Planning for storage in an outdoor kitchen may not seem as exciting as selecting flashier features like the stone for the island, countertop materials and appliances. But, in fact, having the right storage components can make or break just how fun and functional your outdoor kitchen will be.
Storage doors, drawers and cabinets provide a way to organize barbecue tools, accessories, serving pieces, and entertaining supplies. They keep gear within reach but behind closed doors, neatly out of sight and protected from the elements.
Figuring Out How Much Storage You Need
The amount of storage you require depends on several factors. One, is the proximity of the outdoor kitchen to your indoor kitchen. If it’s just steps away, you might not mind going back and forth for an instant-read thermometer or long-handled tongs. However, if the outdoor kitchen is farther from the house, say poolside, storing essentials at hand will be more convenient.
Next, you’ll want to think through how you plan to use your outdoor kitchen – Family pizza nights? Watching football with buds? Small dinner parties for friends? Big neighborhood bashes? Make a list of items you’ll regularly use during these entertaining occasions, including plates, glasses, flatware, and serving platters.
Take inventory of all the barbecue-related gear you own, as well. Do you have cast-iron cookware for the grill? A rotisserie? Rib racks? How about cedar planks, wood chips and smoker boxes?
If you’ll have a sink and/or dishwasher in your outdoor kitchen, you’ll need to store a drain rack, soap and other clean-up supplies. How about lanterns or candles for the dining table? Bug spray? Sunscreen? Will you want to store bottles of spices, oils and vinegars by the grills?
The goal is to make a comprehensive list so you can plan a spot for everything. If budget realities or space limitations won’t accommodate everything on your list, you can prioritize items.
Types of Outdoor Kitchen Storage
Once you figure out what you want to store, the next step is deciding what components to store it in. There are lots of options, including drawers, doors, shelving units, dry storage, and more.
Drawer units usually come in banks of two or three drawers. They’re great for storing flat items like tools, knives, pot holders, thermometers, and “Kiss-the-Cook” aprons.
Access Doors or Panels hide propane tanks, gas hook-ups and plumbing connections, while allowing access for changing out cylinders and winterizing.
Storage Doors and shelving units are great for holding grill accessories, cookware and serving ware, and come in a variety of widths and heights.
If your outdoor kitchen has a built-in charcoal or pellet grill, consider adding a slide-out charcoal/pellet storage drawer to hold bags of fuel and lighting products.
If the outdoor kitchen is small, consider space-saving, combination door-and-drawer units. They come in a variety of configurations, such as two stacked drawers with an access door or propane-tank drawer, and would be handy installed beneath a built-in grill.
Fit and Finish
Outdoor living spaces are increasingly becoming extensions of indoor rooms, so it’s important to create a cohesive design. Your interior style – whether traditional, transitional, contemporary, or farmhouse-chic – should guide decisions on outdoor materials, finishes, colors, lighting, and furnishings for a seamless appearance.
Like appliances, stainless steel doors and drawers are the “neutrals” that work with any style. Look for quality, 304 stainless steel to hold up in the elements, and double-walled construction for durability. Distinctive features like flush, non-protruding handles, lend an upscale look.
It’s not easy to switch out built-in storage components (or grills and appliances, either!), so it’s critical they last. You don’t want to be faced with replacing a door or drawer unit that’s rusted or warped after a year or two. It’s a good sign when the components are backed by solid warranties and manufactured by a company with a long history and reputation for good customer service.
Following the trend in indoor kitchens, soft-close drawers are becoming a sought-after feature outdoors. Soft-close systems extend the life of the unit by reducing stress on drawer slides and protecting the finish of the drawer, the island and the items stored inside. (The downside: Not being able to slam the drawer makes it harder to get your point across when you wanted cedar-planked salmon but someone grilled steaks, again.)
The option of reversible doors, that can open to the left or right, allows for flexible installation in an outdoor kitchen. Likewise, doors that swing open 90 degrees make it easier to access whatever’s stored inside.