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Custom Outdoor Kitchens: 4 Key Considerations, Captivating Ideas, and A Convenient Choice For Your Custom Build

By James King

June 27, 2023

A summer kitchen is the superior choice for spending more time outdoors.

But, what type of outdoor kitchen is right for you?

In recent years, pre-designed outdoor kitchen islands have skyrocketed in popularity.

And while these certainly make it easier than ever to take on an outdoor kitchen project… For some, these prefabricated packages simply don’t appeal.

So, if you want more flexibility with your outdoor grill station design…

l shape plank outdoor kitchen

Why not get creative with a custom outdoor kitchen?

Today, we’ll go over everything you need to know about custom outdoor kitchens…

And clue you in on just how convenient getting a custom kitchen can be.

Let’s get started.

Quick Links:

The What and Why of Custom Outdoor Kitchens

mike pyle with his family at their custom outdoor kitchen with a modern concrete finish

A custom outdoor kitchen is a setup that’s tailored to your unique wants and needs.

With prefabricated or modular outdoor kitchens, every element will be pre-designed for you… But with custom, you get more creative control.

There are a number of scenarios in which increased creative control is crucial.

Perhaps you have an outdoor living area that can’t accommodate a prefab kitchen’s dimensions…

Or, maybe you found a nice modular island, but it doesn’t include the appliances you wanted.

You might even want to take the custom route to achieve a certain aesthetic.

Point is, pre-designed kitchens don’t always fit the bill… And if that’s the case, a custom kitchen may be calling!

But, how do you get a custom outdoor kitchen design?

Let’s go over some important considerations.

Important Custom Outdoor Kitchen Considerations

When considering custom, there’s a lot to keep in mind.

First and foremost… How do custom outdoor kitchens actually come to life?

How Do Custom Outdoor Kitchens Come Together?

two contractors finishing an outdoor kitchen with natural stone veneer

Though it’s not the only option (stay tuned for an alternative!)Most look to hire a local contractor or outdoor kitchen builder to complete their design.

To start, a contractor will have to assess your outdoor space, and create a design concept dependent on your unique outdoor cooking wants and needs.

From there, they’ll put together a design proposal to present for your approval.

Once the conceptualization is squared away, the contractor will then start constructing your island on site.

Though this may all sound simple and straightforward… Working with a contractor brings its own set of challenges.

Depending on who you work with, certain contractors may allow you to request completely custom materials and designs… But other contractors may enforce some limitations.

For instance, a builder may only be willing to build a stone or stucco outdoor kitchen… Or, they might not be able to do specific layouts.

Depending on the limitations a contractor enforces, their build style and choice of outdoor kitchen materials may not exactly be as durable as you may like!

Now, this isn’t the only challenge brought on by working with a contractor…

In some cases, it can take up to weeks or months to receive a proposal for your design!

And on top of this, there aren’t many contractors out there who specialize in outdoor kitchen construction.

Therefore, it’s rare for a contractor to actually invest in design resources for their customers… Which means it may be difficult for you to get a thorough understanding of what your entire design will look like in your outdoor living space.

So… Why are design resources so important for a custom built outdoor kitchen?

Before You Start Building, Define Your Custom Outdoor Kitchen Design

When working on your custom outdoor kitchen build, it’s extremely important to be able to visualize the entire design.

Naturally, you want to see your project before someone starts building it! So, when working with a contractor, make sure they can present you with a design up front.

Otherwise, there’s only a guess as to what the final kitchen will look like… And that’s where these projects can go south.

Though few and far between, some contractors have design programs they use to provide you with a vision.

At the very least, they should be able to draw up a blueprint to give you an idea of what the new outdoor kitchen will look like.

If the company is unable to provide you with visuals… It’s likely due to their lack of experience working with outdoor kitchens.

Though you can certainly take a gamble and still work with them… In our experience, it’s best to avoid this.

But if your builder is able to provide you a visual for your design… What features should you expect to see?

Appliances and Custom Outdoor Kitchens

beautiful custom outdoor kitchen with built in appliances

Of course, built-in grills and appliances are one of the most important parts of your design!

In fact, they’re often the reason why people lean towards a custom kitchen in the first place.

Having a kitchen custom built should enable you to choose the outdoor appliances you need, according to the way you cook and host.

When designing a custom outdoor kitchen… It’s important that the appliances and accessories you want are laid out functionally, and in a way that makes sense.

You want everything to flow perfectly when you are cooking and entertaining for friends and family!

