Outdoor BBQ ideas - 10 ways to style a BBQ in a modern garden

Make hosting alfresco even more stylish with our gorgeous (but practical) outdoor BBQ ideas

Design project - former dairy with courtyard garden
(Image credit: Imperfect Interiors / Photography: Chris Snook)

The best outdoor BBQ ideas will up your alfresco cooking from a disposable BBQ propped on bricks in your back yard to a gorgeous almost kitchen-like space that’s perfect for entertaining and will add style to a modern garden design too. 

There are plenty of options to choose from to suit all styles, garden sizes and budgets. From compact fire pits that you can transform into a grill to elaborate built-in BBQs that you can make use of all year round. And of course, it’s not just about the BBQ itself, it’s how you decorate the area around the BBQ that can have a big impact too. Because you obviously need stylish seating, ambient lighting, maybe a little prep station or at least a bar area to keep your drinks fresh as you cook. 

1. Dedicate an area to cooking

apartment in Paris

(Image credit: Sebastian ERRAS, @sebastianerras)

Make more of your BBQ and rather than just having it floating in a corner of a patio, build a dedicated area to house it. You'll get more of an outdoor kitchen feel that way and it will better protect it from the elements too. You don't need much space either – in this small rooftop garden of a Paris apartment, the BBQ sits in its own nook, so as not to be too much of a feature in the small space.

2. Double up a fire pit as a BBQ

outdoor fire pit

(Image credit: La Redoute)

Everyone loves the cozy, camp-out feel that a fire pit brings to a garden, and you can now find many designs that double up as a BBQ too. All you really need is a grill that fits over the top to get cooking. 

What’s lovely about a fire pit BBQ is you don’t have to have it tucked out of the way, have it in the center of the garden and get everyone involved with the cooking. Dot chairs around the edge and put out throws and pillows for extra coziness. 

3. Go all out with an outdoor kitchen

built in outdoor kitchen

(Image credit: Design by The Novogratz)

If you cook more meals outside than you do in over the summer, adding an outdoor kitchen would not only be practical but they add can add style to a garden. And they are no longer just reserved for huge gardens either, they are plenty of compact designs that would work in smaller spaces too. Although if you have the space, be inspired by this outdoor BBQ idea and go all out with a built in BBQ and pizza oven, storage space and sink, and yes that is a beer tap. 

4. Wall mount a BBQ area to save on space

small tiles garden with outdoor kitchen and chalkboard wall

(Image credit: AMMA BATCHELOR)

And if you have a smaller space but still want that outdoor kitchen feel, as we said they are loads of designs like this one that don't take up a ton of space but still have everything you would want. In this small garden, the BBQ area is wall mounted freeing up floor space and the shelves create space for storing wood and prepping food. 

4. Build a pizza oven perfect for garden parties

roof garden with a pizza oven

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

How cool is this BBQ idea? The side of an unused chimney breast has been turned into a pizza oven on this rooftop garden in London. Far prettier than a bulky BBQ, a pizza oven could be a better option if you like a more subtle rustic look and often you can use them to cook more than just pizza too. 

5. Pick a BBQ that makes a style statement

Morso BBQ with storage

(Image credit: Morso)

Is this not the most stylish BBQ you’ve ever seen? It almost seems a waste to banish it to the outdoors. This is the Morso Forno outdoor oven, and it’s the perfect all-in-one design with a space to prep, store wood and even hang your tools. At yet it’s not visually bulky, doesn’t take up a ton of room and it’s very handily on wheels so you can move it around your garden and out of the way when not in use. 

6. Choose a compact BBQ for small areas

courtyard garden with seating and wood fired BBQ

(Image credit: Imperfect Interiors / Photography: Chris Snook)

If you have been blessed with a small courtyard or patio garden, rather than try and squeeze in a huge gas BBQ that will become the sole focus of your space (and let's be honest some of them are a bit of an eyesore) opt for a stylish compact design that matches the style of the space.

That could be a sleek freestanding number, a rustic chiminea or something like this industrial wood-fired BBQ. There's not a lot of square footage in this stunning courtyard garden, but a compact BBQ can still be squeezed in, plus there's even some handy storage for wood. 

7. Build a pergola around a BBQ for all weather cook outs

outdoor BBQ area with retractable pergola

(Image credit: Future)

Don't want to be put off alfresco dining by a little drizzle? Or if you are lucky to live somewhere where you want shade from constant gorgeous sunshine? Adding a pergola around a BBQ area means you can enjoy cooking and socializing no matter what the weather brings. 

8. Add a rustic touch with a stone outdoor oven

Mediterranean garden makeover inspiration

(Image credit: Claire Wainwright)

Such a lovely, cozy outdoor BBQ area. A stone oven is a great addition to a garden if you cook outside a lot, and adds an instant Mediterranean feel to a space. Complete the vibe by adding some texture with a few potted plants and trees, and then just string up the fairy lights to add that vacation atmosphere. 

Want to feel really inspired to get transforming your garden? Take a look at what this Mediterranean-inspired garden looked like before...

9. Dedicate a place for food prep

Portable outdoor kitchen with storage boxes

(Image credit: Ikea)

As a host, you don't want to constantly be in and out of the kitchen prepping food, you want to be out in the garden socializing while you cook. So add a food prepping station to your BBQ area so you can still be part of the party. You can make it decorative too, add pots of herbs and rustic chopping boards, and pretty jars for storing utensils. 

10. Keep a garden bar close to hand

outdoor kitchen ideas with outdoor bar

(Image credit: Lundhs / Morten Rakke)

And you never want to be too far from the drinks area either! Set up a garden bar near the BBQ area to create a relaxed, informal socializing space for people to gather while you cook and prep. 

How do you decorate a BBQ area?

To decorate a BBQ area, firstly make sure you have plenty of seating options. If you have got the space, add some more casual places to perch as well as a more formal dining table. You want a BBQ area to feel like a place to socialize as well as cook. Add some outdoor chairs, a sofa and a drink station for a relaxed outdoor living room feel, just be sure to position the BBQ in a place it won't blow smoke over the space. 

Lighting is great for creating an atmosphere. String up fairy lights for a warm glow and dot lanterns around the edge of the space. Adding greenery can look lovely too, potted plants and trees will give the area so privacy and can make it feel like its own 'room' in your garden.  

How can you disguise a BBQ?

Some BBQs aren't the prettiest, and while they are great to bring out at parties, you might not want it to be a really obvious feature in your garden. The simplest way to disguise your BBQ is to first position it in an area of your garden that the eye is not immediately drawn to, so the side of a patio or decking area would work best. 

Then,  you want to blend it in with the space around it. You could invest in a BBQ shelter or build a nook to house your grill, that will make the BBQ less obvious and actually could turn into a nice feature of your garden. Add potted plants around the area for greenery and to help it blend better with the surrounding garden. 

Hebe Hatton

Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.