Outdoor Kitchens

May 21, 2020 | Designer Insider, Kitchen Knowledge

Designer Insider with Jamie Heinz 

An outdoor kitchen in Michigan, Really?

Let’s face it our summers are short in Michigan, and we want to spend as much time as possible outside. Why not create a beautiful space to hang out with your family and friends while cooking, eating, and entertaining?  Creating an outdoor kitchen of any size can be tricky, and you would want to have a professional involved to create your dream outdoor kitchen. There are a few basics you will want to know before getting into the details of your outdoor kitchen.


Creating an outdoor kitchen is the same concept as to how we would start creating an indoor kitchen. The appliances are a must have, and the basic design of any kitchen is starting the work triangle. The work triangle in the outdoor kitchen would be centered around the cooking device. The grill for most people is the essential item and primary cooking device.  However, there is a separate cooktop to consider~the barbecue smoker for those meat lovers of smoked foods, and let’s not forget the pizza oven to bring that favorite grilled crust to your guest. The next point in the work triangle would be the beverage fridge, which is a must have for the frosty beverages we love so much in the summertime. Depending on your clients, you may want to incorporate the wine fridge or the keg fridge (whichever fridge suits your clients needs, so they don’t have to run inside for those necessary refills). Finally, to close the work triangle is the cleaning station. You will want to have a sink, so everyone and every utensil can stay clean and germ free.  The best part is you’ve never left your guest side to provide any of the essentials when cooking and creating tasty meals.

Once you have thought about the necessity of appliances, you can start to see a shape taking place for your outdoor kitchen. Now you are going to need storage and countertops to prep your food. The selection of materials for outdoor kitchens are those that can withstand the weather in all seasons.  Here in Michigan the weather can change several times in a given day. It’s also a great idea to incorporate your outdoor kitchen with your landscaping. You could provide a pergola or covered porch area to help shelter your space from wind, rain, and snow.


The materials selection for your storage and countertops are going to create that unique look and personalize your ideal outdoor kitchen space.  If you want a space built to last a lifetime, then I suggest brick. Your appliances are built right into the structure as if they emerged out of the earth together. This type of outdoor space would require an experienced mason and would be the more expensive approach. There are stone shape and color options that make it a great way to incorporate your landscaping together.

The opposite approach would be to use stainless steel. Do you want that streamline look and feel of cleanliness? Then stainless steel creates that contemporary feel and modernizes your space. Stainless steel countertops have been used in the commercial industry as well and are a great option to prep and prepare your favorite dishes.

Out door kitchen concrete

If neither of these options sounds pleasing to you, then there is also a marine grade plywood that has been used on boats for years. Marine grade plywood is used to build the cabinet boxes, giving that look of an indoor kitchen, but with the ability to withstand the outdoor elements.  As the popularity of outdoor spaces increases, we are seeing improvements in the selection for this material as well as fun color options.

Now to top it all off, we need a countertop. Traditionally we would see granite or stainless countertops used in outdoor kitchens. However, concrete is making a big statement as well in the outdoor kitchen arena. There are several color options and surface applications to consider. Your countertops are not just for prepping your food, but they also provide a surface for your guests to sit around and have a beverage, or lay out that buffet.


There are so many ways to make your outdoor kitchen unique. It all starts with the materials you choose and the elements you incorporate into your design (along with the help of your professional designer). Creating the perfect outdoor kitchen is no easy task.  You want to make sure you do your research, hire professionals who have experience in that particular area of design, and choose quality products to last a lifetime.

Bon Appetit, Jamie