So, before a contractor starts building your BBQ island… Confirm that they’ve drawn up a functional design!

Does The Design Work in Your Space?

Having a visual of your custom kitchen design will allow you to verify that it works in your new space.

If you’re working with a local contractor, they’ll usually be able to take care of this area of the project for you.

They can measure your backyard and build things accordingly… But for peace of mind, you’ll still want to see how the design will fit before they start building.

It would be a shame to put all this time and effort into planning and designing your project… Only for it to not fit in your outdoor living space. We don’t need to tell you how frustrating that would be!

So, as you can see… Having a complete picture of your project’s specs is vital!

And the company you’re working with should be able to provide you with this essential info in the form of custom blueprints.

If you’re working with multiple contractors to bring your project to fruition (perhaps you’re running utility lines or having a patio built)… Giving your plumber and/or electrician access to these specs will be quite helpful when it comes to connections and proper placement.

Is Your Kitchen Designed with Safety in Mind?

an rta outdoor kitchen showing the ventilation and non combustible concrete panels

Lastly, a quality outdoor kitchen design should clearly depict how your contractor has accounted for safety.

So, what safety measures should you expect?

Well, if you’re planning to build your kitchen under an enclosed roof structure… Your contractor should be ready to include a vent hood in your design! (This is only necessary with enclosed roof types, like pavilions or gazebos. Vent hoods aren’t a necessity for outdoor kitchens under pergolas!)

This will allow for better airflow, and reduce the risk of inviting potential safety hazards to your backyard.

Further, it’s also vital that your contractor has designed your kitchen island itself with safety in mind.

If your kitchen doesn’t have proper ventilation… It’ll pose risks for you and your family, which is obviously the last thing you’d want!

So, it’s important to confirm that your contractor has taken the proper safety measures, before they start building.

Custom Outdoor Kitchen Installation: What To Expect (And How Long You’ll Be Waiting)

rta team carrying panel to assemble outdoor kitchen

Let’s talk about what you can expect from contractor installation services.

If you’re working with a local contractor or builder, you won’t have much to worry about in terms of installation!

Usually, the contractor will come to your home and construct everything for you on site.

Though you may not have to put in any elbow grease for a contractor built outdoor kitchen… It’s not all sunshine and roses.

While a local contractor or builder is great for those who don’t want to do the installation work themselves… You’ll wind up beholden to their timeline.

Usually, contractors are juggling multiple different home improvement projects… Which means your outdoor kitchen is likely not their top priority!

And if they are jumping between multiple projects… Your dream outdoor kitchen project can easily turn into a weeks or months-long affair. (We’ve even heard horror stories where it has taken much longer!)

If your custom outdoor kitchen is their sole focus… A built-from-scratch project can come together in just a couple weeks.

But no matter how long it takes… Plan on having limited access to your backyard during that time.

Do Custom Outdoor Kitchens Cost an Arm and a Leg?

How much do custom outdoor kitchens cost?

Well, like many things in life… It depends.

There are many factors that go into an outdoor kitchen’s overall cost (such as size, finishes, material selections, and appliances, to name a few).

Though we can’t give you any exact numbers… We can give you a rough idea of what to expect.

When you work with a contractor or a custom outdoor kitchen builder… Pricing can jump significantly.

Depending on where you live, you can expect to pay upwards of 40-50% more for a custom outdoor kitchen design as opposed to a pre-designed option.

But generally speaking, expect an average 15-20% upcharge for a custom-built design.

We’ll crunch some numbers to give you a better idea.

Most high quality pre-designed outdoor kitchen kits cost around $1,000 per linear foot. So, for a 6’ linear option, it will cost around $7,000.

The cost for a custom grill island will then fall around the $14,000 range.

For L-shaped options… Pre-designed will run around $13,000 to $17,000.

On the other hand, custom builds generally start at $20,000… And can go as high as $30,000 or more!

Finally, U-shaped. Pre-designed offerings hover around the $20,000 – $25,000 mark… While custom builds can get as high as $50,000!

The cost can increase even more when using upgraded materials and premium appliances. Point is, it can get to be a lot of dough!

Remember to keep in mind that these are broad ranges.

As we mentioned earlier… The numbers will fluctuate depending on outdoor kitchen materials, the unique features you choose, the area you live in, and the contractor you hire.

Now, in some cases… You may encounter a contractor building a custom new outdoor kitchen for the same price as a prefabricated option.

