The kitchen is undeniably the heart of a happy home. With the growing focus on outdoor living, it’s no wonder we want to bring the joys of a kitchen outside. Besides, having all of your cooking needs next to the entertaining space makes being the chef a lot easier. Outdoor kitchens eliminate the back and forth, in and out of grilling with limited resources. They also enhance the welcoming experience of outdoor dining. If you’re interested in creating an outside kitchen, we have plenty of helpful tips to get you started.
Once you make the decision to install an outdoor kitchen, it’s time to devise a plan. All home improvement projects begin with the two b’s: brainstorming and budgeting. For the brainstorming step, check out pinterest photos, home improvement magazines, and the plethora of information on the internet to gather your ideas. Decide which elements of a kitchen make the “must-have” list. Focusing on the essentials is the best way to manage the second b: budget. Designing an outdoor kitchen can be as expensive as remodeling an interior kitchen. The cost depends on your choices, and how extravagant of a design you want. Expect to spend at least a few thousand dollars, even if you’re planning on keeping it simple.
The Outdoor Kitchen Essentials
For those of you unfamiliar with domesticated outdoor cooking, we may be discussing a foreign concept. So what exactly makes an outdoor kitchen? Glad you asked! Well, the answer depends on the type of cooking you plan on. In general, there are two types of outdoor cooking directions. The first is gas grilling. In this scenario, the grill serves as the central focus of cooking. The second is a wood fire oven. The wood burning oven requires more space and storage for logs. It’s also a much taller structure than a gas grill.
The next essential for an outdoor kitchen is a counter. The counter top and cabinets differentiate the outdoor kitchen from a regular grill. The grill is typically set into the structure creating an island or long counter arrangement. Counter tops feature stone and slate, similar to those found in the interior. The base can be made of wood, stone or stainless steel. Most outdoor kitchens include weather-proof materials.
The last outdoor kitchen essential provides water. That’s right, a sink! A simple single basin sink allows you to rinse your vegetables, wash your hands, and clean the dishes. The sink promotes safe handling of meats and sanitary cooking.
What You’ll Need
In addition to the grill, or oven, a sink, and a counter, outdoor kitchens require utilities. You have to run gas lines and water for a fully functioning kitchen. Another necessity is lighting. While cooking outside during the day is fine, evening cooking requires lights for safety. Decide if you want recessed lighting under the counter or in the cabinets. Regardless of where it’s installed, the kitchen needs lights. Another item on the list is coverage. Will your kitchen survive heavy rains or snow? If not, you may want to consider building a protective covering such as a pergola. For outdoor kitchens along the walls of the house, awnings work well.
Outdoor Kitchen Ad-Ons
We summarized the basic outdoor kitchen. In addition to the standard model, many outdoor kitchens feature a variety of upgrades. We’re talking about the bells and whistles. For instance, a stove top in addition to a grill allows you to boil, sauté, and fry. Another great ad-on is a refrigerator. Whether for beer and drinks or food, enjoy the convenience of cold storage potential. Along the same lines, some outdoor kitchens include a table-top ice bin. An open cooler allows you to store cold beverages so that guests can help themselves. A simple and relatively affordable upgrade involves extending the counter. Create a bar for dining while you cook. Add a few barstools and you have an additional seating area.
Cost Saving Outdoor Kitchen Ideas
Outdoor kitchen installations can be pricey. However, they don’t’ have to be. If you’re interested in the budget friendly approach, we have a few cost saving ideas. For starters, instead of customizing the kitchen island, consider purchasing a pre-made grill island. Purchasing a pre-assembled piece saves big on counter top and building expenses. Premium counter materials cost anywhere from $50 to $250 per square foot.
Avoid shopping for new materials. Source reclaimed materials wherever you can. After all, this is an outside kitchen exposed to weather. Reclaimed wood adds unique character to your outdoor kitchen. Instead of a traditional counter-top, try using an old door. How about refinishing old cabinets for storage? You may not have all of these things lying around the house. Visit local second hand stores and flea markets in search of usable finds.
Keep it simple. Simplicity is always the best way to trim unnecessary expenses. Focus on the must-haves and save the bells and whistles for down the road. Instead of a full gas range, refrigerator, and wood-burning oven, stick with a quality grill.