Setting up a backyard grill is a time-honored tradition across various cultures. After all, it’s a good use of outdoor space, grilling is a fun activity to do with the family, and it gives you ready access to good, barbecued food.
If you’ve been thinking of setting up your own backyard grill or outdoor kitchen, here are some tips and ideas for you to consider.
Make sure the location is well-prepared
Much of what you will be able to do with your backyard grill station is going to be space-dependent. For charcoal grills especially, you’d want to give your grill setup a few feet of clearance for safety and cleanliness purposes. The more space you have, the more options you have in terms of design.
That being said, it is still possible to set up a grilling station in small outdoor spaces. It’s fairly common to set up a grill on a small balcony or backyard patio. You just have to make sure it’s easily accessible and has enough cooking space.
Get the right lighting system
The main purpose of lighting in your backyard grilling station is to make it easier to cook at nighttime. Some simple spotlights should do the trick here. The key thing is to use lighting that isn’t too bright as to be an eyesore, but is bright enough to see adequately while you cook.
If you’re on a budget, you can just buy some task lighting to illuminate the cooking area. The rest of the space could just be lit with subtle mood lighting like string lights or LED garden spikes.
Provide sufficient cover
Since this is an outdoor kitchen setup, it will most likely be open-air. In this case, you need to take your cover options into account. Covering the grilling area is top priority, as any precipitation can become a literal damper for any cookout.
The space set aside for guests should also be sheltered. For this, you can construct standard patio shelters, or you can simply hang up a shade canopy to protect BBQ goers from harsh summer rays.
Try to stick to a theme or motif
It’s often best to follow a cohesive theme in order to inform your design decisions and ensure everything works together in terms of visuals and feel.
The classic backyard cooking station/outdoor kitchen
The most common and easiest to set up backyard grilling area is a simple station, and perhaps a picnic table for barbecue-goers to sit at. Plain furnishings like rocks to frame the area or even for extra seating will add to the simple aesthetic. Incorporating an existing patio, deck, or other such outdoor structure works too.
If your family really likes outdoor cooking, this simple grill station setup can also evolve into an outdoor kitchen. A more full-featured outdoor kitchen can help you quickly whip up sides and other dishes to supplement the delicious barbecue coming off of the grill. You can add on other appliances such as a stove, a pizza oven, a mini fridge, a sink, and others.
Outdoor bar/casual dining restaurant motif
You can beef up a simple outdoor kitchen setup into an outdoor bar. All it takes is some additional furnishing, and of course, stocking up on extra liquor and brews. Set up some adequate counter space and bar seating for your “customers”.
Upgrade the mood lighting with some twinkling fairy lights strung up in the bushes and other greenery. You can also add things such as a flat screen TV so your guests can watch sports while enjoying cold drinks.
From a backyard bar setup, you can upgrade further into a backyard casual dining area. This is best if you usually serve more than 10 people. You’ll need a couple of tables and adequate seating. Tables don’t need to have tablecloths for this setup, but you can add them if you prefer.
Place condiments on each table as well as toothpicks and napkin holders. You can even complete the experience with a menu. Carpeting the ground outside can enhance the feel of the casual dining area, provided you have enough overhead cover to protect the carpets when it rains.
Romantic Backyard Grill
For those who want a more peaceful experience with their significant other, you can give your backyard grill a more romantic touch by making it look like a wedding reception area or simply a candlelit table for two.
This can be a great place to have an actual wedding reception, or to serve as a freeze-frame of one of the most momentous occasions in your lives as a couple.
Living room + backyard grill hybrid
If your house has an outdoor or semi-outdoor living area, one of the best ways to improve it is to incorporate an outdoor grill into it.
Better if it goes out into a backyard patio. If you like to spend time getting some fresh air with your family in your outdoor living room, this should be the best way to combine that with enjoying some BBQ fresh off the grill .
Exotic design ideas
There are plenty other unorthodox design ideas you can work on if the usual styles bore you. If you’re a gardener, for example, you can cultivate a herb garden that will give you everything you need to spice up your BBQ growing just within arm’s reach.
You can even make use of wood storage, such as barrels and other rustic objects. These enhance a fantastical aesthetic while still offering plenty of storage space.
Similarly, if you’re a fan of a more tribal style, you can add features such as tall fences made of wicker or a wooden palisade, as well as torches and hanging ornaments. If you want, you can even go the extra mile and add in shrunken heads, bone charms, and costume heads on stakes.
Pay attention to the individual design elements
Even a single item can make or break your backyard grill’s look and feel. Pay attention to whether the items you choose harmonize with the rest of the grill setup.
Seating is an often overlooked but no less important necessity. Make sure the chairs you get match well with your overarching theme. Beanbag chairs would fit well with a more homey feeling setup, but they might be too relaxed for a backyard bar type of space.
Some outdoor shelving is also convenient if you don’t want to be bringing out plates and utensils from the kitchen all the time. You can even use crate shelving if you’re going for a rustic style.
As for the tables, standard picnic tables work well for most design styles, but you may want to opt for something different if you want the backyard grill to have a more unique look. Circular tables work best if you want it to look like a casual dining restaurant, while longer tables fit an open-air tavern type of setup most appropriately.
You may think that the grill isn’t included in design considerations, but if so you’d be wrong. If you’ve been focusing on creating a pristine, modern look, you might not want it to be marred by smoke, regardless of whether or not you have a grill hood or smokestack.
In that case, electric grills, infrared grill, or flat top grill would be most fitting for you. But it ultimately depends on what you want out of your grill, so familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each grill type.
Individual decor items
All of the different decor items you make use of play a crucial role in solidifying the visual and environmental feel of your backyard grill. As part of the final touch you deliver to your backyard grill design, paying close attention to them is imperative.
Stone tiles and a pergola make the space look more like a botanical garden, while granite counters and other modern kitchen fixtures add to a more contemporary feel.
A brick or concrete tile pathway makes for a more grill house or watering hole aesthetic, while a small reflecting pool and stone pillars topped with vases or statuettes give off a neo-renaissance kind of vibe.
Speaking of vases, a little extra greenery will go a long way in terms of improving the grilling area’s surroundings. Try to liven up spaces with plants where you can.