often combined.
- Entertaining zone: The areas where your guests dine or hang out.
All of these zones can be incorporated in different ways depending on your personal preferences and the space available. Below are the three most popular outdoor kitchen configurations. Starting from one of these layouts could help you narrow down other options and accessories.
L-Shaped: For Decks & Patios
If you are having a hard time figuring out how to house all of the features you want in a small space, an L-shaped outdoor kitchen could be the answer. The L-shaped kitchen is easy to break down into zones and move between areas quickly.
When designed using bar cabinets, you can add bar style seating to hang out with your friends while you cook. This gives the space a more casual layout, and you can configure it in the corner of your deck or patio area for a cozy, wrap-around feel.
Standalone & Linear: For Small Backyards
When your space is small, it can be hard to imagine that you can squeeze an outdoor kitchen out of the space. If the area you have available is long and narrow, standalone or linear outdoor kitchen setups work best.
These are also the best option if you are on a tight budget. You can set them up like an assembly line, combining a grill cabinet and base cabinet to create a prep and cooking area, with a sink base cabinet on the end for cleanup. Again, bar size counters can give your guests a place to hang out and dine.
U-Shaped: For Large Outdoor Spaces
When the sky’s the limit and you can design the ideal outdoor kitchen, you can’t go wrong with a U-shaped counter configuration. At least one side of the U should be suitable for bar seating during entertaining or dining. The U-shape allows you to include luxury features such as additional storage space, wine racks, and all of your favorite kitchen gadgets.
If you want to make the most of your outdoor kitchen space, consider adding pantry cabinets for additional storage of serving ware and cookware. For a more finished look, use corner cabinets for a smooth transition.
Not sure which option is right for you? Explore all outdoor kitchen cabinet models to design a layout that works best for you and your space.