A contemporary backyard kitchen allows you to take your outdoor cooking and entertaining to the next level. These stylish and functional spaces integrate top-of-the-line appliances and conveniences into stunning outdoor living areas. From sleek countertops to built-in barbecues, a well-designed contemporary backyard kitchen has all the features of an indoor kitchen in an open, fresh-air setting.

In this article, we’ll explore popular design ideas and trends for creating the ultimate outdoor cooking oasis. Whether you’re looking for modern styling or smart storage solutions, you’ll find plenty of inspiration for crafting a contemporary backyard kitchen that suits your needs and style.

Characteristics of a Contemporary Backyard Kitchen

Before diving into specific design elements, let’s look at some of the overall characteristics that define a contemporary backyard kitchen:

  • Sleek and modern aesthetic – These kitchens feature streamlined, minimalist designs often incorporating metal, stone, and concrete accents. The overall look is fresh, clean, and contemporary.
  • Smart functionality – Every detail is well-thought-out to promote effortless entertaining and cooking. From built-in storage to lighting, contemporary backyard kitchens emphasize usefulness.
  • Quality materials – Durability and low maintenance are a priority. Long-lasting stainless steel, natural stone, and composite materials are commonly used.
  • Open layout – To create a seamless indoor/outdoor transition, the kitchen space blends with the overall landscape design and larger patio area.
  • Flexibility and customization – Whether built from scratch or using modular components, these kitchens are highly personalized to match individual styles.

Keeping these principles in mind, let’s look at some specific elements that make up an amazing contemporary backyard kitchen.

Stylish and Functional Backyard Kitchen Countertops

The countertops are a major focal point in any kitchen, indoor or outdoor. For a contemporary look, avoid ornate edge details and go for sleek, clean lines. Here are some great countertop options to consider:

Concrete Countertops

Concrete makes a fantastic countertop material for outdoor kitchens. It’s highly durable, heat resistant, and comes in a range of custom colors. The look is very modern and contemporary. Using decorative aggregates like glass chips or seashells can create distinctive patterns and textures. Concrete countertops can be cast in place or pre-fabricated and installed.

Stainless Steel

Few materials say “contemporary” quite like stainless steel. Countertops made from stainless steel provide a commercial, professional look. Go for a brushed satin finish rather than a highly reflective polish. Stainless steel withstands the outdoor elements beautifully while requiring minimal maintenance. It’s also heat-resistant and easy to sterilize.

Natural Stone

Granite, quartzite, and other natural stones make gorgeous countertop surfaces. Materials like limestone and soapstone develop patinas over time for Old World charm. Opt for honed or leathered finishes rather than polished stone for a more contemporary look. Natural stone offers unmatched durability and timeless elegance.


For a sleek, modern aesthetic, a tile countertop can’t be beat. Look for large format tiles with minimal grout lines. Mixing tile sizes, textures, and colors creates interest. Tile is easy to clean, extremely durable, and comes in every style imaginable. From encaustic cement to porcelain, the options are endless.

Solid Surfaces

Engineered solid surfaces like Corian are gaining popularity in contemporary kitchen designs. These materials are made from natural minerals and resins to create a strong, resilient countertop. Seamless custom configurations and integral sinks present a very streamlined appearance. With numerous colors and patterns available, the look can range from understated to bold.

Built-In Grills and Appliances

Nothing says outdoor kitchen quite like a built-in grill. Integrating top-quality stainless steel grills and appliances will take your backyard cooking experience to new heights while complementing your contemporary aesthetic. Here are some must-haves:

Gas Grill

An upscale built-in gas grill is probably the most used appliance in an outdoor kitchen. Look for premium features like ceramic burners, sear stations, side burners, and plenty of cooking surface area. Built-in gas grills make it easy to cook outdoors year-round. Add a vent hood to deal with smoke and grease.

Pizza Oven

Wood-fired or gas pizza ovens are a fantastic addition to contemporary outdoor kitchens. Achieve restaurant-quality results at home when making pizza, flatbreads, roasts, and much more. Your backyard will be a go-to spot for delicious artisanal pizza parties.

