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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Get more DIYs and resources to help you "build" your perfect budget outdoor kitchen:
Upcycled Cabinet Mini Bar 01:31
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Age with Style
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.
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.
Keep Plants Close
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.
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.
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.
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.