5 Steps to a Low Cost Outdoor Kitchen
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Why An Outdoor Kitchen?
In my humble opinion, an outdoor kitchen is all about enjoying ‘the conveniences’ associated with indoor meal preparation, dining and entertaining, in an outdoor setting.
Cooking inside then transferring the food outdoors is simply not efficient. It also means that at least one person is stuck inside on cooking duty while everyone else is outside having fun.
With an outdoor kitchen no one misses out on any of the action.
Outdoor Kitchen Trends
Designers talk about making your outdoor rooms an extension of the home. Just how much of an extension is really up to the individual’s wants, needs, desires and budget.
As the popularity of outdoor kitchens has grown, so too has the number of companies who specialize in outfitting this space.
From elaborate outdoor food prep areas to luxurious outdoor seating and dining areas, their design ideas and high-end products are guaranteed to impress.
Unfortunately, they can also leave you with a less than impressive balance in your bank account.
This post is for the average Joe (or Joanne) who doesn’t have loads of cash to throw around, but would still like to enjoy the benefits of an outdoor kitchen and backyard time spent with family and friends. The following is my list of tips and ideas on how to build an outdoor kitchen without breaking the bank.
Budget-Friendly Outdoor Kitchen
As with any home improvement project, planning your outdoor kitchen is extremely important. And when budget is a major factor, planning becomes even more important. By taking a good look at what you have to work with and analyzing your specific needs, you will be better prepared when it comes time to make your purchases.
Step 1 – Plan Its Use
Think about how much time you will spend in your outdoor kitchen. Planning its use will help you to determine how large your overall financial investment should be. It will also give you a better idea of what features it should include.
Step 2 – Identify Key Features
Make a list of features you consider to be essential for an outdoor kitchen. Now carefully examine each item on your list. Something you originally deem to be necessary may not actually be needed after all.
- Grill / BBQ – the most important feature in an outdoor kitchen is the grill – a must for cooking out of doors
- Compact Refrigerator – a definite convenience, but if you’ll only use it for drinks, could it be substituted with an ice-filled tub for keeping beverages cold?
- Shelter – protection from the sun is a definite necessity, a fully enclosed eating area, however may not be – do you really want to eat outside when it’s raining?
- Dining Area – no question here – outdoor dining furniture is essential!
- Lighting – great for after dark entertaining
- Lounge Area – the decision to incorporate a separate lounge area will hinge on the amount of space you have available
- Outdoor Sink – another convenience, if hot water is not required, consider running cold water to your outdoor sink from a diverter on your outside faucet.
- Patio Heater – depending on your climate, if you plan to use your outdoor kitchen in the early spring or late fall a patio heater may be a good investment.
Cross off the items on your list that you really don’t need and concentrate on the items you do. Start with the basics and add on as your budget allows.
Step 3 – Save Space & Money
To get the most bang for your buck use multi-functional outdoor furniture and fixtures.
Use a patio bar or island for mixing drinks, food preparation, and serving up outdoor meals buffet style. Pull up a few bar stools and it can function as a great spot for hanging out and visiting with the chef.
Depending on the design of the patio bar or island, it may also be able to accommodate storage for outdoor cooking utensils and provide space for tucking in a compact refrigerator. (I suggest using interior design storyboards to map it out)
Step 4 – Placement of Features
Give special consideration to the placement of certain features.
To avoid the cost of running additional power / electrical lines away from the house, design your outdoor kitchen so that appliances requiring power, such as a compact refrigerator, are placed close to existing outdoor electrical outlets.
Step 5 – Buy the Right Products
Use products that will stand the test of time.
There’s nothing worse than investing good money in something that only lasts for one season. When buying items to use in your outdoor kitchen, choose products made from materials that will survive the elements and their intended use. Stainless steel tables, melamine dishes, resin wicker furniture, teak decking, outdoor fabrics for table cloths, outdoor throw pillows or sun shades.
Outdoor Kitchen & Lounge – Design Inspiration
Outfit your outdoor kitchen and lounge area with comfortable and casual outdoor furniture and fixtures.
When the sun moves around for a direct hit, pull the cord for instant shade on this retractable pergola. I bought this pergola last summer and absolutely love it!
The canopy was removed late in the fall, but the frame stayed up and remained intact all winter. Just waiting another week to make sure we don’t get any more snow before I put the retractable canopy back on for this summer.
For all you lounge lizards out there, did you ever think you’d be making a move from your indoor La-Z-Boy recliner to an outdoor La-Z-Boy recliner? The outdoor model features quick drying cushions in colorfast, UV-resistant fabric and a rust-resistant steel frame wrapped in all-weather resin.
Belly up to the backyard bar or take a seat in a funky low-back outdoor bar stool. Resin wicker seems to be a theme with the outdoor furniture featured in this outdoor kitchen inspiration board.
The Utby bar table from Ikea would make an excellent patio bar for your outdoor lounge area. Set it up under the pergola or under the stars.
You won’t break the bank or the dishes when you use melamine dinnerware for your outdoor dining.
Never one to pass up an opportunity for a play on words – the Island Gas Grill from Home Depot has received sizzling reviews! It has the style of a built-in gas grill with the added convenience of portablility.
At the top of my summer wish list for outdoor accessories is a set of rechargeable lights. With no outdoor electrical outlets, these provide the perfect alternative to having extension cords trailing out my patio door. Second on my wish list is some colorful outdoor pillows. Two would never be enough, but the ones from Pottery Barn shown above would be a great start.
Featured Outdoor Products, Prices & Sources
- Outdoor Pillows from Pottery Barn 20″ x 20″ $32.00 USD
- Melamine Dinnerware – look under ‘dinnerware’ in the kitchen category at Target.com $24.99 USD
- Candela Glow 4 Rechargeable Lights by OXO from Lumens $70.00 USD
- La-Z-Boy Outdoor Recliner from Canadian Tire $349.99 CAD
- Outdoor Bar Stools from Canadian Tire $34.99 CAD
- Outdoor Rug from Home Depot $199.99 CAD
- La-Z-Boy Cushioned Outdoor Storage Bench from Canadian Tire $199.99 CAD
- Bar Table from Ikea $264.99 CAD
- Retractable Pergola from Canadian Tire $399.99 CAD
- Charmglow Gourmet Chef’s Island Gas Grill from Home Depot $999.00 CAD
Get tips and ideas for putting together a low cost outdoor kitchen.