How to Design an Outdoor Kitchen Bar

There seems to be a growing trend these days for outdoor kitchen bar projects. And this makes sense, since people have increasingly adopted a preference for outdoor living that is more connected to nature.

When designing an outdoor kitchen bar, the key to success is a well thought-out plan. This ensures that your finished product matches your expectations. Here are some tips and tricks on how to create a functional and beautiful outdoor kitchen that’s perfect for entertaining friends and family.

Floor Plan

The first step should always be to identify the amount of space you can work with. Is it a limited predetermined area, or are you setting up a new patio? The latter option gives you greater flexibility in the overall floor plan of the new kitchen.

Make sure that the kitchen island is proportionate to the available space. Chalk out the area to get a better image of the kitchen size and to see how best to optimize the space for better functionality and easy access.

You will also want to identify where utilities such as gas, electricity, and water are located on the property. From there, determine how accessible they are to the proposed kitchen area.

Floor plans

The Basics

There wouldn’t be an outdoor kitchen without a gas grill. It is an essential part of every outdoor kitchen, and therefore the starting point for all other decisions. There are plenty of options available, from a traditional gas grill to a charcoal ceramic smoker.

The next thing to consider are stainless steel access doors for reaching your plumbing for the gas grill.

Side burners are also a great addition for heating sides and sauces, and will keep you from running to the indoor kitchen too much.

A sink for rinsing dishes and food and washing your hands is also an important component of the outdoor kitchen.

Another often overlooked item is a trash bin at a convenient location for disposal of garbage and food waste.

Lastly, a refrigerator is what makes the project an outdoor bar. This is useful for keeping your beverages cold for friends and family when entertaining.

A gas grill and a sink are outdoor kitchen essentials.

Added Functionality

Aside from the basics, you may also opt to purchase additional appliances for cooking versatility.

A pizza oven is always a welcome addition to any outdoor kitchen bar. Doesn’t pizza night sound like a fun family tradition?

For cooking burgers, steaks, and hibachi-style meals, a flat-top griddle is another great addition.

To complement a standard side burner, a power burner provides increased heat output and is excellent for creating stocks, frying big batches of food, and boiling seafood. Cooking these things outside keeps the mess away from indoors.  

A pizza oven is always a welcome addition to any outdoor kitchen bar.

Counter Space

Ample counter space is extremely important to your outdoor kitchen. Without adequate space to set and prep your meals, you are reduced to running in and out of the home, instead of spending quality time outdoors with your guests. Aside from the counter, a bar top creates more room for family and friends.

Ample counter space is extremely important to your outdoor kitchen.

Storage

Leaving your guests to get food supplies and other needs is the last thing you want when entertaining outdoors. That’s why the outdoor kitchen bar needs enough room to have everything organized and stowed away.

Maximize your counter space with built-in storage units like a door-drawer combo under the grill. This provides hidden storage, as well as access to the gas line of the grill.

Your outdoor kitchen bar needs enough room to have everything organized and stowed away.

A lot of people underestimate how much storage they need in the outdoor kitchen, so an additional set of storage drawers is always a good idea.

To keep pests away from your food supplies, install enclosed cabinets or pantries with pull-out drawers for easy accessibility.

Safety

A safe outdoor kitchen bar is one with plenty of ventilation and protection.

Island vent panels provide ventilation by letting trapped gas escape in case there is a leak in the gas lines. Vented tank drawers are also needed for kitchens that use propane gas.

For outdoor kitchens with limited airflow, such as those built under a covered patio, invest in a vent hood over the grill. The vent hood easily clears out the thick smoke that comes from grilling.

The vent hood easily clears out the thick smoke that comes from grilling.

And for kitchen islands made out of wood or other combustible materials, an insulated grill jacket provides protection from accidental fires, as it creates an insulated shield between hot appliances and the island surface.

Power Supply

This wouldn’t be the first thing on your mind while constructing an outdoor kitchen, but adequate power supply is a critical consideration. You need convenient locations to plug in appliances, and enough electrical outlets to accommodate all of them, including outlets for your radio and for charging cellphones.

You need convenient locations to plug in appliances, and enough electrical outlets for all of them.

Finishing

Lastly, choose the right material for finishing your outdoor kitchen. For faster and more efficient installation over concrete masonry units, ready-to-finish cabinets are a good option. Choose finishing materials that complement your house and patio area.

Choose finishing materials that complement your house and patio area.

Keeping all these tips in mind will not only help you in setting up a beautiful outdoor kitchen bar, but will give you peace of mind and enjoyment for years to come.

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