5 Essential Tips to Design a Sustainable Outdoor Kitchen

In today's world, sustainability is at the forefront of homeowners' and design professionals' minds. Designing sustainable outdoor living and entertaining spaces means reducing the environmental impacts of our design choices, prioritizing resource efficiency and harmonious integration with nature and the surrounding environment. In honor of Earth Month, we are sharing our 5 essential tips to design a sustainable and functional outdoor kitchen.

1. Choose Sustainable Materials

Opt for materials with minimal environmental impact, such as renewable or non-toxic options; avoid materials that cannot be recycled, repaired or restored; and source locally.

Looking for products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), will also guarantee both sustainable and ethical sourcing practices.

2. Design with Durability and Longevity In Mind

According to the NKBA’s Sustainability in Kitchen & Bath Design report, 49% of homeowners rank durable products that never need to be replaced in their top 3 most important sustainable design practices.

When looking at the outdoor space, invest in durable countertops, flooring, and cabinetry made with high-quality materials and expert craftsmanship that will stand the test of time and hold up to the harsh elements. This will reduce the need for frequent replacements, minimize waste and ensure that your clients can enjoy their spaces for years to come.

3. Embrace Flexible Design Options

We often focus solely on cooking when thinking about outdoor cabinetry, but cabinets can also be used for so much more. Consider including custom storage solutions for soft goods and smaller outdoor appliances to protect them when not in use.

Modular outdoor cabinetry also allows the space to evolve with the client and can offer flexible storage options that can be added and removed as their needs change.

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4. Balance Aesthetics and Sustainability

When selecting the main components of the outdoor space, choose timeless designs over trends to avoid choices going out of style.

Ensuring that the design considers the existing natural landscape, the architecture of the home, as well as the needs of your client will increase your client’s enjoyment of the space and reduce the likelihood of it needing to be replaced. 

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5. Consider the Location

Understand the specific needs of the client’s location. If they are in a coastal environment, consider regular maintenance as well as cover options. Incorporate shade structures to extend the seasons, protecting the outdoor kitchen from UV rays, while creating an overhead mounting point for lighting design. Shade structures also help hold heat on cool summer evenings, and throughout the fall and winter months. Incorporating native plants, edible gardens, and pollinator-friendly habitats will also ensure a healthy and thriving outdoor environment.

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