Options for an Affordable Outdoor Kitchen
While creating a complete outdoor cooking space can be expensive, you can still put together a great outdoor kitchen without spending a fortune.
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"One affordable option for bar-height seating is directors' chairs with slings that come off so you can throw them in the wash," says Linda Moran, owner of the Hill Company in Philadelphia, which carries residential and commercial outdoor furniture. "Since they're not super-durable in bad weather, you will want to bring them in for the winter or if you're going to have storms for several days; but that's not a problem since they fold up and you can just slip them under a counter or in a closet." One manufacturer she really likes is Telescope. "They've been in business 105 years and their directors' chairs are a sharp-looking option for counter stools."
As for a table and chairs, Linda recommends affordable wrought iron, but only if it's high-quality like the models made by Meadowcraft. "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 says. "That's not going to rust on you later."
Another option is aluminum dining sets. Just make sure to examine the pieces for superior welding and buy the heavy-weight stuff.
If you're looking at seat cushions, the ones that last the longest and look the best are made from 100 percent acrylic, solution-dyed fabric. "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," says Linda. "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."
To save money in the long term, remember that outdoor furniture needs care and replacement parts. "Look for a 15-year warranty on metal furniture and buy from a good outdoor furniture store, not a 'big box' place," says Linda. "That way you can get the pieces repaired or replace the slings or strapping instead of having to buy all-new furniture every time something breaks."
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