As the weather gets warmer, cooking alfresco is so much better than staying cooped up inside your kitchen. Dinner parties get moved to the deck, the barbecue grill gets fired up more and more, and guests naturally gravitate towards balcony doors or backyard chairs to take in the warm, summer air. Upgrade your open-air entertaining with these outdoor kitchen ideas, and turn your backyard, rooftop or balcony into the hottest spot to be this season!
1. Counter Service
Transform your deck into an entertainment hub by opening up a window to your kitchen to create a service bar, or servery, like the above from Three Birds Renovations via Caesarstone. Painting the area white and accenting with teak makes the space feel light, airy and perfect for a late night dinner party.
2. Backyard Built-Ins
If you don't have a large yard that could fit a whole kitchen arbor, you can always improvise with a built-in outdoor nook. This concrete cooking space from Country Living was inspired by a Pinterest photo featuring the work of Dutch designer Piet-Jan van den Kommer, who specializes in using raw, organic materials to create clean, minimalist spaces.
3. Room for Brews
Details make the kitchen. If you love entertaining and plan to throw plenty of outdoor parties, consider installing a two-drawer refrigerator, like this one from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, to neatly house all your choice brews.
4. Under the Stars
For a more mid-century vibe, this kitchen from Sunset was built using aluminum and then offset with redwood slats on the ceiling and on the front panel of the bar. Retro bar chairs and strings of carnival lights give it a whimsical feel.
5. Small Victory
Chef Stephanie Izard's outdoor kitchen—who is the acclaimed Chicago chef behind Girl & the Goat—proves you don't need a ton of square footage to build an impressive outdoor kitchen. The kitchen, from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, uses a classic brick enclosure for the appliances, and the soapstone countertops offer plenty of prep space. The large rustic table in the center, invites guests to sit back and wait for what is sure to be a delicious meal.
6. Mambo Italiano
Inspired by a visit to Italy, this Maine kitchen featured in Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet uses a blend of locally-quarried granite and cedar for a rustic, Tuscan feel.
7. Arbor on Wheels
If you want a spot to entertain your guests in your backyard but don't have a lot of room, try copying The Horticult and make a rolling arbor. You can roll it into place when your shindig is under way, and tuck it back when you need more space in your yard for other things. This one was made with two industrial step ladders that only cost $60: a cheap and eye-catching DIY.
8. Write On
Another charming takeaway from The Horticult's outdoor kitchen space is the black chalkboard paint on the wall above the workstation, where the dinner or drink menu is on display for all diners to see.
9. Heavy Metal
If you have a more modern aesthetic, take a page out of Austin Outdoor Design's book and use chrome accents to create a contemporary prep space.
10. Up and Down
Vertical cedar paneling gives this outdoor kitchen from Mark Szczerbicki Design Studio a modern '70s-like feel.
11. Black Out
For those who enjoy a more contemporary look, New Eco Landscape Design & Build created an outdoor kitchen using cedar with steel outlines for the counters and prep space, offset with an unexpected black floor.
12. On Display
Who said that open shelving should be limited to indoor kitchens? In this indoor-outdoor kitchen in Hawaii, designer Nicole Hollis shows us that those always-chic shelves deserve to soak up the sun as well.
13. Patten Play
Don't underestimate the power of pattern! Hillary Duff's Los Angeles home, spotted in Better Homes & Gardens, proves that an easy way to add personality to your outdoor kitchen is to enlist a graphic pattern by way of outdoor tile.
14. Show & Tell
This kitchen from House Beautiful carries just the right amount of kitsch. Don't be afraid to take some of those beloved antiques or found art pieces, and bring them outside. Here, mixed with a copper countertop, the trinkets feel tasteful and put-together.
15. U Can
If you have the room for a big outdoor kitchen but don't necessarily want to build a separate structure to house it, try arranging it in a u-shaped layout to maximize function and create an attractive nook, like this kitchen from House Beautiful.
16. Devil's in the Details
Bring a touch of elegance to your outdoor kitchen by including the same kind of crown molding you have inside, outside, like Lorraine Vale did.
17. Naturally Inclined
If you like an organic, all-natural design, take a cue from designer Mick De Giulio and use a variety of natural materials and textures. From an island built from Weston Stone to squat wooden bar stools, this earthy design still feels modern and chic.
18. Deck Kitchen
If you don't want to close off your backyard with an added building to house your outdoor kitchen, try carving out the entertainment spot with a mini deck like this one, from Place of My Taste. A brick enclosure houses the appliances, and a patio table accented with an outdoor rug sits neatly next to it.
19. Can-Do DIY
For another rolling arbor DIY, this pallet version from Lowe's is festive, chic and easy to make. The colorful metal chairs add a playful touch to the stained wood facade.
20. Special Occasion
If you have a balcony or a deck but not much space to build cabinetry, try adding standalone shelving like this metal unit, seen on Better Homes & Gardens.
21. Modern Moves
One wouldn't expect unstained pine to be a sought after material for an outdoor kitchen, but Arch Daily proves that the unexpected material makes for a clean and contemporary look.
22. Double Up
If you don't have a lot of space to work with, opt for affordable, compact appliances to create your outdoor kitchen, like The Home Improvements Group did. This nook doubles its prep space as a bar counter, where your guests can grab drinks as you get the appetizers ready.
23. Stone Cold
Natural stone adds a huge dose of personality and interest to a space, especially when paired with colorful Mediterranean tiles. Exhibit A: Tiffany Farha Design's kitchen project above.
24. Ice Cold
If you're a beer connoisseur, indulge your passion for microbrews with a fun built-in countertop cooler, like this Nantucket design in House Beautiful.
25. Bold Moves
Blackman Outdoors proves that colored cabinetry works in a backyard space. By painting these cabinets a dark green, then accenting them with modern silver handles, the design feels fresh and contemporary.
26. Lofty Ideas
If you have a rooftop, consider transforming it into a kitchen nook, like Atlantic Outdoor Living did. Expect summer parties to ensue.
For a more compact living area, try a kitchen enclosure that will tuck away your grill and prep station once you're done using them. This one from Mr. Mitchell uses Ipe wood paneling, which has the same fire rating as concrete, tile and metal, making it a safe and stylish material for a BBQ enclosure.
28. Material Mix
For a more minimalist design, consider blending bluestone tiles with dark wooden cabinets, like Harrisons Landscaping did to create a moody, contemporary look.
29. I Love Lamp
Pulled from the Lonny archives, this all-black outdoor kitchen feels inventive and fresh. Is anyone else loving the table lamp outside? So unexpected.
30. Dog Days
Offering your pooch a plush perch in your outdoor kitchen space is the ultimate luxury. This setup from Veranda's Brentwood showhouse, is clearly pup-approved.