We would advise proceeding with caution here! This usually implies that the builder cut corners on material and/or appliance quality… And neither bodes well for your outdoor kitchen.

Alright. We’ve seen the ins and outs of custom outdoor kitchens…

Now, it’s time to get inspired.

Custom Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

Let’s see what custom outdoor kitchen designs are possible for your outdoor living area!

Indoor Outdoor All-in-One Grilling Station

linear outdoor kitchen against house under roof next to a pool
linear outdoor kitchen with mounted wall outlets

If you want everything you could possibly need in a linear island… Here’s the design for you!

We’ve got the massive stainless steel natural gas grill as the focal point (and main cooking powerhouse)!

You’ll also find a side burner, an outdoor sink, and a refrigerator…

Plus a pull out trash bin, and plenty of storage for your grilling necessities!

And to top it all off… This custom design sits perfectly underneath an outdoor kitchen patio cover. It looks like it was made to be there (well, it actually was!).

With a comfy seating area, fireplace, and outdoor TV just steps away… Why would you ever choose to spend time inside?

A Custom Kitchen Built for Cooking Versatility

rta outdoor kitchen with pizza oven
rta outdoor kitchen with weathered wood finish and pellet grill

Are you all about diversifying your outdoor cooking?

This custom design is packed to the brim with versatile outdoor appliances!

With a pellet grill for low and slow smoking, a flat top grill for whipping up breakfast al fresco, and an outdoor pizza oven for wood-fired cuisine…

You can do it all!

Additionally, this island features a pull out pantry and an outdoor refrigerator…

And even still, there’s plenty of counter space left over for prep!

Indoor Outdoor Custom Kitchen By The Pool

l shaped outdoor kitchen with power burner and refrigerator in a florida room
florida room furniture next to a pool and l shaped outdoor kitchen

This custom L-shape island is highly functional!

Of course, you’ll find the gas grill as the centerpiece. But there’s also a power burner right beside it!

Aside from using this for lobster boils and cooking enough pasta for a crowd… It can easily be transformed into a flat top grill.

You could also opt to use it with a wok, for whipping up dishes with an Asian flair!

Other features in this custom design include an outdoor refrigerator, pull out trash, ample countertop space, and access doors below the grill.

Alright. Now that you’ve seen what’s possible from custom designs…

What’s next?

Sure, you could leave it in the hands of a local contractor, and hope and pray that they have what it takes to get the job done…

Or, you could be more proactive with your custom project!

Allow us to propose an idea…

A Convenient Choice for Your Custom Outdoor Kitchen

What if we told you that none of the custom kitchen ideas we shared were built by a contractor? 

On the contrary… All of them are DIY solutions that came together in just one afternoon. 

How is this possible, you ask?

Well… Here at RTA Outdoor Living, we make designing and installing a fully custom outdoor kitchen, as convenient as can be… Without the need to hire a contractor to do the work for you!

So if you’re looking for a custom option that offers more clarity, convenience, and creative control, right from the start…

Allow us to share why RTA is a great choice for your custom outdoor kitchen!

With RTA, Designing Your Dream Kitchen is a Breeze

From the get-go, designing a custom outdoor kitchen with RTA is a breeze.

We offer a free, easy to use online design tool… Which empowers you to take control of your design!

This creative control includes your choice of layout and dimensions…

Your pick from a variety of stunning island finishes (including stacked stone graphite, chalk, or terra… Weathered wood ash or umber… Reclaimed white brick… Modern concrete bright or industrial… And our newest finish, modern stone ash or bright!)

Granite or concrete countertops…

And full access to premium appliances and outdoor kitchen accessories from Coyote Outdoor Living! (These high quality outdoor kitchen appliances are constructed of 304 stainless steel… And backed by a lifetime warranty!)

As you can see… You can quite literally create a completed design in the span of a few minutes… And in the comfort of your own home.

And once your design is submitted, you have exclusive access to our expert design team. They’ll help you understand the design, evaluate your outdoor living space, and assist you every step of the way with your vision.

Wanting something more custom than what our design tool allows you to create?

No problem! We have a full service team of design professionals that can incorporate custom designs not available in the design tool.

When it comes to design resources… We make a conscious effort to give you the confidence you need to conveniently create the design of your project.

What’s more… We also have an engineering team who utilizes our custom blueprint software to create the plans for your project.

This step in the custom process allows you to review and approve your final layout… That way you can verify everything is perfect before you lock in your order!

