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How to build an outdoor kitchen on a budget and create the ideal cooking space

Building the outdoor kitchen of your dreams without breaking the bank

Beautiful granite countertop on a white cabinet located on an oceanfront outdoor terrace in a South Florida condominium.
Thomas Barrat/Shutterstock

There are many fantastic ways to enjoy your yard, especially during spring and summer. If the idea of inviting your friends and family over to sit outside and enjoy a nice home-cooked meal sounds appealing, then an outdoor kitchen should be at the top of your wishlist. The only caveat? They can be quite costly. For some, knowing how to build an outdoor kitchen on a budget is a must—thankfully, that’s entirely possible! All you need is some careful planning and some creativity.

Keep reading to get our tips on designing and building your dream outdoor kitchen without breaking the bank.

An outdoor built-in kitchen deck

What do you put in an outdoor kitchen?

An outdoor kitchen space often features grills and cooktops, outdoor seating, counter space, and sometimes even a bar. You might also want to have a sink and/or a refrigerator or cooler. All of these features can lead to greater expense, but you can stay within budget by deciding what you absolutely have to have in your space. Maybe you just need a grill and somewhere to sit right now, and that’s fine! Still, you might want to leave the design open so that you can add to it later as your budget and needs change.

One of the most difficult parts of staying within your budget may not be the kitchen itself, but the ground it’s on. Many people opt for a masonry option, like stone, concrete, and slate, to give their kitchen a solid foundation. If you want it to stand out a bit more, you can also choose to do a ground-level or floating deck. However, decks tend to be the most expensive option once you account for the wood, foundation, and leveling work. By going with a stone or slate foundation that rests on the ground, you’ll be able to save on costs and install it yourself so long as you start with an area that’s relatively level.

Family enjoying a meal in their outdoor kitchen
Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

How can I build an outdoor kitchen on a budget?

One of the best ways to build an outdoor kitchen on a budget is to work with salvaged materials like reclaimed wood or recycled stone and brick. They’re less expensive than new materials and are better for the environment. As long as you don’t care too much about your kitchen having the most cutting-edge style, you’ll have your pick of materials to use in your space.

The other thing to focus on is inexpensive furniture. Although many people choose to go for matching sets, that can often get expensive. You can go to places like flea markets to find affordable sets of furniture, window boxes, and lights to add ambiance to the space.

The grill

Purchasing a premade outdoor grill will help avoid the cost of custom selections and installations. Your grill will be ready to go, and there are plenty of options to choose from! (As an added bonus, you can even choose a grill that you love and can easily move with you if you ever decide or need to go to a new space.)

Another cost-saver is using propane to fuel your grills instead of natural gas, as running gas and electricity to your outdoor kitchen will increase costs. Keep in mind that even if you’re purchasing a premade grill, you’ll want to opt for one that’s a bit costlier but still works within your budget. After all, if you have to replace the grill once a year, it will cost you more in the long run than if you invest a bit more upfront in a high-quality grill.

Other furniture and seating

If you’re looking for bar-height seating, you can opt for a cloth chair (like a director’s chair) with a removable cover that can be washed. If there are any accidents, stains, spills, or dirt, you’ll be able to clean the covers and won’t have to worry about replacing the whole piece of furniture. You’ll also need to remember to bring your furniture inside during harsh winter weather so that heavy snow and ice won’t cause damage.

When it comes to tables and chairs on a tight budget, you can also opt to get mismatching furniture. Especially when you’re first setting up your outdoor kitchen, mismatched furniture is better than none at all, so use what you can get! It will have more of an eclectic vibe if you have different chairs and tables for everyone to use, but that will just make it memorable. Plus, tables and chairs can be among the easiest changes to make if you decide to swap them out later on down the road.

Outdoor kitchen with granite countertop
Ozgur Coskun/Shutterstock

Does an outdoor kitchen increase property value?

You might not live in the same house forever, so knowing how an outdoor kitchen will impact your property value can be beneficial. The good news is that if you decide to sell your house after adding an outdoor kitchen you can expect to see a large value increase! Outdoor kitchens are typically huge selling points if they are in good condition. So even if you plan on moving to a new house in the future, building an outdoor kitchen is a great investment.

By selecting things like mismatched furniture and premade grills, you can establish your outdoor kitchen without making a huge investment. Especially if you aren’t looking to stay in your current space for a very long time, choosing more easily replaced and movable items will allow you to save up for your own future and eventually build the outdoor kitchen of your dreams in your new home.

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Kiera Baron
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kiera Baron is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a budding digital artist, based in Upstate NY. She is currently one…
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