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5 Steps to Designing a Stunning Outdoor Kitchen

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It may seem like it’s hard to get creative in the confines of your backyard, but there are ways to turn your outdoor area into an ideal space for entertaining. One way is to design and install an outdoor kitchen area. Outdoor kitchen areas are becoming more and more popular among homeowners, particularly because they lend convenience to al fresco dining.

What’s more, outdoor kitchens don’t have to be an extensive project. You can go for a compact, budget-friendly installation that costs as little as $3,000 or a luxurious spread with a Viking range that costs upwards of $15,000.

What’s more, an outdoor kitchen can give your home value a boost should you decide to sell in the future, with some experts suggesting homeowners could see a 100-200% ROI, depending on the climate in their region. So, if this is a dream renovation, but you don’t know where to start, take the following considerations in mind.

#1) Plan your spot and layout

Choose a nice clearing in which to set up your outdoor kitchen. You can situate it on a deck, or in the center of your yard under a pergola. Either way, you want to give it a dedicated, uncluttered space. Selecting your space will also depend on the layout of the kitchen itself.

If you’re on a budget, you might opt for a marquee-style outdoor kitchen featuring a couple of counters, a sink, and a grill. This can be free-standing, or along a wall. For a wrap-around or L-shaped outdoor kitchen, you can get more creative.

Placing your outdoor kitchen under an overhang will help if you live in an area with turbulent weather. Adding some columns along either end of a free-standing outdoor kitchen also lends some structure to it.

#2) Invest in solid appliances

Don’t just throw up a counter, a grill, and call it a day. Put love and effort into the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. What makes it a kitchen and not just a grill is the presence of other appliances that make outdoor food prep easier.

Consider a mini-fridge, an outdoor stovetop, a sink, and perhaps a built-in wine cooler. The more amenities you add, the more its value is sure to increase.

If you have a considerable budget, you can probably opt for top-of-the-line Viking appliances. If not, you can still indulge in the novelty of a Big Green Egg grill or a kamado grill which is reasonably priced, eye-catching, and versatile.

#3) Choose cabinetry carefully

Your outdoor kitchen cabinets are the heart of your kitchen. While it may seem like common sense to invest in stainless steel outdoor kitchen cabinets, they may actually not be the best material for the job. PVC offers similar drawbacks.

Neither of these materials is as resistant to weathering as we may think. Stainless steel stains more easily than its name lets on and also tends to get hot to the touch on sunny days. Meanwhile, PVC releases dangerous toxins non-conducive to food prep areas and is impossible to dispose of.

However, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) cabinetry fills in those blanks. This material is weatherproof, waterproof, completely safe, and resistant to fading. It’s also extremely easy to clean. Your outdoor kitchen may be more prone to wear-and-tear than any other part of your home, so you must choose outdoor kitchen cabinets that will fight this weathering as much as possible.

HDPE cabinetry is also the most customizable option, so you can incorporate cabinets in almost any color imaginable, from bright white to everglade green, to black.

#4) Consider the lighting

If you plan on doing some evening cooking and entertaining, you’ll need some decent lighting. The lighting you choose will depend upon the overall theme of your outdoor kitchen. For example, if you’ve gone for a more traditional looking outdoor kitchen featuring earth tones, some antique light fixtures might be the preferable choice.

Lantern wall fixtures with LED flame bulbs or hanging pendant lights with Edison bulbs will be the best choice for these kinds of kitchens. Meanwhile, modern outdoor kitchens featuring white and black hues would benefit from recessed lighting for a more minimalistic aesthetic.

#5) Some enticing add-ons

If you’ve got a little wiggle room in your budget, or extra funds after the necessities, you might consider some fun add-ons. For example, you might think about adding a wet bar with counter seating to expand upon the dining capabilities of your outdoor kitchen.

Or, you could mount a TV on the wall. This transforms your outdoor kitchen into a gathering area for summer sporting events. Some other popular add-ons include:

  • Wood-burning pizza oven
  • Additional storage
  • Outdoor bar cart
  • Overhead heaters
  • Natural stone countertops or floors
  • Rotisseries
  • Side burners

Even without these luxurious accessories, however, your outdoor kitchen can still be a hit. It won’t take more than the right designer, a clear vision, and a willingness to add ambiance to an otherwise monotonous outdoor area.

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