Beverage Center

An outdoor beverage center provides the ultimate convenience for chilling and serving cold drinks. Choose a built-in model with drawers, cabinets, shelves, and at least one refrigerator compartment. Some high-end models even include wine coolers, sinks, and ice makers!

Griddle or Flat Top

From searing steaks to cooking pancakes, a stainless steel griddle attachment opens up your cooking repertoire. Griddles allow you to cook with grease like on a restaurant flat top. Built-in models are available or you can get a insert to use on your grill.

Side Burner

A side burner lets you boil pasta, simmer sauces, and prepare side dishes while grilling the main course. Side burners are standard equipment on many contemporary built-in grills. Look for power output of at least 15,000 BTUs.

Stylish Outdoor Kitchen Sinks and Faucets

The sink and faucet you select make a strong style statement in addition to serving essential functions. Here are some options that balance form and functionality:

Stainless Steel Sinks

Stainless steel is the most popular sink material for outdoor kitchens. Undermount, drop-in, and integrated sinks are available to coordinate with your countertops. Look for deep, single-bowl configurations and low-profile drainboards. Avoid elaborate engravings and design details to keep the contemporary vibe.

Gooseneck Faucets

For a sleek, professional look, opt for a gooseneck faucet. The high arc swivels for maximum flexibility. Goosenecks come in a range of contemporary styles, including industrial and minimalist designs. Wall-mounted or deck-mounted installation both work well.

Pull-Down Faucets

If overhead clearance is limited, choose a low-profile pull-down faucet. The spray head pulls down directly rather than arching high. Pull-down kitchen faucets often have useful features like pause buttons and 360-degree rotation.

Sensor-Operated Faucets

For the ultimate in modern convenience, upgrade to a sensor faucet. These innovative faucets detect hand movements to activate and shut off the water flow. Touchless operation is extra hygienic and ideal when your hands are messy.

Hot Water Dispensers

Consider adding an instant hot water dispenser to your outdoor sink setup. There’s nothing worse than washing dishes or cleaning up with cold water. Instant hot water makes tasks like hand washing much more pleasant.

Stylish Backsplash Ideas

While often overlooked, the backsplash is another opportunity to integrate contemporary materials into your outdoor kitchen design. Here are some backsplash ideas that protect walls while looking fabulous:

Metal Backsplashes

From stainless steel to aluminum to copper, metal makes a serious style statement. Metal backsplashes bring an urban, industrial vibe with high durability. Go for large seamless sheets or create patterns using small perforated metal tiles.

Stone Backsplashes

Natural stone slabs make upscale yet understated backsplashes. Opt for gently textured surfaces and muted tones in keeping with the contemporary aesthetic. Top choices include slate, limestone, travertine, and sandstone. Allow some natural patina over time.

Concrete Backsplashes

Pigmented, stained, or stamped concrete backsplashes lend a modern industrial edge. Concrete’s neutral tones and matte finish keep the look understated. Consider concrete backpainted glass for easier cleaning and maintenance.

Fireproof Panel Backsplashes

For heat protection behind grills, sleek tempered glass, porcelain, or fireproof cement fiber panels are perfect. These durable and stylish backsplash materials withstand flame and high temperatures while wiping clean easily.

Tile Backsplashes

From polished porcelain to handmade subway tile, the options are limitless. Mixing tile shapes, sizes, textures, and colors creates interest. Go for a geometric, stacked, or herringbone pattern. Tile backsplashes made of glass, metal, or mirrored surfaces up the style quotient.

Smart Outdoor Kitchen Cabinetry

Your choice of outdoor kitchen cabinets makes a huge impact on the overall look as well as functionality. Here are some contemporary cabinetry styles and tips:

Stainless Steel Cabinets

There’s no denying the contemporary appeal of sleek stainless steel cabinetry. Go for a clean, seamless look with recessed handles. Stainless offers durability along with style. Use enclosed cabinets below counters and open shelving above.

Concrete Cabinets

Poured concrete cabinets complement concrete countertops beautifully. The mottled color and matte finish keep the look restrained. Concrete construction allows completely custom cabinets. Keep lines very linear and simple.

