Pandemic DIY Projects: The Risk and Reward Of Going It Alone

pandemic DIY projects hero

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

The home improvement industry is booming as many homeowners turned to pandemic DIY projects to improve their living spaces during 2020 and 2021.

Both home improvement retailers and home contractors have been doing robust business. This has happened during an unprecedented time of struggle in most sectors of the economy.

It makes a lot of sense. Locked-down homeowners had more time than ever before to really take a look around the houses and condos they were confined to. Clearly, a lot of us saw room for improvement in our homes and chose to take action.

The most popular pandemic DIY projects

Pandemic DIY projects ranging from the small (like staining a deck) to the large (such as a flooring renovation) were started. Considering the unpredictable nature of DIYs, we’d hazard a guess that not all of them were finished.

It wasn’t only home building and repair projects we took on to improve our living spaces. Some of us kept the power tools on the shelf and took the time to finally clean up those clutter hotspots in the home, such as the garage, basement, or our closets. Every little bit helps, right?

The reno projects that are routinely popular with homeowners (like interior painting and kitchen and bathroom remodels) continued to get a lot of attention. A number of the other projects that rank high on our home improvement to-do lists reflect the unique times we’re living in:

  • home offices
  • home gyms
  • outdoor living spaces
  • home entertainment rooms
  • mudrooms
  • landscaping
using tape measure while doing DIY project

Lots of free time, boredom and restlessness, extra savings, and the opportunity to learn a new skill translated into a home improvement boom. (Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels)

9 reasons pandemic DIY projects are so popular

The reasons behind the surge in DIY projects are both obvious and a little less apparent. Here are nine reasons we have invested so much time in refreshing our homes during the pandemic:

1. We finally have time to tend to our homes: it took a global pandemic for many of us to find the free time to dust off that home to-do list and finally get around to completing some of the tasks on it.

2. We need to nurture our mental well-being: being stuck at home 24/7 and cut off from our social lives (aside from socializing virtually) took a toll on our mental health. The opportunity to be productive by tackling a building project or pursuing creative outlets like crafting or learning an instrument helped us tend to our mental well-being.

3. Canadians saved more money: Statistics Canada reports that Canadians saved an average of $5,574 in 2020, compared to just $479 in 2019. It stands to reason, then, that if the average Canadian had over $5,000 more in their bank account than usual, the average number of home renos done would be significantly higher, too.

4. Sheer boredom and restlessness: everyone who experienced cabin fever during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 can relate to people looking for anything to do to keep themselves busy. Doing the “Netflix and chill” thing day after day only goes so far before it starts to feel old. As boredom and restlessness set in, working on one of those long-delayed DIY project ideas might have become the highlight of your day!

5. We got a new perspective on things: having so much at-home time made us view our living spaces with a completely different perspective and make some changes to better suit our lifestyle. Our eyes were opened to upgrade opportunities we perhaps wouldn’t have considered because of the busy nature of our lives during “normal times”.

reasons for starting pandemic diy projects

44% of the 1,500 Canadians surveyed have invested in home renovations or plan to do so during the pandemic. These are the top reasons given for improving their homes. (Infographic from Abacus Data)

6. Cost-effectiveness: not everybody’s bank account was flush with extra cash, so naturally anyone wanting to save a few bucks on a home upgrade or two was willing to use their free time to handle their own projects.

7. The chance to learn a new skill or hobby: home improvement enriches our lives and so does self-improvement. One of the silver linings of having all this “you time” is that we’ve been able to take on new hobbies and develop new skills that might have otherwise remained unfulfilled aspirations.

8. Add value to our homes: one of the main incentives for starting a DIY project anytime is to increase the value of your home. The pricey GTA real estate market right now, which is being driven by low inventory, record-high demand, and low interest rates, makes upgrading your current home more attractive than moving.

9. Home renovation tax credits: some provinces offered tax credits that anyone who had done work on their home might be eligible for. Saskatchewan, for example, allowed homeowners to claim up to $11,000 for renovation work done during 2020 and 2021. Here in Ontario, the Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit allowed seniors or anyone with senior relatives living with them to claim 25% of up to $10,000 for work done to make a home more accessible and safe for seniors.

Pandemic DIY projects give us a sense of purpose

That second point above about nurturing our mental well-being warrants some further examination, considering how rough 2020 and 2021 has been on our mental health.

When anyone who experienced the pandemic is asked in the future about the feelings they experienced during this period of time, words like “stressed”, “fearful”, “disoriented”, and “helpless” will be used. Pandemic DIY projects have helped function as somewhat of a coping mechanism for many of us. They give us a sense of purpose and some structure in a daily routine that has been completely upended.

So many things during the pandemic were out of our control. Home building projects let us focus our energy into something positive we could control – building new things, making repairs around the house, and getting organized.

That let us feel more in control and productive, as we worked our way through those home to-do lists and satisfyingly checked things off them.

Medical experts believe there are psychological benefits to learning new skills and staying productive during trying times. Keeping busy with a creative and physical activity like a pandemic DIY project can help reduce feelings of depressions and anxiety.

DIY floor project

Keeping busy during difficult times by learning a new skill or having a creative outlet is good for our mental health.

It’s no surprise backyard upgrades were popular

Backyards have gotten a lot of DIY love during the pandemic. That makes a lot of sense, considering we couldn’t travel anywhere internationally, nationally, or even locally most of the time, for that matter.

Outside of taking socially distanced excursions to a local park or going out for a walk or jog, a staycation in the backyard was just about the only option we had to enjoy ourselves outdoors while the weather was nice.

Extending the home’s living space to the backyard to get some fresh air and sunshine took on a variety of forms. The most popular backyard renovation projects include adding or updating:

  • pools
  • outdoor kitchens
  • outdoor living rooms
  • decks
  • patios
  • landscaping

A HomeAdvisor survey found that 27% of homeowners shifted their spending to upgrade their outdoor living areas and some of them left their backyard projects to the pros.

Basil Larkin, the vice president of sales for premium grill maker Hestan, told Forbes at the end of 2020, “Our summer orders have increased by 80% compared to what they have been historically. Moreover, we have maintained this throughout the remainder of the year to date, even after the traditional grilling season has concluded in many parts of the nation.”

As the article says, “New outdoor kitchens add a new and enticing dimension to the home.”

