7 Hot Outdoor Kitchen Trends and Ideas for 2021

Remember the days when backyard cooking areas were simple and rather boring?

They included little more than a basic grill and a wobbly side table overloaded with meats, condiments, and grilling tools.

This may even describe your current outdoor cooking setup.

Times have changed, however. Current outdoor kitchen trends have seen the outdoor living experience go upscale.

outdoor kitchen trends toronto

Modern outdoor kitchen designs can provide homeowners with attractive, high-functioning spaces. That extends to entertaining outdoors, too. After all, grilling and outdoor entertaining go hand in hand!

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to make some home upgrades? Adding an outdoor cooking and entertaining space in 2021 is a great way to get more enjoyment from your home.

Outdoor kitchens are the most popular kitchen upgrade project

Forbes recently wrote that “outdoor kitchens and living areas are trending strongly and richly, with more enhancements than ever before”.

An American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey also shows the popularity of outdoor kitchen additions.

500 design professionals were asked about their predictions for home design trends. 45% of the architects believed outdoor kitchens would be the most popular kitchen product and feature in the coming years.

This is a big deal because that’s among any kitchen project, including indoor kitchens.

Outdoor kitchen trends to make your space great

We all spent more time at home in 2020 than ever before. Getting outdoors whenever the weather was nice provided a welcome escape from the confines of our indoor spaces.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to enjoy many warm weather activities. Opportunities to travel, go to the beach, attend outdoor concerts, or go to an amusement park were few and far between.

That made our backyards incredibly vital. Did your backyard allow you to fully enjoy the time that was spent outdoors in the spring, summer, and early fall?

Life will soon return to normal. Eventually, social activities like having our friends, families, and neighbours over for a backyard cookout will be something that’s appreciated more than ever.

people watching man grilling in outdoor kitchen

When life returns to normal, we’ll appreciate social activities like an outdoor cookout more than ever.

An outdoor kitchen doesn’t require a lot of room. They typically range from 100 to 400 square feet. A smaller, relatively simple kitchen setup in the corner of a deck or patio can do quite a lot.

Or you can go bigger and more elaborate with your outdoor kitchen design. The more sophisticated designs of modern interior kitchens are being used in outdoor spaces. Adding a dining and lounging area to an outdoor kitchen space gives you the full outdoor living experience.

In 2021, make plans to extend your home’s living space to the backyard with an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area.

We took a look at what real estate and home design professionals are projecting to be the hot outdoor kitchen trends. Use their expertise about what essential features your outdoor living space should include to make it exceptional.

1. Use a premium grill

The grill is an outdoor kitchen’s centrepiece. Any upscale exterior kitchen needs a high-quality cooking appliance worthy of a professional chef.

Consider premium grill brands like Alfresco, Coyote, Lynx, and DCS. They make fine-tuned products that are far superior to even the highest-end grill models you’ll find in your local big-box store.

It starts with the construction. Any grill needs to be able to last and work properly in the ever-changing Canadian weather, even if it’s covered up during the winter.

Premium propane and natural gas grills use high-quality stainless steel and construction materials. This ensures long-lasting durability and reliable performance.

DCS premium grill

Grills with expansive cooking surfaces are a must-have for anyone who likes to entertain. Handy extras like a smoking box and rotisserie are also essential for those who take their grilling seriously.

Today’s luxury grills also come with some very swanky modern features. Here are a few examples:

  • backlit control knobs, interior lighting, and halogen surface lights
  • advanced tech to automatically maintain a preset temperature
  • smart controls that respond to voice commands and smart devices
  • hood assist systems that make opening the grill hood almost effortless

Standalone grills used to be the standard for an outdoor cooking space. One of the growing outdoor kitchen trends includes incorporating a built-in grill into the kitchen’s design. This saves space, looks professional and elegant, and creates a more efficient workspace.

2. Plenty of kitchen storage space

You can’t call a space a kitchen without cabinetry. Naturally, an outdoor kitchen requires a special type of cabinetry.

Outdoor kitchen cabinets must be durable enough to handle being outdoors and look appealing. They need to maximize your kitchen’s storage space as well.

Stainless steel is the material of choice for built-in cabinet systems used in the majority of outdoor kitchens.

Brands like Brown Jordan and Danver are made with commercial-grade stainless steel for superior durability. Powder-coated finishes ensure the cabinets stay rust-free for many years.

outdoor kitchen with grill and grey cabinets

Danver cabinets were used for this outdoor kitchen.

