Published on July 28, 2020

wood exterior with open windowsPin It
Photography by Rory Gardiner; Design by Gardiner Architects

An outdoor kitchen is the ultimate symbol of summer living. The thing is, building one—barbecue, sink, cabinets, and all—costs, on average, $13,000, according to a report from Home Advisor. Factor in having enough yard or patio to carve out a whole separate cooking area on top of that and the luxury is unattainable for most. But what if we told you that you only need 12 or so inches and a window to pull it off for way less? 

Pass-through windows have become a go-to addition for Australian firms like Three Birds Renovations. The trio of designers frequently incorporate the feature on their projects, opting for single-pane gas strut windows, which look like an awning when they’re completely open and can cost as little as $250. Cut a decent-size hole in the wall, extend the countertop, pull up a stool, and suddenly you’ve got an alfresco dining spot. Here are five factors to consider before taking your kitchen outdoors. 

Got Kids? Go With an Accordion 

accordion kitchen windowPin It
Photography by Karyn Millet; Styling by Merisa Libbey

After enlarging this kitchen’s existing window, designer Raili Clasen and architect Eric Olsen were able to add a new folding glass structure, allowing it to be swiftly swept aside when the client’s kids pop by for snack time in between swimming sessions at the pool. The copper roof overhang is key to the design: It protects the marble countertop, a continuation of the surface inside.

Tile the Counters 

outdoor barPin It
Photography by Patrick Butler-Madden; Design by Laura Butler-Madden

Laura Butler-Madden’s home in Spain takes tile to a new level. The countertop and floor are swathed in extra-durable cement, meaning rain is a nonissue. The designer went with industrial brass barstools for this very same reason—they’ll last a lifetime. 

Go as Dark as You Want

black outdoor patioPin It
Photo Courtesy of Three Birds Renovations

In this small waterfront home, Three Birds Renovations added a bar to act as a pseudo dining table that can seat four to eight people (half can sit inside, half outside). The wide opening allows light to flood the space, so they were able to go as dark as they wanted with the cabinets and the exterior. 

Beef Up the Roof

white outdoor patioPin It
Photo Courtesy of Three Birds Renovations

In this case, the alfresco dining area is outfitted with a small interior breakfast bar, and the original pergola serves as the main source of cover for the dining spot. The designers topped the open slatted wood structure with a metal roof to make the space completely weatherproof. 

Do a Lot With a Little

boho inspired backyardPin It
Photo Courtesy of Jungalow

Justina Blakeney’s outdoor bar only juts out a few inches. The slab of wood is framed by simple windows on hinges. Underfoot, the Jungalow founder reused pavers that came with the house. It’s possible you already have most of what you need to make this setup work. 

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