Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

Category: Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchen Designs & Options

Building an Outdoor Kitchen: Appliances, Materials, and More

By Patti Plummer

Viking Range LLC outdoor kitchen grill courtyard string lightsMany homeowners believe in utilizing every inch of their backyard space to create the perfect backyard retreat. They include swimming pools and spas, hot tubs, outdoor living rooms, and more often than ever, outdoor kitchens.

From simple grilling stations to fully-equipped setups that include everything from grills, rotisseries, and pizza ovens to refrigerators, beverage chillers, and ice machines, today’s outdoor kitchens can have it all.

Ready to build your own outdoor café? Before contacting a landscape architect or outdoor kitchen expert, make your wish list. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Photo courtesy of Viking Outdoor Products

Material Options

Outdoor kitchen appliances, cabinets, and countertops continue to grow in sophistication and specialization. The majority of homeowners opt for a simple outdoor kitchen consisting of a grill and a sideburner, but others want all of the bells and whistles including a sink, dishwasher, smokers and flattop grills, granite countertops, all-tile backsplashes, and travertine flooring.

Most outdoor kitchen appliances are stainless steel while countertops and backsplashes are made of natural stone, tile, or concrete. A few of the more popular cabinet materials are heavy-gauge stainless steel, solid marine-grade polymer, teak, cedar, and powder-coated metal made to appear like real wood. By working with a professional outdoor kitchen designer, however, you can transform your wish list into a reality that is in sync with your property.

EP Henry outdoor kitchen grill food fridgeStainless Steal Appliances

The most requested types of appliances are those made of stainless steel because they are durable enough to handle changes in the weather and can hold up to high usage. If your home’s style is more on the rustic side, consider featuring a natural stone or composite façade to add a cozy charm to your setup.

Photo courtesy of EP Henry; Photo by Jay Greene Photography

Carefree Pools thatched roof umbrella outdoor kitchen grillThatched Roof

Many outdoor kitchens are open to the elements, so the addition of a shade product is not only an aesthetic choice but also a practical one. Enjoying a refreshing beverage after hours of fun in the pool can be enhanced by relaxing under the cool shade provided by an umbrella—besides, the chef will welcome a reprieve from the hot sun too! For a tropical theme, consider a thatched roof.

Photo courtesy of Carefree Pools and Spas, San Luis Obispo, Calif

Baker Pools outdoor kitchen breakfast bar grillDining Bar

Besides working as a dining area, outdoor bars can also double as more counter space and be a stylish divider between the kitchen and other parts of the patio. Consider outdoor bar stools for seating. The most common materials include hardwoods like teak, jarrah, and shorea, as well as plastics/acrylics and wrought iron. If the seats are cushioned or covered with fabric, select a cloth that is made for outdoors, like Sunbrella®.

Baker Pools outdoor kitchen bar grill pool
Above and right:
This stunning outdoor kitchen features a barbecue grill, side burners, sink, and refrigerator. The cozy bar is perfect for causal dining and sipping a drink after a dip in the pool. Hanging planters and beautiful landscaping complete this outdoor retreat.

Photo courtesy of Baker Pools, LLC, Jenks, Okla.

Cipriano outdoor kitchen grill ventilation system Ventilation Systems

Nothing beats the wonderful aromas of steaks on the barbecue, but when the wind blows from the wrong direction bringing with it clouds of smoke, your well-planned ambiance can be destroyed in an instant.

By including a ventilation system to keep the surrounding outdoor space fume-free during heavy-duty grilling sessions—especially in outdoor kitchens covered by a roof—you can almost guarantee everyone will enjoy their dining experience a little more.

Photo courtesy of Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools & Landscaping, Mahwah, N.J.

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Homeowners Design the Perfect Backyard Retreat >>

Homeowners Design a Perfect Backyard Retreat


Johnston pool hot tub backyard
Homeowners Duane and Lisa Johnston of Anmore, British Columbia, Canada, wanted to create a backyard haven to enjoy with their two children. They designed, planned, and completed much of the work themselves, along with the help of a great team of people. The result? Not only did they get a summer oasis where their family can enjoy daily dips in the pool, but also a hot tub and outdoor kitchen they can use year-round.


We spoke with homeowner Lisa Johnston to learn how their amazing backyard project was completed.



Why did you want a pool, hot tub, and outdoor kitchen?


