Thinking About an Outdoor Kitchen? Ask These Questions First

Photo by New Vista
Photo by New Vista

An outdoor kitchen can be an enjoyable way to entertain family and friends. Unlike an indoor kitchen, an outdoor kitchen can feature all the fun cooking gadgets that are either impractical or unsafe to have indoors, such as a gas grill, rotisserie, or smoker. An outdoor kitchen is an infusion of elevated cooking and the right atmosphere that provides the stage for memorable moments with friends and family.

What inspires you?

Maybe you’re inspired by a friend’s outdoor kitchen, or you spotted something on Pinterest that grabbed your eye. Wherever you find inspiration, build on what you like.

Have fun researching and looking at photos of outdoor kitchens. A kitchen environment should be enjoyable and building one should be too.

(For inspirational ideas, check out my blog “3 Tips to Inspire Your Next Outdoor Project” and see some of our outdoor kitchen work on our gallery page.)

Custom outdoor kitchens can be crafted to suit your vision, whether you prefer traditional, contemporary or rustic. One tip: save URL links while researching, and take notes about what you like and don’t like. This will save a lot of time when you meet with your contractor.

One additional thing to consider for your outdoor kitchen is to install a custom-built pergola. Either along with it or by itself, you should also consider installing some beautiful accent lighting. We’ll have more on the pergola and outdoor lighting in future blogs.

What’s your favorite shape?

Photo by New Vista

Different shapes of outdoor kitchens offer different advantages. An outdoor kitchen set against one wall works well for smaller, more budget-friendly spaces with only one cook and a separate dining or seating area.

Illustration by Eric Larson

An L-shaped outdoor kitchen is better for two or more cooks or for incorporating extras, such as a sink or refrigerator. It’s also great if you wish to include a buffet or bar seating.

Photo by New Vista

A U-shaped outdoor kitchen is best for multiple appliances, including a grill, refrigerator, sink, and a seating/bar/serving area.

Illustration by Eric Larson

Finally, the island creates a “hub” for entertaining guests. Although, if you’re looking to add an island, consider dividing it with a raised counter to keep the grilling and prep areas separate from where people will be socializing. (Source: This Old House)

Illustration by Eric Larson

What kind of cooking will you do?

The type of cooking you plan on will naturally determine the appliances you’ll need. If your only goal is to cook some incredible burgers and steaks, then a built-in gas grill is all you’ll need. But if you want to elevate your barbecuing skills to the next level, consider installing a smoker (one of our favorites is Kamado Joe) or adding a stove top burner. Since we have a special relationship with a worldwide appliance distributor, we are able to procure any brand appliance on the market. We’ve even installed built-in woks, hibachi grills and stone pizza ovens. If you want to cook with it, we can build it for you.

What materials do you want to use?

An outdoor kitchen can have endless possibilities for customization. You’ll be selecting styles of granite, stone, quartz or even brick. Instead of a carpenter, you’ll be relying on expert masons to handle the majority of the work. During your research portion, be sure to note the type of materials you prefer. This will put you ahead of the game when you meet with your contractor.

What is your time frame?

Depending on the intricacy of your outdoor kitchen, plan at least two weeks for the installation portion of your project. The most grandiose kitchens can take a few weeks for installation. Planning (with blueprints and permits) can take about two weeks, depending on where you live. But there’s no need for you to worry about this; your contractor will handle that for you.

Interested in building an outdoor kitchen? We’ve designed and installed all types. Give us a call at 216-291-1100 today or email

JD Drcar is production manager at New Vista Enterprises, Inc. Founded in 2000, New Vista designs, installs and maintains breathtaking outdoor environments for clients throughout Northeast Ohio. JD is a graduate of Ohio University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Horticulture/Environmental Health Sciences. Connect with JD on LinkedIn.

Leave a comment