Blog by Beebe Cline

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A window that opens from cookspace to backyard is the next-best thing to an outdoor kitchen

A kitchen window pass-through is such a great idea! I just don't know why I don't see this more often. When I was a teenager living in Southern California, we had a pool in the backyard and would spend the entire day out there. One of my mother's favorite things about our kitchen was the window that opened up so she could slide snacks and lunch onto a counter outside — and keep hungry, dripping teenagers from traipsing through the kitchen. The pass-through also saved countless steps walking around the far end of the kitchen to bring food and dishes back and forth.

Do you love to entertain outdoors or just love spending time out there? You know, not everyone can afford to have a complete outdoor kitchen, so a good kitchen window pass-through can be the next-best thing. If there is a kitchen remodel in your future and your kitchen shares a wall with your backyard or patio, then read through these tips for getting the most out of this great feature.

More: Find your perfect patio
Okay, I might need to give you some time here to stare at the view from this amazing kitchen. Go ahead, take a minute.


Now that you've torn your eyes away from the view, notice that the window on the right has been folded all the way back, creating a pass-through along the full length of this counter.

1. Windows that slide or fold out of the way open up the most space to give you maximum functionality. You can easily reach the outside part of the counter from anywhere along the length. You will also be able to open and close the window without having to clear the counter.
2. Use the same countertop material inside and out for a more seamless look. The stainless steel countertop here is easy to clean and impervious to the outdoor elements.
The low wall at the right side of the home is the exterior side of the kitchen counter seen from across the pool.

3. Place the pass-through on the side of the kitchen facing the action! This kitchen is on a corner, and it could just as easily have been the other side that opened up. But facing the pass-through toward the pool means that the person cooking faces the party, and there's plenty of room for the guests outside to come right up to the kitchen, which is where everyone at a party wants to be anyway.

4. Pay attention to the difference between indoor and outdoor flooring levels. It is ideal if your outdoor and indoor floor levels are the same or no more than about 6"- 8" lower for the outdoor level. If the indoor and outdoor flooring is at the same height, then your counter will still be "counter height" outdoors. If your ground level outside is 6" to 8" lower, then you will find that your counter will be "bar height" on the outside.

It occurs less often, but if you actually have a backyard a little higher than your interior floor level, then consider having a 6" to 8" backsplash above your kitchen counter with the window above that and attach the outside counter at the bottom of the window.

Differences in heights greater than this make it very inconvenient to reach up or down with loaded plates.
5. Make sure the counter on the outside is wide enough to use even when the window is closed. My recommendation would be at least 18" deep. Barstools can be used comfortably under that depth. It creates a perfect spot for the kids to have lunch after a dip in the pool without dripping through the house. If you don't have a pool, it's still a great place to enjoy lunch or a snack outdoors. Although I like the counter stools best, if you don't need them, you could also place cabinetry or shelving under the exterior counter for more storage.

6. If the wall with your pass-through has plumbing through it, consider adding an outdoor sink. That would give you a simple wet bar or place for kids to wash hands before eating.
7. Store party supplies close at hand on the inside for quick access.

8. Arrange the kitchen layout to provide lots of clear counter space next to the pass-through. If you can place your kitchen sink and stove away from the pass-through, then you'll have a nice deep counter area that can work as a large buffet area for parties.
The generously sized counter on the left side of this house provides a convenient sideboard for the outside dining area.
If you don't actually need the lower cabinet space under your window, consider creating an entire wall that opens. It's a more expensive proposition, to be sure, but there's no need to carry food outside when the kitchen can literally become part of the outdoor space.

Have you created a pass-through to the outside for your kitchen? Upload those photos! We want to see!