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The first step in designing your Trex® Outdoor Kitchen™ is determining the size of your outdoor kitchen area, as the size will inform the rest of your design, including your layout shape, appliances, storage, and other features. Consider this helpful guide to choose a suitable layout, create an effective workspace, and incorporate design features in any sized outdoor kitchen.

Area Size

Small (10 linear feet). Only a few amenities are considered necessary in a small kitchen (grill, cooktop, sink, and storage). A minimum countertop workspace of 36 inches is needed.

Essentials (13 linear feet). With a minimum counter space of 48 inches, essential kitchen will include all the amenities of a small kitchen with the addition of a refrigerator.

Medium (16 linear feet). A medium outdoor kitchen plan will include 72 inches of workspace with added storage and refrigeration options. 

Large (more than 20 linear feet). Large kitchens have at least 156 inches of counter space. They have all four work zones and all the amenities.

Layout Shapes

Once you determine the size of your outdoor space, you should consider the various layout shapes outlined below. Since Trex Outdoor Kitchens’ stainless steel cabinets are available in a selection of styles and hundreds of sizes, you can easily eliminate nonfunctional designs.

Straight Run

straight run outdoor kitchen layout

When building an outdoor kitchen in small spaces, a great option is a straight run of cabinets with all kitchen work zones in a line. You are not limited to placing your kitchen against a wall, however. Our finished back and end cabinet panels give you the freedom to place your kitchen in other areas, such as against deck railings or as an island, without sacrificing a finished look. If your space can accommodate wall cabinets, these will provide additional storage without taking up floor space. While a straight run can certainly be used for larger kitchens, it does not offer the most workflow efficiency.

L Shaped Layout

L Shape Outdoor Kitchen Layout

This layout provides workspaces on two adjacent walls. It also allows for a “work triangle,” which places the refrigerator, sink, and grill in a triangle shape. A work triangle is beneficial for food preparation, cooking, and serving. If the space is larger, this floor plan can also accommodate an oudoor kitchen island, which allows for additional workspace and interaction with guests.

U Shaped Layout

U Shaped Outdoor Kitchen Layout

U shaped outdoor kitchen layouts include three lines of cabinets in a U shape, offering plenty of room for food preparation, cooking, serving, and interacting with guests. As such, this layout is extremely beneficial and versatile for outdoor cooking and entertaining, and it tends to be best suited for large kitchens. Some important considerations of a U shaped outdoor kitchen plan are reduced floor space and appliance placement. For example, you should be mindful that doors and drawers will not be hitting each other.

G Shaped Layout

G Shape Outdoor Kitchen Layout

A G shaped layout is a variation of a U shaped layout, so keep the same considerations in mind when using this layout. It has cabinets on three sides, but it also includes a peninsula or a partial fourth wall of cabinets. It offers the most workspace and storage space of all the other layout options, so it is best suited for the largest kitchens.

Design Features

After choosing your layout, determine the best way to incorporate other features of your outdoor kitchen design, like grills, storage, and seating. Keep in mind that efficient kitchens will have the hot zone (grills) next to the dry zone (prep and storage) and the cold zone (refrigeration) next to the wet zone (sinks).

Grills. When choosing a grill, you will want to decide on both size and placement. Often, people make the mistake of overspending on a grill that is larger or has more features than they need. Instead, determine the best size for your personal cooking and entertaining style and needs. Be sure to have free prep space on both sides and place your grill in an area that encourages the cook to be social with guests while grilling.

Sinks and Refrigerators. If you have the space, your outdoor kitchen setup should include a sink to aid in food prep and cleanup. An outdoor sink cabinet is a great solution for storing your cleaning tools and more. For additional function, if your layout allows, complete your work triangle with a refrigerator. As discussed, the refrigerator should be next to the outdoor sink for better workflow.

Storage. Do not forget about storage! The area around your grill, other cooking surfaces, and countertops should have plenty of storage for convenience when preparing and cooking meals. Base cabinets, grill cabinets, and drawers are great for storing cooking tools and accessories.

Seating. Your layout can easily inform the type of seating that you can include. In larger spaces, you can design a separate, formal seating area. A smaller outdoor living area may benefit from bar seating, which is compact and allows for more interaction between the cook and guests.

Color. Large kitchens will have more versatility with color selection. In smaller kitchens, you may want to choose lighter colors or metallics, which will make the outdoor space appear larger. Regardless of size, The Trex Outdoor Kitchens powder coat finishes will suit any outdoor kitchen with a range of colors, textures, and wood grain finishes, all while providing lasting color and minimizing maintenance.

Before designing an outdoor kitchen, consult this guide to help you determine your area size, the appropriate layout shape, and placement and selection of other design features (grills, color, seating). By keeping these considerations in mind, you will be sure to create the most functional workspace for your outdoor kitchen.

Feeling inspired? Visit our Gallery for photos of outdoor kitchens in all shapes and sizes. Don’t consider a DIY outdoor kitchen project without talking to the experts. Contact us to get started with your outdoor kitchen design. Our outdoor kitchen cabinets are highly durable and functional with your friends and family’s entertainment in mind.