Close your eyes for a moment. (We’ll wait.) It’s the middle of summer and you’re having the time of your life in your fantasy backyard. Maybe you’re enjoying a barbeque with your friends and family. Perhaps your ideal scenario includes enjoying a single beautifully grilled piece of salmon and a glass of fine wine while you sit on your back deck in solitude. Outdoor dining is one of best parts of summer, if you like citronella candles and aren’t allergic to nature. And what’s easier for outdoor dining than an outdoor kitchen? It’s like farm to table except it’s from your table to another one of your tables, right?
If your idea of an outdoor kitchen is the rusty Weber grill sitting two feet from your kitchen screen door, yielding overcooked chicken breasts and hotdogs for two months of the year, we’re talking to you. And if you dream of whipping up meals under the stars for a yard full of guests with ambitious standards for what constitutes “gourmet,” we’re talking to you, too. Because whichever side of this continuum you fall on, you no doubt have the preconceived notion that an outdoor kitchen is beyond your grasp. And we just thought you should know you’re mistaken.
Sure, there’s plumbing and electricity to consider. And of course, you’ll want to invest in materials that are weather-resistant and durable, and those tend to come at a higher price tag. But with a good game plan and the right team, you’ve got contractors, tradesmen, and designers all in one place and ready to help you build a gorgeous outdoor kitchen that isn’t bigger than your budget.
And we’ve got some tips for how to keep your costs down, too:
Crowdsource for materials. Do you have friends who like to dream about projects (and purchase the supplies they need), but don’t like actually doing projects? Perhaps, hypothetically speaking of course, they’ve got bags of quick-dry cement and pavers stockpiled in their garage that they totally meant to use to create a front seating area, but they never got around to doing it. They (we would imagine) may be amenable to reacquiring the real estate in their garage and may even let you have such things at reduced cost. Or maybe, if you always sign for their packages when they can’t be home or let in the cable guy with the twelve-hour service call window, they might give them to you. (That exact scenario played out for someone we know who absolutely isn’t writing about home improvements.)
ReStore someone’s faith in humanity. Find your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. If you’ve never visited one, picture a magical place that’s got a wide selection of new and gently-used building materials, appliances, furniture, and more, with new inventory every day and the fun of never knowing what perfect “find” will catch your eye. But the even more magical part of this place is that all monies go to supporting your community and to building affordable housing around the world. In other words, your outdoor kitchen could change lives (in case there’s someone in your household who still needs to be convinced you need an outdoor kitchen).
Reduce, reuse, recycle. Bet you never thought your elementary school’s recycling program slogan would help you build an outdoor kitchen. There are beautiful materials you can choose that have been used before. Think recycled materials like old farm doors, reclaimed woods, vintage storage units, and more. You’re enjoying the al fresco life and saving the environment at the same time! Need help sourcing salvaged items? PlanetReuse believes you can have access to extraordinary design materials while also reducing landfill waste!
Consider premade/assembled options. We’re not talking particle board furniture here (hello rain, we see you). But consider a mix of custom-build and premade, freestanding features if budget is a concern. You can find premade bar-style structures, pizza ovens, outdoor grill islands, and more to incorporate into your design. Bonus: If you end up moving, these can move with you. Double bonus: If you win the lottery, you have the option of calling that great crew back to put in the customized bells and whistles of your dreams.
Know what’s better than dreaming about your new outdoor kitchen? Sipping a Mai Tai from your new tiki bar as the smell of Grandpa’s secret BBQ sauce wafts in the air.