Doesn’t almost every homeowner want an outdoor living space? Isn’t it a dream for many homeowners to be able to wind down after a hard day or week at work by barbecuing some delicious food for the family while enjoying the fresh air? Okay, so some guys just dream of coming home and vegging in the recliner with a beer and some sports on TV. That is fine too. But, wouldn’t it be great to at least have the option of grilling? And, if you are going to have an outdoor kitchen for grilling, don’t you want the best equipment and layout available for your needs?
Basic to Fancy Outdoor Kitchens
Some homeowners, or even renters, are happy with a grill and a TV tray to hold the hamburgers or steaks until it is time to put them on the grill. But, other homeowners want a fancy, convenient outdoor kitchen setup so they can relax while cooking those steaks or hamburgers and even a few side dishes. What if the outdoor kitchen is a nice L-shape with enough room for both husband and wife or two friends to be cooking together in the fresh air?
Outdoor kitchens can start basic and be added to as time and need progress. Homeowners can get help from RTA Outdoor Living with planning and executing outdoor kitchens.
The layout and size of an outdoor kitchen depend on budget, need, and available space. Outdoor kitchens often start out with a single grill and, as the homeowner finds they enjoy outdoor cooking more and more, the outdoor cooking equipment and layout get larger and fancier. Why not add some storage so not so much needs to be carried from place to place? It would be nice to add some counter space for food preparation. Plus, add some bar space so friends can visit and have a beverage during the cooking process.
The layout of the Outdoor Kitchen
Once the homeowner decides to make their outdoor kitchen work better, they need to assess the available space and their budget. Is the patio or deck large enough for a complete outdoor kitchen? What shape layout will be most efficient in the available space and convenient to use? The L-shaped layout is one of the most popular ones because of the advantages it offers the homeowner. L-shaped outdoor kitchen layouts come in small, medium, and large sizes to fit the available space and budget.
There are five reasons for the popularity of the L-shaped kitchen layout:
- The L-shaped kitchen layout is well-suited to both patios and decks
- The layout is a good balance for cooking and entertaining and fits any decor style
- The outdoor kitchen layout is versatile in size and can be adjusted to the available space
- This shape of outdoor kitchen is an inviting structure that is open and accessible for the cook and guests
- The setup can be ordered in kit form, custom-built, or added to as money is available
Other Layout Shapes
There are other outdoor kitchen layout shapes to consider. They include the following.
- The straight-line works for a small space counter or island. It can be as long as space allows.
- The U-shaped kitchen layout offers all the bells and whistles a homeowner can want in its three sides. It does take up more space but has more room for lighting, fans, and other features. The cook stands inside the U-shape for convenient grilling while guests can sit on bar stools along the outside edges of the U. This configuration is great for people with big families or that like to entertain often and with lots of guests. The yard or patio will need to be large enough to accommodate this larger kitchen setup.
- The L-shape kitchen setup is the ultimate choice for most people designing outdoor kitchens. It allows the cook to visit with guests as they prepare food. This L-shape is versatile and great for entertaining while cooking. It can be used as an island or one end can be next to the house wall.
- The 3/4 Square kitchen layout is good when the homeowner wants to combine grilling and dining in the same place. This arrangement saves space over having a separate dining area. It is larger than some configurations.
Outdoor Kitchen Functions and Zones
No matter what your layout shape is for outdoor grilling and entertaining, it must serve the following functions.
- Food preparation zone. Counter space needs to be available to get food ready to grill. If this space is not located on the outdoor kitchen setup, it must be done inside at the kitchen counter and carried out to the grill. This can be inconvenient.
- The cooking zone includes the outdoor grill, side burners, and smoker or pizza oven if those are part of the outdoor kitchen
- The cleanup zone includes a water source and garbage container so plates can be emptied and stacked to be washed later inside
- Last but not least is the serving and entertaining zone where all that great grilled food gets served and eaten. The guests should be able to eat near the cooking area without having to worry about smoke being blown on their faces. Tables and chairs or bar stools along the outer edge of the outdoor kitchen counter are good solutions. The table should be close to the cooking area.
No matter what shape the outdoor kitchen layout ends up in, it must be convenient and functional. Take the time to study the available space and what equipment and counter space will comfortably fit into it. Decide what functions the kitchen needs to perform. Will a good grill be enough? What about storing cold drinks conveniently or having counter space to prepare the food to be grilled? Do you need a smoker or a pizza oven? Will they be used enough to justify the expense? What about an outdoor refrigerator for safe food storage and convenience?
Each homeowner must decide what their ideal outdoor cooking arrangement will be and how much they can spend on it. An outdoor kitchen can start basic and be added to overtime.