Outdoor Kitchen Layout Ideas

Southern Californians tend to spend much more time outside which is why outdoor kitchens happen to be more popular in this area. A true outdoor kitchen is not just picking a grill and refrigerator, it requires proper design for functionality, durability, and, of course, increased enjoyment. These outdoor kitchen layout ideas will guide you through the key factors to consider when designing the outdoor kitchen of your dreams -within budget, of course!

Outdoor Kitchen Layout Ideas
Outdoor Kitchen Layout Ideas

Outdoor Kitchen Success Basics

Outdoor Kitchen Layout

Have you ever heard of the term, “workspace triangle”? This is a term most professionals use when designing a kitchen, be it indoor or outdoor. The workspace triangle says that the refrigerator, grill/cooktop, and sink should be the three points of a triangle so that the cook does not need to move that far to create a meal. Each point should also have it’s own work surface where prep work can be done. This is called the landing element. Proper dimensions are important to optimizing an outdoor kitchen layout. Check out these suggestions:

  • The oven or grill of a kitchen should have approximately 12” of workspace on one side while the other should have about 24”.
  • Stove tops require about 12” on both sides.
  • 18” of workspace should be put on both sides of a sink.
  • Food preparation workspace should be approximately 36”w x 24”d.
  • For a 10-foot kitchen, there should be a minimum of 21” of linear storage space.

When creating and designing your outdoor kitchen, make sure it compliments the indoor kitchen. Ensure that the two compliment each other in design and materials. If you plan on having your outdoor and indoor kitchen working together, you’ll need to place them close together so that dishes and foods can be passed between the two easily. This can be easily done by placing sliding doors or very large windows between the two kitchens.

Materials – Quality Counts

Even living in Southern California, it is important to take into consideration the elements and how they can affect the materials you use. Choosing the highest grade materials for your outdoor kitchen is the best way to ensure your kitchen can handle every day wear and tear.


When choosing materials for your outdoor kitchen cabinets, consider going with either a marine-grade plywood or marine-grade polymer sheet. The marine-grade plywood is the same material used on boats, so it can withstand the elements. However, polymer is probably the better choice because, unlike wood, it doesn’t swell or rot when it becomes wet. Choose a thick polymer sheet and limit the amount of hardware.


Although stone requires treatment and maintenance, it is a good choice for outdoor countertops. Stainless steel is also a good option as both of these are durable and able to withstand the elements.

Stainless Steel

When choosing stainless steel, look at #304 stainless steel as it is the most rust resistant type. Stainless steel is graded for how much chromium and nickel it contains and #304 contains the highest levels of both in one grade. When selecting appliances for your outdoor kitchen design, be sure to check exactly where the #304 stainless steel is used. Many manufacturers only use this grade on the lid, you want it on the body as well.

You will need to treat and clean your outdoor kitchen #304 appliances and countertops as they do occasionally get surface rust. However, if you happen to be lucky enough to live in an oceanfront home, be sure to place your grill in an area where it can be easily replaced. Due to living close to the ocean, the elements can be a bit more harsh on grills, so they will need to be replaced more often.


When choosing a sink, consider either stainless steel or enamel. These are great materials to use in your outdoor kitchen design. When you are looking at sinks, consider getting a sink that will be able to fit the dishes you will use for entertaining.


Outdoor kitchen flooring you want to avoid anything that will be too slippery. This will include glazed or porous tiles. Consider flooring materials like concrete, natural stone, and even brick. Although you may disregard ceramic, it does come in a variety of finishes that will make it slip resistant. Concrete floors in outdoor kitchens seems to be the most common flooring, however, it doesn’t have to be a boring, plain, concrete floor. Concrete flooring can be stamped and comes in many colors so that you can have a unique and interesting outdoor kitchen floor.

Outdoor Kitchen Layout Ideas - Flooring
Outdoor Kitchen Layout Ideas - Flooring

Protecting Your Outdoor Kitchen

Although rain in Southern California doesn’t happen often, it does happen. And since it does happen you’ll want to make sure that your outdoor kitchen investment is protected. Pergolas, screens, and simple roofs can protect your kitchen from the elements. Sun and precipitation are the main concerns. A misting system can be added to thatched roofs or arbors to keep you cool when you are in the full sun of the day.

When deciding on how you plan to protect your outdoor kitchen, keep in mind that your grill will give off smoke, so you don’t want to completely seal in the area. Also keep in mind that with a full roof, you’ll be able to safely install entertainment systems like a television and speakers.

Outdoor Kitchen Design Types

At the beginning of this article we spoke about the importance of a kitchen’s layout. We’ll list here the different types of layouts, you choose one that will work well with your area.

Outdoor Kitchen Island Layout

Building an outdoor kitchen island layout may not sound typical to you, but it is one of the most common layouts. It allows guests to hang around one specific area while eating, drinking, and still interacting with the host while they are cooking.

Outdoor Straight Line Kitchen Layout

Perfect for a smaller area, this layout is just as it is named. The appliances and countertops are placed in a straight line against the wall of the home. When choosing this design, ensure that you are protecting the siding of the home with the proper materials.

Outdoor U-Shaped Kitchen Layout

This layout works best with a larger area. The appliances and countertops are placed in a u-shape. This layout resembles most indoor kitchens and gives the most pace to entertain your guests.

Outdoor Kitchen Extras

Now that we are done with the basics of outdoor kitchen design, let’s have some fun. You’ve got the sink, grill, refrigerator, and countertops figured out. Let’s take a look at a few extras you can add in to take your outdoor entertaining to another level.

  • Beverage chiller
  • Fireplace or fire pit
  • Pizza oven
  • Entertainment system (television, sound system, etc)
  • Built in smoker
  • Direct Draw System (Kegerator)

Outdoor Kitchen Cleaning And Maintenance

Stainless Steel

Always use a cutting board when cutting food on a stainless steel countertop. This will prevent any unnecessary scratches. Avoid leaving anything metal on the stainless steel, such as cans, implements, and cookware. Also avoid putting hot items on the stainless steel as this could cause stains.

Clean stainless steel with soapy water, going along the grain. Dry to avoid mineral buildup. Remove fingerprints with glass cleaner.

Outdoor Kitchen Layout Ideas - Stainless Steel
Outdoor Kitchen Layout Ideas - Stainless Steel

Granite or Stone

Stone surfaces require regular sealing to help resist stains. If something spills on the natural stone it should be cleaned up immediately.

Gently wipe your stone or granite with soapy water and dry. Do not use caustic cleaners as they will ruin the finish and cause damage to your countertops.

Let The Outdoor Entertainment Begin!

It is exciting to begin planning your outdoor kitchen design, however it does require quite a bit of planning. This kitchen design guide should help you get started on the planning process, but as always, your local contractor will point you in the right direction, our team in Southern California can help consult on ideas and possibilities.