From Basic to Bespoke – The Evolution of Outdoor Kitchen Design

Over the past decade, the concept of outdoor kitchens has transcended mere functionality, blossoming into a testament to innovation and style. What was once a simple stand-alone barbecue has evolved into a sophisticated blend of culinary prowess, an entertainment hub, and an aesthetic outdoors statement. Join us as we delve into outdoor kitchen design, revealing the trends that have shaped its transformation; plus we get the inside scoop from the experts at OKD Solutions - who built a recent kitchen design of ours.

The outdoor ‘kitchen’ of yesteryear primarily revolved around a freestanding BBQ and a few basic amenities. Fast forward to today, and we're witnessing a culinary renaissance. These spaces have grown to accommodate elaborate cooking setups – from wood-fired ovens and smokers to rotisseries and built-in cooktops. In addition, we’re adding in sinks, refrigeration, storage, heating and cooling and substantial bench space. The art of outdoor cooking has evolved into an experience, often rivalling its indoor counterpart.

Beyond the realm of cooking, modern outdoor kitchens have become a centrepiece for entertainment, with a strong emphasis on fostering social connections.

White modern outdoor kitchen area near pool
Image courtesy of Sarah @charred_peninsula_charm
Stemming from outdoor kitchen designs, we’re adding dedicated firepit seating areas, casual and formal dining zones, and lounge spaces that seamlessly integrate and transform the entire landscape into a hub for social interactions.Darin Bradbury, Director, Mint Pool & Landscape Design
Outdoor kitchen in dulux olive green
Balwyn North Project. Photography: Daniel Corden

Materials and Aesthetics

While durability of outdoor kitchen materials remains paramount, aesthetics has also come to the forefront. From painted finishes to natural stone, we’ve been able to experiment with textures and colours that complement the home and the natural surrounds.

Ben and Justin from OKD have been designing and building outdoor kitchens for seven years and in that time, they’ve become our go-to expert when it comes to professional advice on materials.

According to Justin, “The core of an outdoor kitchen is its cabinets, and any reputable specialty outdoor kitchen manufacturer will use a weather-proof PVC board to produce the kitchen carcass.”

He also explains that there has been an evolution in the products used for doors, door fronts and external panels.

“While many providers of outdoor kitchens are still using framed aluminium panels or compact laminates for their doors and drawers etc, our experience as custom joiners gave us the opportunity to use TRICOYA - a product with an unmatched 50-year external structural warranty and market leading flexibility when comes to styling”.

What we at Mint love about TRICOYA is that it’s a high-performance modified wood panel that is adaptable to any style - whether it's Shaker, V-grooved, or finger pull. As Justin says “the possibilities are limitless” for customising TRICOYA.

Trending Benchtops

When it comes to benchtops, the options available nowadays rival the choices of internal kitchens. A favourite of Mint’s is the Dekton range from Cosentino, which we know offers high performance alongside a sophisticated range of colours and textures for outdoor applications. Dekton is also incredibly stain resistant and probably has the closest look to natural stone of any of the engineered bench top options.

Ben says that OKD always advise clients to do their due diligence around benchtop warranties and what is actually covered, “Keep in mind the manufacturer’s and the fabricator’s warranty when it comes to external use.”

Pietra Kode TK05 Sabbia by Cosentino
Dekton in Pietra Kode TK05 Sabbia by Cosentino
Dekton in Soke by Cosentino
Dekton in Soke by Cosentino
Dekton Bergen by Cosentino option
Dekton in Bergen by Cosentino
Dekton in Khalo by Cosentino
Dekton in Khalo by Cosentino
Outdoor kitchen with nearby firepit and architectural concrete seating
Sydney's Eastern Suburbs Project
Outdoor kitchen with ten seater dining table
Outdoor kitchen with concrete top
Real Dads of Melbourne's holiday home. Photography Sally Goodall
White outdoor kitchen
Image courtesy of Sarah @charred_peninsula_charm


Understanding the crucial role that material selection plays in crafting outdoor kitchens highlights a clear cost reality: the durability requirements of outdoor materials can mean the the cost can be double or triple that of indoor installations.

Naturally, budgets will fluctuate based on dimensions and specifications, yet for a rough estimate, Justin suggests a starting budget for an average 3.5m kitchen would typically fall around $15,000.

Recent Work

The OKD team recently completed the outdoor kitchen on a Mornington Peninsula project designed by Mint for @charred_peninsula_charm.

This kitchen design was shadowed by overhanging steel arbours and also sat adjacent to an adjoining concrete bench seat.

“Two special details we thought worked very well in this design were the slim rail shaker style fronts, designed to match the client’s internal cabinetry. A design feature unique to OKD’s design capabilities outside. The Pocket door system that concealed the outdoor bar fridge, offering a minimalistic clean styling to the joinery also worked extremely well” says Ben.

White outdoor kitchen built by OKD for Mint Landscape Design
Image courtesy of Sarah @charred_peninsula_charm
White outdoor kitchen built by OKD for Mint Landscape Design
Image courtesy of Sarah @charred_peninsula_charm
Outdoor kitchen 3d design

A project we designed for Kathy Tsaples (founder of Sweet Greek) featured a full chargrill with the ability to spit roast a whole lamb. The design included a custom grill with removable rotisserie arms and hood that fitted seamlessly into the concrete benchtop. Far from being a one-off request, spit roasts are surging in popularity, fueled by a resurgence of family traditions embraced by a fresh wave of parents.

custom designed outdoor grill with removable rotisserie arms and hood with a concrete benchtop
Outdoor kitchen of Kathy, Founder of Sweet Greek
Outdoor kitchen design with rendered finish
Image via Pinterest
custom designed outdoor grill with removable rotisserie arms and hood with a concrete benchtop
Outdoor kitchen of Kathy, Founder of Sweet Greek
Image of outdoor kitchen and bbq by three birds renovations
Image: Mon Palmer for Three Birds Renovations
Williamstown outdoor kitchen with dining table and woodfire pizza oven
Williamstown Beach Project. Photography: Daniel Corden

As we reflect on the evolution of outdoor kitchen design, one thing is clear: these culinary havens are more than a trend; they're a reflection of our desire for seamless indoor-outdoor living, where cooking and entertaining intertwine with nature and connect us to our family and friends.

We’ve already witnessed a remarkable transformation in outdoor kitchens in the past decade, and, as material advances and design boundaries continue to be pushed, the future promises to be even more exciting and inspiring.

Our thanks to Ben and Justin from OKD and to our wonderful clients Sarah and Beau from @charred_peninsula_charm for generously sharing their time and expertise.

outdoor kitchen design by Mint Design in Moonee Ponds, Victoria
outdoor kitchen design by Mint Design in Blairgowrie, Victoria
outdoor kitchen design by Mint Design in Bentleigh, Victoria
Outdoor kitchen design by Mint Design in Torquay, Victoria
outdoor kitchen design by Mint Design in Aberfeldie, Victoria
outdoor kitchen design by Mint Design in Barwon Heads, Victoria