We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, all the way through Labor Day: Eating outdoors is one of the greatest joys of summertime. As the weather gods play nice and the days get warmer, our focus naturally shifts to wanting to take some of our fettered lives outdoors—to our newly-blooming backyards and gardens.
But when your kitchen is inside—and the warm weather outside—you can start to feel a little separate from the action. The family’s gathered around the patio, or playing cornhole on the lawn, while you’re indoors, grabbing (more) ice or dressing the salad. It’s these moments that inspire a common condition known as “Outdoor Kitchen Jealousy.”
Outdoor Kitchen Jealousy is the twinge of longing you get as you imagine what you’d do with more (or, any) outdoor cooking space (add a fridge and a sink?), more money (install a wood-burning pizza oven?), more summer evenings (never eat another dinner indoors again!). While this summer we’ll have to keep working with what we’ve got—or not got—we can also treat our envy with inspiration from those who have the resources or year-round summer climate to make our outdoor kitchen dreams their realities. It’s time to turn to Instagram, the greatest vicarious-living tool of our age, and its neverending #outdoorkitchens.
For your scrolling pleasure, here are some of the most charming outdoor kitchens from around the world—the pastoral, the whimsical, and the freakishly fancy. They’re the kitchens that, if they were ours, we’d live in all summer long. Don’t call it ogling; call it research for next summer. Or plain ol' wishful thinking.
1. French Riviera Vibes
Yes, I would like to live on the French Riviera. And yes, this is the kitchen I would like to cook in every day. The natural fiber roof and the window in the wall help to make this kitchen outdoorsy in the most chic way. I can almost feel the warm breeze blowing through while a whole fish crisps on the grill….
2. Concrete Dreams
What’s sturdier than an entire kitchen setup made up of one solid piece of poured concrete? Not sure, to be honest. This area could lean totally industrial, but it’s grounded by modern subway tile, mounted antlers, and a smattering of small plants.
3. English Country Charm
The English countryside never fails to entice. Add an al fresco kitchen complete with shuttered French doors, handmade tiles, handwoven jute rug, pink foxglove, and... swoon.
4. Small Living
Looking at this tiny, rustic outdoor kitchen makes me think of a quote from A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Call this rough gem a kitchen of one’s own. It’s got a sink, a simple cooktop, and a bucolic setting; what more does one need?
5. Just the Essentials
This wee outdoor cooking space (can we be sure it's even functional? It's almost too pretty!) had us at enamelware. Plus, all of those great kitchen textiles. And that vintage galvanized bucket.
6. Found Treasures
This adorable kitchen looks to be propped up by some old crates (with wheels attached for the potential to actually relocate the cooktop should you want to put on a Hibachi-style show for your outdoor guests). The fence behind serves as vertical storage for pots, pans, and aprons.
7. Pretty in Pink
Don't let the prettiness of this pink-and-white boho kitchen fool you—it's complete functional, down to that teeny-tiny cooktop. It's also a nice reminder that there's no such thing as too many woven baskets.
8. Green Oasis
This vine-covered mini paradise evokes the feeling of something that’s been cultivated for many years, but shiny glassware and clean-lined cabinetry keep the space feeling sharp. Add a gorgeous backsplash, lots of citrus for cocktail-making, some vintage accents, and it’s a delightful space to entertain.
9. Nautical Meets Secret Garden
While the blue and white stripes tend towards a beachside theme, this luxurious outdoor kitchen and dining area maintains a Hamptons-like charm, but perhaps just set in the woods. String lights, wood accents, and an overhang pull it all together.
10. Sleek Pizzas
“Sleek” is the word to describe this modern kitchen, which perfectly balances the strength of concrete—a durable material requiring next to no maintenance—wood, and steel with lush textural landscaping adding softness. I imagine pizzas taste better coming out of that oven.
11. Keeping it Colorful
Backyard kitchens need not be cloaked in all neutrals, as this bright and cheery one proves. They’re also a great opportunity to experiment more with tile or decor that might be too loud for day-to-day inside the house.
12. Watermelon Sugar…
This modern kitchen manages to maintain all the clean lines that concrete affords while still feeling magically cozy (those juicy watermelons certainly do their bit). It’s worth scrolling through all the pics in this account to see how they built this beautiful kitchen and all the charming ways they use and style it.
13. Capitalizing on the Views
What makes a kitchen an outdoor kitchen? Apparently, all you need is a grill... well, a grill, a set of tongs, and a killer view.
14. Lakeside Luxury
This kitchen is what happens when you've taken your indoor kitchen outdoors—quite literally ripped it out and plonked it by the lake. It’s got everything an indoor kitchen has, from a sink to a cooktop to a grill to a fridge, and more cabinet space than the average New York City apartment has. Plus, there's that view of the pool and the lake. Patio living at its finest.
15. Fireplace Goals
Forget an indoor fireplace, this towering outdoor beauty sets up the surrounding space for the ultimate outdoor kitchen. A long, live-edge dining table has plenty of room to welcome friends and family to enjoy dinner by the crackling fireplace, feel the breeze, and gaze up at the stars.