5 Budget-Friendly Essentials for Your Outdoor Kitchen

Not ready for a complete backyard renovation? Refresh your current space with these won’t- break-the-bank picks as well as expert tips.
Lucy M. Casale
May 03, 2021
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"I love to cook—and I love to cook outside!" says photographer, stylist and lifestyle blogger Aniko Levai. After making the most of their home's 10-by-10-foot deck for several years, she and her husband set out to build her dream outdoor kitchen off the back of their Richmond, Virginia, home in the summer of 2017—a total DIY project. "I wanted to create a little back- yard oasis," says Levai. With her plan sketched out on paper, the couple spent about a month on the install, working late into the evenings and on weekends. You're looking at the results! Check out what they did—and the lessons they learned along the way.

ID Your Space Needs

Levai says that taking the time to live with her house's existing deck showed her the pain points—and helped her zero in on exactly what she'd want in the future. As a frequent entertainer of large groups, she quickly learned she needed more seating. Adding an adjacent lower deck created more lounging space.

Think Modular

The biggest splurge on the remodel was a full outdoor kitchen—with a range of appliances—to make for fewer trips inside. Levai went with a modular Master Forge set from Lowe's. Because the pieces are sold separately and can be arranged however you like, a modular system allows you to customize the kitchen to be as big or small as you want. Levai chose a grill, side burners and griddle, outdoor refrigerator, sink and marble countertop. This model is no longer available, but for something similar, check out Char-Broil's modular outdoor kitchen, pieces sold separately and starting at $800, lowes.com. Want a modern look? Try NewAge Product's Modular Outdoor Kitchen Cabinet, which includes a sink, bar and grill cabinets, a countertop and weather covers, from $3,800, lowes.com. Before you shop, consider what your family will use the most. Levai's two favorite elements: "The griddle for cooking vegetables. (My husband and I are both vegetarians.) And the fridge for refreshments!"

Throw Some Shade

Adding a pergola not only looks stylish—it also offers a welcome dose of shade, especially over the cooking area. For even more sun coverage, Levai topped an Allen & Roth outdoor dining set with a large umbrella.

Belly Up

As a finishing touch, Levai installed a small bar area with two stools off the back side of the kitchen counter, "So my husband could sit and watch me cook and have a drink." To complete the relaxed vibe, she added candles, string lights and plenty of potted and hanging plants.

Get Your Hands Dirty

"It was a lot of work and labor on our part, especially my husband!" Levai says, but adds that the cost savings of doing the work themselves—as opposed to hiring it all out—made it totally worth it. If you're inspired to build your own outdoor kitchen, check out her blog, Place of My Taste, for step-by-step how-tos.

5 Budget-Friendly Essentials for Your Outdoor Kitchen

Bash Copper Beverage Tub
$89.95

A cost-friendly alternative to an outdoor wine fridge—if there ever was one. This hand-hammered aluminum drink chiller looks great and, once filled with ice, keeps your IPAs and rosé cool for hours.

Solvinden Outdoor Lights
$9.99

Hang one—or a few—of these pretty solar-powered pendants around your outdoor seating area fora cozy summer evening glow.

Positive Performance Rug
$129.00

Ground your patio furniture with a chic outdoor rug that adds comfort for bare feet and is easily cleaned with a garden hose.

Äpplarö Table
$149.00

A total steal! This drop-leaf outdoor table is made of sustainably sourced hardwood. When folded it seats four people, but can easily expand to fit up to eight.

KitchenAid 3-Burner Propane Gas Grill with Ceramic Sear Side Burner
$586.79

Make a statement with a bold, blue grill. Besides packing a 51,000-BTU output, this baby lets you prep on one side and sear on the other.