How to make an outdoor kitchen look more expensive – 7 ways to get the luxury look without the price tag

Fancy dazzling your guests this summer? Here's how to make your outdoor kitchen look more expensive (for less)

Outdoor kitchen, wood fired oven, worktop set for buffet
(Image credit: Future PLC/Jemma Watts)

Summer is well and truly on the horizon, which brings with it the promise of sunshine-fuelled barbecues and hazy lazy dinners in the garden. And, while money isn't everything, there's no denying that aesthetics are – so, how do you make an outdoor kitchen look more expensive?

That's right: you don't have to let your budget dictate your outdoor kitchen ideas, so long as you're prepared to think outside the box a little when you get to work. Because, while there are design rules for an outdoor kitchen that everyone should follow, you can absolutely tweak these to save some of your hard earned pennies.

So, from 'quiet luxury' garden buys to clever little tips and tricks, we've consulted our experts to help you to do exactly that.

How to make an outdoor kitchen look more expensive

If you've been busily planning an outdoor kitchen and can't quite figure out how you're going to find the money to make it look as good as it does in your head, don't panic – there are plenty of ways to keep things looking luxurious, even on a small budget (and in a small garden!).

1. Frame the space with plants

Outdoor kitchen in small garden

(Image credit: Talking Tables)

There are many ways to make a kitchen, whether new or older, look more expensive and the best and easiest way is to frame the space with plants.

'While it's important to keep plants away from anywhere that may come into contact with flames, they can be situated in big containers at the sides of the kitchen space,' says Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants. He established the thriving business in 1992, shortly after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex.

'Topiary shrubs, such as bay trees, will not only bring the space to life but can also be used in cooking,' he continues.

'Other hedging shrubs or trees, such as box topiary balls or shaped conifers in containers, will bring some class to the kitchen. And don't forget to add in some lavender and other herbs in pots to match the style – they will perfume the air with their fragrance, too.'

2. Get clever with a trellis

Outdoor kitchen, wood fired oven, worktop set for buffet

(Image credit: Future PLC)

An easy way to make your outdoor kitchen look more expensive is to think vertically – this is where you can use some garden trellis ideas and add some serious style to your garden.

Using trellis to frame your outdoor kitchen means that you can use hooks to hang both potted plants and your favourite cooking accessories, such as a chic chopping board or pizza stone. It'll look stunning and it'll be incredibly practical, as everything you need will be within arm's reach.

3. Accessorise

arden furniture, kitchen island, utensils, bbq, barbecue, alfresco, wooden decking, herbs, plants, lanterns,

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Whether you fancy a small (but perfectly formed) outdoor kitchen centred around one of the best BBQs, or a bespoke number with worktops and sinks, the easiest way to inject some personality into it is this: accessorise.

'Accessories will really make a difference to a kitchen area and carefully chosen crockery and cutlery will help lift your design,' says Morris.

'Whatever style you are going for, stick to just a few colours and make sure everything is as coordinated as possible.'

4. Keep things clean

Outdoor kitchen with BBQ and pizza oven

(Image credit: Jemma Watts/Future Publishing Ltd)

One of the simplest ways to make an outdoor kitchen look more expensive is to keep it in pristine condition – aka clean it!

'Outdoor kitchen units are usually brick, render or wood and all of these surfaces are susceptible to organic growth over the wet winter months – algae, green mould and mildew can all cause discolouration,' says Martin Beaumont of Monty Miracle.

'Luckily these organic stains can be tackled quickly and easily using the right kind of cleaner. Monty Miracle from Amazon, for example, is a liquid cleaner that is simply applied to the surface and then rinsed away with water – it’s fine to be rinsed off onto grass as long as you water the grass first.'

Martin goes on to add that 'jet washers can be quite aggressive, splintering wood and taking the surface off some stones, so you want to be using a gentle, long lasting cleaner on your outdoor furniture, including your kitchen units'.

'Applying a surface-suitable sealant once the cleaned units are dry will make your surfaces even more resilient to the weather, so you will have no unsightly and cheapening stains,' he says.

'You just need to manage daily cleaning and upkeep, tidying away any branches, wiping down the surface and arranging your accessories.'

5. Include an outdoor rug

Patio area with barbeque pizza oven and a chair on the outdoor rug.

(Image credit: Future PLC)

isWhen it comes to making an outdoor kitchen loom more expensive, it's a good idea to invest in the best pizza oven you can, but the addition of an outdoor rug are what will make it feel that little bit more luxe.

'A pizza oven in an outdoor kitchen space is a must and with many on the market, you can choose a style that matches your garden theme,' says Morris.

'Don’t forget tea towels, utensils and even an outdoor rug will all help to make the space look expensive.'

6. Think vertically

outdoor kitchen dining table with chair and chimney pergola

(Image credit: Royal Real Stone work surfaces, Lundhs)

For an instant pop of luxury, it's a good idea to team your pergola ideas with your outdoor kitchen – or something like IKEA's new outdoor table (with its built-in decorating rod) – to draw the eye upwards.

'If you have space, try building a pergola over the kitchen with climbing plants growing up and over,' says Morris.

'Roses, clematis, a grapevine, jasmine or wisteria are options to consider,' he continues. 'And, as long as there are no flames (and you leave space for a pizza chimney if needed), this will bring the kitchen space alive.'

7. Plan in statement lighting

outdoor dining with patio cover ideas, slatted wood pergola with dining table and double deckchair, tiled floor, plants hanging from pergola

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Finally, an easy way to make an outdoor kitchen look more expensive is to incorporate some garden solar lighting ideas for added atmosphere.

'Transforming an outdoor kitchen from simple to spectacular doesn't always require a hefty budget, just some creativity and focus on key elements. One strategy I've employed with great success is to invest in statement lighting,' says Steven Bell, the CEO of Paving Shopper.

Steven Bell
Steven Bell

Steven Bell is the managing director of Paving Shopper, known for his expertise in gardening, landscaping and paving. He leads the company with a focus on quality and innovation, ensuring Paving Shopper remains a trusted source for diverse paving needs.'

'Ambient lighting can turn any space into an inviting oasis, and don't forget the power of a cohesive colour scheme; it can unify the space and elevate the overall design,' he continues.

Fairy lights are a great place to start, however, outdoor pendant lights hung from pergolas and over tables will add flair to your outdoor kitchen.


Howdo you make your outdoor kitchen look posh?

Introducing outdoor kitchen storage ideas and cabinets is one instant way to make your space look posh.

'When selecting an outdoor kitchen, it’s important to look for high-quality, weatherproof cabinets,' says Charles Alexander, founder of Oxenwood.

'You expect high standards for your indoor kitchen, and it is even more important
with outdoor cabinets due to the temperature variations, so pay attention to the small details and choose the right design elements,' he continues, advising you 'invest in high-quality materials such as Belgian Bluestone natural stone worktops and choose sustainably sourced solid oak cabinets'.

'You can also incorporate a variety of stainless-steel, outdoor rated cooking appliances such as hob burners, warming drawers, sinks, fridges, or even a pizza oven,' he says.

'And to further enhance your outdoor kitchen, add thoughtful landscaping, comfortable
seating areas and subtle lighting to create a beautiful and inviting space. By focusing on quality craftsmanship and sophisticated design elements, your outdoor kitchen will have
a luxurious look.'

Now that you know how to make an outdoor kitchen look more expensive, you can swerve the extortionate price tags and still reap the benefits of a luxury outdoor space.

No need to thank us, of course, but we'll expect an invitation to your next al fresco dinner party in due course...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.