The center of a house party tends to be the kitchen , so why not allow your guests to enjoy easy access to food and drinks as well as lovely weather. You can do so with an outdoor kitchen. Keep the following in mind when planning your new gathering space for family and friends.

Install a Grill and Other Appliances

The most important appliance for an outdoor kitchen is the grill. You can opt for a portable gas grill or even install a permanent cooktop. Either way, you will need a spot for the grill. If you don't already have a deck or patio, start your planning with this post: Patio Building | Design Ideas for Concrete, Brick or Wood Patios.

To truly build a complete outdoor kitchen, you also will want to have a refrigerator outdoors. This can be a small fridge or a full-size one, as long as you have enough room to safely store food before cooking and to keep plenty of cold beverages on hand. You also will want an outdoor sink that gives you easy access to water for cooking and cleanup.

Outdoor lighting and countertops with built-in electrical outlets complete the functionality of the space. Give yourself enough light and room to work, and consider installing a bartop around the area at which guests can sit and eat.

In terms of aesthetics and materials, you can choose from a range of options. A basic setup will get the job done and serve your guests well, while an outdoor kitchen that rivals that of an indoor one in terms of functionality and design will turn the space into a true extension of your home. Tile floors and countertops allow for easy cleanup after a party or meal. Simply hose the tile and wipe down the countertops. Such a luxurious addition to your home will add to its property value as well.

Keep Costs Within Your Budget

Just as the aesthetics and materials come in a range of options, so do the corresponding costs. A full outdoor kitchen requires you to extend electrical and plumbing services from your home, and doing so will require the use of professionals. Expect the cost to reach that of any addition to a home.

You can save in certain areas, though. Do you really need high-end finishes on your appliances? They add significantly to the overall cost of the project and may not even stand up to the elements well, causing them to look and operate poorly in a short amount of time if so. Your professional handyman can help you get the most bang for the buck you have to spend on your outdoor kitchen.

Download Free Outdoor Kitchen Plans

To start the planning of this project, check out the many tips and outdoor kitchen plans available online. BBQGuys.com, for example, offers advice on how to plan your zones. It suggests zoning according to cooking order, such as putting prep, cooking, plating and serving, and entertaining zones next to each other in that lineup, with appliances placed appropriately. It points out that putting the entertaining area away heat sources keeps your guests cool.

To get plans for an outdoor kitchen, visit Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. It offers five sample plans for free download, allowing you to use them as a starting point. The plans range from the simple Havana plan with grill, double cooktop and sink to the more elaborate Oasis plan with refrigerated drawers, wine chiller, keg tapper, ice maker, grill, double cooktop, sink, waste and recycling, and additional drawers and racks. The site also offers plans for its Sonoran , Bistro and Aspen kitchens. Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service now online.