Shifting needs led to homeowners investing more in projects that upgraded kitchens, home offices, home entertainment areas, and outdoor living spaces. (Infographic from HomeAdvisor)

4 drawbacks of DIYing home projects

Although there are lots of benefits to taking care of your own home building projects, it’s an activity that does come with some pitfalls. Here are some ways DIYing can be challenging and not worth the headaches:

1. Inexperience: the most obvious reason for thinking twice about starting a home reno project is if you don’t have any experience in the renovation area you’re looking to tackle. Most people can handle an interior painting job. Someone who can tell the difference between a screwdriver and a hammer might be able to handle a deck build with some help. Something far more complicated like building an outdoor kitchen is a whole different ball of wax, however. Building inexperience also raises the risk of injury.

A recent survey of 870 American homeowners by Bid-On-Equipment found that 77% of DIYers thought their project took too long to complete without a pro’s help.

2. The finished project is disappointing: It’s one thing to start and finish a DIY project, but what does the final result look like? There’s nothing more deflating than struggling through a time-consuming, challenging DIY project and feeling disappointed when the completed project falls well short of having the kind of professional look that comes from the hands of a skilled contractor.

In that Bid-On-Equipment survey, a third of the homeowners who did a pandemic DIY project said they were disappointed with how the project turned out.

3. Getting building materials has been a challenge: access to the vast majority of brick and mortar stores has been severely restricted in Ontario during the pandemic. That made picking up tools and building materials you needed for a job difficult. Curbside pickup services were available, but high demand could sometimes mean waiting days for an available pickup time and delays to your project.

4. Supply chain shortages: as much as actually getting your hands on everything you needed to work on your home project has been challenging, sometimes the tools and building materials we needed weren’t even available to get. Since the pandemic began, supply chain shortages in many types of manufacturing industries has been an ongoing issue.

DIYers are basically at the mercy of whenever their local home improvement store gets in a new shipment of those deck boards they needed for their deck-building project, for example. Most contractors have existing relationships with suppliers they use often. This gives them a slight advantage to get the supplies they need for their projects quicker than a DIYer can.

Have a pro make your backyard staycation-worthy

Anyone can spruce up their backyard with a simple DIY project. Fixing a deck or patio and setting up a small outdoor cooking station with a basic barbecue allows your family to enjoy your backyard more.

Not all home improvement projects are for the average DIYer, however. As a Toronto plumber told CTV News, “My advice for starting any DIY during COVID-19 is keep it within your abilities. The last thing you want is to be staring at a half-finished project in your home and adding to your stress levels.”

outdoor kitchen and living space

Building an outdoor living space so nice that it could be featured in a magazine spread requires years of expertise.

Outeriors specializes in taking backyard home improvement projects to the next level. We create beautiful outdoor living spaces with fully outfitted luxury kitchens and comfortable lounging spaces that will transform your backyard into a part of the home that provides more fun and function.

If you’d like an experienced pro to handle everything with your outdoor kitchen and living space project, schedule a free design consultation with us.

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See also:

7 Reasons To Hire an Outdoor Kitchen Company and Not DIY

Investing in a home improvement project that expands your living space is a big commitment. Building an outdoor kitchen is no exception.

Taking on this project is no easy task, which is why hiring an outdoor kitchen company is smarter than trying to DIY it.

A survey from Porch.com found that 55% of homeowners DIYed a recent home improvement project, yet only 31% of them admitted that the project was a success.

outdoor kitchen company

Sure, DIYing an outdoor kitchen has its benefits. Saving some money and getting that satisfying feeling knowing you’ve improved your home with your own two hands is nothing to sneeze at.

There are a lot more benefits of letting a professional handle the job, however. Here are seven reasons to hire an outdoor kitchen company for your backyard building project.

1. An outdoor kitchen company has experience

A ship needs a good captain to guide the vessel safely and efficiently along its journey. Any ship embarking out to sea is always under the guidance of someone with lots of on-the-job experience.

An outdoor kitchen company designer is very much the captain of any building project they’re involved with, ensuring everything runs smoothly.

There is no substitute for experience

Call it experience, expertise, know-how, or whichever word for “knowing what you’re doing” you prefer – they all definitely matter with an outdoor kitchen building project.

Building an outdoor kitchen and entertaining space from scratch by yourself is beyond the skill level of most homeowners. Some weekend DIYers could put together a serviceable space for cooking outside. Why settle for just serviceable, though? It also may not be the safest to use, nor will it have the professional, high-end look that an experienced outdoor kitchen company can create.

“Figuring it out as you go along” may work for doing a small plumbing repair using a helpful YouTube video to guide you. An outdoor kitchen build is on a whole other skill level, though.

There are a lot of moving pieces involved when designing and building an outdoor kitchen. Finishes and colours need to complement one another and be tailored to the homeowners’ taste. The backyard space where the kitchen is being installed needs to be utilized efficiently. And complicated tasks like hooking up gas, water, and electrical lines need to be handled.

And that’s just scratching the surface of what’s involved.

Measuring twice, building once

A reliable outdoor kitchen company will have a tried-and-true work process in place that makes the project run efficiently. That’s starting from the initial design consultation right through to the point where the company’s truck is leaving your driveway after the installation is completed.

An honest contractor knows that time is money – both yours and theirs. They are more likely to adhere to the “measure twice, build once” philosophy that ensures the job is done right the first time.

DIYers often need to go back and fix up things they didn’t install or build properly, which wastes their time and isn’t cost-effective. In many cases, these homeowners end up having to hire a pro to fix the work they’ve done, which only makes the project’s cost balloon even further.

Another area where experience from your contractor is important is problem-solving. An experienced contractor can come up with a quick solution to an unexpected problem because they’ve probably seen it before. There’s no hitting a building roadblock as you try to work out a conundrum like why that darn upper-right cabinet isn’t aligning with the bottom-right cabinet.

Outeriors truck

A reliable outdoor kitchen company will have an efficient work process that starts from the initial design consultation right through to the final installation work.

2. Convenience

The convenience of having a good contractor handle your home improvement project is something virtually everyone can appreciate (other than perhaps the most skilled DIYers).

Ontario summers are all too short. Hiring an outdoor kitchen company will allow you to use your free time to spend on other summer activities that don’t include a time-consuming construction project. A professional with experience building outdoor kitchens will get the job done faster, too. That lets you start using your backyard kitchen space that much sooner!

