An outdoor kitchen can be just what you need for entertaining, especially if you have a small house. Imagine it – you can all gather around the grill with drinks on a balmy summer’s evening, and enjoy a delicious meal at your outdoor dining table. There’ll be a convenient place for your cooler or even a mini fridge, and a little sink for you to wash your hands and rinse your vegetables. But all that has got to be expensive, right?
Not necessarily. You can get the outdoor kitchen without the huge price tag if you build it yourself, out of used and reclaimed materials. You can use tiles or concrete for your kitchen countertop, or maybe you can score the perfect steel table or other accoutrement to make your outdoor kitchen perfect. Here’s how you can build your outdoor kitchen on a budget.
Scavenge Your Materials
If you want to save money on an outdoor kitchen build, then where you source your materials from is essential. You can save a ton of money by reclaiming materials or heading to an architectural salvage yard instead of a big box home store. Reclaimed materials are generally cheaper than new materials, and can sometimes even be gotten for free, if you happen to have, for example, an old barn on your property, or know someone who does. If you’re able to reclaim your materials yourself, you could put together an outdoor kitchen for next to nothing.
Pour Your Own Countertop
The countertop can be one of the most expensive parts of an outdoor kitchen. Marble and granite will be expensive and might not stand up to the weather, especially if you live in an area where it gets below freezing regularly in the winter. Concrete countertops can withstand temperature extremes and they’re relatively cheap to pour yourself. You will, of course, need to make sure that your kitchen cabinets are sturdy enough to support the weight of a concrete countertop – or just make your countertop a little thinner. You can add glass inlays and other decorative elements to a concrete countertop to make it more striking.
Refurbish and Repurpose
It’s best to stick to as simple a layout as possible when building an outdoor kitchen – a simple straight-line layout is typically cheapest to build. A straight-line layout can have room for one or more hard-sided coolers or mini-fridges to keep drinks cold, a small sink, and a work surface.
It can be relatively cheap to expand the simple design with additional kitchen furniture. Scour your local thrift stores and used furniture stores to find pieces that might be repurposed for your outdoor kitchen. You can use a utility cart to build a grill station with plenty of room for all your ingredients, spices, towels, condiments, and utensils. Add a few hooks, a new top, and some baskets, and a plain stainless steel cart becomes a perfectly serviceable kitchen island. You can even build a mini-bar to get your fridge or cooler away from the grill, so people have somewhere else to stand while you’re cooking.
Buy a Propane Grill
If you buy a natural gas grill for your outdoor kitchen, you’re going to have to plumb a natural gas line to it, and that’s going to cost a lot more money than simply buying a propane tank. It’s also usually cheaper to buy an off-the-shelf grill than one custom-designed for your kitchen. You can design your outdoor kitchen to accommodate the grill – just slide it into a nook between two cabinets or keep it at one end of the kitchen counter. Then you’ll have plenty of room for your kitchen island or grilling station on the other side.
If you install a sink, you’re going to need to plumb it to get running water. One easy way to do so is to position your kitchen counter in front of a spigot and connect the faucet directly to the spigot – to run water in the sink, you will have to turn on the spigot and perhaps open another valve on the faucet. Of course, you’ll only get cold water this way, but that’s enough for washing your hands and rinsing vegetables. If you want to plumb hot and cold water lines, that will be a more complicated job involving running plumbing into your house – but it’s one you can theoretically do yourself, if you are so inclined.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get an awesome outdoor kitchen. Pinch your pennies and build your own outdoor kitchen on the cheap – so you can spend your money on delicious meals instead.