Stainless steel cabinets have a sleek look that can be customized to match your style preferences. They also complement nicely with the look of your grill and other outdoor kitchen features.

Another weatherproof cabinet option is a hi-density resin cabinet system. NatureKast offers this type of cabinet, which replicates the texture and natural colour of real wood remarkably well.

Marine-grade aluminum kitchen cabinets are also engineered to withstand harsh weather and climates. Quebec’s Urban Bonfire is one of the leading manufacturers of this type of outdoor cabinet.

3. A sturdy and attractive outdoor kitchen countertop

An outdoor kitchen countertop has three main functions. It has to:

  • have a resilient surface that can handle the requirements for a food prep area
  • be engineered for long-lasting structural and aesthetic integrity outdoors
  • visually complement the kitchen’s other stylish features

Some of the more common types of countertop materials include marble, granite, porcelain, soapstone, and concrete.

One of the outdoor kitchen trends we’re seeing more with countertops is to use surfaces made with sintering technology. This high-tech manufacturing process produces extremely durable surfaces that are highly customizable.

Any higher-quality outdoor kitchen countertop will be non-porous. It should also provide strong resistance to abrasions, stains, chemicals, and ultraviolet light (which prevents the surface colour from fading over time).

4. A full-service food prep area

A well-designed outdoor kitchen should include a full-service food prep area. A practical layout for everything allows you to work more efficiently.

The need for good lighting and an ample amount of counter space is a given.

Having every amenity you’ll need to handle all of your food prep is helpful, too. Cooking for a group of people is a lot of work. There’s no time to waste shuttling in and out of the house to use cooking appliances or retrieve a needed item!

warming drawer in outdoor kitchen

Convenient kitchen amenities like a built-in warming drawer make outdoor cooking easier.

There are a full complement of interior kitchen amenities that can be added to an outdoor kitchen. Here are a few examples, including some essential outdoor kitchen appliances:

  • faucet and sink
  • built-in countertop side burners
  • flat-top grill
  • outdoor pizza oven
  • countertop steam table
  • warming drawer
  • refrigeration and ice-making appliances

5. Plenty of refrigeration

Let’s look a little closer at refrigeration in an outdoor kitchen. Having enough ice and keeping things cool are both a big part of the outdoor cooking and entertaining experience.

Have your outdoor kitchen designed so it’s fully equipped to take care of both the host’s and guest’s refrigeration needs.

An outdoor cooking area with proper refrigeration saves you from making trips to your indoor fridge or freezer to restock on meats.

It saves guests from needing to make trips inside to get a fresh, cold drink. You also won’t have to keep coolers or tubs of ice filled with bottled beverages scattered around your outdoor entertaining area.

There’s no shortage of outdoor kitchen refrigeration options available. Top outdoor appliance brands like Alfresco and Lynx offer under-grill refrigerators, wine fridges, built-in under-counter fridges, and professional fridge/freezer combos.

How about adding an outdoor ice machine? Lynx has an energy-efficient appliance that can produce almost 40 pounds of ice. It even provides audible alerts and programmed cleaning reminders.

6. Tasteful décor

The attention you pay to the design and décor of an indoor living space should extend to your outdoor living space as well.

The modern concept of “style continuity” in the home (where there’s a natural decorative flow from room to room) drives another of the outdoor kitchen trends designers love.

More and more, the décor of outdoor kitchens complements the style of an interior kitchen or the closest room to the outdoor kitchen.

Decorative flair can also be used to accentuate the already-impressive looks of a premium grill, cabinet system, and countertop. Extra touches like including cabinet backsplashes and decorative moulding elements add to the kitchen’s visual appeal.

7. Add-on outdoor kitchen features

We’ve covered a lot with these outdoor kitchen trends and ideas, but there’s still more you can do to elevate your outdoor living experience.

Here are some more features and design elements to consider adding to your outdoor living space:

  • an outdoor fireplace or fire pit
  • high-end outdoor furniture
  • an outdoor TV
  • landscape lighting to boost the ambiance in your outdoor lounge area
  • an integrated sound system with hidden speakers and wiring
  • a herb garden close to the food prep area
  • overhead covering for added comfort
outdoor living space

Elevate your outdoor living experience with things like high-quality patio furniture, a fireplace, and a TV.

