Outdoor Kitchen Islands

Outdoor kitchen islands create a useful and elegant place for food prep and backyard entertaining.

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By: Margaret Grigsby

Adding an outdoor kitchen island gives you flexibility and increased storage. Islands are available in a variety of prefabricated, modular design options to fit any budget, or they can be custom-made to complement your backyard space, no matter what size or shape.

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The first step in adding a kitchen island to your backyard is to consider the purpose you want it to serve. Will you use it as a stand-alone kitchen in a small space or do you want to add features to an existing outdoor kitchen? If an island will be the primary piece in your outdoor kitchen, think about the main functions you want it to serve and what appliances and features you need. If you already have a separate grill, you could opt for counter and dining space. Adding a sink, some cabinet storage and a small refrigerator will complete your outdoor kitchen.

Starting with an island is a good idea if this is your first step into designing an outdoor kitchen or if you have a small space to work with. After you decide on your must-haves, think about the layout best suited for your island. Typically, an island is accessible on all four sides, so measure how much room you'll have to move around.

If you decide you want your island to be somewhat portable, you may not be able to include accessories that require plumbing or electrical and gas lines. For this, consider hiring a contractor who can determine the best way to install them. Think about what will be above the island if a grill or cooktop is high on your priority list. You may want to install ventilation in the form of a range or grill hood. The area above your island also allows you to add design features to your kitchen. Install a pergola for a little added shade during the summer.

While you're thinking about design elements, the addition of lighting under a bar countertop would be a nice touch. If your space is more open, install casters and wheels so you can use the island as a serving and seating area anywhere you choose and then roll it out of the way when you're done. If you already have an outdoor kitchen and want to add an island, think about what your space is missing and incorporate that into the design. Add counter and seating space or install that wine chiller you've had your eye on. If you're considering an upgrade in appliances, you may want to consider adding a cooktop and warming drawer or a dishwasher and sink to your new island.

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