Composite Cabinets

High-tech composite materials like fiberglass, resin, polyurethane foam, and acrylics create lightweight, weather-resistant cabinetry perfect for outdoor use. Many composites mimic the look of real wood grains while providing maximum durability.

Use Drawers Whenever Possible

Take full advantage of space while keeping items organized and accessible by maximizing drawers. Contemporary-style drawers have clean lines and often feature touch-latch opening mechanisms. Avoid elaborate hardware and detailing.

Incorporate Interior Lighting

Add LED lighting inside cabinets to showcase wares and make items easy to find after dark. Go for energy-efficient rope lighting or puck lights. The glow from under-cabinet lighting looks sharp and makes prepping safer.

Elevate Appliances On Pedestals

Raising appliances like grills and refrigerators on stainless steel pedestals creates an ultra-sleek appearance. Pedestals make appliances look built-in and streamlined while allowing you to clean and access the space underneath easily.

Stylish Outdoor Kitchen Islands

Islands instantly expand your prep and serving space while providing smart storage. Here are some contemporary island styles and design tips:

Stainless Steel Islands

A stainless steel island on casters provides a lightweight, portable serving station you can easily move around. Or look for custom built-in islands constructed entirely of welded stainless. Islands keep the space open and flexible.

Wood-Topped Cinder Block Islands

Wood perched atop stacked cinder blocks makes a simple, affordable island design. Use naturally rot-resistant tropical hardwoods like ipe and teak. The color and texture contrast look modern. Leave some blocks slightly exposed along the edges.

Concrete Islands

Poured concrete islands offer another clean-lined option for creating contemporary outdoor kitchen islands. Embed materials like glass bottles or seashells in the concrete to personalize. Finish the surface with staining, engraving, or polishing.

Keep Islands Multifunctional

Incorporate storage, lighting, serving space, and seating into your island design. Built-in ice chests, cabinets, shelves, and prep sinks maximize functionality. Expandable counters and hidden barware storage are smart additions.

Incorporate Comfortable Bar Seating

Adding bar seating to a kitchen island allows people to relax and comfortably interact with the chef. Choose weather-resistant stools made of materials like teak, metal, or concrete. Opt for backless or low-backed styles to keep sight lines open.

Fabulous Outdoor Kitchen Flooring Ideas

Don’t overlook the flooring possibilities in your contemporary backyard kitchen design. The right surfaces add visual appeal while handling messes and spills with ease. Consider these flooring ideas:

Poured Concrete Floors

Basic poured concrete makes a smart, inexpensive choice for outdoor kitchen floors. The color and texture options are nearly endless. Consider a broomed finish for skid resistance. Integrate radiant heating to keep the space cozy on cooler days.

Natural Stone Pavers or Tiles

For upscale durability, natural stone flooring shines. Materials like slate, travertine, limestone, and bluestone come in numerous styles from mosaic tiles to large slabs. A combination of textures and patterns looks ultra-contemporary.

Wood Deck Flooring

Complement your contemporary kitchen with easy-care composite decking or tropical hardwoods like ipe. Large-format deck tiles interlock for quick installation. Horizontal or diagonal plank patterns keep the look uncluttered. Ensure adequate drainage and ventilation.

Rubber Flooring Tiles

For maximum comfort and sound dampening underfoot, rubber tiles can’t be beat. These durable, easy-to-clean tiles withstand heavy use and repel water. Large tile sizes with neutral solid colors or stone patterns suit the contemporary vibe.

Ceramic Tile Flooring

From rustic terra cotta to sleek porcelain, ceramic and stone tile flooring offers style and practicality. Arrange tiles on the diagonal or in geometric patterns. Use tile rugs to define functional zones without a permanent foundation.

Fabulous Outdoor Kitchen Lighting Ideas

Proper lighting transforms an outdoor kitchen from day to night. A mix of well-placed lighting takes backyard entertaining from dusk to dawn. Consider these contemporary lighting ideas:

Linear LED Lighting

Slim LED lighting strips and tubes provide uniform, shadowless illumination perfect for tasks. Mount them under cabinets, shelves, and countertops. Choose fixtures with adjustable color temperature.