Everything is designed at the same time to create a unified, attractive look with every component functioning in perfect harmony. There’s no need to inconveniently add accessories or make design changes later on that don’t aesthetically fit and stand out as a design afterthought.

For the ultimate in convenience, hire a full-service outdoor kitchen company like Outeriors. We handle everything from creating your kitchen space to installing a fire pit to enhancing your outdoor living space with landscape lighting and an outdoor audio system.

This simplifies the process of building a backyard kitchen even more. There’s no coordinating with different tradespeople to handle different installation jobs on different days. That’s never not a headache.

outdoor living space

Most DIYers couldn’t build an outdoor living space this nice. Take advantage of the convenience of letting a pro handle the work. Enjoy your summer doing something more fun than tackling a complex backyard building project!

3. Customize your outdoor kitchen design

If you’re building an outdoor cooking space by yourself, you’re obviously customizing it to look the way you want.

That’s not quite the same as working with a professional designer on a customized outdoor kitchen design, however.

The best outdoor kitchen companies will have designers who can take your core ideas and design goals and elevate your vision into something truly special.

The ability to create customized contemporary outdoor kitchen designs with a limitless number of design options is one of several difference-makers between DIYing the kitchen and working with an expert.

They can create an outdoor living space that is tailored to fit your lifestyle, cooking habits, design preferences, and backyard space.

Dealing with customization challenges

Of course, customizing means there’s a higher chance you’ll encounter some design challenges.

Where a custom outdoor kitchen design concept begins is rarely how it eventually turns out. Tweaks, improvements, and modifications are usually involved, especially when clients get a better visual idea of what their finished kitchen will look like with 3D CAD renderings.

You’ll find that a creative, flexible designer who can solve problems quickly and adapt to any challenges is worth their weight in gold.

4. Work with the best outdoor kitchen products

Your outdoor kitchen company should have high standards for the products they will use when building your kitchen. If you’re DIYing a kitchen and unfamiliar with the various brands of outdoor kitchen products available, you might not know any better that a certain brand you didn’t buy was a better choice.

Doing some research online will help educate you. Once again, there’s no substitute for the experience that comes with working in the industry. A good designer will stay up-to-date on all the latest products and the pros and cons of certain models of outdoor kitchen appliances, for example.

Outeriors works with only the best outdoor kitchen equipment brands in the industry. We know that manufacturers like Danver, Brown Jordan, Coyote, and Dekton offer the highest quality outdoor kitchen products that look stunning, perform exceptionally, and last for years.

You get what you pay for

Remember that the quality of the outdoor kitchen products you buy will have a big impact on the project’s final cost.

It’s in an area like this where going with the contractor who gives you the cheapest quote can come back to haunt you. One reason you might be getting an attractive low quote is because the contractor uses cheap outdoor kitchen products that won’t last.

Visiting a showroom always helps

Another way to tell if an outdoor kitchen company you’re considering hiring is a fly-by-night type of operation is whether or not they have a showroom.

If they don’t, it certainly doesn’t mean they can’t be trusted. They may just be a small one or two-person operation.

If they do have a showroom where you can get a better sense of their product offerings and standards, however, that’s a strong indicator that they’re more established and going to be around for a while.

outdoor kitchen showroom

Does the outdoor kitchen company you’re hiring have a showroom? There’s no substitute for getting a better idea about the quality of the products you’re buying than an in-person, hands-on “test drive” of them.

5. Attention to details matter

When we say “attention to details” with an outdoor kitchen, what exactly are we referring to?

Here’s an example. Outeriors president Daniel Albo was interviewed by the Toronto Sun and explains why the finishes and colours used in an outdoor kitchen aren’t just about aesthetics. He tells the Sun that finishes with darker colours are harder to maintain and keep clean in an outdoor setting.

Albo goes on to say, “Darker surfaces also absorb more heat from the sun and can be hot to the touch if open to above. Earth-tone colours are typically easier to keep looking great.”

Important considerations like this indicate that you’re working with a professional that has your best interests in mind. A reputable outdoor kitchen company wants you to love your kitchen 10 years from now, not just until the warranties run out and they’re off the hook for fixing any issues.

A shady contractor often only cares about meeting the bare minimum of the project requirement so they can get just paid and quickly move on to their next project. Remember that with unscrupulous contractors, corner-cutting is a feature, not a defect or bug.

Attention to detail when designing and building an outdoor kitchen also matters in other areas you may not have considered.

Building safely and pricing responsibly

Safety is one example. A kitchen that uses natural gas, electricity, and running water outdoors and has an open grill flame and hot cooking surfaces needs to be designed with safety in mind. This is even more essential if kids and pets will be around the kitchen.

Attention to detail also matters when you’re discussing pricing with the outdoor kitchen company you’ve hired. Get a detailed summary upfront of the costs for each product and the services that will be performed so there are no surprises with hidden fees later on. That’s a move right out of the shady contractor’s handbook!

6. Peace of mind

Hiring any contractor requires some homework on your part to differentiate between which companies have a reliable track record and which ones don’t instil confidence in you to handle your building project.

Home renovations rarely come without some degree of stress. Getting things off on the right foot by doing your research and finding a reliable outdoor kitchen company that does great work will provide you with a comforting peace of mind.

Always check online reviews, references, and ask a potential contractor for a portfolio of their past work. Make sure you can verify that any photos they’re showing you are, in fact, from projects they’ve worked on and not just impressive outdoor kitchen photos they found online.

Positive word-of-mouth or a glowing reference from someone you know is perhaps the best way to find out how an outdoor kitchen company works. 

Make sure your contractor isn’t just qualified to do the work, but that they’re properly insured, will work safely, and will build everything to code.

design consultation

Most people find home renovations to be stressful. Do your homework before hiring a contractor for your own peace of mind.

7. Accountability for your building project

A reputable outdoor kitchen builder who cares about the work they do and strives to keep their clients satisfied will stay accountable throughout the design and building process.

Poor communication between a contractor and client results in inconvenient scheduling, disputes over a project’s cost, frustration on both sides, and a customer who ultimately isn’t happy with their experience.

Outeriors is a division of Garage Living, a trusted leader in the field of garage remodels. Garage Living has been around since 2005 and transformed thousands of garages across North America into stylish, more functional extensions of their clients’ living spaces.

