Expand Your Outdoor Living Space with an Outdoor Kitchen

Table of Contents

    A Guide to Understanding the Outdoor Kitchen Design and Construction Process

    Food. It’s fair to say that the nucleus of any space revolves around where the food is. As we delve deeper into our process of learning about outdoor living, we must consider the reason behind investing in outdoor living spaces in the first place. These spaces are intended to be an extension of the home. A place to enjoy the outdoors. An extra space to either make a family dinner, or entertain a group of friends.

    Naturally, outdoor kitchens are often requested in outdoor living spaces. The seemingly unlimited options combined with the vast range of pricing can cause a fair bit of confusion for consumers. If you’re seriously considering investing in an outdoor kitchen area, allow us to provide clarity on the process and options available.

    The Design Process Step 1: The Wish List

    First, a list will need to be created with your main objectives for an outdoor kitchen. We recommend creating a list of features with a priority ranking of “must have” and “would like to have”. Features include size, appliances, inspiration pictures, and any other ideas you’d like to learn more about.

    Your designer should lead this process, but this is an excellent opportunity to show any inspiration pictures you’d collected. An excellent designer will ask you lifestyle questions to solidify how the space is intended to be used. This means you’ll need to know if you plan to use the space solely for intimate gatherings, or to entertain groups. You’ll need to provide an idea of how many people you plan to entertain with the space. This helps your designer provide size advice.

    Step 2: Site Inspection and Practical Advice

    Once your outdoor living contractor understands your goals, they’ll inspect and provide insight for the project. Things that your professional will be looking for are location of utilities, wind exposure, sun exposure, and logistical challenges. This step can save the client thousands of dollars and provide maximum utilization.

    Placing the kitchen near the gas line is a perfect example of how to save some money. A level spot is always going to be more affordable than a sloped spot.

    Environmental factors that will affect the functionality of the space: wind, sun exposure, proximity to your house, views out your windows, privacy, and many other factors.

    Step 3: Identify Your Style

    This is where inspiration pictures are a huge help. As you identify your style, you’ll start to understand which material options fit that style. Keep in mind the architecture of your home and also that your style may need to be translated in creative ways depending upon your budget.

    Step 4: Set a Realistic Budget

    By setting a wish list, considering practical construction methods, and identifying your style, your professional should be able to help set a goal budget. It is at this point where priorities and adjustments can be made before you’ve invested in design fees. This is still a goal budget, not an official bid, but it can help both parties align expectations for a successful project. Outdoor kitchens can range from $5000 for a simple grill island to $50,000 plus for an entire entertaining kitchen with bars, shade, cooking areas, and socializing areas. This doesn’t include additional patio space or heating features. This is why you must understand how your wishes add up on a realistic budget. Phases of certain aspects of a space an also be an option. Just remember your designer is here to help you get what you want and need.

    Step 5: Set Goal Construction Methods and Material Options

    With a goal budget in place, your professional can help determine your material selections and construction methods. This will be how they proceed with the design and formal proposal for their work.

    Construction Methods:

    1. Cinder block base with a veneer over-coat: Stable, heavy, requires footers, several options for veneer
    2. RTF (Ready to Finish), base with a veneer over-coat: Stable, lighter-weight, no footers, several veneer options. Can save money on labor. (Check out what RTF is here: http://www.rtfsystems.net/)
    3. Pre-assembled Kitchen Kits: These elements are pre-made and installed onto concrete piers onsite. They’re quick, and there’s labor savings, but there are few customization options and high material costs.
    4. Wall Stone Used to Create Kitchen: Custom built using the same stone used for retaining walls. Heavy, multiple customization options, color and texture are limited to the stone selection, price is dependent upon type of stone. Piers are needed or a concrete base.

    Material Options

    1. The kitchen base material options will depend upon the desired construction method. This can be natural stone, manmade stone, brick, stucco, the options are varied.
    2. The counters can be limestone, concrete, granite, honed granite, or quartz. Each type has pros and cons. In addition to material, edge shape will need to be decided. It’s always an upgrade to change from the 90 degree square edge.
      1. Contractor hint: Be cautious when selecting counters to avoid light coloring with high metal content. The metal almost always oxidizes and turns portions of the counter rust colored. Also consider durability and how often sealing must occur to prevent staining.

    Step 6: Have a formal design and proposal prepared

    At this point, you should already understand your options and have a fair guess as to what the proposal will be. Most professional designs will charge a design fee for their time, so it’s important that they understand as much as possible to eliminate wasted time. This process can take two weeks during the busy time of year.

    At the end of this process, you’ll be able to make educated decisions based on what works for you and your family. A well designed outdoor kitchen can provide decades of family enjoyment.

    To learn more or schedule a consultation, contact High Prairie Outdoors today.

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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