Home Design: 5 Delicious Ideas for Designing an Outdoor Kitchen

Fred Wilson, AIA

Fred Wilson, AIA
Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson

May 18, 2016 - 5 min read


Home Design:  5 Delicious Ideas for Designing an Outdoor Kitchen

Nearly everyone loves the idea of cooking, eating, and entertaining outside. At Morgante Wilson, our clients are no exception. Whether building dream homes on Chicago’s North Shore or vacation homes in Wisconsin or Michigan, most of our clients express an interest in having some sort of outdoor kitchen. No longer luxuries just for the lucky few, it’s becoming easier than ever to create outdoor kitchen space no matter where you live. Here are a few things to think about as you plan your own outdoor kitchen:

1. Remember, the point is to cook outdoors

Not every outdoor kitchen has to be professional grade. No matter your budget – or even the size of your property – you can almost always incorporate an outdoor grill area, at a minimum. Position a small table nearby to stand in as counter space so you can set down marinades and a beer; later, it can double as a surface for serving.

3. Balance the needs of the cook with the guests

It’s a delicate dance to create an outdoor kitchen that keeps the cook connected with the action. You want them to be close enough so everyone can enjoy the party together. Yet you never want to surround your guests with smoke from the grill. That’s why we like to place a dining table about fifteen feet from the grill. It’s also why we like to go a step further and incorporate a small hang-out are closer to the grill. It prevents the grill master from feeling isolated and ensures a spot where one or two people can keep him or her (okay, we know: it’s usually him!) company, without making the whole crowd suffer in smoke.

4. Outdoor kitchens are not the same as indoor kitchens

There are definite differences between indoor and outdoor kitchens. For one thing, outdoor kitchens forgo the traditional work triangle, and are typically arranged either in an L-shape, or as a galley space. In general, equipment clusters on just one side. Outdoor kitchens are more about al fresco cooking than they are about traffic patterns. One long run of equipment is usually sufficient to prepare a great meal – especially if you incorporate some of the newer, incredibly sophisticated appliances that are available for outdoor use nowadays. Add a few stainless steel cabinets and drawers to the mix so you can clean your outdoor kitchen with a garden hose. How easy is that?

5. Finally, make your outdoor kitchen look like it belongs

This is fairly easy to do, especially if you’re working with a design professional attuned to the importance of tying indoor and outdoor spaces together. Build low walls to define the space (and provide extra seating) from the same brick or stone that’s on the exterior of your house. Pave the cooking area with the same brick or stone that lines walkways and terraces. The key is to incorporate some of the same materials so your outdoor kitchen looks like an extension of your house, not an afterthought.

As you cook up plans for an outdoor kitchen of your own, we invite you to check out our website (link to MWA residential projects page) for plenty of inspiration. The team at Morgante Wilson Architects is well-seasoned when it comes to outdoor living spaces of all kinds. Call us to learn more!

Fred Wilson, AIA

Fred Wilson, AIA

Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson