Homeowners are discovering that the once untapped space outside their home is actually a fabulous place to entertain family and friends--and at the forefront of this movement is the outdoor kitchen. Before determining what type of outdoor kitchen you want for your home, you have to decide how you will use it. Do you often throw big parties or do you prefer more intimate affairs? The next step is to make a wish list. What do you want in your outdoor kitchen? When you hire a professional landscape architect or designer to develop the project, your list will act as a guide. Over the years, the selection of outdoor kitchenware has expanded to the point that whatever a homeowner desires can most certainly be obtained. Here are a few of the more popular choices: Flooring When it comes time to choose a floor for your outdoor kitchen, keep one thing in mind: safety. Because you will be moving around as you prepare and serve your guests, you need a non-slick surface underfoot. Stylish choices are also safe additions to any room; they include tumbled pavers, travertine, exposed aggregate, brick, and flagstone. Concrete is another attractive selection, plus it's inexpensive and can be colored and/or stamped to match natural materials and your home's architecture. A luxury feature that many homeowners include in their outdoor kitchens is one that must be done before the floor is installed: radiant heating. When the weather is not quite cozy, a warm floor underfoot is a treat your guests will appreciate. Cabinets/Storage Drawers You can never have enough cabinet and drawer space--especially outdoors. The whole idea behind an outdoor kitchen is convenience: everything you need for backyard dining should be at your fingertips so you don't have to return to the house repeatedly to obtain necessary items. Many outdoor kitchens feature stainless steel accessories because the material is durable and can handle the elements. Some homeowners choose cabinets made of hard-wearing woods like teak and cypress while others want the best of both worlds and choose faux wood. Countertops There are a variety of countertop materials, but most designers suggest outdoor-graded ceramic tile, sophisticated natural stone like granite, travertine, and marble, as well as concrete because they can handle extreme weather. Don't be turned off by concrete's utilitarian reputation, however; it can be beautifully transformed in a number of ways, including with custom color and recycled glass embedded into the surface. Outdoor Appliances Many backyards feature some type of grill or smoker, but even more are including other necessary kitchen amenities like a full refrigerator/freezer, warming drawers, sinks, and built-in trash bins. Besides grills, many outdoor kitchens are outfitted with high-tech ranges and ovens that include vented hoods and multiple burners. Others contain flattop grill inserts, specialty burners, and rotisseries. But, if you really want to take your outdoor kitchen to a whole new level of sophistication, consider a wood-burning pizza oven, beverage chiller, and ice-making machine. Another piece of equipment that no outdoor kitchen should be without is a heater. There are quite a number of different types and styles, including practical patio and portable heaters. Freestanding or tabletop, these heaters provide guests with a comfortable environment during those chilly pre- or post-season parties. Lighting Lighting is an important component in any kitchen, indoor or out. Direct light is imperative for safety while preparing and serving food. Additionally, you should plan for decorative lighting: under countertops and cabinets, plus over your dining set or breakfast bar.