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Summer in the backyard means hanging out with family and friends, sitting around the outdoor kitchen bar/ BBQ island, chatting with your backyard gourmet chef who is cooking enough food for an army.

Creating an outdoor kitchen island is not an after-thought to your landscape plan. It needs to be well integrated into the overall design for your space. Here are eight steps for creating a successful outdoor kitchen:

  1. Plan ahead: List what you want to incorporate in the island. Think about amount of serving space, seating for the bar area, size of grill, side burner needs, sink, storage needs, outlets for plug in appliances, and so on.
  2. More heads are better than one: Enlist the help of your entire family, your landscape architect, your appliance vendor and your builder. They each have expertise that will help you decide details you may not have considered. For example, your landscape architect will help with local zoning, layout, sizing and flow, and your appliance vendor will help you select the perfect appliances for your needs.
  3. Design with style: Create an island that blends seamlessly with the architectural style of your home and flows with the natural beauty of your surroundings. For example, if your home has Craftsman style details on the exterior, bring some of those same details into the island area. It will look like it was professionally planned as one unit.
  4. Size matters: Make sure your island is in scale with the rest of the landscape surrounding your home. If you have a small backyard, keep the island compact and functional. With larger yard spaces, feel free to spread out and create the various cooking, serving and seating zones you want.
  5. Zone it out: When laying out the island, create hot zones and cold zones. The cold zone may be the area for the mini-fridge and sink, and it should be easily accessible to the outdoor patio/play areas. Keep hot cooking zones away from the major traffic areas.
  6. The sun and the moon: To get maximum use out of your kitchen island, create a shade structure over the entire kitchen area for relief from the hot sun. Also, add enough lighting for night time; you need lighting for tasks, to create ambiance and to highlight the beautiful architectural details of the space.
  7. Less is more: It would be fun to have a pizza oven, built-in blender, warming drawers, disposal, ice maker and more. Almost anything available for an indoor kitchen can be had outdoors. Think about what you will use the most frequently as well as a few bells and whistles, too.
  8. It’s more than a grill: Outdoor kitchens are the new outdoor family rooms. They often become the focal point of the backyard since everyone loves to hang out near the food and drinks. It will not only become a place for the entire family to enjoy and create lots of wonderful food, but it will also be a space to create long lasting memories.
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