Creating an Outdoor Kitchen on a Budget

Warm weather doesn’t last forever in Michigan, however that doesn’t mean your outdoor space should suffer, there are lots of different options when thinking about an outdoor grilling space. Consumers can choose everything from a simple grill on a cart to a more permanent solution like placing a grill on a pedestal or like the option shown below we can do a whole outdoor island that will have many functions. Fireside Hearth and Home has the capability of drawing out the space so you can see how its going to work, look and feel. It’s not too late to spruce up your outdoor space. In fact, there are several enhancements that can be made to extend your outdoor living time well in to the fall and even year round.

“Offering an outdoor sanctuary adds value to a home, whether it’s a garden, screened-in sun room or a gourmet kitchen,” says Jim Dohr, president of Coldwell Banker Gundaker. “These outdoor living and entertaining spaces have made their way to the top homebuyers’ wish lists.”

According to the 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey, consumer demand remains strong for outdoor living space that allow for entertaining and relaxing. Landscape architects who specialize in residential design across the country were asked to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design elements. The category of outdoor living spaces, defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces, were one of the most popular ratings at 92 percent.

Follow these tips to extend your time outdoors later in to the night and in to the cooler weather:

Lighten up: Continue entertaining into the evening by installing outdoor lighting. For example, tiki torches add a tropical vibe, low voltage lighting provides a cozy atmosphere and downlights along pathways and walkways are popular choices.

Feel the heat: Further helping to blur lines between outdoor and indoor spaces is the rise of screened porches, heat lamps and outdoor fireplaces, making them livable nearly year-round. Pergolas, awnings and other coverings for patios will also help protect from wind and inclement weather.

Comfort that lasts: Choose furniture for year round use that is durable and doesn’t need storage or annual maintenance other than cleaning.

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Take a look at this interesting article on outdoor kitchens and patio spaces.

By Angela Deines

The popularity of outdoor kitchens has grown in recent years with more people staying home to relax and entertain friends and family. Having a basic plan to know what you want and how much you can spend are two of the most basic things you need to take into consideration when thinking about an outdoor kitchen.

Joe Syrokosz, owner of ValleyScapes, in St. Mary’s, servicing northeast Kansas, said an outdoor kitchen can usually be installed in a backyard area, regardless of the amount of space you have.

“It’s really about using the space correctly, making sure that everything functions correctly in its space,” he said. “Each backyard has its own functionality. That’s where a professional can tell you what to do.”

Whether you’re trying to install a kitchen area on your own or hiring a contractor, Syrokosz strongly recommends hiring a designer to help you define your goals for your outdoor space.

“Some people don’t understand the depth of a project,” he said. “You have a game plan to work from, versus making a mistake and buying the wrong materials.”

In addition to having a grill and patio, Syrokosz said the options for your outdoor kitchen can range from having a brick oven, a fireplace, built-in cabinets, lighting and water features. He said your kitchen can usually be done in phases, depending on your budget.

“Financing each stage can be thought about,” he said. “Typically the contractor and the designer can work together with the customer.”

In addition to getting the advice from a designer, Syrokosz said the homeowner needs to make sure all local ordinances for the plumbing and electrical aspects of an outdoor kitchen project are followed.

“You never want to spend a lot of money on a project and then have someone come by and tell you can’t have it,” he said, adding that plumbing, gas and electrical lines should be installed before you begin a project.

“It will usually cost you more if you have it put those things in later,” he said, adding that a contractor or designer would help prevent unnecessary project costs.

When it comes to installing plumbing, gas lines and electricity for an outdoor kitchen, Syrokosz said most people understand that professionals should do the work. However, he said when talking with a contractor, you as the homeowner can always ask what you can save money on to stay within your budget.

Mike Logan, owner of Texas Pit Crafters in Tomball, Texas, said in an article on the DIY Network’s website that budget-friendly outdoor kitchens are possible with some planning.

“You can get as basic as you want as long as you follow a few rules as you try to save money,” he said. “First, never build an outdoor island from combustible materials, including plywood countertops covered with tile. Second, when you’re laying out your design, factor in some usable counter space no matter how small your outdoor space will be. You can’t have grills and sinks butting up against each other with nowhere for you to work.”

Third, Logan said, if your outdoor kitchen will be any significant distance from the indoor kitchen, allow at least a small budget for adequate storage space for frequently used items like grill brushes, forks, spices and paper towels.

“You don’t want to spend the whole time running back and forth,” he said.

Not buying a sink is another way to find significant savings when constructing an outdoor kitchen, Logan said, given that building codes and plumbing can make a sink cost-prohibitive. He said people are choosing under-counter water heaters that cost about $300 and “take away the need to plumb hot water from the house,” he said.

There are additional savings that can be found once you get the basic necessities out of the way. Logan said to choose propane to fuel your grill instead of running gas, electricity and water lines to your outdoor cooking space since doing that can be pricey. He also suggests buying a grill made from high-grade stainless steel.

“Look for a model made from at least 304-grade stainless steel, interior and exterior, because if the inside rusts out there’s nothing you can do to save the rest,” he said.

Outdoor Furniture – Coverings
As far as furniture for your outdoor entertaining area is concerned, Linda Moran, owner of the Hill Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which sells residential and commercial outdoor furniture, recommends affordable wrought iron for tables and chairs.

“Six chairs and a table should only run you about $800, but look for wrought iron with a good undercoat and a good powder coating, just like a car,” she said as part of the DIY Network article on outdoor kitchens. “That’s not going to rust on you later.”

Moran said another option is aluminum dining sets. Just make sure the pieces are made out of heavyweight materials and examine them for superior welding.

The seat cushions that typically look the best and are longer lasting are made from 100 percent acrylic, solution-dyed fabric, Moran said.

“They’re the best buy for the money because they’re mildew- and water-resistant and will last three or four times longer than canvas or other washable cushions,” she said. “If they do get dirty, you can scrub them with a little bleach and hose them down and they’ll look as good as new.” Moran also suggests looking for a 15-year warranty on metal furniture and buy from a good outdoor furniture store so you can more easily get your furniture and parts repaired or replaced instead of having to buy all-new furniture every time something wears out or breaks.

Another sizable but smart investment for the long-term durability of your outdoor kitchen is a cover for your cooking area, whether it’s an awning, arbor, gazebo or standard roof, Moran said.

She said if you can get by covering only your counter space or dining area, consider doing that with a cantilevered umbrella, at least until your budget allows for something more elaborate. Such umbrellas, Moran said, attach to the side of a counter or table surface, not a hole in the middle. She also said to consider an umbrella with a removable cover.

“So you can throw it in the wash and put it back on damp, which will take care of bird droppings and other dirt,” she said.

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