Outdoor Kitchens In The 21st Century

When it comes to life in the twenty-first century kitchen, we’re not quite at the stage where we’ve all got robot maids who crack snarky jokes at our expense. We don’t have instant meals ordered up by computer as it’s done in science fiction stories either but, things have certainly changed all the same.

Outdoor Kitchen (Thailand)
Image credit: DesignMine Private Gallery

Most of the useful changes to kitchens in the twenty-first century haven’t come primarily out of gadgetry. It’s sprung from a change in approach and this has meant that instead of thinking about fantastical high-tech gadgets of the future, we’ve made a return to something our ancestors turned to; the outdoor kitchen, or “the summer kitchen”, to supplement the one we use indoors. Outdoor kitchens represent unique value to a home in a number of ways. Here are some of them.

Outdoor kitchens adds meaning to an exterior space

Outdoor kitchens and the dining areas often attached to an outside space may be the best example of a more meaningful use of a whole property. This is because they add value to human activity; cooking, eating, connecting with each other, extending all of those common activities from interiors to exteriors. This is preferable to backyards just being tacked onto a property with no sense of continuity to those interiors, or no specific purpose that defines life in an exterior some meaningful way. Making things meaningful to people is the real power to creating continuity in anything.

There are a lot of stylistic and practical elements to this that make this sense of meaning possible in an outdoor kitchen; appliances, new surfacing like pavers and deck planks, new countertops, heating, furniture, and more. But, mostly it’s about creating more chances for real and vital human interaction and comfort, which is the reason to install all of those physical elements in the first place. This is more than just a way to create design continuity or boost the value of a property, although all of that’s important too. What outdoor kitchens and dining spaces really represent is a way to set the stage for memories of good times spent with your favorite people.

Outdoor kitchens re-define what a “room” means

Here’s another paradigm shift when it comes to an outdoor kitchen in a twenty-first century home. It’s a room, a real one. This is an era in which simply moving to a bigger home isn’t as easy as it once was. So, creating an extra room has become a logical pursuit for the modern homeowner. And starting with an outdoor kitchen to encourage that vital human activity and interaction mentioned above is a useful catalyst to actually expand your perception of where your home starts and ends.

Image credit: Tiger’s Testing Service

Depending on your climate, an outdoor kitchen offers this function uniquely. Think about how busy and traffic-clogged your indoor kitchen can get. What would happen if you could create a whole new one with practically the same features and capacities, and more handy to where everyone is going to gather? You’d have a whole extra room! Actually, you’d often have two, if you include a dining space. Suddenly, your patio or your deck ceases to be just an extra. It helps you achieve that bigger home without having to pack one box.

Outdoor kitchens make us more comfortable

All spaces should be planned with comfort in mind. Because homes are made for people to live in, right? So, how does an outdoor kitchen uniquely help to boost comfort levels? Well, let’s start with something literally elemental – heat. Think about how hot your kitchen can get in the summertime. Cooking a simple meal can become an act of creating a localized heat wave all over the house. Who needs that? That’s why our ancestors routinely used “summer kitchens” in the days before HVAC systems and air conditioning (and big energy bills!).

Cooking the same meals in an outdoor kitchen helps to keep things cool inside. It helps you use less of the AC, too. Now, many people eat more salads and other literally cool meals in the summertime, which is still a great idea. But, here’s the thing; whatever the meal happens to be, I’ve always thought that any meal tastes better outside, especially in the summertime. And I’m not just talking about food off of the grill (but, I am including it!). Eating any great meal outside, surrounded by nature is more than simply comfortable. I think it’s spiritually soothing, offering another sort of connection.

Outdoor kitchens open up possibilities          

That’s really what we’re talking about here; possibilities. Re-imagining an outdoor dining and cooking space is about opening up the potential in your space. It’s about thinking about the kinds of activities and experiences that make you the happiest. It’s about how you define your life at home in general, customizing spaces to suit you and your family.

An outdoor kitchen is a popular project around which to plan and hire professional installers. This is because it checks off so many boxes when it comes to improving your home, and enhancing your enjoyment while you spend time in it.

When you plan spaces for your own needs, interests, sense of meaning, and comfort, that’s when you’re really cooking.


Rob Jones is a writer, editor, communications professional, and Editor-In-Chief of the BuildDirect Blog: Life at Home. One of his favorite things is the aroma of delicious food cooking outdoors. Another is being invited to dinner!