RTA Kitchens Are Designed With Safety In Mind

outdoor kitchen vents

At RTA… Your safety is our top priority.

RTA kitchens go above and beyond standard safety regulations with multiple (at least seven!) uninhibited vents built into our BBQ islands.

This includes built-in ventilation on the left, right, front, and back of your island!

Ultimately, our vent placement allows for completely uninhibited airflow and cross-ventilation, which means there will be no heat buildup (and no safety hazards!) with our kitchens.

Our ventilation cutouts won’t detract for your kitchen’s appearance either… They’re small (yet functional), and quite discreet.

But our safety measures don’t stop there…

Our kitchen islands are also completely frameless, which allows for even better ventilation…

And RTA kitchens are also made with non-combustible materials, so there’s no risk of your island bursting into flames.

We want you to feel confident in your project before you even start designing… And to us, that confidence begins with your peace of mind.

Your Custom Kitchen Design Will Come Together in Mere Minutes

With RTA, there’s no need to hire a contractor to get your kitchen up and running.

RTA is a ready-to-assemble solution that arrives at your door 95% completed!

That 95% comes from the outstanding craftsmanship at our Indiana manufacturing facility.

All you have to do is assemble, just like furniture.

So, you start with creating your custom design from the comfort of your own home… Once your design and blueprints are confirmed, all you have to do is wait!

You have full access to your backyard while we make and ship your outdoor kitchen.

Once it arrives, you can have your new outdoor kitchen fully assembled in the matter of hours.

Not days… Not weeks… Hours! Pretty incredible, right?

All you have to do is bolt the panels together, pop on the countertops, and slide the appliances in. Voila, a custom outdoor kitchen completed in mere hours!

Of course, if you’d rather sit back and watch your kitchen come together… We do have an extensive contractor network to complete your project for you!

But either way, RTA kitchens won’t leave your backyard a mess for an extended period of time.

With RTA, You Can Feel Confident That Your Kitchen Will Last A Lifetime

an rta outdoor kitchen in the snow with coyote fridge

When you work with a contractor, it can be hard to gauge just how long you can expect your investment to last.

But here at RTA, we want you to feel confident in the quality of your investment, even before you get started!

That’s why our kitchens are made with high performance concrete panels.

Not only are these rated for 100 years… They’re also backed by a limited lifetime structural warranty, as well as a structural guarantee!

This means that no matter your climate… An RTA island will stick around for the long haul!

RTA Custom Kitchens May Be More Cost-Effective

At RTA, we have a unique way to offer custom outdoor kitchens with a minimal upcharge from our pre-designed options.


It’s simple. We specialize in prefabricated custom outdoor kitchen solutions.

So, we invest in technology that makes it easier to create these solutions for you… And with less of a price tag.

Our custom outdoor kitchens are only a 5-10% upcharge from our pre-designed.

Here are a couple examples to give you a better sense of cost:

Our linear options range from $5,000 – $10,000.

L-Shapes start at $12,000 with $17,000 being on the high side.

Finally, U-Shapes start at $18,000 and range to the upper $20,000s.

As you can see, cost still varies widely depending on the solution you choose.

But you’ll get all the numbers up front… These numbers won’t unexpectedly change… And since there’s no need to hire a contractor, you’ll effectively eliminate labor costs!

Alright. You’ve seen how RTA compares to scratch-built custom outdoor kitchens…

If your interest is piqued… What’s next?

What’s Next? 

Embarking on a custom outdoor kitchen project is no small feat.

And honestly, whether you’re intrigued by RTA or still contemplating scratch-built…

Our Learning Hub is a great resource to help you weigh your options and hash out all the details! If you’re looking to start formulating a plan, this is the place to begin!

Or, if you already have a vision in mind and want to test out just how quickly your custom design can come together… Give our free design tool a whirl!

And as always, our team is available if you’d like to discuss your potential project ideas or have burning questions.

Outdoor kitchens are our passion, we would be honored to help!

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.


With a custom outdoor kitchen… There’s really no limit on the features you can include!

Of course, you’ll likely want a grill as the centerpiece of your BBQ island…

But you could also bring some more functionality with other outdoor cooking appliances (like a side burner, a pizza oven, or a flat top grill).

You could also add an outdoor kitchen bar, to give your guests a spot to sit…

Or, add features like storage, roll out trash bins, a sink, and plenty of counter space to make food prep and cleanup a breeze!

Whatever you need, it can most likely be accommodated in a custom outdoor kitchen design.

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