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Luxury Outdoor Kitchen Ideas: What’s Perfect for Your Phoenix, AZ Home?

November 16, 2023

When it comes to overhauling your backyard landscape, there’s one feature many homeowners covet—an outdoor kitchen. They’re enormously popular because they improve home value, expand the entertainment and living space, and make outdoor cooking and dining convenient.

Luxe Backyard Kitchen Built by Straight Line Landscape

You can make your outdoor kitchen as unique as possible. You may even limit your choices to upscale features and materials to enhance your outdoor dining experience and lifestyle. But how do you know which luxury outdoor kitchen ideas are right for you? This blog post discusses the trending luxe outdoor kitchen styles and dives deep into outdoor kitchen appliances and materials.

Outdoor Kitchen Styles

There are infinite ways to style up an outdoor kitchen. The list below is a guide comparing the currently popular ones.

Partial vs. Complete Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchens may be classified as complete or incomplete based on their functionality. What do we mean by this?

In the old days, home designers divided the kitchen into three basic areas:

  • Cold zone: for cold storage
  • Hot zone: for cooking
  • Wet zone: for washing
Example of the Kitchen Work Triangle

However, other zones have emerged with the evolution of the modern kitchen. The dry zone, made up of cabinets and countertops, now serves as the storage and food prep area. Extra counter space functions as the serving zone.

You may choose an outdoor kitchen with all or only some of these sections. A complete outdoor kitchen has all five, with a grill as its most basic cooking equipment. A partial one has fewer parts, with some homeowners preferring other cooking appliances over an outdoor grill.

You may also go for a “complete outdoor kitchen plus,” which includes various cooking devices besides a grill.

Perimeter vs. Satellite Kitchen

A perimeter kitchen is much closer to your house than a satellite. It can share utilities and equipment with your indoor kitchen, making construction less costly. A satellite kitchen does the opposite. For practical reasons, satellite kitchens are more often complete than perimeter kitchens.

Outdoor Kitchen Layouts

This refers to the arrangement of your cooking appliances and other equipment. The most common outdoor kitchen layouts include:

  • Standard, a.k.a. straight: Everything is on one side. It is the most suitable for small locations.
  • Angular: The panels supporting the cooking appliances are arranged at a sharp angle.
  • L-shaped: The kitchen equipment and countertop space occupy two perpendicular panels.
  • U-shaped: The kitchen spans three perpendicular panels and has lots of countertop and storage space.

More elaborate layouts, such as those with islands and peninsulas, are less common in outdoor living spaces, as they can reduce efficiency, inflate costs and cause other problems. Consider them only if you think you can handle their drawbacks.

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Most Popular Outdoor Kitchen Layouts. Clockwise from the upper left photo: straight, angular, L-shaped, and U-shaped layouts. From Straight Line Landscape.

Deck vs. Patio Kitchen

A deck kitchen gives spectacular scenic views of Phoenix. However, it has more limitations than one built on a patio. Decks can buckle under heavy equipment and deteriorate over time, especially if made of wood. Additionally, elevated outdoor kitchen appliances pose a hazard simply because they can fall.

Meanwhile, a patio kitchen rests on solid ground, which means it can handle greater loads. Wood deterioration is also not a problem if you use stone pavers. It’s more cost-effective in the long run if you have a big backyard.

Whichever type you choose, a great landscaping team can create one for you that’s safe, functional, durable and fun to hang out in.

Mode of Construction

This refers to the ways outdoor kitchens are built.

The first is by installing a prefabricated kitchen. Prefabs are factory-made kitchen parts assembled and installed in your outdoor space. They are cheaper but have shorter lifespans and limited design options.

The second is to have one custom-built. Everything from design to construction is done from scratch to suit your needs and taste.

Custom outdoor kitchens take more time to complete and are generally pricier. However, they bring more value and enjoyment to homeowners than prefabs, so many are willing to spend top dollar for them.

Open vs. Covered Outdoor Kitchen 

Consider covering your outdoor cooking area with a ramada or pergola. It may cost a little extra, but shielding your outdoor appliances from Arizona’s climate prolongs their lifespan and protects your investment.

Well-built shade structures also enhance your exterior’s aesthetics while providing comfort to your guests.

The above guide roughly classifies all the outdoor kitchen designs there are. Start your design by choosing one from each category and tailoring it to your preferences.

Outdoor Kitchen Appliances

Not all outdoor kitchen appliances are useful to every home. Additionally, some devices can waste space, money, or both. Therefore, choosing equipment to fill up your outdoor kitchen is an exercise you mustn’t take lightly.

Complete Outdoor Kitchen Built by Straight Line Landscape

Start with the hot zone, the outdoor kitchen’s raison d’etre. The most basic cooking device used outdoors is the grill, which lets you cook food in ways you can’t do indoors. Grills can operate on wood or gas. However, the gas grill is more commonly used in Arizona because of the wood-burning restrictions. 

Alternatively, you can get a pizza oven for your outdoor kitchen. Outdoor pizza ovens are popular substitutes for grills because of their versatility. Besides baking, they let you prepare food in other ways, such as grilling, roasting, searing, and slow-cooking. In some homes, the pizza oven is built into an outdoor fireplace.

