Top 8 Design Considerations for Your Outdoor Living Space

There are many facets to good outdoor kitchen and living design. At Jenkins Custom Homes, we have a copyrighted “Lifestyle Analysis” process in which we ask questions about how our clients plan to live in the spaces of their home, including the outdoor spaces. Our design team then creates their unique home, complete with the outdoor kitchen. Here are some of the questions we ask our clients to help determine what they will need in the way of an outdoor living space.


How serious are you about grilling? How often will you be preparing meals outdoors? Would you like to be able to prepare the entire meal outside? With the variety of appliances available, this is entirely possible.


We recommend Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances to all our clients because they offer the greatest quality and selection.


Where will the afternoon sun be in the summer and in each of the seasons? This is a critical component to orienting the outdoor kitchen, as you do NOT want the afternoon sun right in your eyes when you are grilling. Instead, you want to be standing in the shade with a ceiling fan above you. This will discourages insects from hanging around as well.


Which way does the breeze blow? Grills produce a lot of heat and smoke so be sure you have good cross-ventilation.

Time Spent Outdoors

How much time will your family actually spend outside? Do you enjoy looking at the outdoors from the inside, or do you enjoy being outside? This will help you evaluate whether you need a TV or fireplace outside, or even possibly incorporate the entire outdoor experience into an indoor/outdoor game room. Or maybe you prefer a solution that allows for enjoyment of the outdoors when the weather is nice but utilizes a screen system that closes out the bugs and captures as much as 90% of the home’s air conditioned air when the screens are closed. In the photo to the left, you can just see a hint of the screen system in the slots within the columns, but otherwise can’t tell they are there.

Choose Your Style

What type of materials will you use? Is your primary objective longevity, or beauty, or perhaps functionality? Will you use stone and stucco, with stainless doors and drawers or marine grade lumber with African mahogany doors? We recommend a natural stone tile counter top for covered areas or solid surface counter top such as granite for open air outdoor kitchens.

Flow and Access

Think about the flow of traffic on a daily basis, when it is just your family at home. What shape works best? L-shape or U-shape? Or perhaps something more custom, like a cart you can roll out when you grill? A note about access from the kitchen: we find that a pass-through from the kitchen to the outdoor space really cuts down on the number of trips to and from the kitchen.


Finally, when you host a get-together, how many guests will you have in your home and what ages will they be? Think about where you might have a bartender if you have a really large party. Think about your sister-in-law who drinks too much…maybe you need a soft chair in the shade (near the bar) for her so she doesn’t fall and hurt herself. Each situation is different, and only you know your situation.

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