Five Practices For Designing A Luxury Outdoor Kitchen – NKBA
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Five Practices For Designing A Luxury Outdoor Kitchen

Designers in NKBA’s Luxury Outdoor Kitchen Report share insights related to aesthetics, seasons, space, products and ROI.
By Elisa Fernández-Arias

Five key practices are used when designing an outdoor kitchen, according to NKBA’s recently released Luxury Outdoor Kitchen Report. They include combining the inside and outside aesthetics, extending the seasons (and therefore ROI), recouping square footage and more.

Below, the five practices highlighted in the Luxury Outdoor Kitchen report that are necessary to design a successful outdoor kitchen.  


Creating harmony between the outdoor kitchen and the rest of the home is necessary to design a successful outdoor space. Coordinated materials, surfaces and colors help blur the lines between inside and out — and the outdoor space can share the rich colors, layers and textures of interiors. Finally, outdoor furniture and fabrics bring beautiful ‘interior-like’ softness to the outside, sharing the comfort of the indoors with the outdoors.

Timelessness, Evolution and Belonging  

This key practice is often a part of major renovations or ‘phased’ development projects to ensure new additions to a home seem as if they’ve been there since the beginning. Designers said they want to preserve a cohesiveness, which means sourcing aged materials for a ‘built together’ or harmonious look. This means that even if the main home is built decades before the outdoor space, the new outdoor structures can be designed to match.

Product innovation and materials are helping create this seamless experience from the inside to the outdoor space.  

Extending the Season… and ROI  

Extending the season extends the value, which also improves a client’s return on investment. Multiple areas of heated entertainment zones, such as infrared heaters, fireplaces, firepits and hot tubs, help extend the season in outdoor spaces even in the coldest climates. It’s no longer just the value of the interior that drives ROI, but also the outdoor space.

Additionally, designers can make outdoor spaces more accessible even in less than ideal conditions with creative solutions like installing easy to open and close doors and windows that seal off the outdoor entertainment area, or disappearing drop-down bug screens. This also extends the time spent in the outdoor space.

In this project by Larry Rych, one can see the use of tiers in the outdoor space that spills down into the yard with the man-made babbling brook. Photographer: Michael Alan Kaskel.
Discovering, Creating and Recouping Square Footage

Outdoor kitchen and living areas create more square footage for living and entertaining within the same footprint, enabling different rooms for different uses. One particularly effective strategy is to create tiers. For example, one designer reported creating a garden made up of different tiers that had a serene, man-made babbling brook, with the ‘rooms’ spilling down into the yard along with the brook to create different experiences in the space.

Another strategy for creating more space is to go up a level, which creates views, privacy, and luxury entertaining areas out of what was previously thin air. A designer who used this solution created an upper deck with innovative stucco and decorative barrier walls for a home in a crowded neighborhood lot that had privacy issues. The walls of the design made it possible for the homeowner to block neighbors while also enjoying views of the landscape and nearby city lights from their outdoor space.

Crafting the Vision Around the Homeowner’s Passion

Getting to know the client – what they like to do and how they like to entertain – is a must to help the designer prioritize the client’s requests for the outdoor space. One designer, for example, designed the outdoor space specific to their client’s passion for golfing. While the client loved living on a golf course, they preferred to finish rounds with friends at home instead of at the club  – so the designer created an outdoor installation with amenities including a putting green, pool, hot tub, kitchen, bar and lounging areas.

Additional Insights Available

To learn more about these and other insights from the Luxury Outdoor Kitchen research report, download here. To watch the NKBA Summit on Designing the Outdoor Kitchen, go here to view the sessions on demand.