Adopt these outdoor kitchen trends for your cooking space

All of these outdoor kitchen trends and essential features will contribute immensely to your enjoyment of your backyard.

When you can enjoy the full outdoor living experience, you just might find that your backyard even replaces the living room as your home’s go-to social hub!

If you’re planning to upgrade or add an outdoor kitchen in your home this year, request a design consultation with Outeriors.

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How To Winterize Your Outdoor Kitchen

The outdoor cooking season is never long enough in Canada and the time arrives every year when an outdoor kitchen needs to closed up until next spring, unfortunately.

To protect the investment you’ve made in your outdoor kitchen, there are a few things you need to do to prepare the space for its months of winter inactivity.

Take the time once a year to follow these steps to winterize your outdoor kitchen. You’ll extend the life of your kitchen and its components.

Doing a little extra work now also results in minimal set-up being required when you’re itching to get that first big outdoor cookout started in the spring.

winterize your outdoor kitchen

Shut off your outdoor kitchen’s water supply

Turning off an outdoor cooking space’s water connection is one of the most important steps to winterize your outdoor kitchen.

Frozen water lines and burst pipes can cause expensive damage not just to your plumbing infrastructure, but to the outdoor sink and appliances they’re hooked up to.

Once your outdoor water connection has been shut off, drain the water supply lines by turning on the sink’s faucet(s). Make sure any water is also drained from any lines hooked up to your outdoor fridge and ice maker.

Winterize your outdoor kitchen sink

With the water supply shut off and all water lines and pipes drained, there are only a few more quick steps to winterize your outdoor kitchen sink.

Even though your outdoor sink is made with durable stainless steel, it should still be covered up to protect it from unnecessary exposure to the elements over the winter months.

You don’t want it filling up with rain water, snow, and sleet that will go down your drain and potentially cause damage. A sink cover is also needed to keep out any type of debris that can clog up your pipes, such as leaves.

Try to find a sink cover that is built specifically for your outdoor sink model so that it fits snugly. It’s worth paying a little more for a high-quality sink cover that won’t deteriorate or start fading after a few years of use. Covers made with carbon fibre vinyl are considered quite reliable.

A good sink cover should cover up the faucet as well, but you may wish to disconnect your faucet and store it inside over the winter, especially if it’s expensive.

Get your grill winter-ready

The end of the cooking season is when outdoor grills should get the most cleaning and maintenance attention. Give your grill some TLC so it will be good to go in the spring or be ready to use if you get a mid-January craving for some barbecued steaks.

Remove the grill’s grates and warming rack and scrub off any grease and food residue with a degreaser using a wire brush. Make an effort to get to all those other hard-to-reach corners of the grill and don’t forget to clean up around the burners, too. Once all the heavy-duty grill cleaning is done, use a stainless steel cleaner to give the grill a good polish.

Grilling experts recommend seasoning your grill regularly and before being stored for the winter. This involves firing up the grill (without food) for a short period after coating the grates and burners with a cooking oil to protect against rust, prevent food from sticking, and to remove contaminants.

outdoor kitchen grill

Afterwards, shut off the gas line if it’s a natural gas grill. Disconnect the gas line and cover up any openings on the end of the line and where it connects to the grill so no insects get inside.

If you have a propane grill and don’t plan to use it in the winter, disconnect the propane tank and store it upright outdoors in a well-ventilated area. To prevent the tank from rusting, keep it in a covered area (you can purchase a fabric cover or a tank container for winter storage). Never store a propane tank in an enclosed space like a garage or shed.

Your final step to winterize your outdoor kitchen grill is to cover it. As with the sink, use a cover made specifically for the appliance. A weatherproof cover made with a synthetic material that can breathe a little will prevent moisture from being trapped inside the cover.

Winterize your outdoor kitchen cabinets

What you do to winterize your outdoor kitchen cabinets will depend on what type of material they’re made from.

Stainless steel is the most common type of outdoor cabinet material. If you’ve invested in an excellent brand like Brown Jordan or Danver, they will be made using a high-quality, rust-resistant material such as 304 stainless steel.

High-end stainless steel cabinets also have low-maintenance powder-coated finishes that provide additional protection against the weather. A stainless steel polish can also help preserve the cabinets’ appearance and minimize the effects of exposure to moisture.

