10 Ways to Open a Kitchen to the Outdoors

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The kitchen is often the heart of the home, but in summer it can feel like a bit of a bummer to be cooped up by a hot stove. If you’re considering some updates to your kitchen and live in a climate that’s friendly to outdoor living, consider opening up your kitchen to light, air and outdoor entertaining with glass doors or pass-through windows. See if one of these 10 ideas for opening up the kitchen gets your imagination flowing. 

1. Create a focal point with glass-paned barn doors. Go glamorous with the barn door trend by installing glass-paned barn-style sliding doors across one kitchen wall. The ample expanses of glass will let in light and views, and the doors themselves will provide a beautiful focal point, even after the sun goes down. 

2. Go for sliders. Sliding glass doors and screens that slide into pockets take up no extra space, but have the potential to vastly expand the square footage of a kitchen during nice weather. 

3. Add classic charm with French doors to the garden. The allure of a set of French doors simply cannot be beat. It’s a great choice for traditional homes where sliding glass doors would look out of character. To make the most of your French doors, design a special garden feature (trimmed hedges, a fountain) to line up with the view from inside. 

4. Try folding windows. NanaWall windows fold up, allowing you to completely open up the kitchen windows to let in the breeze and sun. With their minimal frames, they are a good choice for modern and contemporary homes. 

5. Add an outdoor bar. From the outside, folding windows provide an ideal spot to create an outdoor bar with pass-through access to the kitchen. 

Positioning your outdoor bar beneath a wide eave, as shown here, will help provide some cover from the sun. 

6. Add major light to an otherwise dark space. In a kitchen or an open-plan space without windows (such as in a row house), adding light at the end of the room is essential. Here accordion-style glass doors completely fold away at the end of the long kitchen to reveal a garden patio. 

When you see the space from the outside, you can imagine how dark the interior would have been if the end of the kitchen had a solid door. With glass doors, both the kitchen and patio feel more spacious and welcoming. 

7. Open up a galley kitchen. Glass doors at the end of a narrow galley kitchen offer an enticing view of the backyard, and can be flung open to allow easy access to an outdoor dining area. Even when the doors are closed, the additional light and view make the narrow space feel larger. 

8. Try a small swap with a big payoff. Even a small change, like swapping a solid kitchen door for a glass version, can completely change the feel of the room, letting in extra light and giving you an eye on the outdoors. Bonus points for painting the frame a bright hue.

9. Open an entire side of your house. This may not be in your budget or even architecturally possible for your house, but if you can swing it, why not go for it? Glass doors that fold away, opening as much (or as little) of your home to the outdoors as you wish could completely change the way you live at home.

10. Install airplane-hangar-style doors. These are garage-style doors taken to the next level. The pro who worked on this project customized a set of doors by adding a hinge in the middle, giving them a striking look. The doors also save interior space when open (they fold up instead of sliding into the space).