Outdoor kitchens are all the rage these days, and with good reason. They provide families with a means of expanding their living spaces into backyards without sacrificing any of the comfort or convenience of cooking indoors.
Some homeowners assume that outdoor kitchens are only for the extremely wealthy. While that may have been the case many years ago when they were just starting to become popular, this assumption no longer holds up to scrutiny. These days, it’s possible to design a beautiful, functional, and durable outdoor kitchen, even on a low budget.
Want to start throwing outdoor parties, organizing family barbecues, or having fish fries without stinking up the house? Read on to learn how to design and install the perfect outdoor kitchen for any space without breaking the family’s budget.
Focus On the Basics
Outdoor kitchens can be as simple or as complex as homeowners want. That said, people working on a tight budget rarely have the money to invest in high-end features like outdoor fireplaces or custom-constructed seats.
The good news is, there’s no need to install everything at once. Start with the basics, then work up from there. There are four key aspects to consider when buying an outdoor kitchen. They are:
- Prep space
- Cooking area
It’s always best to start by focusing on these essentials. At a bare minimum, home chefs need enough counter space to prepare whatever meals they plan to cook, a way to cook them, and a place to store food, cutlery, and tools of the trade. Guests need a place to sit.
Accommodating these basic needs first means that residents and guests will be able to start using the space almost immediately. It also gives homeowners and their families extra time to save up for desirable but not entirely necessary features like fire pits and pizza ovens.
Well-Built Pre-Designed Fixtures
Having a custom outdoor kitchen constructed by an expert mason costs a lot of money. Buying pre-designed kitchen islands, grills, and seating areas is a much more affordable option. The best part is, pre-designed outdoor kitchens can generally be assembled at home provided homeowners have all the right tools and a little bit of experience.
The suggestion to buy pre-designed kitchen fixtures comes with at least one important caveat. Don’t opt for the cheapest available option right off the bat. See what materials the manufacturer has chosen for the island, countertop, grill, and other fixtures.
The appliances and fixtures used in outdoor kitchens will only be able to withstand the test of time if they’re made out of durable, weather-resistant materials. Look for materials like ultra-high-performance or engineered concrete, stainless steel, and durable composites. They’re more affordable than custom masonry, but they won’t fall apart after a single winter like some of the cheaper options.
Set a Budget in Advance
Setting a budget in advance allows homeowners to ensure that their projects won’t get out of hand. It also lets people who want to design their own outdoor kitchens know what they’ll be working with.
Make sure to budget for essentials first. Fancy outdoor decor from a local boutique store won’t be worth the money if there’s no seating for guests or the kitchen lacks essential items required to make it functional.
Homeowners who plan to take a DIY approach to install their outdoor kitchens should still budget for some professional help. If they plan to install refrigerators, lights, or electric cooktops, for example, they’ll need to hire an electrician. Those who consider outdoor sinks an absolute necessity will need to work with licensed plumbers.
Finding ways to stay within the budget will also let homeowners know how much money they have to work with when it comes to decorating. While outdoor decor shouldn’t top anyone’s priorities list, a few well-chosen umbrellas or shades, privacy curtains, or lights can go a long way towards making the space more comfortable.
Get Creative with Decor
Homeowners should always buy new outdoor kitchen appliances and fixtures. However, there’s no shame in heading to the local thrift store or flea market to pick out furnishings or accent pieces.
Don’t be afraid to get creative with the decor. Handy homeowners can even craft their own planters or green walls to add an extra touch of ambiance or sew privacy curtains using waterproof canvas. The sky’s the limit when it comes to adding all those little touches of personal style.
Plan for Future Upgrades
If there’s a wide discrepancy between the family’s dream kitchen and what’s possible right now based on the household budget, don’t despair. Plan to stick within the budget for now but leave space for future upgrades.
Let’s consider one example. Say a family can afford to install a pre-designed kitchen island, grill, and outdoor seating, but everyone agrees that an outdoor fire pit would create the perfect ambiance. Leaving space within the design for a future installation will make it easier to upgrade the outdoor dining and entertaining area when there’s enough money for purchasing a new fire feature.
Outdoor kitchen designers can also plan for a future grill, sink, or oven upgrade by leaving space for additional fixtures or islands. It costs less to install a new feature on an existing patio than it does to renovate the entire outdoor kitchen.
Commit to Proper Maintenance
Choosing high-quality, weather-resistant materials will go a long way toward protecting outdoor kitchen fixtures and features. However, there will always be some maintenance involved. Treat the outdoor kitchen as an investment and take care of it to make sure it will continue to look beautiful and function as intended for years to come.
The Bottom Line
Outdoor kitchens aren’t just for the extremely wealthy. With a little creativity and a small budget, almost any family can afford to start cooking and entertaining comfortably right in the backyard. Get started by setting a reasonable budget and investigating affordable options for pre-designed counters, grill islands, seating, and more today to maximize everyone’s enjoyment this summer.