We’re an outdoor kitchen company that brings that same philosophy and high level of standards to the backyard with every outdoor living space project we work on.

Our design professionals stay connected with our clients as their project progresses, receiving their input and providing clear timelines on the work being done.

Our goals are one and the same – we want your outdoor kitchen space to look stunning!

Outeriors Google review

A customer’s Google review about working with Outeriors.

Hire an outdoor kitchen company you can trust

Don’t get in over your head trying to build your own outdoor kitchen. Hire a reliable outdoor kitchen company that can transform your backyard into a one-of-a-kind outdoor living space.

As one home improvement professional told CTV News in the early days of the pandemic, “My advice for starting any DIY during COVID-19 is keep it within your abilities. The last thing you want is to be staring at a half-finished project in your home (that’s) adding to your stress levels.”

If you’re looking for a qualified outdoor kitchen company in Toronto that can handle your building project, look no further than Outeriors. We specialize in designing outdoor kitchen and living spaces of all sizes.

Get a free quote for your planned outdoor kitchen by scheduling a free design consultation with us.

Please share this post if you found it useful.

See also:

12 Outdoor Kitchen Benefits To Inspire Your Own Project

Interest in outdoor home improvement projects was at a high level before the pandemic.

Now that we’re seeing the end of this difficult time coming clearer into focus, the demand for outdoor living upgrades has gone to the next level.

The importance of improving our living spaces for more comfort and function has never been so front-of-mind.

Outdoor kitchen additions are one of the projects leading the outdoor living upgrade charge. Why? Because there are so many life-improving outdoor kitchen benefits that it only makes sense to invest in one for your backyard.

As Outeriors president Daniel Albo told the Toronto Sun, “An outdoor kitchen has become the final frontier of any renovation project.”

outdoor kitchen with food

Outdoor kitchen benefits worth considering

Dining out once in a while is nice, but it’s equally enjoyable to create your own grilled meals in the backyard and feed the people you enjoy spending time with the most.

The outdoor cooking area has evolved from a few square feet in the backyard occupied by a standalone grill into spacious, luxury outdoor cooking spaces with all the functionality of a traditional kitchen.

There are many good reasons why outdoor kitchens have become so attractive to homeowners – at least a dozen of them, in fact.

If adding an outdoor kitchen has been on your home improvement wish list, get inspired to start your project with these 12 outdoor kitchen benefits.

1. Increase your home’s livable space

A rarely used backyard is wasted space and wasted potential, not unlike a spare room.

Having a little more livable space is appealing to almost everyone and that’s exactly what an outdoor kitchen and entertainment area provide.

Indoor kitchen remodels are consistently one of the most popular home renovation projects. If you’re considering such a project, it makes a lot of sense to rethink that plan and devote your remodeling budget towards adding a second kitchen space outside.

An enhanced outdoor living area with a kitchen, dining, and entertaining area transforms your backyard into a space that is optimized for comfort and added home functionality.

It can be custom-designed to fit your lifestyle. For example, more livable outdoor space creates extra room for hosting large get-togethers. Guests can socialize inside or outside.

2. Expand your summer menu options

Eating the same dishes month after month gets a little boring. When the spring arrives and you can fire up the grill on a daily basis if desired, it’s fun to shake up your menu options for the next several months with some new recipes.

Barbecues offer an endless choice of grilling recipes to try out. If you Google “grilling recipes”, almost a billion results come up!

Maybe you’ve heard someone you know boast, “My indoor kitchen has everything!”. Really? Does it have a grill? Probably not.

Even an indoor kitchen with “everything” is likely missing the one thing that makes some of our favourite dishes.

Lots of Canadians use their grills year-round, too. You know a grill isn’t just any ’ol appliance when people are willing to bundle up, brave the frigid weather, and shovel snow off the patio just to grill up some burgers and steaks.

assorted meat and veggies on grill

A fully-outfitted outdoor kitchen can inspire you to get adventurous with your summer grilling dishes.

3. Take a break from your indoor kitchen

On a gorgeous early summer evening, why stand over a hot stove indoors preparing dinner if you can do your cooking out in the backyard?

You can have an outdoor kitchen designed to include all the amenities of an indoor kitchen, including:

  • refrigeration
  • an ice machine
  • cabinet storage for grilling tools, dining utensils, serving plates, glasses, etc.
  • a wide variety of outdoor cooking and food warming appliances
  • lots of countertop space
  • a dishwasher
  • various types of cooking surfaces

And let’s not forget the beloved grill, which is something that your indoor kitchen can’t provide you with!

Although we’re so conditioned to cooking inside our homes most of the time, cooking outside regularly shouldn’t feel unnatural. After all, our earliest ancestors were doing it ages ago.

4. You can go all-out with your kitchen design

If you have a large backyard (along with the budget and desire for it), you have more space and freedom to go even bigger and more elaborate with your outdoor kitchen design than your indoor kitchen.

Get the cooking space set up with gas, electrical, and water lines. Add a built-in grill with a cooking area large enough to feed a small army. Pamper yourself with spacious countertops for dining and meal prepping. Load up your cooking space with appliances and all the outdoor cabinet storage you could possibly need.

We can’t even say you can have everything but the kitchen sink…because a sink can be included in an outdoor kitchen, too!

Without the constraints of an already-constructed and defined space to work within, you can go hog wild with your outdoor kitchen design.

Or not.

Outdoor cooking areas can also be smaller and/or less elaborate. A modestly-sized patio section that is outfitted with just the essentials like a good grill, a few cabinets, a small countertop, and an appliance or two can still let you get a lot done.

luxury outdoor kitchen

Creating an outdoor kitchen gives you more freedom to go big with its design more than most indoor kitchen designs can.

5. Grilled food just tastes better

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” We can add to that, “And grilled food always tastes better.”

Cooking over a hot flame brings out delicious flavours that simply aren’t achievable in an oven or with other indoor cooking appliances. And not just in meats, either.

Cooking seafood, vegetables, and even fruit on the grill can produce surprising results that add some welcome variety to your summer menu.

6. More time spent outdoors is good for your health

Spending more time in the great outdoors is good for your health. Don’t just take our word for it – science shows that spending more time outside has many health benefits.

