A beautiful outdoor kitchen.

North America may be fading into winter-time activities – which, for a lot of us, are essentially indoor activities – but it’s still a great time to think about what you want for your home when next summer rolls around. One intriguing option is an outdoor kitchen. That’s not to say you should just upgrade your grill and call it good; for the ultimate in summer entertainment, you can literally have an entire kitchen that enjoys the benefits of open air and sunshine. You can work on your tan while you make breakfast, and when you retire to your fire pit in the evening, you’ll have snacks and beverages close by.

The first thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to have access to utilities so that you can power all of your nifty kitchen gadgets. You’ll be able to keep a refrigerator, stove and sink – along with whatever else you may desire – in the outdoor kitchen, so you’ll need to be able to power all of them. You can also start thinking about the decorating scheme; you can use similar colors and textures to make the kitchen feel like it is still a part of your home, although it’s not technically indoors.

Once that’s handled, you can start building cabinets. Unlike cabinets protected by ceilings or garage doors, these will need to be weatherproof. You can use backer board to protect your cabinets from both heat and water. It’s good protection for the cabinets which will house your stove – and because they’re outside, the cabinets will need to be protected from water. You can also install your sink in these cabinets. Building an arbor over the kitchen will help it look more complete, but it can also provide shade and some protection from the elements while you’re outside.

An outdoor kitchen can class up your backyard and make it an ideal place to entertain guests. Instead of relying on a grill and limiting your culinary experiments to different varieties of hotdogs, you can have your whole kitchen at your fingertips without leaving your guests behind. Rather than preparing extra food for your barbeque indoors, you can keep in the spirit of the event by making everything outside. It’s also a great separation of space: the kids can have their friends over and still have access to a kitchen without being in your hair while you’re cooking. Overall it’s a smart way to add more space to your home without having to tear down any walls.

Image credit: flickr.com/photos/31040074@N08/2908311935/