Karen Lawley's Blog
You can create a stunning outdoor kitchen using basic components and pulling things together over time. Entertaining outdoors has become so popular that supplies and materials for cooking are easy to come by in a variety of price points. Follow the steps below to make the most of the process.
Foolproof Steps to Creating an Outdoor Kitchen you'll Love
Determine what you need. A kitchen showroom can be overwhelming -- but you may not need everything you see. If you love the look of the striking pizza ovens, but no one in the family eats pizza, you may get little use from this purchase, and miss out on the space you've used later. What do you like to cook, what do you like to serve and what components matter most to you? These should go to the top of your list.
Where will people sit?: The best part of an outdoor kitchen is the entertaining you can do in the space. You should think about how many people you like to host at a time, where they'll sit and what you envision for the space. An outdoor kitchen that is designed for the family and a guest or two may need to seat six people, but if you entertian large groups, then you'll need to allot more space to seating -- 12 to 16 people is an ideal start.
Where will you keep the food? Do you want to prep inside and cook outside? Or do you prefer having everything together? If you need the food on hand, a fridge should be included in your plans. If you want to keep the food inside, consider adding a wine or beer fridge instead; it will take up less room and get regular use.
What will you cook? A grill is a great starting point, since you can cook a variety of foods. Determine if you want to buy a freestanding piece or have something built in -- this will likely be the largest and most expensive component. Once this is in place, decide what else you need; other cook surfaces, a sink or specialty surface could be next on your list.
Begin with your largest pieces, like your grill and table, then add items as you need too. Your pillows, textiles and accessories can be chosen last, then added and used as needed to create a space that is uniquely yours.
Your outdoor kitchen can be a work in progress; you don't have to complete it all at once. Adding something new each season or year allows you to spread out the cost of your new kitchen and add components as you need them.
What makes you happy? Do you love to sit and read? Or are you more of a hang-out-with-friends kind of homeowner? Regardless of what moves you, there's a way to create space for it in your own backyard. Even better -- you can increase your home's resale value in the process. Use these tips to inspire you:
Plant a Perennial Garden
Perennial gardens are low-maintenance, especially if you use plants such as purple coneflower or coreopsis that began life as hardy, native wildflowers. Plant once, and you'll enjoy blooms for years to come. And if you plant according to bloom-times, you can have flowers right up to frost. This option will scent the air beautifully, too. It may even help repel flies and mosquitos. The prettiest gardens combine plants with other features, such mulched walkways or small ponds filled with hardy goldfish, paradise fish or white cloud mountain minnows.
Add a Hardscape
Hardscapes are the manmade features that complement your landscaping. They include rock walls, paved walkways, stone benches, concrete steps and more. All Hardscapes add elegance to your outdoor getaway, but they can also be functional by adding extra seating for guests.
Mature, well-positioned shade trees such as maple or magnolia are always a selling point for future buyers. They can actually increase your home's resale value as much as 19 percent, says HGTV. So consider planting one or two if you have vast expanses of shadeless backyard. Position them away from foundations, wells and septic tanks so roots won't damage anything costly. Additionally, don't plant them where they will someday block the view to your home's entrance. And when you need immediate shade for yourself, consider adding a pretty pergola, arbor or gazebo.
Fencing is another home improvement that will send property values soaring. Metal and stone top the list of fencing materials that provide the biggest ROI, but they're also pretty costly to construct. If budget is a concern, consider blending the two into a fence that features occasional stone pillars or posts, joined by metal sections of fencing.
Most importantly, your outdoor getaway needs to provide a comfortable space for family and friends to congregate. This means investing in some nice-quality outdoor furniture such as chairs, sofas, and love seats to help everyone settle in. Purchase furniture that's made from materials easy to maintain, such as synthetic wicker, teak, concrete, stainless steel or aluminum. For upholstery, buy fade-resistant and waterproof fabrics.
Additional tweaks to make your outdoor getaway more enjoyable include string lights, fire pits, an outdoor kitchen, a bubbling fountain, and outdoor art pieces made of mosaic tiles or driftwood sculptures. Whatever makes you happy, whatever inspires you -- these are the most important elements to include in your new backyard oasis.
Doing a home improvement or renovation is a great way to add value to your home while learning something new. If you decide to DIY, you can enlist the help of your family and learn together.
But, when you’re taking on a task you’ve never done before, there’s a lot that can go wrong. You might go over budget, or the project might take significantly longer than expected. Sometimes we start jobs that we don’t have the expertise (or permits) to finish and have to call in a professional sinking more time and money into what was supposed to be an inexpensive renovation.
