Outdoor Kitchen Design – Thoughts?

We are wanting to add an outdoor kitchen to our backyard this year. Here are our objectives:
– Covered area for any day cooking in the rain.
– Relax area (fireplace) to unwind with a conversation at night.
– Open area for a picnic table or two or extra seating for guests.
– Needs to look like it belongs with the house style.

After watching the video, what are your thoughts? Any suggestions or things I didn’t think about?

Download the SketchUp file here. It’s saved as a SketchUp version 8 file and placed in a .zip folder for download.


  1. Can I come over? :)

    If you’re going to bury a conduit (good idea) bury a second one above it. Even if you leave it empty. You may end up deciding (maybe even years from now) that it would be great to have a camera(s) out there, be able to plug in ethernet, etc. and having that conduit there to run an ethernet cable through is cheap insurance now.

    Do you have space for a griddle? (Lowes has a good one, pretty cheap). I found it’s really handy to have one when you have family over (e.g. Thanksgiving) for making a big breakfast, burgers, etc. It’s surprising how useful a griddle is vs a grill (I’d pick the grill first, griddle is a nice extra).

    I did what you’re going to do for adding water (except for me, it was to a garden spot that needed a spigot) and the compressed air method works great to winterize it. On one end, I have a metal pipe coming out of the ground with a hose attachment, then pvc to the other end, then a metal pipe with a spigot. That way, it’s sturdy at the connection points and easy everywhere else. I just screw the metal pipe to the spigot on the wall and everything’s connected.

    looking forward to the build series!

  2. It is funny I had all kinds of thoughts/questions on drainage of water, and in the last couple of minutes you answered those questions. heh.

    I have a homestead so I am often thinking about water, you might not care, but you might build up the wall by the smoker a bit higher. Then put a water tank on the other side kind of hidden. You can then run gutters to the water tank from the roof. This helps to reduce the amount of water that falls to the backside of the shelter. Also gives you more watering options in your yard.

    Also on the compost side I don’t know if you are in to chickens, but chickens help with compost. We have a bunch to not only help turn compost, but to poop in it and if we have way to many eggs we can use them to help with the compost.

    * If you are routing water or the sink you might add a freeze hydrant to the corner of the shelter by the pole. This gives you more versatility with watering the yard. We added several freeze hydrants because why not, and it has been amazing.
    * I like the larger cement area more room to grow, and less to mow.
    * Would be cool to have some sort of cover over the fireplace sitting area so if it is sprinkling you can still sit out there
    * You also might add some raised garden beds, if your into gardening, right off of the edge of the cement, and over by the wall. That is a high traffic area so you will likely weed it more. Then maybe incorporate it into your cooking as well. Need lettuce or tomatos just walk over and pick some. Also, less to mow.

  3. I think you need to check with building department for set backs of fireplace and kitchen roof. CA would not allow for safety. Make roof large for dining under also. I would move fireplace to opposite corner. Also make concrete patio all the way to house kitchen wall for better entertaining. I would not use pecan underground. Run pvc underground all way to panel on other side of house. Also hood over grill. I would turn roof 90 degrees Then you could connect house and kitchen roofs with roof. It sucks in rain to have to run back and forth Maybe a nice size French drain along property line for drainage. I also have tv in mine

  4. Jay.

    A couple of comments. I’d start by running underground electric from your basement to the expected new outdoor kitchen, reasonably easy to do. The previous comment about an extra conduit is a good one.

    Your idea about running the water may or may not work out as well as you expect. I don’t know the normal temperature gradient in your area. I would be more inclined to install an underground, direct feed, to the new kitchen with the shut off in your basement. You would be more certain of draining the system to a sink by the shutoff.

    If you wish to stick to your plan, you will have a better result using that compressor from the kitchen toward the spigot.

    You will have to consult the local zoning and sewer inspector for what’s allowed with that drain. A dry well may be possible if you can keep food residue out of it.

