Treat friends and family to a proper dining experience right in your own backyard. An outdoor kitchen can turn your home into a veritable restaurant — one that’s festive, formal, or even romantic. Make an outdoor kitchen entirely through your liking, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money.
Grass is a no-no, but a raised wooden decking can get pretty expensive. Opt for ceramic tiles instead of the usual wood. You can even replicate the aesthetics of wood with wood-patterned tiles. Ceramic tiles are easier to clean and can withstand the elements better than actual wood.
Maintenance is virtually nil, and a broom or a mop can take care of spills and dirt. Avoid slips and falls by using tiles with a bit of texture. Tiles can go for as little as $2 per square foot, so expect to dish out $200 to $800, depending on the size of your kitchen.
Keep your stations as close to your home as possible. If they are close or even adjacent to your home’s kitchen, you can eliminate the need for an extra sink. An outdoor kitchen further from the house will require extended utility lines and a separate sewer drain.
Go for a grill and an oven with a stovetop. Add color to your stations with blue cookware sets such as pots and pans to make them more vibrant and festive. You can opt for another station for prepping, or you can do it all inside the house.
Mobile stainless steel stations can be cheaper than building permanent structures. Going mobile also gives you the freedom to change the configuration of your kitchen and makes it easier to integrate additional stations in the future.
If you want to serve more substantial food than the usual burgers, hot dogs, and tacos, you’ll need tables for your guests to dine on. Plastic might seem tacky, so go for proper wooden tables.
You can get outdoor tables as cheap as $20 on Amazon, probably cheaper if you go local. Make sure the tables are properly finished. A clear coating makes wooden tables waterproof and a bit more weatherproof. If your yard is a bit too cramped for more than a few tables, opt for standing cocktail tables. Just add a bench or two for people to rest their legs.
Music sets the mood of your party or gathering. A few strategically located WiFi or Bluetooth speakers can have you DJing music from your smartphone. Wireless speakers can go for less than $50, and four to six should be enough to cover your yard. Plan your playlist a few days before your party to make sure it matches the mood you want to convey.
Go for light jazz if you want to encourage conversation, or go pop for dancing. You can even set up a smart TV in your yard and host a night of karaoke. Of course, make sure to keep things down later into the night or send your neighbors regular invites to avoid noise complaints.
Limit strong lights to your stations. You’ll need to see properly if you’re not done preparing food, but your guests can make do with dim lighting. Dangling LED lights or old Christmas lights can make your yard seem more magical and relaxing.
You can also opt for outdoor bistro lights for a more authentic dining experience. Use dim or yellow lights to set the mood. Limited visibility encourages conversation and more intimate interactions. Just make sure you have lighting in places where people might trip, like steps or inclines. Lighting should cost around $100, maybe less if you use things you already have around the house.
A big fire ups the level of any gathering. Staring into flickering tongues of flame has a mesmerizing and calming effect, especially in contrast to the darkness. Opt for a wood fire pit for a more traditional feel. The scent of burning oak and the sound of crackling wood can bring back memories of simpler times or happy childhood days.
Of course, if your community has stringent rules for burning wood, it might be simpler to go with a gas fire pit. It is easier to maintain, and you don’t have to keep a stock of wood every time you plan a gathering. Use colored fire stones to match the mood, and watch as your guests marvel at the fire. You can get a fire pit for less than $150.
Bring that al fresco dining experience closer to home with a proper outdoor kitchen. Cook for family and friends or host lavish parties and gatherings in the comfort of your own home.