Are you a foodie who’s also an outdoorsy type? Love to entertain friends and family at home? A custom-built outdoor kitchen is an awesome feature to add to your backyard. An outdoor kitchen can add value to your home and make entertaining guests a breeze. But if you’re not careful, the cost of your outdoor kitchen can spiral out of control faster than you can say “flame-grilled.” The key to building an outdoor kitchen on a budget is planning and being mindful of your material choices.
Just because you’re working with a smaller budget doesn’t mean you can’t realize your dream of having an open-air kitchen. Repeat after us: You CAN build an outdoor kitchen on a budget. Here are some tips to help you get started living that al fresco life ASAP.
Set a budget. Repeat, set a budget.
The first and most important step in the process is to set a budget. Make sure you know what you can afford before making any other decisions, as this will dictate the entire project. If you don’t know how much money you can spend, it will be easy to get carried away by all your amazing ideas and see your costs skyrocket, so it pays to stay practical.
Many people who start planning an outdoor kitchen become tempted by extravagant features like built-in pizza ovens and fancy seating areas, but these can quickly become cost-prohibitive without a massive budget.
To avoid overspending on unneeded items, establish what your priorities are from the beginning and plan accordingly. For example, do you need more storage space for pots and pans? A better BBQ? Lots of countertop surface area? By knowing exactly what you want from your outdoor kitchen, you can stop yourself from being drawn in by unnecessary products.
To avoid overspending on unneeded items, establish what your priorities are from the beginning and plan accordingly. For example, do you need more storage space for pots and pans? A better grill? A bigger countertop surface area? By knowing exactly what you want from your outdoor kitchen, you can stop yourself from being drawn in by unnecessary products.
It’s hard to know how much money different components cost without doing some research first. So before settling on a budget, check out online stores or visit garden centers where these products are sold to see how many options there are for each item on your list at various price points.
Look for high-quality used appliances.
Another way to save money on your outdoor kitchen is to look for high-quality used appliances. Consider purchasing a used stainless steel fridge, but be sure it’s in good condition without rust or broken parts. With a little work, you should find a used fridge that meets your needs.
Avoid buying used grills that are not in excellent condition, as they are often difficult to repair and require replacing quickly. Do, however, look for free or cheap appliances in your area on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp etc. Sometimes people are moving and need the items gone quickly, so you may find someone willing to give away or sell them for cheap just because they don’t want to move them.
Also, consider purchasing portable appliances, since they’re usually cheaper than built-in appliances. You can always upgrade to built-ins later when your budget allows.
Start with the essentials and build more later.
One way to build an outdoor kitchen on a budget is to start small with the essentials: a sink, grill, and storage area. Then, add on as desired with an outdoor refrigerator and other upgrades that fit your needs later. Make your outdoor kitchen a work in process, rather than something you have to complete in one project.
Consider countertops and flooring materials carefully.
To keep your outdoor kitchen as clutter-free as possible, think about the materials you’ll use for countertops and flooring. A countertop that is heat and stain-resistant—as well as easy to clean—is a must. Natural stone is one of the best materials because it has great durability and is low maintenance.
As for flooring material, make sure you choose something durable but also slip-resistant. Tile is a popular choice because there are so many options available in color, texture, and size. Concrete can give a modern edge to both countertops and flooring. Regardless of what you go with, countertops and flooring are two items not to skimp on since they’re the foundation of your outdoor kitchen.
Shop for deals on cabinets, shelving and furniture.
Cabinets, shelving and outdoor furnishings can be expensive. As with the grill, you will want to consider used products or shop for deals. In addition to places like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Habitat for Humanity ReStore (which have new listings every day), many online stores offer good sales frequently. Check out sites like Wayfair, Walmart, Overstock, or Sears for deals on appliances, cabinets, shelving and other items like chairs or barstools to furnish your outdoor space.
The Bottom Line
An outdoor kitchen can be the perfect addition that will not only increase the value of your home, but also provide a convenient way for you, your family, and guests to enjoy fresh air and delicious fresh-cooked meals. But as with any construction project, before you jump in consider the space you want to remodel, as well as the budget you are working with.
As you break ground on your new outdoor living space and start purchasing any appliances, cabinetry and any furnishings you need piece by piece, be sure you have a secure spot designated to store those valuable items that’s protected from both theft and potential damage during construction. It may be worth considering short-term storage rental to keep things pristine for the big outdoor kitchen unveiling party.