Here are a few examples of how more outside living can benefit you:

  • Sunlight provides vitamin D and can lessen the effects of pain on the body.
  • Some people pay for aromatherapy sessions to relieve stress. Experiencing the smells of nature like freshly cut grass, pine trees, and flowers does the exact same thing.
  • Being outside more boosts your immune system.
  • The outdoors helps calm your mind and restore your focus, which makes you more creative.

The pandemic eliminated the ability for us to socialize much – if at all – with our friends for far too long. FaceTime and Zoom calls simply aren’t the same as spending quality face-to-face time with those we’re closest to. A lack of social interaction took a toll on the mental health of many of us.

As normalcy returns, socializing more with friends and family in places like backyards, on pub patios, or at a ball game (if the Blue Jays ever make it back home) will be good for the well-being of everybody.

2 kids in backyard

Spending more time outside during the summer is good for your health. (Photo by Allan Mas from Pexels)

7. A beautiful outdoor kitchen impresses everyone

A high-end outdoor cooking and entertaining area will become a go-to summer destination for your friends, neighbours, and family.

A fully outfitted backyard kitchen that can satisfy everyone’s appetites is only part of the appeal. With an outdoor entertainment area that includes an outdoor bar, TV, fire pit, and comfy furniture, your guests will never want to leave.

Not only will everyone want to soak up the cozy, inviting atmosphere and good food, they know they’ll be well taken care of by their hosts.

8. Maximize the enjoyment of your spring and summer

We’d bet that no other country in the world enjoys their summers more than Canadians. Summers here are all-too-short, but the amount of time we spend outside enjoying the warm weather shouldn’t be.

Make it your favourite part of the house from early spring through to late fall (and even beyond that if you’re particularly resilient!) with the right design and supplying the space with heating.

All sorts of practical backyard heating solutions are available to help extend your enjoyment of the outdoors. This includes:

  • outdoor fireplaces
  • gas and propane fire pits and fire tables
  • wood-burning fire pits
  • patio heaters
friends toasting in backyard

What better place is there to share good times with your friends and family than a nicely designed backyard? (Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels)

9. Grilling is healthier for you

Grilling your food on a barbecue instead of frying or broiling it is considered more healthy for you.

Fried foods absorb lots of fat. If too much of it is consumed, the higher cholesterol levels they contain can raise your blood pressure and increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

If you grill your food more often, a lot of the fat on the meat drips off. That lowers your calorie intake and results in a healthier diet and potentially fewer health issues.

Another health-related benefit of grilling that most people aren’t aware of is a piece of food that is grilled has more nutritional value than if you fried the same type of food. Grilled meats and veggies cook faster, which lets them retain more of their nutrients.

10. Outdoor kitchen building projects are less disruptive

If you’ve ever undergone a major renovation on an interior space like the kitchen or bathroom, you know how inconvenient and disruptive it can be.

Because all of the work with an outdoor kitchen project occurs, well, outdoors, there is less disruption to your family’s daily routine.

To ensure the project is done right and in a timely manner, hire an outdoor kitchen design company like Outeriors. Did you know that 8 in 10 homeowners used professional installers for their outdoor kitchen additions?

Here are some interesting statistics about home improvement trends in Canada, courtesy of the RE/MAX 2021 Renovation Investment Report:

Infographic from RE/MAX

11. Outdoor summer cooking saves energy

Next on our list of outdoor kitchen benefits is the energy conservation it contributes to.

Being outside more to cook during the summer keeps your home a little cooler because the indoor oven will be used less. Your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to cool your living space if the largest source of indoor heat during the summer (that isn’t weather-related) is on vacation.

The dishwasher, which also generates a lot of heat, can take a break, too. Consider air-drying your dishes to save energy or you could add an outdoor dishwasher to your exterior living space for even more convenience.

Another way an outdoor kitchen saves energy is that with everything you need in your food prep area, trips in and out of the home are all but eliminated. That prevents the escape of cold air from your house’s interior and keeps the warm air outside where it belongs.

Your outdoor kitchen appliances will still be using electricity, naturally, but the heat from things like a pizza oven and side burners will dissipate quicker outside.

12. Add value to your home

If you’re adding an outdoor cooking space to your home, you’re obviously not planning to move anytime soon. One day, however, you might find yourself being a seller.

The 12 outdoor kitchen benefits we have listed here certainly make your house more attractive to potential buyers. The added functionality an outdoor kitchen and living space offers adds value to your home and is a great selling point. And until that happens, you’ll get years of enjoyment from your investment.

Buying products made with premium materials and finishes that last longer will make your outdoor kitchen retain its long-term value even more.

Outdoor kitchens have a high return on investment

If you do an online search for the estimated return on investment (ROI) of an outdoor kitchen addition, the numbers vary quite widely.

Some real estate professionals believe an outdoor kitchen project has a 70% ROI, which is considered very good. Others believe it’s much higher and in the 90-100% range. Some even believe adding an outdoor kitchen recoups well over 100% of your building costs in the long run.

Whichever ROI estimate you trust, even at the lowest end, outdoor kitchens are a smart investment that provides a return on investment that exceeds the 68.6% average for the most popular home remodel projects.

Reap the benefits of an outdoor kitchen

Have these outdoor kitchen benefits convinced you that it’s time to add a second kitchen to your home?

Prioritize outdoor living and reimagine your backyard space. Our design pros will work with you to choose the best products, materials, colours, and styles to make your outdoor living space concept above and beyond what you dreamed it could be.

Kick-start your outdoor kitchen and living space project by booking a free design consultation with an Outeriors design consultant.

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7 Hot Outdoor Kitchen Trends and Ideas for 2021

Remember the days when backyard cooking areas were simple and rather boring?

They included little more than a basic grill and a wobbly side table overloaded with meats, condiments, and grilling tools.

This may even describe your current outdoor cooking setup.

Times have changed, however. Current outdoor kitchen trends have seen the outdoor living experience go upscale.

outdoor kitchen trends toronto

Modern outdoor kitchen designs can provide homeowners with attractive, high-functioning spaces. That extends to entertaining outdoors, too. After all, grilling and outdoor entertaining go hand in hand!

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to make some home upgrades? Adding an outdoor cooking and entertaining space in 2021 is a great way to get more enjoyment from your home.

