Classic or Craze: Outdoor Kitchens

Is it a classic or is it a craze?

By Melissa Mauzy
Photography by Anne Matheis and courtesy of Marc Christian Fine Cabinetry


With longer days and warm nights, families today are taking summertime cooking outdoors. We asked local design professionals if outdoor kitchens are a classic or a craze.

“A classic. How can you go back to cooking inside after smelling all the great barbecue mixed with the sounds of birds chirping? We cook everything outside, even in the snow. From grilled salmon and chicken to roasted vegetables… yum! The appliances available today make outdoor cooking a breeze. All we need is a pizza oven and we may never come in.” CJ Knapp, Yours by Design.

“Built to stay! I grew up in California where we had one built in the '70s.  I’ve never known them not to be popular. Now in the Midwest, with the improved materials in cabinets and appliances to withstand harsh weather, the outdoor kitchen is more feasible and functional than ever. Outdoor living isn’t just for Californians anymore. It’s not a craze, it’s a lifestyle that’s made more accessible.” Dana King, Next Project Studio.

“Classic! With outdoor spaces becoming more and more in demand, they need to be all-accommodating.  Having ice cold beverages and space to sit and eat are a necessity while Dad grills!” Teddy Karl, The Great Cover-Up.

"For those who can afford them, I feel that outdoor kitchens will always be a classic. They offer convenient work space for poolside dining and entertaining. They eliminate unnecessary trips to the indoor kitchen which may be at the opposite end of the home. They also allow good conversation with guests while they lounge in the same area." Tom Manche, Tom Manche Interiors LLC.

“Outdoor kitchens are no longer just a built-in barbecue pit; now we are seeing more elaborate designs that incorporate gourmet appliances, wood-fired pizza ovens and granite countertops. To create your dream oasis, we recommend hiring a professional designer to guide your experience in creating a functional layout that allows guests to interact with each other comfortably. Outdoor spaces are considered a luxury, but if you are among the fortunate who can afford one, you will be more inclined to acquire a superior return on investment versus the addition of a pool or garage. The goal when designing the interior of your home is to have a place to relax and unwind from a long day;  your outdoor kitchen should be an extension of that goal. Whether you are hosting an intimate dinner or a lively party, an outdoor kitchen will create a laid-back environment your guests are sure to remember. Outdoor kitchens are a classic and here to stay!” Candice Wideman, Youtopia Designs. 

“Outdoor kitchens are as classic as the American barbecue. Whether you love the outdoors, or dread them, outdoor kitchens add a level of comfort and convenience everyone can appreciate. Technology finally caught up with how we actually live.” Forney + architecture LLC staff.

“We have seen steady growth in our outdoor kitchen projects, so we feel they are soon to become a classic.  With outdoor cooking being increasingly seen on many cooking shows, clients are more comfortable in repurposing their outdoor space.  The outdoor kitchen is a natural extension of the interior kitchen so style and functionality for both must be considered.  Planning for a kitchen remodel should include the possibility of adding an outdoor kitchen now or in the future. Everyone loves a St. Louis barbeque and we are blessed with a climate that allows three seasons to enjoy the outdoors, family, friends and great food.” Jane Ganz, Directions In Design, Inc.

“Outdoor spaces have become a standard of living in most homes, and outdoor kitchens can be a wonderful addition and increase your livable space. I think we've moved past the trend phase and they are here to stay.  A recent survey said 49% of homeowners had already added an outdoor living and cooking space and 25% planning to add in the next year. Outdoor kitchens don't have to be large and elaborate and they have evolved over time to become accessible across the market. I see outdoor kitchens as a classic we'll enjoy for years to come.” Gigi Lombrano, Gigi Lombrano Interiors.

“Outdoor living and entertaining have been around forever — from open palaces back in history to what we consider now the outdoor living space; and why not have an outdoor kitchen. The kitchen is the home base for entertaining inside, so when the master barbeque chef is grilling, why not keep them company with everyone relaxing and conversing around a beautiful outdoor kitchen, stocked with refreshments and a variety of beverages. Fun for all...definitely a classic.” Deb Bokamper, Ageless Design.

“Outdoor kitchens are a classic! Since the beginning of time, man has been cooking in the outdoors and dining under the stars. Outdoor cooking areas are a wonderful way to merge the indoors with the outdoors. Outdoor kitchens may have had a humble beginning with a simple grill or fire pit, but they have quickly evolved into exquisite culinary cooking oases fully equipped with massive grilling areas, outdoor sinks and prep areas, refrigeration,  pizza ovens, covered bar areas, and much more. Contemporary outdoor kitchens are under roof to ensure that unruly weather conditions are not a problem and the outdoor kitchen can be enjoyed year-round. So, as long as man continues to enjoys outdoor cooking and entertaining, the outdoor kitchen is a must have!” Barbara Collins, Barbara Collins Interior Design.