Consider getting other cooking appliances only if you think you’ll need them frequently. Examples of these extras are side burners, power burners, flat-top griddles, smoker cabinets, green eggs, and warming drawers.

Next is the cold zone. An outdoor refrigerator is convenient to have in satellite kitchens as it’ll save you extra trips to your indoor kitchen to get supplies. An outdoor bar complete with a wine cooler, a kegerator, and an ice maker is nice to have if you expect to entertain adult friends all year round. 

Then, you have the wet zone. Your grill chef would appreciate having one nearby to help prep food and clean up messes immediately. 

Next is the dry zone. An expanded outdoor kitchen storage space would be great to have if there’s a natural-born chef at your home and you plan to fill your calendar with big parties. You may integrate the serving area and countertops with the outdoor kitchen cabinets to maximize space. 

Outdoor Kitchen with Luxe Lighting. A fire pit in the background enhances the elegant ambiance. From Straight Line Landscape.

Again, not all outdoor appliances are necessary in every outdoor kitchen. For example, some luxury minimalist kitchens have only a grill or pizza oven, a sink, a few cabinets, and a large enough counter space, though all these tools are top-of-the-line. Decide based on your preferences and lifestyle.

Outdoor Kitchen Materials

The materials you use bring your outdoor kitchen design ideas to life. Choose for longevity as well as style.

Outdoor Appliances

Food-grade stainless steel is the most widely used outdoor appliance material. This iron alloy is weatherproof, durable, requires little maintenance, and has good cooking performance.

Prep Space

Outdoor kitchen countertops can be made of natural or artificial stone. Granite, marble, and travertine are natural stones. Concrete, porcelain, tile, and brick are examples of artificial stones.

Granite, marble, and travertine are some of the most common countertop stones. Granite is a hard stone, so it can withstand many forms of damage, particularly from heat, stains, and scratches.

Marble and travertine are softer stone types widely used in luxury outdoor kitchens. Travertine is made of calcium carbonate, like marble and limestone. We love travertine because it blends well with both rustic and modern outdoor kitchen designs. 

A concrete countertop is durable and easy to clean. An expert mason must install it to ensure it withstands various forms of damage and looks pristine.

Bases and Frames 

Bases and frames make up the skeleton of your kitchen. The options here are wood, concrete, and metal.

Wood is sturdy but breaks down over time, especially if not regularly refinished. It’s flammable, so it’s not the ideal framing material for cooking appliances.

Concrete and metals like steel can take a lot more abuse than wood. However, metals rust if constantly exposed to moisture.

Finishes

Some of the most commonly used outdoor kitchen finishing materials are natural stone, brick, stucco, and tile.

Natural stones like granite, marble, and travertine are weatherproof, stain-resistant, and available in various colors. Brick has limited color options, but its durability and low upkeep requirements make it a good finishing material for walls, pavers, and others.

Stainless Steel Grill with White-to-Gray Stone Finishes. From Straight Line Landscape.

Stucco is artificially made from lime, cement, sand, and water. This material is inexpensive and robust and produces a smooth finish from a distance. Tile, usually made of ceramic or porcelain, can withstand various forms of damage and stays cool in the desert climate.

Designing an outdoor kitchen requires more than simply replicating someone else’s style. You need it to fit your environment and needs so it creates value. Take time to work out the details because a great outdoor kitchen idea will stay with you for a long time once it’s done.

How Do You Know Which Outdoor Kitchen Design Suits Your Lifestyle Best?

Your landscape designer will work with you to create your dream outdoor kitchen design. The following factors have the most impact on the final plan:

Size of Your Outdoor Living Space

The outdoor kitchen must have ample space inside and outside to ensure ventilation and overall safety. For example, the prep station and barbecue grill must not be too close to the dining area where children may play.

Expected Normal Crowd Size in Your Outdoor Kitchen Space

Consider your expected typical crowd size when choosing outdoor appliances. If you have a large family or anticipate dozens of people to frequent your home, having a fancy array of stainless steel appliances and outdoor refrigeration equipment will serve you well. Otherwise, consider the minimalist approach, which is also a trending outdoor kitchen design. 

Architecture of the Main House

A luxurious outdoor kitchen enhances or complements the main house architecture. The finishes around your stainless steel grill and the rest of the cooking area should mesh well with the landscape. Style and material quality consistency ensure the biggest visual impact when your outdoor kitchen design finally comes to life.

Architectural Blending. The ramada-covered outdoor kitchen at the far side complements the luxury minimalist theme of this patio. From Straight Line Landscape.

Keep in mind that your best options are the ones that benefit you the most. Don’t add a feature that you’ll never use simply because you think the space needs it or because Jane down the block insists you’ll use it all the time. Every home is different. Sit down, take your time, and think about the luxury outdoor kitchen you envision for your gatherings.

What’s the Best Luxury Outdoor Kitchen Idea for You?

As in any other aspect of landscape design, the outdoor kitchen space must reflect the homeowner’s personality and lifestyle. Different homes have different needs. While it’s easy to simply copy an impressive design from a magazine or TV show, uniqueness is still key to the luxury concept.

Finally, at this point, you should be ready to talk to your landscaping team about creating the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. If you work with Straight Line Landscape, that is exactly what you’ll get.

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