Create a Budget Outdoor Kitchen With These 10 Finds

Skip the reno, and get straight to the party.

Having your own outdoor kitchen is a luxury most of us only dream about. But even if we have the room in our backyard, sometimes we just don’t have the budget to build one out. But that doesn’t mean that we’re totally out of luck. You can still create your own (makeshift) outdoor kitchen using a few key items and creativity. We’ve rounded up our favorite ideas that will help you to put together a cost-effective outdoor kitchen of your dreams.

1: Two-Burner Propane Grill

Photo by: Home Depot

Home Depot

One of the first purchases for your outdoor budget kitchen will likely be a grill. This two-burner propane grill includes two folding side shelves for extra space, as well as an even-heat system to help cook your food more evenly. The bright-red finish adds a retro look.

2: Outdoor Sink + Drinking Fountain

Photo by:

Building an outdoor sink area is no small task (and costs quite a bit of money), but you can skip that entirely with this piece. Simply mount it to a wall or to another cabinet, then connect it with any outdoor spigot. The sink even includes a drinking fountain so you can grab a quick sip of water while you’re outside.


3: Pizza Oven

Photo by: Wayfair


Hardcore pizza lovers should consider adding a pizza oven to their outdoor kitchen setup. This oven is meant to help mimic a brick oven while still being portable enough to move around your outdoor space. It's the perfect choice if you and your family love thin, crisp, brick oven-style pizza.


4: Wooden Cooler

Photo by: World Market

World Market

Instead of an outdoor refrigerator, use a sleek, outdoor cooler like this one. You can easily fill it up with ice (and empty it when you’re done). When it’s not in use, you can use it as extra seating, or use the top surface to store any other necessities for your space.

5: Wicker Bar Cart

Photo by:

You can use a bar cart as a hub in your outdoor kitchen. You can either use it as a serving piece (drinks on one shelf, food on another), or use it as chic storage. You can keep dishes, flatware, grilling tools, linens or other outdoor accessories stored for easy access whenever you're prepping a meal outside.

6: Serving Tray

Photo by: Kohl's


These grill trays are the perfect spot to put all of your grilled meats, veggies and skewers. These heavy-duty trays are meant to hold hot food, so you never need to worry about them holding up with grub straight off of the grill.


7: Gas Smoker

Photo by:

If your family is made up of some serious carnivores, you might want to think about adding a smoker. But even if you’re a vegetarian, you'll still love this tool in addition to your grill. You can easily smoke fish, meats and veggies, all while watching everything cook through the window. The wood chip tray ensures that everything will have that delicious, smoky flavor.

8: Drink Dispenser

Photo by: Crate & Barrel

Crate & Barrel

This large, sturdy drink dispenser can hold a big batch of fresh lemonade, water or a yummy prepared cocktail for the adults. If you usually host a big crowd, consider buying a few to hold a variety of beverages.

9: Kids' Picnic Table

Photo by: Wayfair


This adorable kids' picnic table ensures that the little ones have their own area to play and eat dinner. You can even use several lined up together if you need a bit more space for little ones.

10: Easy Kabob Prep Set

Photo by: Sur la Table

Sur la Table

This kabob "loader" helps you put together each of your kabobs without the normal mess. You add all of your meat and veggies to each of the channels, then close the top and put your skewers in when you're done. This is also a great tool to use to store kabobs in the fridge while they’re marinating.

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Colorful and Creative

For a fast fiesta, gather a few small pots with easy-maintenance plants, such as succulents, and lanterns atop a tablecloth of many colors.

Burst of Beauty

Pluck vibrant flowers and greenery from your garden for a beautiful botanical centerpiece, suggests Michiel Perry, founder and curator of Black Southern Belle.

Photo By: Sean Money & Elizabeth Fay/Black Southern Belle

Tabletop Message

A set of fun napkins can pull together your dining table. You can use disposable or cloth napkins, depending on what you find in bargain and clearance sections.

Photo By: Sean Money & Elizabeth Fay/Black Southern Belle

Repurpose and Rearrange

If you have a table with a patterned top, use it as the inspiration for the rest of the decor. The mini print of this stone tabletop was so dominant that it dictated the design choices, says Monica Stewart, owner of The Misfit House in Athens, Ga. For her free tabletop redo, she grabbed a matching set of vases and pillows from inside the home, and topped her design off with a ceramic candle from another spot on the porch and greenery from the yard.

Photo By: Shannon Adams/Fast Copy News Service

Mix and Match Textures

Just like designers do inside the home, infuse an outdoor dining area with texture to make it more attractive. On this porch, the chopped firewood, stone tabletop, vases with rough and glossy stripes and floral-inspired pillows do the job. “I like to bring in as many textures as I can,” says Monica Stewart, a designer in Athens, Ga., who owns The Misfit House. A potted succulent also draws the eye through the space.