Outdoor kitchens are the most popular kitchen upgrade project

Forbes recently wrote that “outdoor kitchens and living areas are trending strongly and richly, with more enhancements than ever before”.

An American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey also shows the popularity of outdoor kitchen additions.

500 design professionals were asked about their predictions for home design trends. 45% of the architects believed outdoor kitchens would be the most popular kitchen product and feature in the coming years.

This is a big deal because that’s among any kitchen project, including indoor kitchens.

Outdoor kitchen trends to make your space great

We all spent more time at home in 2020 than ever before. Getting outdoors whenever the weather was nice provided a welcome escape from the confines of our indoor spaces.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to enjoy many warm weather activities. Opportunities to travel, go to the beach, attend outdoor concerts, or go to an amusement park were few and far between.

That made our backyards incredibly vital. Did your backyard allow you to fully enjoy the time that was spent outdoors in the spring, summer, and early fall?

Life will soon return to normal. Eventually, social activities like having our friends, families, and neighbours over for a backyard cookout will be something that’s appreciated more than ever.

people watching man grilling in outdoor kitchen

When life returns to normal, we’ll appreciate social activities like an outdoor cookout more than ever.

An outdoor kitchen doesn’t require a lot of room. They typically range from 100 to 400 square feet. A smaller, relatively simple kitchen setup in the corner of a deck or patio can do quite a lot.

Or you can go bigger and more elaborate with your outdoor kitchen design. The more sophisticated designs of modern interior kitchens are being used in outdoor spaces. Adding a dining and lounging area to an outdoor kitchen space gives you the full outdoor living experience.

In 2021, make plans to extend your home’s living space to the backyard with an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area.

We took a look at what real estate and home design professionals are projecting to be the hot outdoor kitchen trends. Use their expertise about what essential features your outdoor living space should include to make it exceptional.

1. Use a premium grill

The grill is an outdoor kitchen’s centrepiece. Any upscale exterior kitchen needs a high-quality cooking appliance worthy of a professional chef.

Consider premium grill brands like Alfresco, Coyote, Lynx, and DCS. They make fine-tuned products that are far superior to even the highest-end grill models you’ll find in your local big-box store.

It starts with the construction. Any grill needs to be able to last and work properly in the ever-changing Canadian weather, even if it’s covered up during the winter.

Premium propane and natural gas grills use high-quality stainless steel and construction materials. This ensures long-lasting durability and reliable performance.

DCS premium grill

Grills with expansive cooking surfaces are a must-have for anyone who likes to entertain. Handy extras like a smoking box and rotisserie are also essential for those who take their grilling seriously.

Today’s luxury grills also come with some very swanky modern features. Here are a few examples:

  • backlit control knobs, interior lighting, and halogen surface lights
  • advanced tech to automatically maintain a preset temperature
  • smart controls that respond to voice commands and smart devices
  • hood assist systems that make opening the grill hood almost effortless

Standalone grills used to be the standard for an outdoor cooking space. One of the growing outdoor kitchen trends includes incorporating a built-in grill into the kitchen’s design. This saves space, looks professional and elegant, and creates a more efficient workspace.

2. Plenty of kitchen storage space

You can’t call a space a kitchen without cabinetry. Naturally, an outdoor kitchen requires a special type of cabinetry.

Outdoor kitchen cabinets must be durable enough to handle being outdoors and look appealing. They need to maximize your kitchen’s storage space as well.

Stainless steel is the material of choice for built-in cabinet systems used in the majority of outdoor kitchens.

Brands like Brown Jordan and Danver are made with commercial-grade stainless steel for superior durability. Powder-coated finishes ensure the cabinets stay rust-free for many years.

outdoor kitchen with grill and grey cabinets

Danver cabinets were used for this outdoor kitchen.

Stainless steel cabinets have a sleek look that can be customized to match your style preferences. They also complement nicely with the look of your grill and other outdoor kitchen features.

Another weatherproof cabinet option is a hi-density resin cabinet system. NatureKast offers this type of cabinet, which replicates the texture and natural colour of real wood remarkably well.

Marine-grade aluminum kitchen cabinets are also engineered to withstand harsh weather and climates. Quebec’s Urban Bonfire is one of the leading manufacturers of this type of outdoor cabinet.

3. A sturdy and attractive outdoor kitchen countertop

An outdoor kitchen countertop has three main functions. It has to:

  • have a resilient surface that can handle the requirements for a food prep area
  • be engineered for long-lasting structural and aesthetic integrity outdoors
  • visually complement the kitchen’s other stylish features

Some of the more common types of countertop materials include marble, granite, porcelain, soapstone, and concrete.

One of the outdoor kitchen trends we’re seeing more with countertops is to use surfaces made with sintering technology. This high-tech manufacturing process produces extremely durable surfaces that are highly customizable.

Any higher-quality outdoor kitchen countertop will be non-porous. It should also provide strong resistance to abrasions, stains, chemicals, and ultraviolet light (which prevents the surface colour from fading over time).

4. A full-service food prep area

A well-designed outdoor kitchen should include a full-service food prep area. A practical layout for everything allows you to work more efficiently.

The need for good lighting and an ample amount of counter space is a given.

Having every amenity you’ll need to handle all of your food prep is helpful, too. Cooking for a group of people is a lot of work. There’s no time to waste shuttling in and out of the house to use cooking appliances or retrieve a needed item!

warming drawer in outdoor kitchen

Convenient kitchen amenities like a built-in warming drawer make outdoor cooking easier.

There are a full complement of interior kitchen amenities that can be added to an outdoor kitchen. Here are a few examples, including some essential outdoor kitchen appliances:

  • faucet and sink
  • built-in countertop side burners
  • flat-top grill
  • outdoor pizza oven
  • countertop steam table
  • warming drawer
  • refrigeration and ice-making appliances

5. Plenty of refrigeration

Let’s look a little closer at refrigeration in an outdoor kitchen. Having enough ice and keeping things cool are both a big part of the outdoor cooking and entertaining experience.

Have your outdoor kitchen designed so it’s fully equipped to take care of both the host’s and guest’s refrigeration needs.

An outdoor cooking area with proper refrigeration saves you from making trips to your indoor fridge or freezer to restock on meats.

It saves guests from needing to make trips inside to get a fresh, cold drink. You also won’t have to keep coolers or tubs of ice filled with bottled beverages scattered around your outdoor entertaining area.

