Affordable tips for a budget-friendly outdoor kitchen
June 1, 2022
We all want a beautiful outdoor space we can take advantage of during Canada’s fleeting summers. That’s especially true as we emerge from the pandemic and appreciate time with our friends and family even more.
An outdoor kitchen that’s set up for success with a grill, prep space and room for entertaining feels like the perfect way to embrace our connections again and enjoy all that summer has to offer. And yet, the sheer expense of such a project can be a major obstacle to creating a dream backyard complete with a drool-worthy outdoor kitchen.
Here are some ideas to help you get it done.
Where to start: Planning
Do your research and make a plan
Consider the size and dimensions of the space you have to work with and what you want out of your outdoor kitchen. Plan your design fully before you begin to avoid expensive mistakes and changes down the line.
Consult family and friends to mine their ideas and experiences with outdoor updates. Get inspiration from different suppliers’ online tools to help you plan and visualize your design. Also remember to consider the logistics. Will you need a permit for your new kitchen? New electrical? A gas line? Some wish list items may seem out of reach, but don’t let these realities intimidate you in the early stages. Once you know the options, you can jump in and see how to make them possible, where you’ll have to compromise, and what better ideas are out there.
Consider going phase by phase to maximize your budget
While an all-in-one new backyard sounds magical, breaking your project into clear priorities can allow you to budget effectively and get the dream outdoor space you want. Start with the core basics like a level deck or patio, then the must-have prep counter and grill, and then implement plans for any additional stages in future years, such as more counters and cupboards, fresh seating areas and new landscaping.
Decide what to do yourself
If you’re looking to do things on a budget, chances are you’re prepared to DIY. Be sure to evaluate your abilities and commit to taking on some new skills if that’s your thing. It can be as simple as laying some tile or demolishing your existing backyard setup to save on labour costs, or as extensive as building your own counters and cabinets. It’s always important to remember which things to leave to a pro, such as electrical and plumbing.
Choose where to splurge
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t go all out on one or two things that make you happy. A great grill is likely a must as it’s the centre of any outdoor kitchen. But think about what you enjoy the most – if you make pizza with the family every Friday night, a pizza oven might be worth the investment. Other nice additions are a refrigerator and sink, which just add to the overall convenience of the space and make it a true second kitchen. Just don’t splurge at the expense of crucial items like durable countertops and proper ventilation.
Practical design tips to save some cash
Keep it simple with an insert
While never changing a propane tank again might sound nice, installing a gas line can be prohibitively expensive. To skip paying thousands of dollars for new utility lines and permits, you can insert a grill that uses propane tanks or charcoal right into your counter. As a bonus, it will be way easier to clean, upgrade, and fix if anything breaks down. Same goes for a drop-in cooler for icy beverages rather than a specially dedicated outdoor fridge.
Use your location wisely
Anchor your outdoor kitchen along one wall or create an island to maximize space since you want to leave room for entertaining as well as dishing up meals. Installing your outdoor kitchen close to your back entrance is practical for transporting ingredients and leftovers, and it can also be cheaper if you do opt for plumbing or gas since you can connect to lines in your home more easily.
Go classic on lighting and finishes
Keep the location of the sun in mind as you design your outdoor kitchen – use landscaping to your advantage, and rather than an expensive umbrella, consider building a simple DIY pergola or hanging some sheer curtains to help you stay cool. A humble string of fairy lights hung along the fence is a budget-friendly, classic way to keep the atmosphere bright into the night.
Choose materials to last for the long term
For an outdoor space you want to be sure to choose weatherproof materials that stand the test of time and still look beautiful. Choosing quality products is never a waste of money, since you won’t have to pay for replacement, but it always pays do your research on what’s reasonable.
For the cabinet that serves as your prep space, bar and home to your grill, also be sure to use fireproof materials such as stone for safety. It’s durable in the elements and won’t be damaged by heat or flame.
For an affordable alternative to traditional stone, which usually needs to be installed by a mason, try Fusion Stone. There are various styles and colours to choose from without the hefty price tag. Plus, as a mechanically-fastened stone veneer, you don’t have to shell out for the lath materials, mortar or specialized tradespeople. It’s totally DIY-friendly and even includes the screws you need for installation – and you can find it at your local home improvement store.