  5. Hot water for clean up a must with an outdoor kitchen. Wood fired pizza oven, used for more than pizza. Property setback requirements with the covered structure, your architect or builder will know. Think about lighting at night for task, play and mood. Concrete pavers vs a concrete slab. Consider a temporary (mock) setup to judge traffic flow patterns in real time. Mosquitos a problem in the summer, think about screening in an area. Great project, have fun with it.

  6. My first thought is if it is raining get you can’t get from the house to the kitchen without going out into the rain. Maybe you can move the kitchen next to the house and extent the roof over so it is continous. It will also put the sink closer to the water. You may also be able to tap into an existing circuit for your power. It also may give you more room for the table. Before you do the sink drain you should check the code. Are you on a crawl space or a slab? If you are on a slab everything will be more difficult.

  7. If you keep the cooker under the roof , run the pipe through the roof , less smoke to deal with, and natural updraft

  8. Hey Jay. Over in UK I have exactly the same dilemma. I like the previous comment about pizza oven. You can cook way more than just pizzas. Bread comes to mind. I wonder about hooking up to a garden tap. Not sure if that would then be potable water source? I will watch for further developments to get ideas before I set my design. Have some demolition to do first. Good luck.

  9. 1. Why a fireplace vs. a fire PIT? Seems to me fire pits are more popular these days. You could even build a ‘conversation area’ AROUND a fire pit – you can have the ‘pit’ itself at a low table-level.

    2. In your ‘back of bar’ / cooking area, I suggest you raise that floor area up (say 8″), so that when you’re back their being a bartender or the cook, you’re a bit above your guests and they can see you easier, and you can still see them, and be part of the get-together.

  10. Instead of that fireplace you’ve shown, I’d suggest a circular fire pit. You could all sit around it and be as close to the fire as you’d like.

  11. Hello Jay,
    Well I believe if your gonna do something do it right the first time. I would want to make this area usable as much as possible to include rain. What I mean is more roof. With the current drawing, if it were raining you have to walk in the rain to grill. You could also entertain in the rain if it was under roof.
    I would move your grill/bar structure to the East side of the concrete pad. Run the shelter roof all the way into your existing house roof (gable roof). This allows you to walk in any condition. In the current fire place, I would put a fire ring for the times you want to sit outside with the family all together. I would relocate the fire place on the SE corner of the pad (radius bend). Right where your current grill/bar is I see a couple of options, 1) grass 2) horse shoe pit 3) play area for Tyler Kay 4) Flower bed 5) water feature ***my vote 6) garden 7) table / umbrella. This design would eliminate any issues with the property line / fence.
    You could also look into a T shape structure with my design / description.
    ps I can see Michelle and I sitting at the bar some time.

  12. I’m intrigued at the option of free standing versus connected to the house.

    Could you connect at the kitchen area to reduce traffic? With fire pit facing back to kitchen?

    What about a shade sail, or extendible awning from the house _ over the eating area to a freestanding kitchen?

  13. Great idea. Like the way you’re headed with it. Be sure and incorporate a Blackstone Griddle into the kitchen. You can thank me later. Lol. I also have a Kamado style grill and love it but the griddle will carry you over the next horizon.

  14. Version two is more appealing to me how ever setback and drainage will be problematic . A french drain along the property line into a catchment similar to a septic tank and field line system would most likely solve water run off problems . Consider the prevailing wind when orienting a shelter and wall that could create a wind tunnel effect through the building.But most important build it to please yourself not all of us armchair architects .

  15. I like the open gables as an accent point. However, if you wish to match the gables of the house, you could use frosted polycarbonite loovers. If you pitch them 5 to 15 degrees off vertical and allow for a gap between each they would act similar to Venetian blinds. The gap would allow air flow, and the frosting would allow light while still appearing opaque thereby imitating the appearance of the other house gables.

