Summer is definitely here! Of course, here in the Inland Empire where we regularly experience triple-digit temperatures, it’s felt like “summer” for several months already. But it’s already mid-June, so, I’m guessing that if you live in North America, it’s starting to feel pretty “Summer-y” where you live, too. Among my favorite activities during the warmer months is cooking and eating outside. Whether I’m throwing a weekend get-together with friends and family or simply preparing a mid-week dinner, sitting outdoors on a summer evening with a delicious meal and a nice glass of wine is my idea of heaven.
In any market a home with an outdoor kitchen would help buyers choose it over another without one
Many of us have an area in our backyard where we keep the barbecue. It’s time to consider transforming your simple barbecue area to a functional outdoor kitchen! Here’s a bit more of an incentive: any effort you put into transforming this space into an outdoor kitchen will go directly into increasing the value of your home. “In any market a home with an outdoor kitchen would help buyers choose it over another without one,” says Karen Schwartz of ERA Real Estate. Moreover, it’s not necessary to spend a fortune on your outdoor renovation. There are many ways to achieve a luxurious look without requiring the price tag that normally accompanies it. Here are some ideas, with tips on how you can keep the costs under control.
A 36-inch grill set in an island or cart will provide most of the needs for most families. It’s best not to skimp on the grill itself, as that is what you will be using the most. One nice feature to consider is getting a model with built-in infra-red burners for searing. While its possible to spend many thousands of dollars on an outdoor grill, you can also find great value in lower priced grills, such as the Char-Broil Classic 40,000 BTU four-burner gas grill, which can be picked up for less that $300.
Don’t keep running back and forth to the kitchen, create an outdoor food prep space. A decent outdoor kitchen will have at least twelve inches of landing space on either side of the cooking surface. Popular outdoor countertop materials include ceramic tile, natural stone and concrete. Note that concrete counters must be sealed annually and a hot pot can scorch them. Ceramic tile is, perhaps, the best value material for this use; just be sure to use a latex grout that will expand and contract to suit varying weather conditions.
Shelter and Lighting
Shelter and lighting are two essential features that are frequently overlooked when developing the outdoor dining area. Shelter can be as simple as an umbrella and an inexpensive clip-on light can be used to illuminate the grill. However, if you construct a patio overhang or pergola, you will have better opportunities for a more extensive lighting options. A more permanent structure such as a pergola also provides the opportunity to install a ceiling fan above the dining area, a welcome addition to those of us who live in the hot Southwest.
An outdoor sink can be nice but can also significantly increase costs: Plumbing for an outdoor sink can add an extra $1,000 – $2,000 to a project. Many outdoor kitchen areas are located close enough to the indoor kitchen that an outdoor sink might not be necessary. On the other hand, an outdoor sink does add a nice place to wash vegetables or hands after handling meat. One suggestion for saving money is to get one that hooks up to your hose, such as this outdoor sink station for under $200.
Extra: Focal Point
Hearth, fire pit or outdoor fireplace: A focal point such as a fire pit or a wood burning fireplace provides great ambiance and provides a wonderful gathering spot. While an outdoor fireplace or stone fire pit can add $2,000 – $8,000 to your overall costs, a propane outdoor fireplace can provide a comfortable but sophisticated ambiance at a fraction of the cost. For instance, the Gramercy Anywhere Fireplace can create a cozy gathering spot for only $250.
Let us help you
Ruth Chafin Interior Design can help you turn your basic backyard barbecue area into the outdoor kitchen of your dreams. We have great relationships with the vendors we carry and we partner with the best local contractors and craftsmen. A small investment in your backyard living space can increase the value of your home significantly. Please contact us to see how we can help you make that investment.