If you love bringing your indoor style outside, we’ve got you covered on how to create a great outdoor entertaining space. In fact, the construction of luxurious outdoor kitchens and entertaining areas is one of the biggest home trends in our area. They command a strong return on investment and nab year-long appeal in our mostly-temperate Central Texas weather. These spaces allow homeowners to relax, dine and celebrate in the comfort of their own home rather than heading out to restaurants or bar patios. Entertaining at home happens in style.

Getting Started

First, think welcoming and functional entertaining. The space should flow seamlessly, much like a house with an open floor-plan. Incorporate the clean lines and design elements from your interior into this outdoor space to tie everything together.

Kitchen

The heart of the home is also the heart of the outdoors. Plan the outdoor kitchen in close proximity to your indoor kitchen, as most prep work and storage is done inside. Consider installing some sort of roof or cover, as shelter from outdoor elements is also important for year-round use.

As you plan your outdoor kitchen space, think about the following: task lighting, sink and water supply and electrical outlets. It is important to include adequate counter space or your kitchen will not be functional. All appliances will need “landing areas,” or space where work can be done, cooking supplies stacked or food served. The following are general rules of thumb for counter space: sinks need 18 inches of open counter on either side; grills need 12 inches on one side and 24 on the other; if a sink sits next to a grill, there should be 36 inches of space between them.

The most popular countertop material is stone, including Texas stone, as it endures weather and sun well. Soapstone, granite or even glazed lavastone are recommended in rapid freeze/thaw areas. Other more modern finishes include concrete, Dekton and porcelain slabs like Neolith. Ongoing maintenance is important for your countertops; plan on sealing them a few times each year (unless your countertop professional recommends otherwise).

Outdoor kitchen equipment is an evolution of indoor amenities with a durability twist. Below are just a few options:

  • Weather-tight storage cabinets that include racks and deep or shallow drawers

  • Food-safe refrigeration (consider a multi-drawer unit)

  • Beverage center

  • Outdoor-rated dishwasher

  • Built-in grill

  • Built-in Big Green Egg or smoker

  • Built-in Artisan Fire Pizza Oven

Fireplace

A fire in an outdoor fireplace is appropriate anytime and serves as the perfect focal point in your outdoor gathering area. This investment also aids year-round functionality; you will be able to enjoy the outdoors whether it is hot or cold.

Ambiance

Lighting is important, even outdoors. Nothing kills ambiance like harsh lighting at night. Opt for integrated recessed LED lighting underneath your kitchen counters and other incognito areas.

Furniture Lounge Set

The days of rickety plastic poolside chairs are gone. Design for comfort in your outdoor entertaining space. Choose an all-weather outdoor lounge set. These pieces will be an extension of the interior of your home.

Return on Investment

ROI is crucial with any home improvement. Adding an outdoor kitchen garners a whopping 100-200% return on investment, according to Inman and Williams Ski & Patio. Variations depend on climate, with higher ROI in warmer areas like Central Texas. The use of more durable materials also improves ROI.

Sources:

Inman, Outdoor Renovation Projects with the Highest Return on Investments, Staff Writer, July 9, 2015.

Williams Ski & Patio, Outdoor Renovation and Design Ideas, Blog, May 8, 2015.