Five Outdoor Kitchen Cover Planning Tips – Guest Post by Landscape East & West

This is the second of two guest posts by Landscape East & West‘s Bjorn Nordquist on outdoor kitchens.  The week leading up to Memorial Day, I’ll feature another one on gear for your outdoor kitchen by Kalamazoo Gourmet, as I’ve done in this space before.  Last week, Bjorn shared tips on landscaping your outdoor kitchen.   This week, he delves into covering it.

The inspiration for that idea came from an experience I had in Florida, where we had guests visiting and smoke blowing from the grill made our outdoor dining experience uncomfortable, unpleasant and unhealthy.  (Yes, there was a time before I was a designer, and before I gained an appreciation for cooking ventilation — both indoors and out!)  So, without further ado, I give you Bjorn’s brilliance again

Why cover it?

Covered structures are a great way to complete an outdoor kitchen design. They shelter you from the elements, increase the amount of usable space around your home and lengthen the life of your outdoor kitchen equipment. As you plan your new landscape design, look for a covered structure that offers both form and function.  Considerations for covered structures include:

Cultured stone Traeger BBQ island with beverage cold well

A cover provides shade for the grill master and guests


The main types of covered structures for outdoor kitchens are pergolas, patio covers and gazebos. When planning an outdoor kitchen design, use a holistic approach so the space will appear seamlessly integrated. For example, if the outdoor kitchen is next to your home, consider adding a patio cover with a roof that matches the one on your home and posts that match the siding. For a detached kitchen, integrate the main material, finish or style used in the home and outdoor kitchen into the posts so you have a cohesive design.

Cedar pergola 1a

 A pergola provides protection against the sun, but not rain


Choose the materials for your covered structure based on your climate and the cover’s intended use. Common finish materials include cedar, stone or manufactured stone. Your structure should offer enough support for add-ons you’d like to install, like ceiling fans, speakers or lights. If you live in a rainy area, don’t forget about making sure the covered structure and outdoor kitchen drain properly.

Covered Structure Attached to Home
The covering on this outdoor kitchen space matches the home’s roof


As you plan your outdoor space, consider the covered structure’s ideal height and width. It should be tall enough so the smoke from the grill doesn’t suffocate your guests and the ceiling-mounted heater units don’t cause a fire. A typical 8’ ceiling height works well for most applications and taller can be better. The overall size should be determined by thinking how many people you need to accommodate. A good rule of thumb is to have about, on average, 25-30 sq. ft. per person, minimum.

Plan enough height for cooking ventilation

Also, make it shaped appropriately to shelter your guests and the food. Try to stick to squares more than long rectangles. The use of the space is limited by its smallest width, so a square shape creates more usability. Local building restrictions often apply to covered structures, so do some research to find out what’s permitted in your area.


Before you start building your outdoor kitchen, spend some time in the space and take note of any weather patterns you notice. For example, you may find that your home or fence doesn’t offer much protection from the wind, so when it rains, it seems to fall sideways. Design the structure so it keeps you and your guests comfortable in any weather.

Freestanding roof structure with cantilever corner

Choose your outdoor kitchen’s location for comfort and convenience


Before you build an outdoor kitchen and covered structure, establish a budget for the project. Covered structures can range between $7,500 and $35,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the design, materials, size and your site access.


Perhaps the most complex installation possible, this one ties into the home’s roof materials and lines

When you choose the right type of outdoor kitchen structure and cover, you’ll gain the privacy you seek, the function you need and the comforts you deserve.

Contributing author Bjorn Nordquist is a senior designer at Landscape East & West, an award-winning full-service landscaping company specializing in patio landscape design, outdoor kitchen design, landscaping maintenance and more in Portland, Ore.

Photos:  All photos courtesy of Landscape East & West.



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Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS,  MCCWC

Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCCWC
San Diego, CA

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