Small Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

A small outdoor kitchen is the perfect way to entertain on your urban patio or small backyard.

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By: Margaret Grigsby

Just because you have a small outdoor space doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the fun of outdoor entertaining. Applying small outdoor kitchen ideas can be simple with the help of portable and prefabricated products made for outdoor cooking and dining.

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Designing for a small space may require a little handy know-how and some creativity. Your first task will be to measure your space. No matter what the size of the area, proper measurements are essential in the planning and design of an outdoor kitchen. A good measuring tape or a laser distance measurer will make the job much easier.

Next, you'll want to decide what elements you consider must-haves. A typical outdoor kitchen would include a grill or cooking element, some counter and storage space, and possibly a sink or bar and beverage service area. For elements that require plumbing, electrical or gas, consult with a licensed contractor who can help you plan for easy access to existing utilities.

One way to plan an outdoor kitchen in a small space is to choose a modular, prefabricated kitchen island. These come in everything from stacked stone to stucco, and many include stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.

Islands are great because they can either be portable for easy moving and storage along a wall. If you prefer an island fixed in the center of your space, be sure to utilize all four sides for storage, counter, and seating or serving space.

If the area is oddly shaped or you prefer a more custom look, a rounded or triangular layout might be a good option to consider. If you have walls or a corner area to work with, a corner kitchen is a great way to maximize space. Unconventional shapes can create easier access to cabinets and appliances and add visual interest to the area.

Portability and storage are always a good option for smaller spaces so you can adjust pieces according to what you need. Tables and chairs that fold or stack and easily move out of the way will help you when entertaining either a large crowd or small group. Having an outdoor kitchen doesn't mean you have to include a lot of large, fixed pieces. A portable or tabletop grill and a serving and prep cart might be all you need to complete your outdoor kitchen.

There are some simple design elements you can use to make small spaces feel more open. A large mirror on the wall makes any small space feel much bigger. Also, don't overlook lighting. Fixtures placed in dark corners, underneath cabinetry bar areas and in lower levels or at the floor will brighten up the whole space and shed light on areas that disappeared before.

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