outdoor kitchen

Outdoor Kitchens: The Ultimate Guide to Designing Your Dream Outdoor Cooking Space

Your backyard has the potential to be more than just a patch of grass—it can become an extension of your home, a place where you can cook, dine, and entertain in the fresh air. Outdoor kitchens are a growing trend—and for good reason. In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of outdoor kitchens and provide tips and ideas for designing your own outdoor cooking space.

5 Benefits of Outdoor Kitchens

According to HomeStars’ annual Reno Reports, deluxe outdoor kitchens were the top “fantasy feature” desired by Canadian homeowners in 2021 and 2022. An outdoor kitchen can provide many benefits you may not enjoy in your indoor kitchen. 

Easy Cleanup

Outdoor kitchens are easy to clean and maintain. Many outdoor kitchen components are made from durable, weather-resistant materials that can withstand the elements and are easy to wipe down after use.

Energy Efficiency

Cooking outdoors can help reduce your energy consumption. Instead of heating your kitchen with the oven or stove, you can cook outside using a grill or other outdoor cooking appliances, saving on your energy bills.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Spending time outdoors has numerous health benefits, from reducing stress to improving mood and overall well-being. An outdoor kitchen lets you enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while cooking and dining al fresco.

Increase Your Home’s Value

An outdoor kitchen is a desirable feature for many homebuyers, so adding one to your backyard can increase the value of your home. It’s an investment that enhances your lifestyle and adds value to your property.

Expand Your Living Space

An outdoor kitchen extends your living space beyond the walls of your home and lets you make the most of your backyard. It creates a functional and inviting space for cooking, dining, entertaining, relaxing, and more. It can double as a bar area, a serving station, or even a makeshift workspace for outdoor projects. 

With the right design and features, you can enjoy your outdoor kitchen year-round—even in Calgary, Alberta! Adding features like a fireplace or outdoor heaters can help extend the usability of your outdoor cooking space into the cooler months. 

Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen

The right outdoor kitchen design will help you create a space that reflects your style and meets your needs. Here are key factors to consider in designing your outdoor kitchen.

Location

Choose a convenient location for cooking and entertaining. Consider factors like proximity to your indoor kitchen, prevailing winds, and sun exposure. Ensure adequate space for cooking, dining, and seating areas.

Layout

The layout of your outdoor kitchen should be functional and efficient. The classic “kitchen work triangle” concept applies here, with the grill, sink, and refrigerator forming the triangle’s three points. This layout allows for easy movement between the key cooking areas.

Appliances

Select high-quality outdoor appliances designed to withstand the elements. Popular choices include grills, smokers, refrigerators, ice makers, and sinks. Consider your cooking habits and the types of meals you’ll prepare to determine the right appliances for your outdoor kitchen.

Materials

Choose durable materials that can withstand outdoor conditions. Stainless steel is a popular choice for appliances and countertops due to its durability and resistance to rust and corrosion. Other options include stone, tile, and weather-resistant wood.

Lighting

Adequate lighting is essential for safety and ambiance. Incorporate task lighting over the grill and prep areas and ambient lighting for dining and entertaining. Add LED strip lights under countertops or along pathways for a stylish touch.

Shelter and Shade

Consider adding a pergola, awning, or canopy for shelter and shade to make your outdoor kitchen usable in all weather conditions. This will allow you to cook and entertain outdoors, even during hot summer days or light rain.

Style and Decor

Your outdoor kitchen should complement the style of your home and outdoor space. Choose materials, colours, and finishes that harmonize with your existing decor and create a cohesive look. Accessories like outdoor rugs, throw pillows, and decor items can add personality and warmth to your outdoor kitchen.

Functional Features & Design Elements

Incorporating functional features into your outdoor kitchen can enhance its usability and convenience. However, the design of your outdoor kitchen should not only be functional but also aesthetically pleasing. Consider the following features:

Storage

Adequate storage is essential for keeping your outdoor kitchen organized and efficient. Include cabinets, drawers, and shelves to store cooking utensils, tools, and accessories. Waterproof and weather-resistant materials are recommended for outdoor storage.

Countertops

Choose durable and heat-resistant countertops that can withstand outdoor cooking. Popular options include granite, concrete, and stainless steel. Ensure enough counter space for food preparation, serving, and seating areas.

Sinks and Faucets

A sink in your outdoor kitchen makes food preparation and cleanup much easier. Opt for a stainless steel or ceramic sink with a high-quality faucet that can withstand outdoor conditions. For added convenience, consider a sink with a garbage disposal.

