Building Outdoor Kitchens: Design & Installation Tips

On the previous Building Outdoor Kitchens page you learned about the latest craze in home remodeling and about making all the fun choices regarding your great outdoor kitchen: countertops, barbeque, furniture and additional luxuries.

This page will cover the often overlooked "nuts and bolts" of planning to help you create the perfect outdoor kitchen for everyday entertaining.

Have a QUESTION about building an outdoor kitchen? Click here for helpful answers.


outdoor kitchen picture photo

Convenience. Of course, the main reason for building outdoor kitchens is to relieve you of all the shuttling back and forth from your kitchen inside. Nonetheless, you'll want to locate your outdoor kitchen as close as possible to the indoor kitchen for overall convenience.

Also, when building outdoor kitchens keep in mind things like:

  • Electricity
  • Water / Sewer
  • Natural Gas

The closer your outdoor kitchen is to your house, the easier it will be to hook up to these utilities (more on this below).

Sun and Rain exposure is an important consideration. Certainly you'll want some protection from the rain so grilling can continue even if the party must move indoors.

The shelter, whether a large enclosure with a roof, a pergola or an area umbrella should allow for quick venting of smoke off the grill.

In northern areas you may want to maximize sun exposure, while southern backyard kitchens should provide shade either by location or the addition of a pergola or large umbrella.

Wind is another reason to stay close to the house. You don't want to be so close that smoke from the grill is easily blown around seating areas, but taking advantage of walls and fences will make grilling more pleasant.

Of course, fencing, trees, shrubs and planters can be added for greater protection.


Easy access to the house and protection from the elements will keep your guests in a good mood as will all the chic and cozy furniture you have picked out. . .

But before you empty your wallet on that imported teak dining set with bar stools. . . take a look at the space you have available and decide how it's going to "flow."

Learn more helpful tips about planning and designing yard projects to complement your outdoor kitchen at

In order for the cook and all your guests to enjoy the outdoor entertaining experience, it's important to make sure your outdoor kitchen design "measures up" and everyone has enough room to sit and move about.

You'll need:

  • 32-36 inches for the height of your countertop and at least ...
    24 inches deep
  • 36 inches of work space is needed around the grill and burners
  • 18-24 inches of workspace around the sink
  • 36-42 inches clearance around seating areas is necessary to allow for people to get in and out of chairs and walk around
  • 24 inches of counter space/elbow room per bar stool is a good rule with ...
  • 15 inches of horizontal legroom under the bar.

Utilities & Permits

If you’re not building a new home, chances are your outdoor kitchen plan will require installation of water, electric and possibly gas supply to your cooking area.

Water supply to the sink will need to be installed so it can drain in winter to prevent freeze damage and building codes will probably require the sink drain be connected to the main house drain.


You’ll need to hire an electrician to install GFCI outlets above the countertop and for your lighting. If your outdoor kitchen plan calls for cooking with natural gas vs. propane then you’ll need a plumber to run an underground gas line.

Permits. Of course, everything should be mapped out in advance especially since building permits will be required. And although some aspects of building outdoor kitchens can be handled by the competent do-it-yourselfer, the complete project involves extensive and specialized installations that are best left to professionals.

back to Outdoor Kitchen Design--page 1

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