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Protect your deck or patio from the heat of a fire pit.

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young father in outdoor kitchen
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

Tips for Planning an Outdoor Kitchen and Dining Space

Article by Alejandro Smith
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For people who like to cook and entertain at home, creating an outdoor kitchen and dining space is a great way to improve your home — and increase your appraisal value. From installing a simple permanent barbecue and countertop to going all out on a proper outdoor stove and oven, there are plenty of options that will make you grateful for the extra time spent at home, especially as COVID-19 continues to spread in some areas.

Preparing Your Space

Before you jump into the design work, consider the space you have available. You’ll need a patio area or deck where you can build your kitchen space; if you’re planning to build your kitchen on a deck, first check the stability and weight limit of your deck.

Patios made from concrete or brick are great options for outdoor kitchens, providing a solid, fireproof surface that will be durable and easy to clean. Concrete patios can be made from tiles, pavers, or finished in different ways for versatility.

Regardless of your flooring material, ensuring you have level ground is vital. If you’re starting from scratch, consider hiring a contractor to help you create a flat, wide space as a base before you lay down your outdoor flooring.

Along with flooring, another important consideration is a kitchen covering or awning. If you’re crafty with a sewing machine, you could make your own retractable canopy, or build something more permanent and sturdy such as a cantilevered pergola.

Kitchen Designs

For families that love nothing more than grilling out on a warm summer’s evening, your outdoor kitchen could be as simple as installing a countertop and sink with a built-in barbecue grill. However, if you plan on cooking more complex meals outside, you might want to include a small refrigerator and an oven, and perhaps a normal stovetop to go alongside your grill. Consider how much you’ll be using your outdoor kitchen, and what types of meals you envision most often cooking outdoors. By thinking about these details, you can design your kitchen to suit.

Dining Area

As you create your kitchen design, remember to consider your dining area as well. Find a dining set that includes a weatherproof table and chairs, and consider including a large umbrella to protect the table if it’s not under an awning. Choose the location of your dining area carefully; close enough to the kitchen but with enough space so you aren’t smoked out by a nearby grill.

Consider also the beauty and charm of a fire table as a welcome addition. When the time comes to roast marshmallows or throw a few hotdogs on a skewer, a fire table can be a great option when it’s time to unwind after cooking a big meal. Plus, with a gas model, you won’t need to keep adding wood to maintain a fire.

Easy Outdoor Meals

For many, eating outdoors means grilling. This doesn’t have to be the case, and once you have an outdoor kitchen, you’ll be able to explore more recipes for outdoor cooking, such as pasta dishes for the whole family. Take inventory of the extra food supplies you’ve collected over the past couple of months and hop online to come up with some exciting meals.

Bringing It All to Life

When it comes to implementing your vision, costs will obviously be at the forefront. And while some outdoor kitchens can be had for as little as $2,700, connecting gas lines, adding appliances and the overall design can push those numbers up. If savings isn’t going to be enough, consider the benefits of a cash out refinance to bring your dream to life. While personal or home improvement loans are one option, a cash out refinance can be a better choice. You’ll of course have a longer time to close, but you’ll be able to access lower interest rates. And with rates at record lows, you could even find yourself with a lower mortgage payment. Check out the guide from PennyMac to learn more.

One major upside of building an outdoor kitchen and dining area is how it will likely increase your home’s appraisal value. If you’re thinking about selling your home in the near future, be sure to take before-and-after photos to keep track of the renovations and improvements. This will help quantify your home’s increase in value, which is important to show when you’re ready to sell.

When you’ve decided it’s time to upgrade your backyard with an outdoor kitchen and dining space, it’s important to first consider the layout of your backyard and what infrastructure, such as flooring and covering, you’ll need to pull it off. Determine how you’ll use the kitchen to help guide your designs, and think beyond barbecue when considering what types of meals you can cook outside. Your upgrades will no doubt increase your home’s value, so keep track of the changes so you can show a potential buyer.

Alejandro Smith has a web site with DIY tips:
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