10 Ideas to Make Your Outdoor Kitchen Sizzle

Article by: Laura Gaskill

Looking to spice up your grilling area this summer? Try adding one (or more) of these fun features, from grill-side seating to a vintage fridge. As long as the weather is fine, you may find yourself cooking outside more than in!

Pull up to the kitchen bar. Keep guests entertained with bar seats pulled up to the grill, where they can taste hot-off-the-fire nibbles. On its own, this is a great small-space solution; in a more expansive yard, supplement the grill-side seats with a larger dining table.

Get the cooking area under cover. A roof over the outdoor cooking area makes it easier for the grill master to keep grilling even when an unexpected rainstorm pops up. The L-shaped counter space with seating and adjacent dining area and fire pit make this a backyard guests will never want to leave.

Add a full-size fridge. If you cook outdoors a lot, a fridge and freezer can be a big help. Keep them stocked with ice, chilled drinks and the food you plan to grill, and that will free up space in your regular fridge. Of course, not just any fridge will do — a retro style in a cheerful color, like the Smeg shown here, will add to the style of your outdoor space.

Coordinate with color. Grills, decks and outdoor seating tend to be neutral and no-frills, so use a few pops of bold color to wake up your outdoor kitchen. Bright poppy red was used here in artwork, dishes, a chair and a sleek trash can.

Pack in useful details. It’s the little things that can make all the difference in your outdoor kitchen experience, so consider what would benefit you the most — better lighting, prep space, music? This Toronto rooftop kitchen includes a mini fridge, dish storage, speakers for an electronic device and night lighting.

Get cooking in the garden. Highlight your love of ultra-local ingredients with an outdoor kitchen located near your veggie garden. A brick surround that matches the low garden wall helps integrate the kitchen into the larger outdoor space.

Go modern. Concrete and rich wood are a modern minimalist pairing perfect for an urban environment. This outdoor kitchen is outfitted with a pizza oven — a worthy splurge if you love doing a weekly pizza night at home!

Double up on grills and storage. If you’re serious about barbecue, it could be worth your while to invest in two grills: one gas (for quick cooking) and one charcoal (for traditional smoky barbecue). A stainless steel gas grill and a “big green egg” perfect for slow cooking are connected by cabinetry in this Red Hook, Brooklyn, backyard. A sink and plenty of counter space make prepping food easy, and hidden storage below means you can keep outdoor cookware and tools close at hand.

Put a pergola over the grill. A garden structure like a pergola adds architectural interest to the outdoor kitchen and provides a place to attach sconce lighting. And while you wouldn’t want climbing plants dangling directly over the grill (hello fire hazard!), if your pergola is a safe distance from the heat, you could grow plants over it, giving the area a lush green touch.

Bring your indoor style out. The small-scale but well-crafted cabinetry in this outdoor kitchen echoes the interior style. Locating the grill within steps of the kitchen door makes it easy to carry ingredients outside and hot plates of food in, and a built-in bench seat provides a spot for guests to sit and chat while the food is being prepared.

Home Resolutions for 2013


2013 Resolutions.jpg

The end of the year is a perfect time to look on the past year’s accomplishments, and to look forward to new ones in the next twelve months. Resolutions have a way to up our confidence and trust that the next year will be better than the last. They anchor us into goals and hopes and help us navigate the flow of time.

Most people make resolutions about themselves: I will eat better, exercise more, be nicer to people, find a better job, give more to charity, get involved in church groups. There are so many things to do, and yet we tend to forget one of the most important things: our home. Our home is where we spend the most time, where we sleep, where we eat, where we share happy moments or weather difficult times with our loved ones. Isn’t it time that you think about your home for your resolutions?

Resolution 1: I will keep clutter away

Clutter can be a sign of an unhappy heart or an unfocused mind. Especially for people who spend a lot of time at home, clutter can become distracting and reflect a lack of care about your space, and ultimately ourselves.

This year, we talked about the emotional baggage associated with clutter and how to move on without it. What are the things you’re holding on to? How do these things manifest themselves in your home? What should you be letting go of?

Keeping clutter away means keeping an open home and an open heart.

Resolution 2: I will make my home greener

Strand-woven bamboo flooring with an “ebony” stain. Sophisticated, and green too. You don’t have to give up one to serve the other in the 21st Century.

There’s no denying it: the Earth needs help. It has been the warmest period for hundreds of years. Even though it sometimes feels like an insurmountable mountain, every small gesture to reduce your use of electricity, your waste production of your carbon footprint helps. 

From low-consumption light bulbs to eco flooring like bamboo or woven grass, there’s always a way to make your home a little greener and a little gentler on the environment. Here are some more ideas:

  • Start a composting bin in your backyard

  • Install low-flow toilets and shower heads

  • Reduce your winter heating needs with new windows or e-film

  • Reduce your summer air conditioning needs with better ventilation

  • Install automatic light switches and temperature control

  • Start growing your own vegetables and herbs in a garden patch

How could your house be greener? Involve the whole family in choosing specific actions to do every day to help the environment.

Resolution 3: I will make something with my hands

When’s the last time you made an object with your own hands? Are the clothes you wear, the chairs you sit on and the bowls you eat in all bought from stores? Have you ever felt the satisfaction of making a useful object yourself? It may be time for a DIY resolution.

Naturally crafty people tend to like having their own craft room. Magical things happen there: clothes are sewed, scarves and mittens are knitted, jewels are designed and scrapbooks are put together. It happens with patience, practice and dedication, and the reward is always worth it. Crafters are naturally generous, giving away their objects to friends and loved ones; they are creative, always inventing new patterns and transforming materials into beautiful objects.

Making and DIY is a sort of retro-volution, going back to when things were made, proudly and lovingly, instead of bought, quickly and anonymously. DIY increases your sense of belonging in a space and your independence from a capricious market. There are whole communities devoted to DIY where people happily share their knowledge, experience and tips and tricks among themselves, build community and help each other. There are even more Makerspaces scattered across North America, where people without the proper tools or space can go and work on DIY projects. 

Maybe the first step towards making something with your hands is to look up your local Makerspace?

Resolution 4: I will spend more time outside

It seems counter-intuitive to suggest spending more time outside when speaking about home resolutions, but spending more time out of doors is linked to mental and physical health. Going outdoors means being more active, having more contacts with nature and being more social.

If time is scarce, you can always get more time outside by getting an outdoor office or an outdoor breakfast nook. The point of the exercise is to breathe fresh air, move around more and get more sunlight, even in winter. 

Making your home more comfortable doesn’t mean spending all your time in it… have you ever heard of cabin fever? Contact with nature is an essential part of human life, and spending time outside is just as important as having an inviting, relaxing bedroom.

What are your home resolutions for 2013?