Danver advises that “although powder-coated stainless steel can be left uncovered in the winter months, covering adds extra protection which can never hurt”.

outdoor kitchen countertop

NatureKast makes a unique type of outdoor cabinet that is 100% weatherproof. Manufactured using a technologically advanced hi-resin system that replicates the look of real wood, their PVC cabinets are as maintenance-free as it gets. As you can see in this gallery on their site, their cabinets can sit uncovered throughout the winter, even in areas that get lots of snow.

Wood outdoor cabinets will require the most maintenance to get them ready for the winter. Wood is more susceptible to warping and moisture damage, so they need to be sealed or oiled every year.

Outdoor countertop winter preparation

As you have noticed, there’s a recurring theme that comes up when describing the materials the items in an outdoor kitchen are manufactured with – resilience.

Outdoor kitchen countertops are no exception. A premium outdoor countertop should last you for many years and modern technology allows manufacturers to engineer them for multiple applications including:

  • weather-proofing construction that provides moisture, UV, and thermal expansion protection
  • superior durability as both a work and dining surface that protects against scratches, stains, and heat
  • the ability to create an endless number of attractive custom designs

As with outdoor cabinets, the countertop’s material will determine what you need to do with them when winter arrives. Certain types of countertops require occasional sealer applications to prevent the finish from wearing down from prolonged exposure to the elements.

Some countertop brands offer products that require no sealer applications. Dekton is one of them. Their countertops are made using a highly advanced sinterized particle technology that produces ultra-resilient work surfaces.

Winterize your outdoor kitchen appliances

Unplug all of your outdoor kitchen appliances. Most high-quality outdoor kitchen appliances shouldn’t need to be brought indoors for the winter because they’re specifically constructed to withstand long-term exposure outside.

outdoor ice machineIt may seem wise to cover all of your outdoor kitchen appliances for their winter hibernation, but this can do more harm than good in some cases.

Things like built-in side burners and flattop grills will likely need covering, but covering some of your other appliances may trap moisture, which can potentially cause damage to the product. Check the manuals of your appliances to see what the manufacturer recommends for them in preparation for the winter.

It’s advisable that during the cooking season, you give your appliances an occasional cleaning. They should always be thoroughly cleaned when your outdoor kitchen is closed up for the year to preserve their finish and create less cleaning work in the spring.

Ensure all the water is drained from the lines of any outdoor kitchen appliances that are connected to a water supply, such as a fridge, ice maker, beverage dispenser, and dishwasher.

Once all the food and condiments have been removed from an outdoor fridge, clean the inside of it with some soap and water and make sure the interior is dry.

Don’t forget about the outdoor range hood

Some grills that are in an enclosed or semi-enclosed area have grill hoods installed. They work just like an indoor range hood by extracting smoke, odours, grease, and heat.

Because of the nature of what they do, an exterior grill hood is probably the item in your kitchen that gets the dirtiest during the cooking season aside from the grill itself.

Outdoor range hoods are most commonly made with stainless steel, so give the inside and outside of the hood a thorough cleaning with a good stainless steel cleaner. If there is a lot of grease and grime built up in some areas, use a degreaser.

Many outdoor range hood models also have removable filters that are dishwasher-safe.

Tips for extending your outdoor kitchen’s season

How can you extend your outdoor kitchen’s season to get a little more enjoyment out of it when the weather won’t cooperate?

A roof covering for a porch or attached patio will help all year-round, not just for your comfort but to keep the contents of an outdoor kitchen shielded from any precipitation. Having an enclosed or semi-enclosed outdoor cooking space is even better.

patio with fire pit at night

A few types of heat sources can be added to an outdoor cooking and entertaining space for ambiance and more comfort. The most popular options include:

  • outdoor fire pits
  • outdoor fireplaces or wood stoves
  • patio heaters

Upgrade or design your outdoor kitchen space

We hope these tips for helping you winterize your outdoor kitchen have been helpful.

Keep in mind that these are general guidelines that will help maintain the appearance and functionality of your outdoor kitchen. With a new kitchen you’re preparing for the winter for the first time, double-check with the product manufacturers and your outdoor kitchen installer to ensure you’re using the best kitchen care practices.

If the outdoor kitchen you’re planning to winterize could use some upgrades to turn it into an even more valuable extension of your living space, contact us.

Outeriors will work with you to create a beautiful outdoor cooking space you’ll be disappointed to close up in the late fall and look forward to using when the spring arrives.

Schedule a design consultation with us.

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