Often described as the heart of the home, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in any house or apartment. It's where families gather to prepare meals, entertain guests, and enjoy each other’s company.
What's better than one kitchen?
More specifically, another kitchen that’s outdoors.
A great way to extend living and entertaining space outside, modern outdoor kitchens provide a unique area for you to cook, grill, and most importantly, relax.
What modern outdoor kitchen ideas are worth your while?
We have a few ideas.
A Quick Look at Outdoor Kitchens
A growing trend from the beginning of this decade, the modern outdoor kitchen is becoming a staple of the home.
To be sure, the outdoor kitchens we're referring to aren’t glorified outdoor grilling areas (think: a grill with a few lawn chairs around it). Rather, they're a fully functional cooking space that brings many of the amenities of the great indoors outside. In addition to ample food preparation space and equipment, as well as a dining area, modern outdoor kitchens feature comfortable areas to congregate and relax.
What's more, contemporary outdoor kitchens take enjoying being outside to new levels — it's not uncommon to find outdoor kitchen spaces boasting some of the latest home entertainment technology.
9 Outdoor Kitchen Design Trends & Ideas
Essentially an extension of the inside of a home, the outdoor kitchen is a great way to add value and create an inviting atmosphere to any home.
Looking to this year's warmer months when contemporary outdoor kitchens see the most use, here are nine outdoor cooking space ideas and trends to consider incorporating into yours:
- Modular design
- Multifunctional spaces
- Defined areas
- Pizza ovens
- Appliances & fixtures
- Sustainable & durable materials
1. Modular Design
or as much as an outdoor kitchen can be a permanent fixture in a home, its layout can be subject to change.
Modular designs are becoming the go-to choice for many outdoor kitchens because they make it easy to reconfigure and upgrade the space. Don't like how the space flows? Is the kitchen's island not in the right spot? Or maybe you're looking for more definition between the outdoor dining area and the cooking area? Changing things up isn't a problem.
In essence, modular design allows for on-demand customization as frequently as needed.
2. Multifunctional Spaces
The kitchen inside a home is rarely used for just cooking. In most homes, it’s a place where families spend time or where kids do their homework.
The same applies to outdoor kitchens – they shouldn’t be used just for cooking or entertaining but provide a space for many different activities. For example, adding bar stools around an outdoor grill gives people the option to sit and enjoy drinks and snacks while grilling.
Similarly, a firepit or fireplace can provide an atmosphere of warmth and welcome. A large patio dining table with comfortable chairs creates a space for family dinners and gatherings.
3. Defined Areas
As a space that's supposed to be as functional as it is an escape, the last thing anyone wants is for their outdoor kitchen to feel discombobulated and uncomfortable.
Defined areas are a growing trend in outdoor kitchen design because they create a cohesive and organized space.
Outdoor cooking spaces can be large, but defining areas makes them more accessible and inviting, yet functional and practical. They can also create a sense of privacy, making outdoor cooking and dining experiences more intimate and enjoyable — when you're having a conversation with friends in a seating area, you won't feel in the way of the person grilling.
4. Pizza Ovens
One of the latest trends in outdoor kitchen design this year is the inclusion of pizza ovens.
It's hard to argue with this trend.
First and foremost, they allow outdoor enthusiasts to create high-quality, delicious, and authentic wood-fired pizza in the comfort of their own backyard. Secondly, cooking Neapolitan-style pizzas happens at extremely high temperatures (in ovens reaching 900℉), something that's not well suited for indoors.
Pizza ovens come in a wide variety of styles and sizes, making them a versatile addition to any outdoor kitchen design. They can be built into an outdoor countertop, standalone, or even portable.
5. Appliances & Fixtures
Just like indoors, an outdoor kitchen is nothing without its appliances and fixtures.
More outdoor kitchen owners are looking for appliances that stand out without being seen. Hidden hinge refrigerators, grills, and other smaller appliances can be installed so they blend in seamlessly with cabinetry and countertops around them. To the untrained eye, it's like they're not even there. This helps maintain the outdoor kitchen's aesthetic while adding to its functionality.
Beyond aesthetics, there are a number of appliances and fixtures that have become must-haves for any outdoor kitchen:
What’s the #1 thing that ruins an outdoor kitchen's sense of peace and relaxation?
With ample storage, you'll have a place for everything and create an inviting atmosphere that encourages people to gather and stay awhile. Additionally, having ample storage can help protect your backyard kitchen from the elements, ensuring that all of your items remain in good condition throughout the year.
This one speaks for itself.
What better way to unwind than by a fire?
Adding warmth, ambiance, and relaxation to outdoor spaces, fire pits are an absolute must for any outdoor kitchen. And thanks to modern technology and design, they can blend into the space's decor.
In addition, they don't have to burn wood, either, eliminating smoke and that smokey smell from coming indoors.
8. Sustainable & Durable Materials Selection
Sustainable materials have become increasingly popular in outdoor kitchen design due to their environmental benefits and unique aesthetic qualities. Homeowners are beginning to prioritize materials that are eco-friendly, long-lasting, and require minimal maintenance. Examples of sustainable outdoor kitchen materials include:
- Countertops made from recycled glass and natural stones
- Composite decking made from recycled plastic and wood fibers
- Bamboo cabinetry
Additionally, homeowners are gravitating towards materials that feature a warm and relaxing color palette to create a cozy and inviting outdoor living space. Popular hues include earthy tones like light browns, tans, and grays, as well as natural materials like stone and wood.
These materials create a backyard oasis that blends seamlessly with nature, providing a calming and tranquil environment to unwind and enjoy with friends and family.
Outdoor kitchen technology has significantly advanced in recent years, providing homeowners with cutting-edge features that enhance the ambiance of their outdoor living space.
Many people choose to install outdoor audio and visual systems to bring home entertainment outside, such as:
- Projectors & screens
Additionally, LED lighting is a popular feature to create an inviting and customizable ambiance, with various colors and settings to choose from. Smart home integration is also becoming increasingly popular, allowing homeowners to control their outdoor technology systems from the convenience of their smartphone or tablet.
Creating the Best Outdoor Kitchen
There's nothing like having a space that's as functional and utilitarian as it is unique and inviting. Modern outdoor kitchen design trends check all these boxes.
By selecting the right design elements and materials, incorporating technology and sustainability, and following safety guidelines, you can design a beautiful outdoor kitchen that's also practical.
Really Set Your Outdoor Kitchen Apart
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in May 2023 and was recently updated.)