Firing up the grill for a summer BBQ, sunset cocktails with friends, and making homemade pizzas with the family are all activities that make outdoor kitchens a highly desirable space. Not only do they physically extend the living space into the great outdoors, but they also create the opportunity for endless entertainment.

U-Shaped Outdoor Kitchen

This stunning U-shaped outdoor kitchen design is perfect for outdoor entertaining. Photo: Steven Paul Whitsitt Photography

Although building an outdoor kitchen is an exciting endeavor, it is important to start at the ground level before getting caught up in the finer design details. This is done by first determining the best layout for your outdoor kitchen. When selecting an outdoor kitchen floor plan, there are a number of factors to take into consideration, such as location, available space, kitchen necessities, functionality and aesthetics.

There are a variety of outdoor kitchen layouts to choose from including L-shaped, U-shaped, and kitchens with islands. Consider all of these layouts and how they work with your home in order to determine the ideal layout for your outdoor kitchen.

First Steps: Consider the Space

Before selecting a layout, it is helpful to think about how you envision your outdoor kitchen. Is it an elaborate setting equipped to entertain large parties or is it a discrete space that subtly nestles into its existing surroundings?

Next, consider the space where you want to build the kitchen. Rooftop outdoor kitchens will have significantly different space requirements than the indoor/outdoor “California room”. Additionally, consider how much space you have available and if you will need easy access to your indoor kitchen? Also, keep in mind the grill location and how to divert smoke from your entertaining area or indoors.

Must-Have Features

After you know the available square footage, make a list of your outdoor kitchen essentials. It is a good idea to make this list in order of importance in case you run out of room within your design. Consider a grill, mini fridge, wine chiller, sink, bar, countertops, pizza oven, cabinetry, serving space, furniture and more.

It is often helpful to think about this as a process. Imagine yourself cooking in the outdoor kitchen. What do you want to make? Where will you prep the food? How will it be cooked? How will you clean up afterward? Where will the food be served to guests?

This process will help you decide on your must-have outdoor kitchen items. After your kitchen location and necessities have been determined, you can begin selecting the ideal layout for your unique needs.

COMMON OUTDOOR KITCHEN LAYOUTS

L-Shaped Outdoor Kitchen Layouts

The L-shaped outdoor kitchen is a very popular layout for outdoor spaces because it can easily mold to your existing backyard and is scalable both in terms of size and cost. If you have a smaller space, an L-shaped kitchen can subtly fit into a corner without obscuring the functionality of the backyard or taking up the entire rooftop.

Additionally, L-shaped floor plans can seamlessly extend off of existing walls for a natural flow. Due to their scalable nature, L-shaped designs can be designed to fit different budgets.

However, L-shaped kitchens can be extended, accommodating a variety of appliances and features for a top-of-the-line outdoor kitchen. In addition, they are great for blending the entertaining and cooking areas.

U-Shaped Outdoor Kitchen Layouts

A U-shaped outdoor kitchen is a wonderful layout to consider if you are looking to create a space that functions similarly to an indoor kitchen. U-shaped designs work well as freestanding kitchens and provide plenty of space for everything on your kitchen wish list.

As U-shaped layouts are three sided, they can accommodate the maximum amount of appliances, cabinetry, and serving space. U-shaped kitchens are regularly built under a covering, contributing to the full kitchen effect.

Island Kitchens

Island kitchens are extremely versatile because islands can either stand alone as small outdoor kitchens, or can be incorporated into another layout for additional space. When alone, an island kitchen is the smallest and simplest outdoor kitchen floor plan. Island outdoor kitchens generally group the grill and appliances in one central unit. Despite the often smaller size of island kitchens, they can still feature the best appliances and amenities including a fridge or wine cooler. The island outdoor kitchen layout is a great option for urban homes with limited space.

Additionally, islands do not have to function as stand-alone kitchens. Islands can be added to other layouts to create even more room. An outdoor kitchen with an island makes room for more appliances, storage, and serving areas. These islands are great options for those who want to create more of an open concept than the traditional U-shaped floor plan.

Whether you have an expansive outdoor area or a smaller space, there are multiple layouts that can accommodate your needs. After considering your space and your kitchen must-haves, you can select the right floor plan for your ideal outdoor kitchen oasis.