    This would also add structural stability. Polycarbonite is the material that a fighter plane’s canopy is made from. It is naturally UV and weather resistant and at a mere 1/4″ provides twice the strength of glass at less than 1/4 the weight. It is also about half the price of glass, and shatter proof.

    If you are interested in this option, feel free to contact me for assistance in sourcing suppliers.

  16. I like everything that you have designed. I think you might have some obstacles to overcome with zoning and permitting. I also waited to here your thoughts about drainage. I recommend that you look up the Frenchdrainman on YouTube. Watch a few of his videos and you will learn the proper way to install drainage and I highly recommend his products. You want to make sure it is done correctly or you will be very disappointed. I say this because you do not want a soggy or wet yard and even worse water seepage into your crawl space or basement if you have one! Trust me from my experience!

  17. Rectangular pad is better.
    You will get birds nests in the curved v of your roof rafters.
    The roof of the kitchen is going to shed water into neighboring yard.
    Get a permit and check set back requirements.
    Try designing this the exact opposite of how you have it now just to see if there are any advantages.
    Is this set up for use in the winter?

  18. Looks like a great project, Glad you are concerned about drainage, most people wouldn’t think to address that issue. My two cents

    1. I like the griddle idea, one with temperature zones.
    2. You might consider a way to heat up pots and fry pans
    2. You may need 30 amp for a water heater.
    3. I like a fireplace in the center of a circle of seating
    4. Sun is bright and hot where I live so I would want to add cover for sun and rain to the sitting area.
    I would try to figure out how to make shade optional.

  19. A lot of good suggestions so far. Here’s my ideas. On the structure in order to match the house, enclose the front for a match and leave the back open. Also, you could use RV or swimming pool antifreeze in the water line to prevent freezing of any water that remains in the pipe.

  20. You will be sweating like a pig I don’t think there will be enough air low if you are doing the cooking in such a small area anyone sitting at the bar will also feel the heat in the Summer ideal for the Fall. Realistically a good idea and good location for convenience except for the cooking area

  21. Jay, Better to install a permanent water supply, If not make sure you have anti-siphon spigot. You don’t want to great a vacuum that can possibly pull contaminated water back into your home. Given your storm water drainage issue pipping gutters back to drain rear of property is a good idea, but doubt building inspector will allow you to tie your sink into that drain.

    As for electrical not sure of the distance involved back to your main panel, is the shop power closer. In either case since the structure is separate code may require you to install a separate breaker box with AFCI breakers. Even if not required it makes for better, safer, more convent power build.

    Looks like you are planning on a wood burning Fireplace you are correct in saying you will get little heat from it. A fire ring maybe a better choice for heat, but they take up a lot of room. Do you have a natural gas? If you do think about building a rectangular pit can sit on both sides of the pit and use either gas or wood. Gas cleaner less soot to deal with.

    I like the idea of a pizza oven that would be a nice inclusion if you are a pizza family. Otherwise spend the money elsewhere, just include space for future additions.

    The brick wall replacing fence is a costly build, footings and brick work not inexpensive. If you plan to spend that much money on building it you also need to plan on spending quit a bit on drainage. Water from neighboring property is going to seek lowest level. So what will hit foundation and you do not want it to sit there creating a new problem. Would be good to have a complete drainage plan when discussing with local building authority. They may not allow you to impede the water flow without adequate certified drainage plan.

    Lots of good suggestions within the comments provided above. Adding extra pipe the right size and type even if you don’t need it right now is worth the extra spend.

    I see suggestions regarding roof tie in between house and shelter. I think your insurance company would raise your rates. How often would you go there in the rain? Self standing pergola between structures may provide enough shelter between the two, and provide some shade so you don’t need an umbrella over your table.

    Overall a nice job. I always appreciate your videos and your approach to projects.

  22. Good comments above, the design looks great. Only thing missing is a water feature, how could you forget?! Especially if you have a brick wall anyway, adding a wall fountain would be really nice to have. Definitely do add hot water…you’ll end up doing it later anyway. Good luck and have fun!

