Simple outdoor kitchen ideas

For garden

Outdoor kitchen ideas 

There’s something about cooking and eating outdoors that feels good and primal. When it’s just you, the elements and food fresh from the grill, mealtimes feel even more magical.

The alfresco experience can be enjoyed alone or in company. And with searches for outdoor
kitchens on the rise, it’s an occasion more and more people are looking to create
at home.

The good news is you don’t have to go straight to a state-of-the-art spec to make the most of this trend. If anything, it’s about getting back to basics. With a few simple outdoor kitchen ideas, you can form the base of a great entertaining space that you can
build up over time.

Read on to discover our 15 top tips for creating a cost-conscious kitchen design in your garden.

1. Lay your foundations

Credit @Ronseal

It may not be the most exciting element of your new outdoor kitchen, but a solid foundation is key to getting your design right. When working with high heats, sharp knives and appliances, it’s vital that your surfaces are straight and safe. 

You may want to install a purpose-built raised floor for your kitchen. Or you can mirror the tiling used in your home for a more cohesive look. But if you’re using an existing decking area to save on budget, be sure to repair and restore it with protective products.

Our Ultimate Protection Decking Paint fills in cracks and locks down splinters. It’s also available in 10 colours so you can find a shade to suit your design.


Top tip: If you’re looking to create a flooring area from scratch, poured concrete can also be a cheaper option than tile or block paving.


2. Upcycle old cabinets

Credit @Ronseal

Sure, you can go out and buy brand new kitchen cabinets for your build if you want. You can even have them custom made. But it’s far more cost effective (and sustainable) to upcycle old units where you can. 

By keeping an eye on various auction sites, community pages and charity shops, you’re likely to bag an absolute bargain base for your outdoor kitchen. And, with the right products to hand, you can restore old worktops and cupboards to their former galley glory.


3. Choose accessible appliances

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Built-in appliances certainly look the part in an outdoor kitchen, but they can get pricey. So, if you’re trying to create your cooking area on a budget, you may want to consider portable items. 

There are numerous pre-made grills and BBQs that can be easily added to a kitchen design. And, trust us, a mini fridge stashed under your worktop keeps drinks just as cold as an integrated wine cooler. 

Top tip: choosing appliances on wheels will help make moving them far easier when it comes to storage season. 


4. Use shelves for storage

Credit @Ronseal

If you’re looking to cut back on costly cabinets, try adding fence or wall-mounted shelves to boost your storage space.

Tie your shelves into your kitchen design by painting them in complementary colours. This will help them look more integrated and expensive. A product such as our Garden Paint works on a number of surfaces and it will help protect against weathering too. 

Top tip: Shallow shelves with closed sides and a front rail are perfect for keeping your items contained in a busy kitchen.


5. Grow your own

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Growing your own herbs and vegetables is great for your budget and your soul. It’s a super satisfying experience and your outdoor kitchen will always be full of flavour.


Top tip: Choose your herbs wisely and you’ll be ready to make a range of delicious meals. Grow rosemary to compliment your vegetable or beef dishes. Basil works nicely with chicken and thyme is a great match for pork.


6. Add some ambience

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Lighting plays a huge role in elevating an outdoor experience. It will also open your entertaining space up long into the evening and winter months.

There are so many lighting options available, from under counter strips to task-focussed spotlights that illuminate your cooking station. The price range is also very varied.

If you’re looking for outdoor kitchen ideas on a budget, try framing the area in outdoor fairy lights or using solar lanterns to line a path. This method of lighting won’t require professional installation and needn’t cost the earth, but it will add tonnes of ambience to your build. 


Top tip: Where possible, look for LED lighting as it can save energy and money. 


7. Mix and fix furniture

Credit @Ronseal

A straight deck that runs parallel or adjacent to your house is simple and easy enough to build yourself. If you’ve chosen a minimalist design for your garden, a straight deck with crisp lines will work really well and complement the design.

When we’re creating a new zone in our garden, it can be tempting to buy brand new matching furniture to put in it. However if you embrace a more eclectic look, you can save a pretty penny!

Create a one-of-a-kind dining set, by thrifting old items from your garden, local charity shops and boot sales. Then upcycle and unite them with suitable treatments. It’ll add character to your kitchen and feel rewarding too. 


