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Grilling season is upon us, and that means many of us are looking into creating the perfect outdoor kitchen for our next barbecue.

Setting up an outdoor kitchen in your backyard or patio takes a lot of planning to find just the right furniture, the right grill, and the right spot to set it all up before your company starts coming over. If you’ve been thinking about putting together an outdoor kitchen but aren’t sure what you’ll need or how to tie it all together, here’s four things to ask yourself before getting started:


Fully functional or simple grilling station? The first thing to do is to figure out just how in-depth you want to go with your kitchen. Are you looking for a place to keep your grill and some tools, or do you want to go all out and set up a bar and a dining room table outside for entertaining? How much furniture will you need? Will this displace anything that’s currently in your backyard? Take some time to make plans before buying a ton of furniture and setting everything up to save yourself some time and hassle in the long run.


Permanent or portable? This is another factor to consider—will everything be there year-round or will it all go scooped back up into the garage when you’re done? This could impact a lot of your furniture and kitchen hardware decisions, as you may need to focus on something smaller and easier to put away once the season is over.


How much kitchen equipment do you need? Following up from the last one, how serious is your outdoor cooking going to be? Some outdoor kitchens go so far as to install sinks for washing dishes and rinsing off vegetables, but even if that’s not an option you should figure out what’s going around your grill. A lot of kitchen storage can work just as well indoors as outdoors, especially if you focus on something more rust-proof like wire shelving. If you’re installing a bar like in the earlier example, bar carts can pull double-duty by helping you store your favorite drink ingredients and can work as serving carts to bring food and drinks to people. Don’t go crazy with stocking your outdoor kitchen with a bunch of stuff you don’t need and will just have to put away when the season ends—instead, focus on the essentials and whatever you’ll need to serve your guests best.


How will you be cooking? Finally, you need to focus on how (and, to a degree, what) you’ll be cooking out there. Will you need a smoker for meats or tandoor? Do you want to bake pizza in an outdoor brick oven? Just want a charcoal or propane barbecue for grilling burgers and dogs? Will you be preparing food indoors and bringing it outside to cook, or do you want to do it all outside?


By answering these questions ahead of time, your outdoor kitchen will be prepared for a summer full of delicious meals and good times.

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