There’s no shortage of outdoor kitchen refrigeration options available. Top outdoor appliance brands like Alfresco and Lynx offer under-grill refrigerators, wine fridges, built-in under-counter fridges, and professional fridge/freezer combos.

How about adding an outdoor ice machine? Lynx has an energy-efficient appliance that can produce almost 40 pounds of ice. It even provides audible alerts and programmed cleaning reminders.

6. Tasteful décor

The attention you pay to the design and décor of an indoor living space should extend to your outdoor living space as well.

The modern concept of “style continuity” in the home (where there’s a natural decorative flow from room to room) drives another of the outdoor kitchen trends designers love.

More and more, the décor of outdoor kitchens complements the style of an interior kitchen or the closest room to the outdoor kitchen.

Decorative flair can also be used to accentuate the already-impressive looks of a premium grill, cabinet system, and countertop. Extra touches like including cabinet backsplashes and decorative moulding elements add to the kitchen’s visual appeal.

7. Add-on outdoor kitchen features

We’ve covered a lot with these outdoor kitchen trends and ideas, but there’s still more you can do to elevate your outdoor living experience.

Here are some more features and design elements to consider adding to your outdoor living space:

  • an outdoor fireplace or fire pit
  • high-end outdoor furniture
  • an outdoor TV
  • landscape lighting to boost the ambiance in your outdoor lounge area
  • an integrated sound system with hidden speakers and wiring
  • a herb garden close to the food prep area
  • overhead covering for added comfort
outdoor living space

Elevate your outdoor living experience with things like high-quality patio furniture, a fireplace, and a TV.

Adopt these outdoor kitchen trends for your cooking space

All of these outdoor kitchen trends and essential features will contribute immensely to your enjoyment of your backyard.

When you can enjoy the full outdoor living experience, you just might find that your backyard even replaces the living room as your home’s go-to social hub!

If you’re planning to upgrade or add an outdoor kitchen in your home this year, request a design consultation with Outeriors.

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Outdoor Kitchen Design: 9 Common Questions and Answers

Home improvement projects to add or upgrade outdoor living spaces have been on an upward trend in the last few years.

In a recent Home Design Trends Survey, 45% of the architects polled predicted that outdoor kitchen additions would become the most popular type of remodelling project in the kitchen category.

When so many in-the-know professionals believe outdoor cooking space additions will be more popular than traditional indoor kitchen makeovers, that’s saying something.

outdoor kitchen and dining space

With the pandemic dramatically shifting how we live and function, maximizing the comfort level in our homes has become even more of a priority for a lot of homeowners.

The desire to enhance our lifestyle by creating more livable outdoor space in the backyard or at the cottage has made exterior kitchens very in-demand right now.

There are a number of questions you probably have about what goes into an outdoor kitchen design, so let’s provide some answers.

1. Who should I trust with my outdoor kitchen design?

Anyone can buy a new grill and patio dining set and call it an outdoor living space, but there’s so much more the outdoor living experience can offer. Think bigger.

Hiring a skilled designer to create an outdoor kitchen and living space will result in a finished project that serves your family’s needs better and has a high-end, professional look.

As a division of the storage and organization experts at Garage Living, Outeriors has the same high standards for our outdoor kitchen designs as we do for our garage designs. This includes working with only the finest gourmet grills, cabinetry, and appliances.

Our skilled designers are dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind outdoor kitchens that are customized to our clients’ style preferences and functional needs.

One thing that sets Outeriors apart is the full-service approach we bring to our kitchen projects. From design to installation, we take care of everything with your outdoor kitchen. This includes handling all aspects related to the outdoor living space’s:

  • cabinetry
  • grills
  • appliances
  • countertops
  • LED lighting
  • outdoor audio

2. What’s the best location for an outdoor kitchen?

One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is where the outdoor kitchen will be located in your backyard.

If you have an existing deck or patio where you want the outdoor kitchen to go then it’s an easier decision, but it’s good to take a few of the following factors into consideration.

Most homeowners prefer to have their outdoor cooking area located close to the house. This makes an outdoor kitchen and dining area feel more like an extension of the living space. The house also acts as a shelter from the wind and, depending on the design of the house, can provide shade.

This type of setup may be more desirable just for the sake of convenience when you’re cooking outdoors and want quick access to anything inside. Having an outdoor kitchen within close proximity of the house makes installing plumbing, electrical, and natural gas connections a bit easier, too.

Locating an exterior kitchen and entertaining area further from the house if you have a larger backyard has its benefits as well.

A poolside area outfitted with a cooking and lounging space can make your backyard experience feel like you’re staying at a nice resort and give you more room to get creative with your outdoor kitchen design.

Nothing beats the taste of grilled foods and even during the frigid Canadian winter, a lot of us still like to fire up the grill. If you fall into this category, keep that in mind when choosing your outdoor kitchen’s location. After all, you probably don’t want to trudge through a couple of feet of snow to get to that poolside grill in mid-February!

3. Is a patio or deck better for my cooking space?

outdoor kitchen on wood deck

The deck versus patio argument has been around for ages and if you’re looking to add either one for an outdoor kitchen, there are some basic facts you should know. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.

Patio

Compared to wood decks, patios are a little more cost-effective because they’re less expensive to install and tend to last a bit longer. Well-maintained wood decks should last about 10-15 years and a patio that has been properly maintained will last approximately 15-20 years.

Patios provide a wealth of options in terms of shapes, designs, and colours of paver and patio stones. This can help you create a patio design that beautifully complements your home’s exterior.

While you don’t have to worry about weight restrictions with a patio like you do with decks, you are limited to having it on the ground floor.

Deck

Decks typically cost more to build than patios but do provide a slightly higher return on investment (around 75% compared to approximately 70% for a patio).

One advantage decks have over patios is they give you more flexibility in terms of where they can be installed. A raised deck may be preferable to you depending on the layout of your home and an elevated deck also offers a nicer view if you live in a picturesque location. That last fact can also mean less privacy if you have neighbours living right beside you, however.

One issue you need to concern yourself with when it comes to raised decks is they need to be sturdy enough to handle the weight of an outdoor living space and its occupants. Elevated decks will also require some type of railing.

