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Outdoor Kitchens

Updated on November 12, 2008
grill with sideburner
grill with sideburner

What is a summer kitchen?

Some call it a summer kitchen, some call it an outdoor kitchen, and others call it a built in barbeque. Whatever you call it, an outdoor kitchen is a great feature to add to your home! Some summer kitchens have a grill and some cabinets, others have a sink too. The possibilities are endless when designing your new outdoor cooking area.

In the southern states an outdoor kitchen is a "must have". It will add more than just a place to grill your food. It will add a place for you and your family and friends to hang out and enjoy each others company. Relax by your pool, watch the kids play, and grill up some hot dogs and hamburgers for the group.

The few things I find useful in my outdoor kitchen are:

1. The grill...duh!

We chose a 24" gas grill because we have natural gas to the house so it was very easy for us to hook up to it. If your neighborhood doesn't have natural gas, then you can use propane. You can put a small propane tank in the cabinet under the grill, or call your local gas company for an estimate to have a larger tank placed somewhere in your yard.

2. The sink with a garbage disposal

I can't tell you how many times I have used my outdoor sink to wash the dish that was holding the raw meat, or to wash my hands after touching food. To be honest, I even use it when re-potting my plants! Having the sink really makes cleaning up after a get together a lot easier.

3. Counter space and bar area

You need something durable, so granite, tile, and concrete are all good choices for your counter area. They hold up well to heat, the weather, and high use. If you have the space, it is nice to have a bar sitting area too.

4. Hood vent

Depending upon where your grill will be located you may want or need a hood vent over it. This can be both very useful, and a focal point. When designing your summer kitchen keep in mind how you are going to run the ducting for your hood vent.

5. Refrigerator

Keep cool drinks out by the pool in your mini fridge. Outdoor refrigerators come in almost as many styles as do indoor refrigerators. You can get a kegerator, a wine cooler, or just a regular mini refrigerator.

6. Cabinetry

Thermofoil type cabinets work well outside because they have that vinyl like surface making them very easy to clean. The onlydown side that I have experienced is the chance they risk in melting due to very high temperatures. Granted, you probably wont be cooking at such high temps, but I'll tell you a story so you can learn from my stupidity. One night I decided to clean the grill, so I sprayed the grill cleaner on,let it sit a while, then lit the grill. I forgot to turn the fan in the hood on and walked away. I was only gone for 5 minutes or so, but the grill started putting off so much heat that the upper cabinets to the sides of the grill began melting. Nothing caught on fire (whew!) but we had to replace the cabinet doors.

Some choose to not add cabinets at all. If your house is stucco, you can frame out the body of the summer kitchen and stucco over it. There are several different types of doors that you can add to your base to creat "cabinets" without actually buying an actual cabinet. If your kitchen area will back up to a wall, you can do a great backsplash design too!

Summer Kitchen Pics

stone face, stained concrete counter, pergola over-head
stone face, stained concrete counter, pergola over-head
This great summer kitchen is just off of the swimming pool area!
This great summer kitchen is just off of the swimming pool area!
tiled counter and backsplash . notice the hood vent
tiled counter and backsplash . notice the hood vent
great modular design still gives the convenience and great looks of an outdoor kitchen
great modular design still gives the convenience and great looks of an outdoor kitchen

How much will my outdoor kitchen cost?

That's a hard question to answer. It could be anywhere from $100's to $1,000's. You can buy modular sets that you put together yourself from places like Sam's Club, Costco, Home Depot, and Lowe's. They look really nice, and have many functions so depending upon your budget that may be the way to go.

Otherwise you can have one custom built for you. A custom built summer kitchen will look like it was built with your house, and will give you the opportunity to show off your style. I would estimate that you are looking in the $10,000 + range for all of the items I mentioned above, depending upon the size you are looking to build.

That sounds like a lot, but think about it. Just for the sink, you will need a plumber to come in and tap into your existing water lines to run hot and cold lines to your sink. Then you will need him to run a drain line out to your sewer. Those things alone cost a few thousand where I live. Oh, and you also need to buy the sink, faucet and garbage disposal.

You will need a permit.

You will need a contractor to build the base of the kitchen. Lumber or block for framing plus whatever material you plan to use to cover it to coordinate with your house and backyard. ie. stucco, siding, stone etc.

A granite company to supply and install the granite, or a tile installer to tile the counter and backsplash area.

The equipment. A quality grill costs at least $1,200. The hood can cost up to $3,000 depending upon where you need it to vent to.

The gas company (if you are using one) to come out, bury or install a tank, and run the appropriate lines to the grill area.

An electrician will need to run electrical lines for your outlets, and install lighting if it is in your plans.

If you hire a licensed contractor, you can avoid needing to know all of this and dealing with the hassle of hiring subcontractors, scheduling them, and making sure you have all of the appropriate inspections done.

What else can I do to make my back yard unique?

Some other great ideas you can get creative with adding to your area are:

fire pit, a pergola, a tv. and some nice outdoor furniture.

Just remember to make sure all of the materials you choose are durable and weatherproof.


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    • andrebreynolds profile image


      7 years ago

      Fantastic outdoor kitchens! Thanks for sharing.

    • Flooring Guru profile image

      Flooring Guru 

      9 years ago

      The bar in the first picture is beautiful. I really love the stained concrete counter top.

    • profile image

      Jewel Alexander 

      9 years ago

      The last photo of a modular set includes a sink unit with a wood counter which is exactly what I am looking for when I googled, but you don't say where to get it!! I need one for a birthday present. Where can I get one of those?

    • victor6789 profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      BBQs and Outdoor kitchens are very famous in Australia.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      9 years ago from NW Indiana

      This is why I have to get away from COLD WEATHER! I want my kitchen outside and it iss no good in Chicagoland for about 1/2 the year. This was a fun sharing and interesting info.


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