Bar and Seating 

If space allows, incorporate a bar area with seating into your outdoor kitchen design. This provides a casual dining and entertaining space for guests while you cook. Bar stools or outdoor chairs with weather-resistant cushions are ideal for this area.

Outdoor Oven or Pizza Oven

For the ultimate outdoor cooking experience, add an outdoor oven or pizza oven to your kitchen. These appliances allow you to bake, roast, and cook various foods, adding versatility to your outdoor cooking repertoire.

Colour Scheme

Choose a colour scheme that complements your home’s exterior and outdoor surroundings. Neutral colours like beige, gray, and brown work well for outdoor kitchens and blend seamlessly with natural elements.

Outdoor Lighting

Lighting is crucial in creating ambiance and functionality in your outdoor kitchen. To illuminate your space effectively, incorporate a mix of task, ambient, and decorative lighting.

Landscaping and Greenery

Surround your outdoor kitchen with landscaping and greenery to create a natural and inviting environment. Planters, potted plants, and shrubs can add texture and colour to your outdoor kitchen area.

Outdoor Furniture

Select outdoor furniture that’s comfortable, durable, and complements your outdoor kitchen design. Consider materials like wicker, teak, or aluminum that can withstand outdoor conditions.

Personal Touches

Add personal touches to your outdoor kitchen with decorative elements like outdoor rugs, throw pillows, and wall art. These touches can tie the design together and make your outdoor kitchen feel like an extension of your indoor living space.

Weather & Safety Considerations

Safety should always be a top priority when designing an outdoor kitchen, especially when dealing with open flames and electrical appliances. And here in Calgary, Alberta, you must account for extreme dry heat and cold temperatures. Here are some essential safety measures and weather considerations to incorporate into your outdoor kitchen design:

Fire Safety

 If you include a grill or outdoor cooking appliances in your kitchen, ensure they are installed according to manufacturer guidelines and local fire codes. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies, and never leave cooking equipment unattended.

Electrical Safety

Use outdoor-rated electrical outlets and appliances for your outdoor kitchen. Ensure all electrical components are properly installed and maintained to prevent shock or fire hazards. Use weatherproof covers and ensure all wiring is properly insulated. Consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to protect against electrical shocks in wet conditions.

Slip Resistance

Outdoor kitchens can become slippery when wet, especially during rain or snowfall. To prevent accidents, choose slip-resistant flooring materials like textured stone or non-slip tiles. Additionally, keep the area clear of clutter and debris to reduce tripping hazards.

Shelter

Protect your outdoor kitchen from the elements with shelter. A pergola or awning can provide shade during hot summer days and shelter from rain or snow. You can also install ceiling fans or misting systems to help cool the space down. Consider adding curtains or screens to provide additional protection from wind and insects.

Cold Weather Precautions

In the winter, Calgary experiences freezing temperatures and snowfall, which can impact the usability of your outdoor kitchen. Opt for materials that can withstand freezing temperatures without cracking or deteriorating. To extend the use of your outdoor kitchen into the cooler months, consider adding a heating element. Options include patio heaters, fire pits, or even an outdoor fireplace. These additions can create a cozy atmosphere and allow you to enjoy your outdoor kitchen year-round.

Maintain Your Outdoor Kitchen

Proper maintenance is essential to ensure your outdoor kitchen remains in good condition year-round. Here are some tips to help you maintain your outdoor kitchen:

Clean: Regularly clean your outdoor kitchen to remove dirt, grime, and food debris. Use mild soap and water for cleaning stainless steel appliances and surfaces. For stone or concrete countertops, use a stone cleaner and sealer to protect against stains and damage.

Cover: Cover your outdoor kitchen to protect it from the elements when not in use. Use a weatherproof cover designed for outdoor kitchens to keep it clean and dry.

Inspect: Periodically inspect your outdoor kitchen for signs of wear and damage. Check for rust on metal surfaces, cracks or chips in countertops, and any loose or damaged components. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

Extend Your Custom Kitchen to the Great Outdoors

Adding an outdoor kitchen to your home is more than just extending your cooking area to your backyard—it’s creating an outdoor living space that enhances your lifestyle and adds value to your home. With the right design, features, and materials, you can transform your backyard into a functional and inviting space for cooking, dining, and entertaining. 

When planning your outdoor kitchen, consult a professional designer who understands your vision and can help bring it to life. A Riverstone Kitchens & Renovations designer and project manager will consider your needs, preferences, and budget to create a custom outdoor kitchen that meets your requirements and exceeds your expectations. Contact us today for a free consultation and start designing your dream outdoor kitchen!

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