Elevate Outdoor Living: 14 Space-Smart Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Level up your cooking and hosting game with these small outdoor kitchen ideas!

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Even with a small space, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating your own outdoor kitchen. Don't let limited space hold you back from experiencing the joy of outdoor cooking. Keep reading for our tips on small modern outdoor kitchen ideas that maximize functionality and style while making the most of limited space and budget!

Small outdoor kitchen ideas to elevate your outdoor spaces

Whether you’re looking to start utilizing your small outdoor kitchen or simply want to upgrade your existing one with the help of DIY small outdoor kitchen ideas, there are many ways you can personalize your outdoor cooking area to your liking.

1. Deck kitchen for minimal effort and maximum charmoutdoor-deck-kitchen

Even if you have a small backyard or outdoor space to work with, simply putting in cooking appliances, like a stove or gas grill, for intimate dinners and a place to eat already qualifies as an outdoor kitchen. A deck or a patio kitchen would be perfect for maximizing compact outdoor kitchens.

2. Make space for an outdoor bar

Outdoor kitchens can double as outdoor bars for hanging out. A bar counter, a few stools, and a selection of beverages can do the trick just fine! Upgrade your small outdoor kitchen and bar with string lights or lanterns for a cozier or more intimate feel. 

3. Set up an outdoor grilling station


If you’re tight on space but really want a BBQ station, then a grill island can be a perfect addition to your outdoor kitchen. Add a counter with cabinets to surround your grill station, and you’re all set! This set-up takes minimal time to put together and can be easily built on a weekend.

Having a BBQ with friends and family is one of the best outdoor entertainment. However, it’s crucial to maintain grilling and food safety practices for safe grilling and avoid foodborne illnesses.

4. Add a theme that matches your style

Personalizing a small outdoor kitchen to your preference can make the space all the more comfortable and homey. You can also incorporate your surroundings into your outdoor kitchen. For example, if your home is near a beach, you can style your outdoor cooking space with vibrant colors, greenery, and tropical patterns.

5. Repurpose barely used furniture


One great way to minimize costs when setting up your outdoor kitchen is by repurposing barely used furniture. A dresser can turn into your small kitchen’s newest island or countertop. An old bookshelf can be transformed into a storage space for beverages or silverware. 

Choosing to add repurposed pieces to your small kitchen space can not only save you on expenses, but it can also help you get creative and sustainable. 

6. Take advantage of vertical space 

Maximize vertical space storage in your outdoor kitchen by installing wall-mounted shelves and hooks for frequently used items. These are a great way to utilize the empty vertical spaces in your kitchen area. They can hold various items such as cooking utensils, spices, and small appliances, keeping them within easy reach while saving valuable counter space.

7. Keep portability in mind


Having a portable kitchen outside gives you the flexibility to make changes without undergoing major renovations. It also makes it easier to adjust the setup based on your needs. Having portable appliances, like compact grills, portable pizza ovens, and portable electric stovetops, can help make things easier to clean, rearrange, and store away. 

8. Give your guests some cover 

Divide your outdoor space properly and establish the cooking zone by installing a pergola. Small outdoor kitchens with pergolas or similar roofings protect your space against bad weather and heat. Plus, they make great additions to any outdoor space.

9. Invest in outdoor kitchen lighting


Having good lighting is important to ensure safety when using your outdoor kitchen. Lighting fixtures, such as task lighting and table lamps, allow you to navigate and move around the space confidently, especially during evening hours or when cooking at night. 

With proper lighting, you can extend the usability of your outdoor kitchen beyond daylight hours. It’s also useful for events like a cookout or evening gatherings.

10. Add some unique statements with decor

Decorating your outdoor kitchen makes it more enjoyable to use it, especially if the pieces align with your personal style and taste. Eye-catching decor pieces can serve as a focal point, drawing attention and contributing to the overall ambiance of the space. This doesn’t just extend to decor pieces – you can experiment with wall or floor tiles and countertop material. 

11. Have a dedicated space to prep


When setting up your outdoor kitchen, make sure to allot some space for food prep. Even a counter space or small area beside the oven or grill can do the trick. This way, you can maintain a neat space with your kitchen essentials and a dedicated zone for messy food prep.

12. Focus on versatility

Another way you can save money is by having versatile and cost-effective appliances. This means investing in appliances that can serve multiple purposes. For example, a stainless steel grill with additional side burners eliminates the need for a separate stove or cooktop. Having fewer appliances also means less maintenance and upkeep, saving you time. 

13. Keep the outdoor area easy to clean


Cleaning up after meals in your outdoor kitchen space shouldn’t take more work than indoors. Opt for low-maintenance flooring, like porcelain or ceramic. It’s a breeze to sweep up, and it can handle spills, splatters, dirt, and cut grass. To add a cozy touch, think about laying down an outdoor rug that's easy to care for.

14. Work with a designer if you’re still unsure

If you're still unsure how to design your outdoor kitchen or need assistance in making the right choices, book a professional so they can lend a hand and give you meaningful insights. Designers have expertise in creating functional and visually appealing spaces and can help bring your vision for modular outdoor kitchens to life.

Small space, big possibilities!

No matter the size of your home’s outside space, getting creative and trying out different outdoor kitchen ideas for small spaces can revamp your outdoor experience to match your unique preferences and style. It's all about planning and finding the perfect elements to bring your vision to life.

If you’re still having a hard time finding what fits you, find a kitchen renovator expert suited for the job! Working with an expert is like having a knowledgeable friend who can offer personalised solutions when designing outdoor kitchen ideas for small spaces. 

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FAQs on small outdoor kitchens

Yes, it is highly recommended to waterproof an outdoor kitchen. Water damage can be a significant concern since outdoor kitchens are exposed to the elements. Waterproofing helps protect the structure, materials, and appliances from moisture-related issues such as rotting, warping, mold growth, and corrosion.

Yes, it is possible to have an outdoor kitchen without a roof. Many outdoor kitchens are designed as open-air spaces without a permanent overhead structure. It’s important to recognize the weather patterns in your area, though, and base your decisions on the frequency of extreme weather in your area. 

Yes, it’s perfectly ok to build an outdoor kitchen with wood. Especially for cheap simple outdoor kitchen ideas, using wood can help save a lot of money. For long-term use, choose wood types that are durable, weather-resistant, and naturally resistant to decay, insects, and moisture. 

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