How to get started with DIY outdoor kitchen ideas

by Jodie Franklin 04/16/2023

If you've ever dreamed of having your own outdoor kitchen, you might be surprised to learn that you can build one yourself DIY. Outdoor kitchen ideas range from simple to elaborate, and can fit a variety of outdoor spaces.

Using your choice of favorite cooking appliances and other tools, you can create the stylish outdoor kitchen of your dreams. Here's how:

Plan your outdoor kitchen

The best way to transform an outdoor kitchen is by putting together the proper layout and materials. What is your available space? What elements of an indoor kitchen should you include? Consider the total backyard and how much room you need to dedicate to the cooking process to make a design plan and budget.

Prep zone

It's crucial for any kitchen to have sufficient prep space. Luckily, there are some simple solutions for creating prep zones in an outdoor kitchen. A simple folding table or bar cart are excellent space-saving furniture pieces you can use for preparing ingredients or plating food.

As for tools to include in your prep space, go with cutting boards, grilling utensils and cleanup supplies. Having an outdoor sink gives you a convenient way to wash tools and prevent cross contamination while cooking.

Cooking zone

There are many ways to set up the actual cooking area of your outdoor kitchen. One popular choice is an island style kitchen. An island will typically contain the main cooking appliance, such as a stainless-steel grill or wood fired pizza oven.

Airflow is also essential, so watch out for the space above the grill when choosing the perfect spot. Have a fire extinguisher and other safety supplies within reach to stay safe in the kitchen at all times.


Where in your yard will you set up your outdoor kitchen? Depending on the size and layout of the space, you have options. Installing your kitchen against walls or patios is convenient as it will give you quick access to the house. However, check your local fire safety regulations to make sure any fire is a safe distance away from the main structure.

Positioning an outdoor kitchen farther from the house allows more freedom in configuration, but can make logistical factors like connecting to utilities more complicated.

Outdoor decor

Once you establish the basics of your outdoor kitchen, it's time to think decor. Find durable and weather-resistant furniture to use when dining or entertaining outdoors. Bar seating is a fun and simple way to seat multiple people while saving space.

It is recommended to have a pergola or retractable roof or canopy to protect outdoor kitchens and dining areas from the elements. Decorate your choice of overhead structure with festive string lights or lanterns.

A DIY outdoor kitchen build can be a big undertaking, but your hard work and planning will pay off with every delicious meal you cook in your own backyard.

About the Author

Jodie Franklin

I love helping people find their dream home or sell their house in order to achieve their next goals. I have been working hard for my clients for over 18 years throughout southeast Michigan. I have experienced every kind of transaction there is. 

Helping my community and being involved is extremely important to me. I am Past President of the Michigan Ability Partners board, which helps Veterans and people with disabilities reach independent, self-supported, and satisfying lives. I have also been a member of the City of Milan Tax Review Board and Zoning Board, and involved in Milan Main Street. I have been a major sponsor of events for Michigan Ability Partners, Aid in Milan, Milan Main Street, and many more organizations that work to make our communities better. 

I was 2018 President of the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors, Realtor of the year in 2016 for AAABOR and nominee for Michigan Realtor of the Year. I serve on many committees with the local board, state board and was a member of the Housing Opportunity Committee for the National Association of Realtors (2018-19). I am currently serving my second term as a Michigan Realtors Board of Directors. 

I have liked in Milan for over 20 years and enjoy living here with my husband Cliff, son Evan, and dog Rosie.