Outdoor Kitchen: Built-In Grill Inspiration and Ideas

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One of our next big projects? Designing a replacement for our super sad, falling-off-the-side-of-the-house outdoor kitchen …

This bad boy was an issue even when we bought the place, and you can see why. Mice just love hiding behind here, water goes right in, and it could fall down at any moment.   So, yeah, it’s on the short list.

It has all kinds of fun issues, in addition to pulling off the house, summarized here:

The only reason that we haven’t fixed this grill yet is that we’ve had a lot of trouble with the design, specifically finding something that would look consistent with the house.

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Most outdoor kitchen and built in grill setups look similar to what we have now, or even better, with more streamlined stone like the above.

What we have now, and the very common stacked stone style above, stands out like a sore thumb on our house. We may have a lot of rustic New England old stone walls in our pastures, but the house itself is not rustic, and doesn’t incorporate rough-hewn stone.

What it does have is brick.

Lots and lots of brick. The chimneys are brick, the paths to the doors are brick, and we regularly discover old bricks in the garden, the pastures – everywhere. Those colonials loved their bricks.

So the logical choice is to replace what we have now with a simple brick structure. Inspiration for this is shockingly difficult to find, I think because most pre-made built-in grills don’t come in brick, but are instead clad in stacked stone. It therefore has to be custom-made, so there aren’t as many images out there. Given that our grill abuts our house, no matter what we’re going to have to go custom. We have to be sure we protect our siding, prevent fires, etc.

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I did come across this beautiful outdoor grill setup on the Kalamazoo grills site. This is at the home of a chef, and is efficiently laid out and classic. I think I’d use a honed bluestone or soapstone counter rather than a polished granite, as used here, just to be sure that the inevitable weathering adds to the character rather than detracts from it over time.

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I love the slate patio here as well. Since we’ll need a concrete foundation for the new grill, it’s also a good opportunity to make our patio even so we can put chairs out, and the like. Right now there’s a lot of frost heave and unevenness. Here’s another beautiful brick outdoor kitchen that I like the look of; classic and consistent with our house:

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Using the brick accents around our house and the above images as a jumping off point, I put together this rendering of what the layout could look like:

And with measurements for those who are extra curious about details (like I am!):

This plan extends the work space. I made the counter extra deep (46”), as I’m considering adding a pizza oven where the wood storage shelves are. With that depth, we’d be able to brick the back so that the heat is contained and doesn’t hurt the house, but I’d want to discuss with a contractor having a pizza oven below our wood-framed windows. I’m concerned it could still cause damage, even though it would be more than two feet away from the frames, and highly insulated.

There are also stainless pizza ovens designed for outdoors that fit on a counter that could work – but the ones I’ve found cost about as much as a used car. I like pizza and all, but not that much!

Currently we have a burner by the grill, which we barely ever use. Still debating if we’d want one in a new outdoor kitchen. Given that our actual kitchen is precisely on the other side of the wall from our actual kitchen, it seems unnecessary!

Of course, the biggest decision is yet to come – WHAT GRILL TO GET??? Our current grill came with the house, and we may be able to use it, so long as we can find a way to fix its issues (back is much hotter than front, it won’t light if it has recently rained). When we built our deck on our last apartment, my husband and his dad went out to buy a simple gas grill and came back with a gorgeous monster that cost more than our actual range by about 30%. I was … not happy, to put it mildly. BUT then I started using it, everything I cooked tasted better than it ever had before, and it became my favorite place to cook.  Even during the Winter I’d be braving the weather to make some chicken.  Worth. Every. Penny. I’m a grill convert, for sure, and am VERY excited about the possibility of picking out a new option … but that’s for another post!

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