Since purchasing our home in February 2005, it was always our dream that 5 or 6 years down the road, when the children were older, we’d look into putting in an inground pool. Because our home sits on an acre, we’re fortunate to be able to incorporate a pool/spa/entertaining area while still having plenty of open lawn where the children can run and play. We look forward to our boys using this space as a hub where they can hang out with their friends as they get older. My husband and I also love entertaining.

Johnston pool deck jets bar
What materials were used for this project?


The concrete decking surrounding the pool was part of the original plan. We knew we wanted something plain (not too busy), and that the concrete had to come right to the edge of the pool in a cantilevered style. The outdoor kitchen countertop is granite, and the outside stone is West Coast ledger stone. The inside of the kitchen and backsplash is finished with slate tiles. 

What was your budget for this project?


The total planned budget was $150,000, and we went about $10,000 over. The costs were $50,000 for the pool, $50,000 for the outdoor kitchen, $30,000 for the concrete decking, $25,000 for landscaping, and $5,000 for the hot tub.


How long did the project take?

The entire project took about 9 months. The pool/hot tub were completed and ready for use by the end of June 2011.

Johnston pool constructionLead us through the planning/construction process.

Duane and I had a vision of what we wanted for the backyard and planned out the design. John Port at Parkview Landscaping, Ltd., truly captured our vision, added to it, and made the final look better than we could have imagined.  

The pool was dug in October 2010 and left to settle over the winter. There were a number of issues with the original pool contractor, so in February 2011 he was let go. Duane then took on much of the labor himself and hired separate contractors to assist in finishing the pool. Pedron Contracting, Ltd. poured the concrete for the pool bottom and surrounding deck. We marked out a diamond pattern in the decking and hired a company to cut it.

Johnston pool deck lounge area
Duane prepped the inside of the pool after the concrete was poured and installed all the plumbing and equipment in the pool house as well. He also taped the joints, hung the pool liner, and installed pool lights, valves, drain covers, an auto-fill, diving board, and even the deck jets, which are fun water features that shoot arcs of water over the pool.


Bentley Power Solutions completed the bonding of the pool and all electrical for the pool, equipment room, hot tub, outdoor kitchen, and outdoor lighting. Arjay Mechanical installed the gas lines for the pool, outdoor heater, barbecue, and built-in firepit. 

How was the fire feature installed?

The firepit was purchased as a unit; it has lava rocks on the bottom, ceramic logs, and is gas fed (so we can turn it on/off with a single switch). We advised our landscaper of the preferred placement, hired the gas fitter to bring a line to it, and had the landscaper design the retaining wall around it. It’s a great feature to use at night.


Johnston grill outdoor kitchen poolWhat’s included in your outdoor kitchen?

We purchased all the appliances first, and then contracted Dreamline Construction to construct the kitchen around them. The kitchen has a microwave, double gas burner, gas grill/smoker/rotisserie, deep fryer, beverage station, mini-fridge and ice maker, sink, dishwasher, overhead gas heater, and plenty of storage and counter space complete with a 55-inch weatherproof TV.


We already had a popcorn and slurpee machine, but added a hot dog hut to complete the ensemble. These three items, along with the deep fryer, were by far the favorites amongst not only our children, but all our guests throughout the summer. We used them on a daily basis. Having the raised bar area and bar stools makes this a great place to hang out and converse
with the cook.
Johnston outdoor kitchen overlooking pool

How often do you use the pool and other features?


We swam in the pool almost every day during the summer. The pool is now closed for the winter, but we’ll continue to use the hot tub year-round. The hot tub is separate from the pool so we’re able to keep it heated with the cover on, removing it only when in use. It’s also close proximity to the house, which we’ll appreciate during chilly whether.


The outdoor kitchen is completely shaded by the balcony above, so we can be cooking outdoors rain or shine. We plan to use the kitchen year-round.


John Port of Parkview Landscaping, Ltd., designed and completed the landscaping based on the Johnstons’ vision.

Pedron Contracting, Ltd., poured the pool bottom and concrete decking.

Bentley Power Solutions installed all the electrical.

Arjay Mechanical installed all gas lines.

Midland Appliances Ltd., supplied appliances for the kitchen.

The pool liner was purchased through Ideal Distributors in Surrey, BC. Two of their employees, Karsten Petersen and Sara Stanbury helped Duane gather the miscellaneous supplies necessary for him to hook up the pool and the deck jets. Ideal also supplied the salt and chemicals for start-up of the pool.

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