Wood decks will require occasional maintenance, naturally. There shouldn’t be much of a concern with wood decks posing a fire hazard if you take the following precautions:

  • locate your grill in a safe area (not too close to wood railings or any combustible materials)
  • work with a professional who will know how to design a cooking space that’s safe
  • apply a flame-retardant treatment to the deck wood

To eliminate the need for deck maintenance, you could choose a more premium type of deck material like aluminum or composite (the latter has a lifespan that ranges anywhere from 25-50 years).

4. What type of outdoor kitchen layout do I need?

How you plan to use your outdoor kitchen should be the primary factor that determines how the layout is designed.

Do you need a large or small food prep area? How much space do you need for storage or to add appliances or a sink? Do you want to incorporate a dining area into the cooking space? Where should the grill go?

There are many things to take into consideration in order to choose a kitchen configuration that will maximize your enjoyment of the space.

If you have a lot of room to work with and desire a fully-functioning outdoor kitchen, a U-shaped or L-shaped configuration is ideal.

These types of layouts will provide you with an ample amount of counter and storage space in your food prep area, as well as more room to add a sink, some appliances, and a larger grill.

Part of the countertop can even be used as a bar area with seating for guests. Another option is to incorporate an island into the kitchen’s layout, which can be used as an extra work surface (where you could put the sink), a bar area, or additional storage.

What if you’re working with a smaller budget, have a limited amount of space, or just aren’t looking to create a large outdoor kitchen? No worries – you can still create a beautiful outdoor cooking space with a nice grill, a modest amount of countertop space, and a few cabinets and drawers.

5. Is a premium grill worth it?

Coyote premium grill

If you’re used to paying a few hundred dollars for a grill that is perfectly fine and functional, there are several reasons why you should spend a little more for a premium grill.

Premium grills are built to last. Inexpensive barbecues cost what they do because a lot of manufacturers use cheap metals and parts that rust and break quickly. Spend a little more for a grill that has higher-grade construction materials like 304 stainless steel.

A high-quality grill just looks and feels nicer. One of the first things anyone looking at an outdoor kitchen will notice is the grill. Premium grills project a professional, upscale look and that superior quality is evident when you get hands-on with one, too.

A premium grill is more reliable and safe to use. If you get more than a couple of years of use out of the starter switch on a cheap grill before it’s toast, you’re probably happy. Luxury grills will work more reliably, from starting up every time to retaining their heat effectively to distributing heat more efficiently than budget grills (which reduces the occurrence of dangerous flare-ups).

Luxury grills work better for a custom outdoor kitchen design. If you’re putting the time and expense into getting a professionally designed outdoor living space, a premium grill is a must-have. You’ll have a number of style and size options to choose from to ensure the grill effectively complements the rest of the kitchen’s stylish features.

Premium grills come with convenient high-tech features. How would you like to fire up your grill or adjust the temperature with a voice command or by tapping a smartphone screen? Wouldn’t it be nice to use a grill with sensors that were so precise they could keep cooking temperatures at the perfect level? These are just some of the available features on modern smart grills.

6. What should I know about outdoor kitchen cabinetry?

Outdoor kitchen cabinetry works hard.

It needs to look great, provide you with efficient storage space, and be durable enough to withstand the diverse weather of Canada’s four seasons.

Oh, and it would be helpful if it was low-maintenance, too.

That’s a lot to ask of one product, but premium outdoor kitchen cabinet brands like Danver, Urban Bonfire, and NatureKast are up to the task.

They offer high-quality outdoor cabinet solutions with a range of materials, colours, finishes, and styles to make customizing your outdoor kitchen design easier.

Like grills, outdoor kitchen cabinetry needs to be made from high-quality materials that won’t rust or wear down rapidly. Here are three resilient cabinet materials worth considering:

  • commercial-grade stainless steel with a powder coating finish
  • PVC (which replicates the look of real wood and is very low-maintenance)
  • marine-grade aluminum

7. What type of countertop should I buy?

Another hard-working part of any outdoor kitchen are the countertops, which need to have a high resistance to scratches, stains, and high temperatures, in addition to being outdoor-proof and visually appealing.

High-end outdoor kitchen countertops from manufacturers like Dekton and Neolith are made with the latest in countertop design technology.

A highly advanced manufacturing process that involves using sintering particle technology can create work and dining surfaces that are exceptionally strong and durable.

They are also highly customizable, giving you an endless array of options for materials, colours, patterns, and textures.

8. How can I complement my outdoor cooking space?

outdoor living space

An outdoor kitchen adds stylish functionality to your backyard, but what are some ways you can complement it to create a complete outdoor living space?

There’s no shortage of ideas to add to your outdoor kitchen design and make your backyard a more comfortable and attractive extension of your living space.

An outdoor living and entertaining space and relaxation go hand in hand, so some comfy seating like a sofa, loveseat, or recliners are a must. Get a high-quality dining set built for the outdoors to make dining al fresco more enjoyable.

Proper lighting for an outdoor living area and the surrounding landscaping also makes a big difference. Strategically placed lighting accentuates the living space, adds ambiance, and allows it to be more functional and safe.

Here are some additional things that can be included in an outdoor living space:

  • an outdoor fireplace, fire pit, or patio heater
  • ceiling fans
  • an outdoor TV
  • an outdoor bar/beverage centre
  • a hot tub
  • outdoor rugs
  • a pergola, awning, or pavilion
  • an in-ground garden or a vertical garden with fresh herbs and vegetables

9. What are my outdoor kitchen appliance options?

An exterior kitchen’s main appliance – the grill – can do a lot of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to preparing outdoor meals, but what if you want to expand your cooking repertoire?

That’s where outdoor kitchen appliances come in. An outdoor kitchen design can incorporate a number of specialty appliances that give you more cooking options, which allows you to get more creative in the kitchen.

Appliances like a smoker, pizza oven, flattop/cooktop grill, outdoor oven, side burners, and warming drawers can, in many cases, be installed as built-in units that make efficient use of the kitchen space.

Some non-cooking outdoor appliances that also bring the amenities of an indoor kitchen to your outdoor living space include refrigerators, freezers, and ice machines.

Bring us your outdoor kitchen design ideas

Let’s talk about your outdoor kitchen and living space design ideas. We’ll work together to create an incredible and unique outdoor cooking and entertaining space for your home or cottage.

Request a free design consultation with us to start planning your outdoor kitchen project.

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