Elevate your Landscape Design with a Stunning Outdoor Kitchen

The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Kitchen Design 

Outdoor kitchens are one of our absolute favorite additions to any landscape design. They provide more than just a space to cook; they represent a lifestyle. An outdoor kitchen becomes the focal point where friends and family gather, boosting your home’s value while expanding your culinary horizons. Designing an outdoor kitchen is a lot like designing its indoor counterpart, requiring thoughtful consideration of layout, appliances, materials, and aesthetics. It can seem a little overwhelming, but fret not- we are here to simplify the process and guide you through everything you need to know to design and build your dream outdoor kitchen.

At FiveSTAR Landscape, we specialize in custom landscape design and installation in Houston, Texas, we bring years of expertise in transforming outdoor spaces into stunning and functional environments. Outdoor kitchens are one of our favorite things to incorporate into any landscape. Here is why we love outdoor kitchens—and why you should too!

Why We Love Outdoor Kitchens (-and Why You Should to!)

The Lifestyle: Outdoor kitchens transform your backyard into a functional and inviting space where cooking, dining, and socializing seamlessly come together. Picture hosting a summer barbecue with friends gathered around a built-in grill or enjoying a cozy winter evening with a crackling fire in your outdoor fireplace. These spaces encourage outdoor living, making every meal an opportunity to create lasting memories from the comfort of your backyard.

Unique Appliances, Pizza Ovens, Smokers, and More: Outdoor kitchens offer the flexibility to add specialized appliances like pizza ovens for that authentic wood-fired flavor or smokers for succulent, slow-cooked meats. These features expand your culinary repertoire and add a novel touch to home cooking. Whether you are making weeknight pizzas with the kids or smoking meats for weekend BBQ, an outdoor kitchen opens up worlds of possibilities.

Increase in Home Value: Investing in an outdoor kitchen is not just about elevating your lifestyle—it’s a strategic move that enhances your home’s market appeal. Studies show that outdoor kitchens can provide significant returns on investment, with potential property value increases ranging from 5% to 15%, depending on the setup’s quality and features. Homebuyers increasingly value outdoor living spaces, making an outdoor kitchen a standout feature in the competitive real estate market.

Houston’s Climate:  Houston’s mild winters and sunny summers make it an ideal location for outdoor kitchens. This isn’t just a seasonal luxury—it is a year-round upgrade to your quality of life. Whether grilling steaks on a warm spring night or sipping cocoa by an outdoor fireplace in winter, Houston’s climate ensures you maximize your outdoor kitchen’s use throughout the year.

Essential Considerations for Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen

Scope: How Much Space Do You Have?

Outdoor kitchens can fit into any landscape, but the available space will influence your design choices. Here are some tips based on different yard sizes:

Small Spaces: Focus on essentials like a built-in grill, counter space, and storage. A retractable awning can provide shade without taking up much space.

Medium Spaces: Add extra appliances like a smoker or pizza oven, seating areas, and larger coverage options like a pergola.

Large Spaces: The sky is the limit with full kitchen setups, dining areas, luxury features like fire pits, and extensive shade solutions like pavilions.


Choosing the optimal location for your outdoor kitchen is crucial for functionality and aesthetics. Consider factors like the kitchen’s proximity to your house, pool, or hot tub, prevailing wind directions, natural shade, and how it fits into the overall flow of your backyard.

Some key points:

  • Proximity to your Home: Placing your outdoor kitchen close to your home makes it easier to transport food and supplies back and forth. Access to existing plumbing, gas lines, and electricity can simplify the installation process and reduce cost significantly
  • Wind Direction: Be sure to position your grill and other cooking appliances so that smoke is blown away from dining and lounging areas. Consider prevailing wind directions to keep the kitchen area comfortable and reduce the impact of smoke and odors.
  • Shade: Position the kitchen where it will benefit from natural shade during the hottest parts of the day. If natural shade is not available, plan to install shade structures. If possible, ensure the kitchen is sheltered from wind and rain to extend its usability throughout the year
  • Functionality and Flow: Design the layout to allow easy movement between the cooking, preparation, and dining areas. If possible, we recommend positioning your outdoor kitchen to either maximize space in the rest of the yard or in a central location where the cook can interact with guests and enjoy the view- much like an open floor plan in a home. It all depends on how you are going to be using the space.

Selecting Appliances and Materials

Selecting the right appliances and materials for your outdoor kitchen is crucial for longevity and functionality.

Grills and Smokers:

  • Gas Grills: Popular for their convenience and precise temperature control. Stainless steel models are durable and rust-resistant.
  • Smokers: Ideal for slow-cooking and imparting rich flavors to meats. Opt for a sturdy model designed specifically for outdoor use.

Pizza Ovens:

  • Wood Fired: Adds a unique, smoky flavor to pizzas but requires regular maintenance to keep in top shape.
  • Gas-Powered: Heats up quickly and easier to maintain, perfect for hassle-free pizza nights.