Recessed Ceiling Lights

Recessed canister lights placed strategically handle overall illumination brilliantly. Use narrow-beam spotlights over prep areas and wider floodlights for general coverage. Dimmers allow easy lighting control.

Pendant Lights

Clustered over islands, pendant lights supply both task lighting and style. Go for minimalist spun metal, glass, or industrial cage lights with Edison-style filament bulbs. Use pendants of different heights for visual interest.

Path Lighting

Guide visitors and illuminate potential hazards with low-voltage path lighting. Small well lights, bollards, and stair lights ensure safe travel while adding ambiance. Opt for concealed or indirect lighting.

Flame Lighting

Fire features like torches, fire pits, fireplaces, and fire bowls add flickering glow and warmth. Just be sure to locate open flames safely away from seating, traffic areas, and overhanging greenery.

Sparkle Lighting

Tiny LED lights woven through landscaping create magical twinkle. Outline trees, shrubs, and hardscapes for an enchanting look. Use lighting judiciously to avoid a theme park appearance.

Space Saving Storage Solutions

Even the most contemporary outdoor kitchens need some hidden storage for tools and equipment. Work in these storage ideas without cluttering the minimalist look:

Built-In Storage Cabinets

Maximize unused areas under counters or at the ends of cabinet runs to construct concealed storage cabinets. Integrate custom cabinets into the existing layout for a seamless look.

Below Counter Storage Drawers

Installing deep drawers underneath counters provides out-of-sight storage that’s still easily accessible. Use sturdy, full-extension drawer slides for full access.

Hidden Trash and Recycling Bins

Bury garbage and recycling bins inside cabinetry to maintain your kitchen’s sleek style. Cut custom openings with slide-out containers to simplify cleanup while keeping bins out of view.

Pot and Pan Racks

Vertical space is perfect for hanging pot racks, utensil hooks, and frequently-used pans. Opt for wall-mounted, ceiling, or rail-hung racks in materials like stainless steel. Take advantage of magnetic knife strips too.

Built-In Towel Bars

Incorporate custom recesses and nooks for drying towels. Discretely recessed stainless steel rods hold towels without cluttering counters.

Lazy Susan Organizers

Maximize corner cabinet space with lazy Susan turntables. The spinning trays provide easy access to items in the back. Many custom insert designs are available.

Pergolas, Gazebos, and Shade Structures

Installing overhead structures brilliantly expands your outdoor living space while providing protection from the elements. Here are some contemporary options:

Wood Pergolas

A minimalist wood pergola blends beautifully with contemporary outdoor architecture. Look for sleek, linear designs with an open slatted roof. Pergolas crafted from tropical hardwoods like ipe can stand up to weather beautifully.

Aluminum Pergolas

Sleek aluminum pergolas with thin profiles and hidden hardware embody contemporary style. Matte powder-coat finishes in black, white, or silver keep the look understated. Aluminum’s durability and low maintenance are perfect for outdoor use.

Retractable Awnings and Shade Structures

Retractable awnings create instant shade wherever and whenever needed. Automated sensors, remotes, or apps make operation effortless. Streamlined aluminum cassettes housing the awning fabric keep appearances refined when not in use.

Bamboo Shade Structures

Eco-friendly bamboo forms beautiful contemporary structures like horizontal pergolas and slatted screens. Bamboo’s natural light color and linear texture complement the look. Let bamboo weather naturally or use a clear preservative.

Sleek Metal Gazebos

Frame out small entertaining areas with pre-fabricated aluminum gazebos. Look for near-seamless corner connections and minimal exposed hardware. Outfit structures with screens, curtains, or shatter-resistant polycarbonate roofing.

Gorgeous Outdoor Kitchen Fire Features

Fire delivers drama, warmth, and nostalgia effortlessly. Fire features make fantastic focal points in outdoor kitchens. Some options:

Natural Gas Fireplaces and Fire Pits

Built-in gas fireplaces and fire pits operate with the convenience of a thermostat or remote control. Look for designs where the flames appear to dance and flicker on natural materials like crushed glass and river rock.