Outdoor Kitchens

Rustic Outdoor Kitchen and bar

Outdoor kitchens and barbecues not only make entertaining guests and family easy and fun, but they also add value and beauty to your backyard. It’s a great way to bring the family together and spend less time in front of the TV and more time outside instead.

Outdoor kitchens can range from a simple prefabricated grilling island with a countertop, to a large full-service kitchen with a refrigerator, sink, cabinets and storage, grills with side burners and griddles, a pizza oven, or even a cocktail station (see our gallery for examples).

Additionally, there are multiple methods of construction for these outdoor living spaces: outdoor kitchen kits and custom built-in outdoor kitchens. A brief comparison of these different types of outdoor kitchens can help you make an informed decision regarding the type that best completes your backyard oasis.

Custom Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchens are a great way to extend your entertaining space. With a fully functional kitchen outdoors, you keep your guests outside longer, making the most of your outdoor space.

A custom outdoor kitchen can be built in any size, shape, color or materials. Custom kitchens can be built to meet the demands of the homeowners. Fully customizable kitchens are ideal if you’re looking to pick and choose the appliances you want, while also matching it to the decor of your space.

Take full advantage of the customizability by adding features such as a pizza oven, smoker or wine cooler. The combinations are endless!

Built-in outdoor kitchens are the most advanced form of outdoor kitchens and are built on-site by a professional landscape company. Built-in outdoor kitchens can use materials that match existing patios or can be incorporated into a larger landscape design, involving your whole landscape better than a kit or modular kitchen often can.

While built-in outdoor kitchens may use some “modular” forms, they are not nearly as limited in size as modular outdoor kitchens and can add more custom features, such as a wet bar beside a pool, nighttime lighting, or built-in pergolas and other forms of shade structure that don’t typically come with pre-fabricated kitchens.

Full-sized, custom outdoor kitchens have a wide variability in cost, typically ranging anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000+ depending on the size and materials used.

Prefabricated Outdoor Kitchens

Kitchen kits are prefabricated kitchen islands that normally have a grill and some counter space, but can also include add-ons like storage or a freezer that make an outdoor kitchen kit a significant upgrade over a basic outdoor grill.  These kits are the most economical outdoor kitchen option, and can typically range from around $3,000 to over $10,000.

Many manufacturers allow you to choose from a few grill options, tile colors for the countertop, as well as the materials for the base of the island itself. Most companies will have additional charges for higher quality granite countertops and stone or brick veneer on the base of the kitchen island, rather than the more typical tile and stucco finishes that often come standard.

Remember: any utilities like gas or water hookups need to be installed for each type of outdoor kitchen, including these kitchen kits.

Questions before Choosing an Outdoor Kitchen Type

How often will you use your outdoor kitchen?

Are you planning cooking outside several times a week? Are you only interested in grilling a couple times a month or less? If you are planning to cook outside often, it makes more sense to invest in a modular or build-in outdoor kitchen that can accommodate your needs.

How many different types of cooking activities to you plan to pursue?

Most outdoor kitchens involve grilling and if that’s the only real need in an outdoor kitchen, a basic outdoor kitchen kit will serve your needs well. The more types of cooking and grilling you pursue, the more likely you will want to invest in a modular or built-in outdoor kitchen.

Where will your family & friends be eating the food?

If you plan on regularly having family and guests dine at your outdoor kitchen, a larger counter with bar stools may be necessary. Most kits and modular outdoor kitchen islands have limited seating around the kitchen itself. If you have additional seating in a patio nearby, maybe that’s all you need. But if you want your guests to gather around the kitchen to socialize, a built-in kitchen with a large bar counter will be a must.

What investment makes sense for your current home?

Consider the total cost of an outdoor kitchen compared to your home value before beginning your project. The value of your home will increase with great landscaping and an outdoor kitchen, but you might not get a great return on your investment if you decide to spring for a $60,000+ built-in kitchen for a relatively modest home.

How long do you plan to own your home?

If you’re intending to move within a few years, a kitchen kit will probably be adequate for your needs short-term. However, if you’ve found your dream home and intend to settle in for the long haul, a larger investment is justified. After all, you want to enjoy your backyard for many years to come, and what better way than with a great built-in outdoor kitchen!

If you’re looking to be inspired by the possibilities for a great outdoor kitchen for your Southern California home, please check out pictures of outdoor kitchens on our website. Our experienced designers can help you create a great outdoor kitchen that matches both your needs and your budget.