Hey everyone!

The Grace Thomas Designs team just finished a meeting with our fabulous partners at NVblu reviewing one of our favorite design projects: Outdoor Kitchens. We love these projects because they expand your living space and provide you the opportunity to cook, eat and entertain with family and friends. We all know everyone congregates in the kitchen at a party, so incorporating interior kitchen design ideas into your outdoor space only makes sense. While we all think of summer as the time for backyard barbeques and grilling, a well-designed outdoor kitchen will allow you to enjoy cooking and entertaining outdoors well beyond the summer months. At Grace Thomas Designs we are all about creating spaces that are functional and fabulous, and we know that outdoor kitchens are a great way to add value, fun and style to your life and your home.

The best outdoor kitchens are useful, comfortable and inviting. Simple outdoor kitchens can be great DIY projects, while the more elaborate outdoor kitchens are usually best executed with the help of design professionals.  Regardless of whether you hire someone or not, the process takes time, careful planning and attention to detail to create a stylish, functional and long-lasting outdoor kitchen. Here are some tips we think might help you with your project:

Tip #1: Plan, Plan and Then Plan Some More

There are many important steps that go into building your ideal outdoor kitchen, so to avoid costly mistakes and ensure a smooth project completion, take the time to plan things out. Start by asking yourself what you will be doing in your new space: cooking, eating, parties, spending quality family time?  Will you be able to use existing patios or decks or will you need to build something new? What types of materials do you like: metal, wood, stone? Do you have children or pets that have to be considered? Create a book of outdoor designs that you find on the internet or simply in your neighborhood.  Pinterest boards are a great way to do this. This will help you narrow down the features that are important to you.  Like indoor kitchens, outdoor kitchens should be planned in a working triangle. Make sure to incorporate counters and storage, if space allows, as this will make food preparation easier and allow for even more time spent enjoying the outdoors. Those in areas with shorter warm seasons should think about heaters, fireplaces or fire pits to extend their outdoor time, while those in warmer climates might want to install fans or misters to make outdoor entertaining more comfortable. If your desires are grand, consult with a design professional to bring all of your outdoor kitchen dreams together.

Photo courtesy NVblu

Tip #2: Location, Location, Location

When deciding where to build your outdoor kitchen, you need to consider several factors. First, if you plan to use the space frequently, you probably don’t want to travel too great a distance from your indoor kitchen to your outdoor kitchen with heavy platters. So, try to locate the outdoor kitchen close to the house. Second, grills create smoke, so make sure that you place your grill in a well-ventilated spot or install an over-the-grill vent to keep the smoke from wafting back into the house. Third, remember that outside kitchens have dangers just like indoor ones, so make sure children and pets are protected from them by keeping grills away from play and high-traffic areas. Lastly, consider your views of your property from inside and either situate your outdoor kitchen to preserve them or design and decorate it to enhance them.

Photo courtesy NVblu

Tip # 3: Appliances Matter

If your design is like most kitchens, then it likely will include a grill and burner(s), a small refrigerator and perhaps a sink. Other appliances might also be incorporated to make your outdoor kitchen even more functional. Remember when selecting appliances to choose high quality ones that will withstand the weather conditions in your area including sun, rain, winds and temperature extremes. Stainless steel and ceramic appliances hold up well against the elements. Sinks require water (either from your main water supply or a hose) and a drain, and refrigerators and other electrical appliances need a power supply. Depending on your final plan, you might want to let the professionals do the more complex work of wiring and plumbing to ensure you meet all local building code requirements.

Photo courtesy NVblu

Tip #4: Look Down First

When building your outdoor kitchen, carefully consider the flooring in your plan as it will add to both the overall look and functionality of your design.  First and foremost, think about safety and stay away from glazed or porous tiles and stone as they become quite slippery when wet. Next, think about the kind of entertaining you will be doing. Cooking, eating and drinking will inevitably lead to spills, so select flooring that will be resistant to staining or go with sealable materials like stone and unglazed tile.  If you will use an existing space for your outdoor kitchen, then you will probably want to refinish the flooring to better incorporate it into your new outdoor kitchen decor. Another great idea is outdoor rugs which are made from stain and weather resistant yarns.  This is also a great way to add color and extra styling to your outdoor kitchen. Take a look at this gorgeous family- and pet-friendly rug we put on a client’s veranda. The outdoor kitchen is just down the steps for easy access.


Photo by Grace Thomas Designs

Tip #5: Style Doesn’t Stop at the Back Door

Your outdoor kitchen should be an extension of the design and decorating style you have throughout the interior spaces of your home, so the details matter. Pick tables, chairs and flooring that bring your personality and tastes to outdoor living. Outdoor furniture today is made from many different materials and incorporates all of the elements of indoor design while providing needed features for outdoor use. Opt for a dining table made with heat resistant metals and select seating that is durable and has comfortable cushions made from outdoor fabrics that include your favorite colors and textures. Picking the right kind of lighting will also help fashion the ambience you desire. Decorate your outdoor kitchen (and your other outdoor spaces) in a way that will create the same feelings you feel when enjoying your indoor spaces.

Awesome Outdoor Kitchen


Outdoor kitchens can provide years of enjoyment for you and your family while enhancing the value of your home. If you need help designing your outdoor kitchen, Grace Thomas Designs is here to help so drop us a note an email at info@gracethomasdesigns.com and let’s get started on making your design dreams a reality. We want to say a special thank you to our great partners at NVblu for the photographs they provided.  Those guys are the best pool and outdoor space builders in Northern Virginia, so visit their site (http://www.nvblu.com) and take a look at their great work!

Hope you have fun planning out your Outdoor Kitchen!

Stay warm,

Grace Thomas Designs