Photo By: Shannon Adams/Fast Copy News Service

Go Ahead and Snip

When using fresh flowers, don’t worry about waiting until they all bloom. Plants in various stages can make an interesting focal point on a tabletop. “I like the texture of the buds and the softness of the blooms mixed together,” says Athens, Ga.-based designer Monica Stewart, who owns The Misfit House.

Photo By: Shannon Adams/Fast Copy News Service

Hide the Rough Spots

Oversized pillows do the obvious work of cushioning metal outdoor dining chairs, but they also can disguise wear and tear. Georgia designer Monica Stewart positioned these strategically to cover up scuff marks on chairs. If you’re on a covered porch, you can even grab indoor pillows to spruce up a space for an evening of entertaining and then bring them back inside.

Photo By: Shannon Adams/Fast Copy News Service

Go Vertical

Look around your yard for free foliage and flowers to create a last-minute table centerpiece. Monica Stewart, owner of The Misfit House, an interior design business in Athens, Ga., snipped crepe myrtle branches in seconds and arranged them to add height and greenery. 

Photo By: Shannon Adams/ Fast Copy News Service

Age with Style

Embrace the aging process. The brown and gray tones of the seasoned logs that Georgia designer Monica Stewart stacked next to this outdoor dining table ties into the patina of the table, without having to repaint or redo the legs to freshen up the look.

Photo By: Shannon Adams/Fast Copy News Service

Fluff It Up

Help guests settle in for long, leisurely meals with colorful cushions in gorgeous patterns, such as these selected by Chicago interior designer Tom Stringer.

Photo By: Werner Straube

Reflect on the Space

Who says mirrors are only for inside the home? Atlanta-based Mosaic Group Architects and Remodelers selected a gold sunburst mirror to create a strong focal point outdoors.

Photo By: Gregory Willett

Nature's Tabletops

Tree stumps serve as woodsy and rustic side tables, the perfect size for cocktails. Draw inspiration from this outdoor seating area by Chicago interior designer Tom Stringer, who injects a classic, multi-layered modern approach into his work. 

Photo By: Werner Straube

Comfy Cozy

Sit a spell by adding padded seat cushions to make a metal bistro set more comfortable.

Photo By: Fast Copy News Service

High Style

Go formal. Use floral vintage plates and china to create an elegant table setting for tea time and other dainty delights.

Photo By: Fast Copy News Service

Keep Plants Close

Create ambiance with candlelight and add interest to a dining area with a nearby wooden planter. Designers with Front Door Communities placed benches next to this rectangular planter to create more space for food and drinks as well as seating.

Photo By: Bond5/Front Door Communities

Paint and Plant

Don’t ignore prime spaces, such as your tabletop and ceiling. The blue ceiling extends the sky underneath the patio roof. This striking centerpiece brings together round, rough stones and native and tropical plants that fit with the lush landscaping by ArquitectonicaGEO, a Florida chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects award winner. 

Create a Color Scheme

Coordinate placemats and chair cushions to add thoughtful and vivid pops of color to outdoor dining areas.

Photo By: Mosaic Group [Architects and Remodelers]

Fashion a Bar

Use a folding tray with legs as an impromptu bar and let the bottles and glasses be part of the decor. If you find a used table, you can paint it or add stencils to refreshen it.

Photo By: Sean Money & Elizabeth Fay/Black Southern Belle

Rise Above the Ordinary

Don’t be afraid to use an unconventional table, like this bar-height option, and decorate it with matching plates, such as these selected by Michiel Perry, founder and curator of Black Southern Belle.

Photo By: Sean Money & Elizabeth Fay/Black Southern Belle

Get Crafty

A side table made of crates is an easy beginner DIY project and a way to give you extra storage space. Amy Latta of One Artsy Mama used two large crates (from Crates & Pallet) and plywood for her custom outdoor table.

Photo By: Amy Latta/Crates & Pallet

Pull Up a Bench

Make room for more people at the table with a bench on one or both sides of the table. Benches can fit with rustic, transitional, traditional or eclectic styles, depending on what options you find new or used at thrift shops and flea markets.

  1. charming

Photo By: Bellwether Landscape Architects

Color Overhead

If you have an existing pergola, paint it a sunny hue, which provides color and contrasts with the dark pavers and stacked stone fireplace.

Illuminate the Area

Add a light fixture over an outdoor dining area, whether it’s completely covered or underneath a pergola. Nievera Williams Design's landscape plan for a Palm Beach, Fla., outdoor space and property won a Florida chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects award.

Photo By: Nievera Williams Design

Treat the Ceiling Well

Catch the breeze from an outdoor ceiling fan, or two, which provide comfort and a decorative touch in a covered space.

Photo By: Glazer Design & Construction

Holiday Glow

Seasonal decor can add festive touches to grilling and outdoor seating areas. Even when the holidays are over, keep the starry vibe going with lit trees and strings of light.

Photo By: Epic Development

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