outdoor kitchen pergola with lighting installed
Photo: Mark Lohman
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Essential: Lighting and Shelter

4 & 5. Two features home‑ owners frequently overlook are among the most essential, says Glassman: task lighting and overhead shelter. "All it takes is a $25 clip-on grill light to give you direct illumination on the cooking surface,” he says. A freestanding umbrella set into the countertop or on a stand will provide shade at high noon. “Of course, if you can build a pergola or set the kitchen under an overhang off the house, even better," adds Glassman. "That way you can install more extensive lighting as well as fans to help keep insects away from the cooking area." (If the grill is under a roof overhang, however, you may also need to install a vent hood for safety.) Spotlights affixed to the pergola roof brighten this California backyard kitchen at night.

Bottom Line: At least shine light on the grill and put up an umbrella.
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