Nowadays, homeowners wish to live outside as much as inside, especially if they have a swimming pool. And why not? Outdoor living has its own ‘chill’ factor, and who can beat fresh air, fun and cool water. So naturally, the next step for many homeowners is to have an outdoor kitchen built that will serve as another living area, and center of entertainment. But where should you build the kitchen so it is both functional and fun? Check out these seven essential ingredients for the best outdoor kitchen spot!

  1. Close to the house or not close to the house? This depends on whether you are having a full kitchen built, or just adding certain outdoor cooking components. If your outdoor kitchen will have full sink with running water, refrigerator, ice maker or any other product that requires a water line, then keeping your kitchen as close as possible to your house makes good sense. It is much easier for your contractor to tie in the water line to your home, rather than running it through your yard, or worse, breaking up the concrete on your patio to run the line. It is also much cheaper to connect the water line to your existing home line.
  2. Protecting your kitchen from the sun and rain is crucial to its longevity. Consider building your kitchen beneath your existing patio cover, or adding a pergola (with a clear top) or other covered protection for your kitchen. Yes, your outdoor appliances will be weather resistant, but the less they are under the glare of sun or flow of rain, the longer they will last. Also, the sun can heat up your outdoor countertop (especially if it is a natural stone material), and make it uncomfortable to touch.
  3. Make sure to keep your kitchen away from any flammable materials, such as wood stacks, dry trees, or outbuildings. The farther you can keep open flames from combustibles, the better. Cooking outdoors should be fun, not a fire hazard.
  4. Consider how the wind blows. Do you want smoke from your grilled ribs drifting into your home? While they may taste great, you probably don’t want your home to smell like cooked meat for days on end. When you design your kitchen with your outdoor architect, make sure to do a wind test so you can keep smoke vapors blowing away from your home.
  5. If you are building on your existing patio, make sure it is level. If not, your new kitchen structure may sink at some point. You certainly don’t want to spend good money on an outdoor kitchen that is slanted and looks odd. To remedy this, you can re-pour the unlevel part of the patio, or extend the patio out with a new, level slab.
  6. Double check your backyard for drainage issues. It wouldn’t be wise for you to invest in a beautiful outdoor kitchen, only to have it sitting in water because rain runoff is draining from your sloped yard. Make sure water drains away from your kitchen and into appropriate drainage areas.
  7. Keep in mind, you may be going back and forth with plates of food in your arms. If your outdoor kitchen isn’t a full kitchen, then you will still be cooking some items in your house. So, keep your walk short and easy; avoid difficult walks, or levels of stairs. You want to enjoy the outdoor festivities without running out of steam.

An outdoor kitchen is an amazing way to liven up your household and give your family a reason to party outdoors. Keep your Pinterest board handy, plan your design ideas in advance, and make sure to hire a qualified contractor. And don’t forget the added value an outdoor kitchen adds to your home. Time to light up the grill!