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Before and after: This stylish outdoor kitchen was built from scratch

You'd never know this was a DIY job!

Outdoor kitchen:
(Image credit: @banish_the_beige_)

An outdoor kitchen (opens in new tab) is the stuff of dreams and high up on many people's garden wishlist – but one DIY-savvy homeowner has managed to create a stylish alfresco cooking space on a serious budget.

Melanie Cooke, a physiotherapist who runs the seriously inspiring Instagram account @banish_the_beige_ (opens in new tab), created her contemporary kitchen for just £70 with help from her partner, Christian – and the overall cost of the whole space was just over £2,500, all thanks to the pair being ready to get hands-on. Read on to see how they did it.

The before

Outdoor kitchen: a before shot showing uneven grey paving and overgrown weeds

(Image credit: @banish_the_beige_)

The existing garden was an unloved space with overgrown beds, uneven slabs and weeds growing in between. The couple tackled the rest of the garden bit by bit, repainting the exterior of the house and installing new decking from the back door before starting work on their outdoor kitchen.

The process

Outdoor kitchen: a progress shot of the kitchen

(Image credit: @banish_the_beige_)

'We started by clearing the area, cleaning up the current tiles and building a pergola,' Melanie says. 'Christian and his dad then built the decking, as well as a frame, which I painted black to match the legs of the barbecue.'

Christian then placed 2x1 treated timber lengths across the structure, leaving gaps in between to create a slatted look that ties in with the pergola. The couple opted for aqua board for the tiling due to its water-repellent properties. 'We had some cement tiles left over from our bathroom makeover, so Christian tiled the worktop and the back of the BBQ frame with those,' Melanie adds. 'After the tiling was all set I sealed them.'

The after

Outdoor kitchen with wood panelling, tiled worksurface and grey seating

(Image credit: @banish_the_beige_)

Because they took on the work themselves and made use of materials they had lying around, Melanie and Christian managed to bring the whole project in for just over £2,500, including the decking. 

'The decking covers a huge area, so that cost £1,370 for the wood,' Melanie explains. 'The pergola cost around £890 for the wood, reed screen and corrugated plastic roof. We bought two barbecues from Argos, one gas and one coal, which cost £205 for both. The actual kitchen was the cheapest part – it only cost around £70!'

The space is a lesson in how to create impact on a small budget. 'It's great if you have leftover bits and bobs from other jobs – that always saves a lot of money,' Melanie adds. 'We bought the wood, tile backer board and adhesive, but the tiles, grout and sealant were all left over from other jobs.'

The result? A stunning contemporary space that will prove invaluable over the summer months as the family host guests.

Ellen Finch
Deputy editor

Joining as features editor in 2017, Ellen now looks after the day-to-day running of Real Homes magazine as deputy editor. She also commissions and writes many of the real case studies you'll see on the site, and loves speaking to people about their homes and get the details on the hacks they've tried and loved. She's currently gearing up to buy a home of her own in 2023 – hopefully with a garden to plant veg and wildflowers – and has a special interest in sustainable living, clever book storage, and cats.