Refrigerators: Choose models designed for outdoor use to withstand temperature fluctuations and humidity, ensuring food stays fresh.

Sinks: Stainless steel sinks are weather-resistant, durable, and easy to maintain, ideal for outdoor kitchens.


  • Granite: Extremely durable, scratch-resistant, and available in various colors and patterns.
  • Concrete: Highly customizable, durable, but requires regular sealing to prevent staining.
  • Stainless Steel: Non-porous, hygienic, and resistant to weather and temperature changes, though prone to scratches and fingerprints.
  • Tile: Versatile with a wide range of styles and colors. Durable, with the ability to replace individual tiles if damaged, though grout lines require regular cleaning and sealing.

Storage: Efficient storage solutions are essential for maintaining an organized outdoor kitchen.

  • Cabinets: Opt for materials like stainless steel, marine-grade polymer, or treated wood to withstand outdoor conditions. Mix drawers and cabinets for storing utensils, cookware, and supplies.
  • Shelving: Combine open shelves for easy access to frequently used items with closed cabinets to protect items from the elements.
  • Hooks and Racks: Useful for keeping utensils within reach and storing pots and pans, saving valuable counter space.

Lighting: Enhancing Ambiance and Functionality

Proper lighting is essential for safety, functionality, and creating the right ambiance for your outdoor kitchen.

  • Task Lighting: Ensure cooking and prep areas, including the grill, are well-lit for safe and efficient cooking. Under-cabinet lighting can add both functionality and a modern touch.
  • Ambient Lighting: Decorative options like string lights and lanterns are budget-friendly ways to create a warm, inviting atmosphere. They can be strung over pergolas, trees, or along fences, and lanterns placed on countertops or around dining areas.
  • Accent Lighting: Pathway lights and spotlights guide guests and highlight key areas such as kitchen islands or dining spaces.

Protecting your Outdoor Kitchen

Shielding your outdoor kitchen from the elements is crucial for its longevity and functionality. Here are some effective options to consider based on your budget and available space:

  • Pergolas: Open lattice structures that blend sun and shade, customizable with wood, vinyl, or metal materials.
  • Retractable Awnings: Versatile shade solutions offering adjustable sun or shade with a push of a button or crank.
  • Shade Sails: High-quality, UV-resistant fabric canopies that provide style and effective sun protection with a nautical vibe.
  • Gazebos: Solid-roof structures offering complete protection from sun and rain, often equipped with built-in seating and lighting options.
  • Umbrellas: Easily movable and adjustable for smaller areas, providing cost-effective sun protection.
  • Permanent Hardscaping: Structures like solid roofs or pavilions that seamlessly integrate into your outdoor kitchen design, offering comprehensive protection against the elements.

Style and Design: Harmonizing Aesthetics with Your Home

Your outdoor kitchen should harmonize seamlessly with your home and yard’s overall aesthetics. Here are key design tips to achieve this:

  • Matching Materials:Incorporate materials that echo your home’s exterior style. For instance, if your home features brick or stone, integrate similar materials into your outdoor kitchen. Alternatively, opt for contrasting materials to create visual interest while maintaining harmony with your home’s design.


  • Color Scheme:Select a palette that complements your home’s exterior and blends with the surrounding landscape. Earthy tones often blend well in outdoor settings, enhancing the natural ambiance.
  • Design Elements:Choose outdoor furniture that complements your kitchen and landscape design, using weather-resistant materials like teak, wrought iron, or aluminum. Enhance the space with decorative elements such as outdoor rugs, cushions, and potted plants to add personality and comfort. Consider integrating hardscaping features like pathways, patios, or retaining walls to elevate the overall aesthetic appeal.

 Final Thoughts:

When designing and building your dream outdoor kitchen, selecting the right landscape designer is the most crucial decision you’ll make. This decision affects everything from functional aspects such as electrical work to ensuring aesthetic harmony with your home’s design. The designer’s expertise significantly impacts the flow and enjoyment of your outdoor space. Asking the right questions ensures their vision aligns perfectly with yours. Entrusting an experienced professional not only saves time, money, and future headaches but also guarantees the creation of a stunning outdoor kitchen that enhances both your lifestyle and your home’s appeal.


Ready for the Outdoor Kitchen of your Dreams?

At FiveSTAR Landscape, we believe that your outdoor space should be your favorite place. Specializing in creating functional, stunning, and eco-friendly outdoor environments, we prioritize your needs above all else.

Ready to bring your outdoor cooking dreams to life? Contact FiveSTAR Landscape today for a complimentary consultation and let’s design your ideal outdoor kitchen. Our experienced team is passionate about crafting spaces where you can cook, entertain, and make lasting memories with loved ones. Reach out now and discover why homeowners trust FiveSTAR Landscape to transform their visions into reality!