Outdoor kitchens: A hot homeowning trend that can prove a good investment

As the clocks spring forward this weekend and we anticipate lighter evenings and hopefully warmer weather, thoughts turn to spending more time outdoors, and even bringing a bit of the Med or Morocco to our back gardens.

Adding an outdoor kitchen, an area dedicated to preparing, serving and eating (of course) deliciously barbecued or smoked meat and fish, wood-fired pizzas and perhaps bacon and eggs for breakfast on an electric teppanyaki grill has become one of the most dreamt-about outdoor home improvements in the UK.

Inspired by warm memories of holidays abroad and emboldened by embracing our outdoor space as an extra living area during lockdowns, even in less-than-balmy Britain we’re keen to go beyond the basic barbecue these days.

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The search term ‘outdoor kitchens’ had 71 million views on TikTok and two million Google searches to date in June last year, according to research commissioned by the tile company Atlas Ceramics, https://www.atlasceramics.co.uk, and the trend looks to grow even bigger this summer.

Grillo is among the companies offering outdoor kitchen optionsGrillo is among the companies offering outdoor kitchen options
Grillo is among the companies offering outdoor kitchen options

It seems that an outdoor kitchen is one of the top 20 improvements homeowners are budgeting the most for this year.

On the list of potential projects deemed to be both popular and value-adding to a home, outdoor entertaining area comes in at seventh place, way above a new indoor kitchen (18th), says tradesperson website Rated People https://www.ratedpeople.com, with a planned average spend of £15,365 for the whole outdoor entertaining space.

Jade Dunleavy, spokesperson for outdoor kitchen specialists Yorkshire Garden Rooms https://yorkshiregardenroomsltd.co.uk/ says the company’s prices start from £1,800 plus VAT including barbecue, sink and work surface, to £5,000 plus VAT for a mid-range outdoor kitchen, which is larger and with more storage and features, and up to £10,000 plus VAT for a top of the range fit-out, including installing gas connection, water connection and electricity for external sockets.

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“We do totally bespoke designs tailored to each customer,” she explains.

“We have the option to include full beer pump system, pizza ovens and much more.”

Other tempting add-on features include fridge-freezers and wine coolers, which will require a professionally installed electricity supply meeting current outdoor standards.

Mitch Slater, founder and CEO of Danver Stainless Outdoor Kitchen, manufacturer of Trex Outdoor Kitchens https://www.trex.com/products/outdoor-kitchens/ says one of the biggest

trends he’s seeing is bolder colours and aesthetics.

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“We’re witnessing the rise of colourful options like blues and greens in particular. An outdoor living space presents a fantastic opportunity to showcase fun and different colour selections compared to a homeowner’s interior kitchen.”

The ultimate in al fresco cooking facilities, however, comes from celebrity champion Guy Ritchie. The film director and former husband of Madonna unveiled his WildKitchen https://ccwildkitchens.com/at RHS Chelsea in 2021, developed during the course of eight years from his passion for outdoor entertaining.

Mr Ritchie is clearly as much of a hotshot behind the barbecue as he is behind the camera. His luxury canvas tented all-weather fire grill, including lighting, serving dishes and seating for 12 people, starts from around £75,000, with a chopping board and log store thrown in.

But doesn’t the increasingly unpredictable British weather mean an outdoor kitchen really is nothing more than a luxury?

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Not so, says Dougal Donald, co-founder of UK outdoor kitchen company Grillo https://grilloliving.com/.

“The British climate gets a lot of bad press, both at home and abroad, but this doesn’t stop us buying more convertible cars than any other country in Europe. I grew up in South Africa where often the summers were simply too hot to be outdoors enjoying it.

"One of the great things about the UK is our moderate pleasant summers, ideal for enjoying the sunshine and a good barbecue.”

And according to Yorkshire Garden Rooms, an outdoor kitchen might even save you money on energy bills; a barbecue can keep you warm in the garden during the winter and on colder days, you’ll save money on using the oven if you cook outside, and if you’re outdoors on chilly summer evenings, you won’t need to switch central heating on indoors.

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Putting a roof over your BBQ area is an option obviously, but Dougal Donald finds that generally, “people like to keep them truly ‘outdoors’ and open to the elements. After all, it is an outdoor kitchen!”

Cedric Wells, creative director at Vlaze, says that for the great British weather it is worth considering kitchens with a modular or portable element so they can be moved from outside to under cover if necessary.

Vlaze cabinetry (pictured, Vlaze Outdoor Kitchen modules: Adapt 120 in Nori or Ochre porcelain enamel, RRP £4,200) comes with the option of free moving castors.

IKEA’s affordable Grillskar outdoor kitchen range is a good option if you want to experiment with the idea of an outdoor kitchen before committing to a permanent set-up. Items include a gas barbeque with side burner, £765, a sink with splashback and storage, £230, and a kitchen island, £75 https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/cat/outdoor-kitchen-accessories-


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A big bonus is that if you move house you can take a portable outdoor kitchen with you. However, a well-planned and executed permanent outdoor kitchen could add value to your home and make it more attractive to potential buyers.

Such a welcoming and social space is high on UK home-buyer wish lists, coming in 11th place in Rated People’s latest top 20 features that would make people more likely to purchase.

“Going into spring is the perfect time to start thinking about an outdoor kitchen,” says Adrienne Minster, CEO of Rated People. “Not only are outdoor entertaining areas with outdoor kitchens good ways to maximise your social space at home but they’ll also attract more buyers if you choose to sell, so they can be a great investment.”