Top tip: Create cohesion in your set through colour or echo lines and shapes in the different designs. Coordinating tableware and textiles will also unite a mismatched set.


8. BYOB (Build Your Own Bar)!

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Build a bar in your own backyard and you can enjoy discount drinks with your outdoor dining experience. The perfect partner to any outdoor kitchen, a mini bar sets a social scene for entertaining. 

Top tip: Boxer dogs double up as great bouncers and can be paid in kibble to save cash.


9. Durable designs

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Wherever there’s food cooking, you’ll soon find hungry people. Make sure your entertainment areas are ready for high footfalls and messy moments by keeping your design durable. 

Long-lasting features and fittings will save you money and time in the long run. Bamboo tableware, cushions with removable covers and a floor treated with suitable protection will all make upkeep easier.

Top tip: if you like the low maintenance approach, try using artificial plants and a decking treatment like our Ultimate Protection Decking Stain. It lasts twice as long as standard decking stain and protects against scuffs and scratches.


10.   Combine seating with storage

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Most outdoor kitchens will require storage and seating. Combine the two, and you’ll save on space and costs in the process. 

Seating is great for dining zones, but you can also use it in your cooking area too. Preparing a meal can take time. By placing a bench at a safe distance from the chef, you ensure those doing the cooking aren’t shut off from the socialising. 

Top tip: Using trellis screens and curtains will allow you to section off areas dedicated to dining or food preparation. Let’s face it, there’s nothing like placing a partition between you and the dirty dishes to help you enjoy a meal.


11. Create warmth

Credit @Ronseal

Outdoor heaters and lanterns can help to make an outdoor kitchen or dining area more habitable. But there are other ways to add warmth without any running costs.

Wood is a rich and welcoming material that will add interest to any kitchen design. Treating woodwork in an oil or stain will add to that warmth. And, if you get the right product, it’ll help protect your furniture from the elements too.


12. Pick up a palette

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We couldn’t really do an article on simple outdoor kitchen ideas without giving the ever-practical palette a mention. 

This DIYer’s dream is super versatile and budget-friendly too. It can be used to create a kitchen island, furniture or even storage. The possibilities are endless! 

Top tip: Personalise your palettes using our Garden Paint, available in 29 colours.


13. Less is more

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A lot of the charm in cooking outdoors comes from connecting with nature and embracing a back-to-basics approach. So, when decorating the space, remember less is more!

Rather than investing in elaborate features, bring in a few plants, some candlelight and touches of natural fibres. This approach will help curb spending, but it will also protect the rustic vibe we want from cooking and eating in the great outdoors.


14.   Soft  seating

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If you’re hosting large groups of people but want to keep your kitchen and dining spaces on budget, multiple chairs may not be an option. 

Instead, look for soft seating opportunities in your existing garden design. Adding cushions to a deck, planter or set of steps will instantly transform them into social seating. Cushions and beanbags are way cheaper than buying chairs and they allow you to be more flexible in your arrangements too.


15. Dark walls

Credit @Ronseal

By their very nature, the areas in which we cook and eat are prone to grubby marks and oil spatter. To keep your garden looking great, and the cost of upkeep down, choose darker shades for your surfaces. Our Fence Life Plus in Tudor Black Oak is a perfect pick. It makes a bold style statement and is very forgiving too. 

Top tip: Keep your furniture clean with our Garden Furniture Cleaner spray.  It’s great for regular use or prepping furniture for stain and oil too.


Should your outdoor kitchen be covered?

Once you’ve got an outdoor kitchen design in mind, you may want to look at covering it. There are plenty of options available for this, from pergolas to pull-over canopies, so be sure to do your research.

Covering your kitchen will ensure you protect it from the elements over time. In the short-term, it will also mean you don’t have to pack up and go inside every time the weather takes a turn. 

If you do decide to add cover, make sure your kitchen space is still properly ventilated. You should also check that any materials you bring are free from dangerous areas. If in doubt, do ask an expert for professional advice based on your individual kitchen design. 

If reading this article on simple outdoor kitchen ideas has left you hungry for more garden inspiration, check out this article for more designs you could try. If canny tricks to save on cash in the garden are more your thing, our guide on how to upcycle your furniture is a great read.