To help you avoid some of these common pitfalls, we’ve provided these tips for running a successful home improvement project so you can focus on your renovation and not on the headaches that come with it.
1. Know when to call the experts
Undertaking a do-it-yourself project can be fun and rewarding. However, some tasks are better left to the professionals. Plumbing and electrical mistakes, in particular, can be dangerous and costly if you get it wrong. You don’t want to disregard the safety of you, your family, and your belongings just to save money on hiring a professional.
2. Call the best expert for the job
Call multiple professionals for a quote before accepting an offer.
If you received what seems a very low quote for a job, make sure to call other experts in the industry to see how much they would charge for the job. Getting an unusually low offer could be a sign that the contractor will rush the project or use cheap materials.
Alternatively, if you receive a quote that seems too high, the contractor may have a busy schedule or might not really want the job, so they’ve offered you a price they don’t expect you to take.
Regardless of who you choose, see if you can find reviews and testimonials to make sure you’ve selected a contractor who is professional and has good customer feedback.
3. Aim high with your budget
When homeowners take on a renovation, they tend to underestimate the costs. To avoid being shocked by going over budget, estimate what you think the total costs would be and then at another twenty percent. That twenty percent could account for damaged building materials, mistakes, or last-minute changes and customizations--all are frequent on DIY projects.
4. Don’t work without a design or blueprint
Even for simple home improvement projects, it’s best to start out with a plan. Having detailed measurements and drawings to refer to will help you avoid costly mistakes. We’ve all felt the temptation to “eyeball it” when working on a project--taking the extra few minutes to measure and refer to your plan will save you time in the long run.
5. Relax and focus on the results
Home improvement projects can be a source of frustration for many families. If you aren’t an expert, it’s easy to get angry when things aren’t going as you planned. If you find yourself frequently hitting a wall-literally or figuratively--step back from the project and refocus on the end goal, improving your home for years to come.
With all the fixing, renovating, and flipping showing on television, your standard builder grade home seems sadly lacking. When you bought it, you intended to plant yourself here for a while, to moving to a farm to get the farmhouse look isn’t in the cards. Luckily, builder-grade makes the perfect canvas to boost your basic look without busting the budget.
Get the [Farmhouse] Look for Less
- Beadboard: Adding beadboard along breakfast nook and dining room walls bring instant country charm. Instead of expensive solid oak beadboard, choose four-foot by eight-foot faux pressed beadboard panels from your local DIY store. Cut them in half width-wise to get two four-foot by four-foot sheets. Attached them side by side to your walls with a nail gun and glue for best results. Top it off with flat pine board and paint it all a glossy white.
- Board and batten: This wall-treatment works best for mudrooms or hallways and adds character and charm to a plain stairway wall too. Get the look by nailing flat four to six-inch pine boards evenly spaced vertically along the wall. Leave measured room at the top and bottom for baseboard and chair rail or crown molding. Paint the boards and the wall between in a satin or semi-gloss paint in farmhouse blue, mint green or another color that speaks to you.
- Faux shiplap: While you sometimes can find real pieces of shiplap in outlets that handle reclaimed wood, you can get a similar look using pine planks. Similar to the board and batten treatment, nail the boards onto the walls, but horizontally, with about a three-quarter inch space between them. For easier installation create a couple of spaces from scrap wood to hold your boards in place. Choose an accent wall or niche for your installation area, then paint the boards with chalk paint to give you that aged country look.
- Butcher’s block countertops: If your budget lends itself to replacing the countertops, replace that Formica with natural butcher’s block. If solid butcher’s block is out of the question, stores like Ikea carry a bamboo version for less and Wilsonart has laminate versions with coordinated edges that are hard to tell from the real thing.
- Fixtures and finishes: Even if you can’t afford the farmhouse-style sink, you can change out the fixtures to give you the look. Opt for bronze or coppery finished for cream or white sinks and go for brushed satin nickel to complement your stainless steel. Change out light fixtures, drawer pulls, and knobs from the “that’s-so-90s” brass ones and consider chalk-paint to give your cabinets a stress-free new look.
- Timely trims: Finally, trim the doorways with—you guessed it—more flat pine boards. Use four-inch boards on the sides but add some drama to the top with six or eight-inch boards and a little bit of half-round to cap it off.
If you love the farmhouse style, try one or several of these steps to get a look that sets your builder-grade home apart from all the rest when it comes time to sell. For an estimate on what your re-imagined farmhouse will fetch on the market, talk to your realtor.