An outdoor kitchen can be a fairly complex DIY project, and yet it’s a project that adds versatility, enjoyment, and even improved resale value to your house.
Taking your outdoor cooking to a whole new level, outdoor kitchens expand your living and entertaining space, and enable you to make the most of your lawn or garden.
While some outdoor kitchens can cost tens of thousands of dollars, there are some great DIY outdoor kitchen projects that can save you a lot of money and give you the same great results.
Here are some DIY outdoor kitchen projects to inspire you.
- DIY Outdoor Kitchen Ideas
- DIY Outdoor Kitchens
- DIY Outdoor Kitchen Budget-Saving Tips
DIY Outdoor Kitchen Ideas
DIY Outdoor Kitchen Ideas: Planning
While many DIY projects can be done without a lot of planning, that’s not the case for an outdoor kitchen. The most important thing to consider is if or how you will supply water, power, or fuel to outdoor appliances.
You will also need to check your local zoning laws for regulations regarding the size of your outdoor kitchen, and any required clearances between open flames and nearby surfaces.
You may also want to check your home insurance policy for any relevant terms.
Outdoor Kitchens: Planning for Plumbing
Having a sink in your outdoor kitchen is incredibly convenient, both for cooking and for washing up. It prevents extra trips from the indoor kitchen as you go back and forth, and makes many ordinary kitchen tasks like washing vegetables and draining pasta much faster and more convenient.
However, plumbing installation can be expensive, especially if you choose to add hot water supply. Placing your outdoor kitchen closer to the house reduces the distance, and therefore the cost, of adding plumbing.
Outdoor Kitchens: Planning for Electricity
If all the electricity your outdoor kitchen requires is some lighting, then electricity isn’t a big problem. You may choose solar lights, or even run an extension cord from your house.
However, if you want to add an outdoor refrigerator and/or freezer, and particularly if you want to add an outdoor electric stove, it’s best to hire an electrician to help you.
Adding a dedicated circuit panel on your main breaker ensures that you have the correct amperage to your outdoor appliances, and reduces strain on your home’s primary electrical system.
Depending on your needs and local building codes, adding electricity for your outdoor kitchen is not terribly expensive, and it’s a task best done by a professional.
Outdoor Kitchens: Planning for Fuel
The main thing to consider in planning your outdoor kitchen is how you will power your cooking appliances. It can be very expensive to add a new gas line for an outdoor gas stove or cooktop, and there are many more affordable, DIY friendly alternatives.
It’s also important to consider how you and your family and friends will use the kitchen, planning for the movement of people, food, and beverages into and through the space.
Remember that, indoors or out, people tend to gather around the cook, and there is no such thing as too much counter space, so it’s often better to have more space than it is to have more features or appliances.
For this reason, professionals often use tape or cardboard to lay out a kitchen space and experiment with traffic and movement patterns before committing to a kitchen design.
DIY Outdoor Kitchens
1. DIY Outdoor Kitchen with Grill Island
A great way to build your own outdoor kitchen is to construct it around your existing grill. Whether you have a propane grill, a Big Green Egg, or any other kind of outdoor cooking and grilling equipment, you can make it the heart of your outdoor kitchen.
With this approach, you place your grill where you want it to be, where you have easy access to fuel and clean it, and build a countertop and cabinet framework around it.
Customizing the layout and placement of cabinets to suit the location and function of your grill expands your cooking, working, and storage space, without requiring any additional utilities to power the outdoor kitchen.
To step up the look of your outdoor kitchen, consider using stone or tile on your countertops, making them more durable in rough weather and easier to clean.
However, if you are building an outdoor kitchen on a budget, pressure-treated lumber or DIY concrete can be a durable, more affordable solution for countertops.
2. DIY Outdoor Kitchen with Pizza Oven
A pizza oven is a fantastic DIY project, and a great addition to your home.
Making a brick oven is a beginner-friendly, DIY project that isn’t too difficult or expensive; using wood for fuel means that you don’t have to add any utilities to your outdoor space; and you get incredible natural wood flavor in pizza and a wide variety of foods that you just can’t re-create in an indoor stove.
Many people are surprised by the huge range of foods you can prepare in an outdoor pizza oven, and the sight and smell of a warm wood-fired oven creates incredible outdoor ambiance.
Because pizza ovens need to retain heat and have precise air flow, it’s best to not just use wood, stone, or cement for the oven, but for any nearby cooking surfaces and work areas as well.
If you don’t feel like making your own brick oven, you can purchase a wood-fired oven or a chimney and make the project that much faster.
It’s always a good idea to create generous seating around a fire, because it’s a natural gathering place, and people will want to roast marshmallows, warm their hands, and watch their pizza as it cooks.
3. DIY Outdoor Kitchen with Mini Bar
If you want the fun and convenience of an outdoor refrigerator, but don’t want the expense of adding electrical outlets, a mini bar is a great alternative.
With this design, you place a beverage refrigerator against the house, using available electrical outlets.
Then you build a mini-bar space around the refrigerator, creating outdoor counter and storage space without needing to add any wiring, and still enjoying the convenience of your favorite cold drinks from your outdoor kitchen. An outdoor mini bar is a great complement to your outdoor kitchen, and is an inexpensive DIY project.
4. DIY Outdoor Kitchen with Ice Chest
If you don’t want the expense of including a refrigerator in your outdoor kitchen, consider adding a drop-in ice chest in a table or counter space.
An ice chest is easy to install, and comes with insulation to keep contents cold, and drainage to help manage water and condensation. It allows you to keep food or drinks cold while cooking or entertaining, and reduces trips to and from the kitchen.
A slightly more affordable alternative to an ice chest is to simply add a prep sink with a cover, and use it as an ice chest, but then it’s a good idea to add extra insulation to the outside of the sink to preserve cold temperatures.
DIY Outdoor Kitchen Budget-Saving Tips
Outdoor kitchens can be expensive, so here are some tips that can help you save money.
You can often find discount pre-made base cabinets at recycling centers, or may be able to get a discount at a local retailer or home center on a display model.
Contact your local granite or stone suppliers to see if they have any discount countertops. They often have pieces that were cut incorrectly and will sell them to you at a low price.
Repurpose and Upcycle
Check your local thrift stores for old kitchen carts, sinks, or other items that you can repurpose.
Thrifty DIYers have used rain gutters to make ice bins, concrete to make countertops, and wood pallets to make outdoor furniture. Keep an open mind to using materials in new and different ways.
DIY outdoor kitchens can be large, elaborate, fully featured kitchens, or smaller projects focused on creating counter space, seating, and dining space around a focal point like the grill or a pizza oven.
No matter how you approach it, an outdoor kitchen will delight your friends and families, help you get more out of your living area and outdoors all year long, and add to the resale value of your home.
Outdoor kitchens can be ambitious DIY projects, with a lot to plan and consider, but there are also many ways to keep these projects simpler and more affordable.
In other words, no matter what your budget or skill level, there are DIY outdoor kitchen projects that are perfect for your needs and your outdoor space. Start making a plan for your dream outdoor kitchen today.