There has been a significant uptick in people doing home projects since the coronavirus shutdowns impacted the nation and the world. While many people have been spending more time at home than ever before, they’ve used it as an opportunity to do those projects they’ve always dreamed about.

While a lot of vacations may be on the back burner, you can still turn your home’s outdoor area into a space that feels like an oasis. An outdoor kitchen might be a big part of that.

When you’re designing an outdoor kitchen, safety should be one of your top priorities. You want to make sure that any grill, fire, pit or chimney is only put in an area at least 10 feet from your home, and it shouldn’t be in a tent, trailer, garage or enclosed area.

Beyond having an outdoor kitchen that’s safe, the following are some design tips to ensure it’s a space that’s functional but also nice to look at.

Define Your Objectives

Before you plan the specifics of your project, decide what you want your objectives to be. A lot of this will depend on your budget.

For example, maybe you want something simple and affordable. A simple outdoor kitchen might include a grill and perhaps an outdoor bar that pulls double-duty as a counter and prep space.

On the other end, perhaps you want a fully functional kitchen with all the appliances and features you have in your indoor kitchen.

Along with what you want and your budget, think about how much space you have. You want your kitchen far enough from your home to be safe, but not so far that it’s going to be inconvenient.

One mantra that a lot of people follow as they plan an outdoor kitchen is that it’s an extension of the indoor areas of their home.

This means that the kitchen flows well into your home’s interior and that you create a livable, comfortable space as you would if you were designing an area inside your home.

Complimentary Design

As you plan your outdoor kitchen along with the features you hope to include, think about your home’s exterior and your landscaping. You want the kitchen’s design to be complementary to your home’s exterior and look like a natural fit.

For example, if you live in a tropical climate, you might want to use lightweight materials like bamboo. On the other hand, if you live in a place that’s green and lush and you have a traditional-style home,  maybe you go with earth tones.

Which Appliances Do You Want?

You can choose from a variety of different types of appliances for an outdoor kitchen.

For example, the appliance you’ll find in almost every outdoor kitchen is a grill, or perhaps a smoker. Maybe you go for a combination of both.

You might also want a built-in refrigerator, which can be compact and serve as a place to store food prep items as well as drinks.

Once you get beyond those basics, you can think about adding appliances if you want. For example, maybe you want an ice maker or something like an outdoor pizza oven.

Choose the Right Materials

Outdoor kitchens are going to be exposed to harsh elements and weather conditions year-round, and the materials you choose have to reflect this.

If you aren’t sure which materials can be used in an outdoor kitchen, you should consult with a professional. Every material needs to be able to withstand extreme heat and cold, rain, and high winds. The climate where you live may come with even more considerations.

For example, stainless steel can be a good option for outdoor appliances and countertops because it’s durable and easy to clean and maintain.

Natural stone can be challenging because you’ll have to seal it regularly. Avoid porous materials like limestone as well, and you may want to skip the tile countertops, particularly if you live somewhere with harsh winters.

Functional Layout

Finally, an outdoor kitchen needs to look great of course, but it also needs to be functional. There are certain kitchen design principles to bear in mind. For example, you typically want to separate it into cold, hot, wet, and dry areas, particularly if you plan to do a lot of actual cooking in the outdoor kitchen.

Cold areas are refrigeration, while hot areas include your cooktop or your grill. Wet areas are sinks, and then dry areas are where you prep and store.