  23. I like it. The two picnic tables are very nice. I like that someone can stand on the lawn and talk to the bbq person. Where is the hammock stand(s)? Will there be a strange draught if that outdoor fireplace chimney is lower than the two roofs it sits between?

  24. You might consider continuing the 6 foot (?) wall instead of transitioning to the taller section. Then you could have very short columns from the top of that shorter wall to support the roof. That would allow for some air flow through the cooking area to keep you cooler. Of course, it would also make for a more uniform look from your neighbor’s perspective.

  25. Might as well make that short brick wall a continuation of the bar and seating. Makes more room in prep area for fridge, ice, cabinets, keg, etc., and still blocks traffic. Modify roof so column lands in the end of the bar. For water/drainage best to redirect opposed to trying to block. If corner fireplace, add a pizza oven above the regular fireplace. High outlet for party/seasonal lighting. Oh, extra 20a circuit, cause tools n stuff.

  26. I would not have that raised bar. Too difficult for children to climb up and sit. Make it all counter height. I had one of those in my kitchen, and finally cut it down when we installed granite counters, Enjoy it much more and really opens up sight lines.

  27. Thanks for sharing your planning and allowing us to comment. Over the years I have added a patio to the back of my house, then installed roofing and screened it in, turned it into an outdoor kitchen, then totally enclosed it (but no heat or cooling). I have an outdoor gas convection gas grill, converted to NG, and do 90% of my cooking out there all year round. It keeps the indoor kitchen mostly smoke and smell free.

    Based on my experience I like several of the suggestions to move the kitchen area to the NW corner and the fireplace (or pit) to the SW corner. I think you will be happier with a shorter walkway to your inside kitchen for transporting food, tableware and supplies. Also as was mentioned the path will be completely covered for those rainy days.

  28. Great start! Agree that local codes may require dedicated water line to kitchen. If so, have a valve in house to shut off kitchen water (or below ground where it ties to house). Know where the breeze/wind will take all smoke – and not into your house. Fireplace in corner is too close to house – consider the other ideas. That corner may also get very hot if fencing doesn’t allow any through breeze.
    May need to stand off from property line both for roof overhang and also allow room for french drain between pad and property line. Check for easement issue. A series of 4″ lines from downspouts connecting to main 6″ drainpipe should handle water issue. Floor drain too. Worked great for me. Graywater from sink may hit a code snag.
    Consider pergola placement or shade sail anchor placement to avoid needing umbrellas. Add string lights if you haven’t already planned. They’re great.
    Going to use a salt concrete finish? I don’t recall you mentioning. Fun project!

  29. Great design. This is probably mentioned already but I would go ahead and run coaxial cable and possibly ethernet for a outdoor television/projector option.

  30. I haven’t read all of the comments. My first thought is that you’re missing a comfy shaded seating area. I’d be looking to add some outdoor couches. Plus if they can be shaded.
    Do you have bug issues? We have a large covered and screened porch and I love sitting out there reading a book in the afternoon. We set up a projector for movies as well. That wouldn’t be possible after dark without the screens.
    I know your objective here is outdoor kitchen, but I’d be looking to also add some extra outdoor hang out options.

  31. Rather than a fireplace, for outdoor entertaining, a firepit is the way to go….imho anyway.

    • My experience of a standard fire pit is that the smoke is always getting blown at someone in the circle and it often billows around so everyone gets a share. I am thinking it might be nice to create a cowl and chimney over the top to get some updraft.

  32. Not sure which direction your house faces, or if you anticipate having a television for outdoor sports viewing, but you need to take that into consideration as the sun can be a killer depending on direction….and west sun can be brutal if you get blasted while under the roof cooking.
    Don’t forget a fan for the area under roof as well…it can make a huge difference on steamy evenings. The Big Ass fans are fantastic.

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