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You learned the secret to your neighbor’s newly lush lawn is AstroTurf. Your cousin just built a gazebo, and your kid’s daycare teacher could moonlight as a landscape artist after posting pics of her Getaway Garden. It seems like everyone is upgrading their backyard this summer, and if you’re dreaming of getting in on the action, it’s not too late. Especially when it comes to one of the latest trends: BBQ islands. Searches for outdoor grilling stations has climbed 90 percent over the past year, according to Yelp, and if you start planning now, you can get yours up and running in time to enjoy a few fall dinners alfresco. (It also doesn’t hurt that the upgrade tends to have a 55 percent ROI, should you decide to sell your house down the road.)
With that in mind, we dug through Yelp’s findings and talked to designer and Rock the Block star Jeremiah Brent to uncover the secrets to creating the ultimate BBQ Island.
1. Choose How Dramatic You Want to Go
Typically, a BBQ island includes a four-burner grill and a countertop for prepping foods, but it can get much fancier than that. You could include seating, a griddle, a small sink or a mini fridge.
No matter what level you go, this project is an investment. While you can find already-built models for $3,000 to $4,000, it’s worth noting that many models hover between $5,000 to $10,000. Building out a full outdoor kitchen could cost up to $22,000, depending on the countertops, patio finish and appliances you choose. (A truly luxe, top-of-the-line buildout could set you back up to six figures, according to HomeAdvisor.) Depending on how complex your BBQ island is, you may want to hire a pro to build it out for you. “Yelp has a feature called Request a Quote that helps you find the best person to do the work within your budget,” Brent says.
2. Follow These Two Design Guidelines
OK, what about the actual design of the island? Let Brent’s four-word mantra be your guide: “clean lines, matte finishes.” A streamlined, modern look is easy to clean—no ornate details to scrub and de-cobweb—and can adapt to changing tastes, should you decide in two years that your Margaritaville obsession truly was just a phase.
3. Add a Hood
“I love the idea of a textural plaster hood becoming the focal point,” Brent says. “There’s something about the intentionality of including this feature in an outdoor space that exudes the concept of ‘bringing the indoors out.’” You’ll typically find this feature in patio areas, as a way to draw away heat, smoke and grease, but as Brent points out, it can give your BBQ island more of an impact.
4. Incorporate a Pizza Oven
When you think about cooking outside, you probably think burgers, hot dogs, kebabs and steaks. Maybe foil pack dinners. But why limit yourself to cookout grub? Yelp has seen searches for outdoor pizza ovens climb 193 percent year over year, and if you don’t want to commit to a custom-built behemoth, you can still achieve a bubbly, crisp-edged pie with a tabletop model, like Ooni’s Koda 16. (Psst: It earned a 95 out of 100 in our recent PureWow100 review.)
5. Green Up Your Surroundings
It’s easy to go concrete-happy in these spaces…and, in the process, lose your sense of the Great Outdoors. Mapping out landscaping around the outdoor kitchen—even if it’s just a few container plants—can go a long way. And if you’re convinced you can’t keep anything alive, Brent argues otherwise: “I’ll put it this way—it’s not that you don’t have a green thumb, you just don’t have an irrigation system.” It’s yet another expense, sure, but it’s a worthwhile one if you plan on
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