An Interior Designer’s Guide To The Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

Our summers are short. From March through to July and into November, an outdoor kitchen allows us to share our food experiences with family and friends extending our outdoor playtime. More people are choosing to invest in their homes and backyards rather than vacationing elsewhere.

Before planning and spending on this space, ask yourself some simple questions:

How much time do I want to devote to maintenance? What’s critical-to-have, must-have, and nice to have? Knowing this will save you a lot of grief and disappointment.

Critical To Know

Safety first! Make sure you meet your region’s building and fire codes. There’s a difference between a code for building a house and a code for preventing open flames, and in-and-near a building. They are two different things. Protect combustible materials.

Choosing Cabinets and Materials

Cabinets and counters need to be corrosion and weather resistant, low maintenance and made with stable materials. ALL materials expand and contract with temperature change and moisture. The sun fades colours and natural materials breakdown over time. There are 3 types of cabinetry-based kitchens for outdoor use: HDPE/Polymer, Wood and Stainless Steel.

Polymer: Waterproof, sun-safe, available in a variety of solid colours, lower maintenance, plastic, and of variable durability.

Wood: Flexible design requires some maintenance, most affordable, and it is not fire-resistant.

Stainless Steel: Heat and fire-resistant, non-corrosive, easy to clean, available in powdered-coated colours. It does need to be covered up to protect it from soot, soil and environmental pollution.

Things to Consider

Appearance: What do I want to see when I look outside my kitchen window? Choose your landscaping and furniture for that perfect outdoor style.

Clean-Up: Install a sink with water. You may not want to use your indoor kitchen to clean greasy, sooty stuff. Plan ahead for plumbing.

Heating and Electrical: Layer your heat sources. Consider heat lamps, fire pits or a built-in infrared heater. Make sure you put in multiple outlets that meet the fire code pertinent to your municipality. Plan ahead for electrical.

Shade: Create shade from the sun and protection from the rain with pergolas, retractable patio covers or tents.

Stay Cool: Cool yourself off with fans, misters or rugs to shield you from the hot floor, and use light-coloured furniture.

Layout and Seating: Transition your rooms with removable screens, doors and walls. Offer a variety of seating – low Muskoka chairs, chaise lounges, stools and benches.

Storage Space: The ultimate amenity. Think of what else needs to be stored – like equipment, furniture, sports and hobbies. You don’t want to run back and forth from the house or garage to the outdoor living area.

Small Spaces – Condo Balconies and Terraces

Electric grills make outdoor eating possible despite strict fire and safety codes. Brown Jordan has fully assembled kitchens for terraces, to be lifted by a crane, or custom units transported by a service elevator.

Nice To Have And Trending

Specialty right-sized appliances replacing mammoth grilles. These can include: Argentinian grills, smokers, side burners, pizza ovens, fridges, dishwashers, beer on tap, espresso machines, ice makers and Kamado-style grills (a.k.a. “ eggs”). Lighting schemes, TVs and sound systems can also be a great addition. Treat this space as another room of the house.

Adding Value To Your Home

Outdoor kitchens seem to be replacing the pool as an add-on feature. It increases your competitive edge when selling because people will imagine themselves having great times in their new backyard.

Good design blurs the lines between the indoors and the outdoors. What creative ways do you use to create your very own private outdoor oasis?

An exercise in elegance and luxury

The sophisticated design approach for this gym and recreational facility in the upscale Rosedale neighbourhood in Toronto ties in with its surroundings through the use of luxurious materials and finishes like brass and copper, thus creating a theme of elegance.

Interior Designer:  Siavash Mahdieh, ARIDO


Photographer: Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

Rosedale Club front window showcasing the elegant reception and waiting area inside.

The design team looked after programming and pre-design, schematic design, design development, and construction administration of this 18,000 square foot facility.

The main objective behind the design solution for this interior was to create an elegant and modern design direction harmonious with the sophisticated surrounding neighbourhood. To achieve that, first several interior walls had to be removed to create an open concept and enable an unobstructed view from the outside, to tie in the interior with its upscale surroundings.

Then, it was important to designate specific areas of the interior to accommodate the different fitness and exercise areas, as well as the lounge area and reception, the three sales offices, nutritionist and healthcare assistant office space, and the juice and bar area.

An open concept vapor fireplace, featured at the floor level transition, hides the difference between floor levels and turns the 200 square feet at the front window into a lounge area. This created an elegant display at the front window without blocking the view to inside space. The circular seating area in front of the reception creates an effective traffic flow that separates the reception from the lounge and juice bar.