As most of you will know we’ve been renovating our garden for the last year (read more here) and I’ve been browsing endless sources of inspiration since! A few months ago I came across the outdoor kitchen concept on Pinterest and instantly fell in love with it. Luckily Mr R felt the same and we looked at a few ready to buy options but we (well, Mr Rackley actually) decided that building one would be much better as we could tailor it to what we wanted it to do.
We began by measuring the area we had decided to designate as our “outdoor kitchen” and used a trellis panel to see how far out we could comfortably let the bar stick out.
We then drew a diagram of what we had in mind and read lots of tutorials on how others had built their outdoor kitchens. We decided to take the best bits from different tutorials and adapt to suit our own space.
We began by building a frame to mould our first worktop – the bar piece that was a simple rectangle shape. We used MDF board and strips of wood to form the edges, all screwed together.
We used angle brackets on the edges to make the mould sturdier. We then caulked the inside edges to stop any concrete from spilling out and left it to dry overnight.
The next evening we coated the inside with vaseline to help remove the set concrete and covered the base with crystals.
Black crystals (glass chippings 4-10mm) – Link
Silver stones – Link
Mother of pearl crystals – Link
Mirror chips – Link
We then mixed concrete and began scooping it into the mould, being careful not to move the crystals around too much. I also chucked some more crystals down the sides before pushing the concrete against the edge so that the stones showed along the edges.
We then pushed metal rods and wire mesh into the concrete (the mould was about half full) to create strength in the worktop. We then filled the rest of the mould up with concrete so that the supports were concealed inside.
We used another piece of strip wood to level the worktop and make it flat.
Finally we used a hammer to vibrate the bubbles out of the concrete, keep hitting all the sides until lots of bubbles rise to the surface (a vibrating tool can also be used for this). Then it was left for at least 4 days to set.
After it was set we unscrewed all the screws and brackets before pulling the side pieces off and shuffling the worktop until it came away from the MDF board.
We then flipped it over and took it outside – you may need help at this point as it was seriously heavy! You can see some of the crystals but the majority will be hidden under the surface for now at this point.
While the first worktop was setting we also set to work with the frame itself. We used treated timber strips (47mm x 75mm) screwed together with wood screws to create the shape of the bar area.
We added more pieces in the middle and sides to create a solid sturdy base.
We then placed the BBQ in position to help us work out the structure of the next section.
We did the same again with the pizza oven to work out how to build it in until we eventually had an outline of the structure we needed for our outdoor kitchen space.
P.s Our Char-Broil BBQ is the KING of BBQ’s – it’s amazing!!
BBQ – Link
Pizza Oven – Link
At this point we created the mould and poured the second worktop (in the same way as the first one but with more corners!) as we could measure the exact size of it from the structure and having the appliances in place.
We did actually have an accident with this worktop when it came out of the mould, the smallest leg snapped as we moved it from the garage – it has been stuck back on with concrete in the joint.
Tip: If we did this again we would’ve used an internal metal support bar in this area like we did in the big worktop piece.
I set to work wet sanding both worktops, while Mr R continued with the frame. I used the hose to keep the surfaces wet (this helped the sanding pads to last longer) and used an orbital sander, working my way up from 40 grit to 1200 grit by using each pad in between.
Orbital Sander – Link
Sanding Discs (mixed) – Link
After we had the structure worked out, we flipped it over and added another piece of wood across the bottom parts before screwing heavy duty wheels on – this would be helpful in future when we needed to move it around for any reason. We set them back this way to have a small gap under the outdoor kitchen only.
Wheels – Link
Mr R then started adding cement board all around the outside of the frame, which is basically sheets of cement! Cement board is great because it’s really sturdy and meant to be water/fire/mould resistant.
We also used a cut off piece of cement board under the side pieces to create the same gap at the bottom all the way around.
Cement Board – Link
You are supposed to be able to score and snap them to the size you need but we found it easier to saw them with a jigsaw. Mr R had to use a tile saw jigsaw piece to cut through the cement board.
Jigsaw Blade – Link
We continued to add cement board all around the outside and the inside which would be used for storage space.
We added extra bits of wood to screw cement board on to the base. This photo also shows how the wheels were attached from the back (the far right area with washers)
We added more cement board to the bases to create internal cupboard space and moved the worktops over on top of the frame.
We screwed the worktops to the frame using L shaped brackets from underneath.
I used a slate sealant on the worktops to seal them.
Sealant – Link
I then waxed the surfaces using a finishing wax which gave the worktop a smoother feeling surface.
Finishing Wax – Link
Initially I had planned to keep sanding the concrete until it was glossy and shiny, but by this point I’d decided the colour of the worktops was too brown and needed to be stained, which meant that polishing it until it shined was pointless.
So I applied decking stain thinly to the surfaces and left to dry.
Decking Stain – Link
I then sanded lightly until the stones were revealed again but the paint was still visible. This took two goes on each worktop to stain the surface enough. The stones and crystals shouldn’t be stainable.
Close up of the worktop finish.
Once dry I gave the worktops a two coats of triple thick gloss to create a sheen on the surfaces.
Triple Thick – Link
Meanwhile, Mr R was using his jigsaw to cut out door holes in the cement board panels.
We used the doors themselves as a guide.
Door – Link
All of the cement board pieces were screwed into the frame using plasterboard screws.
We also used the jigsaw to cut out rectangular holes for the vents behind where the BBQ would go – we put one on each side of the frame.
I added pieces of wire mesh to the insides of the vents to keep out any pests!
Vent – Link
Wire Mesh – Link
Eventually we had a fully constructed frame, with worktops and cement board all around it.
It was then time to render the whole thing. We used dust sheets to protect the patio as it created a lot of mess! We covered the whole thing in a coat of render and used a plastering trowel to smooth it down.
Render – Link
It was then wiped down with a damp sponge to create a fairly smooth surface. We’re not plastering experts and created more of a weathered finish I would say but I like it!
Once the whole thing was coated in render, it was left to dry overnight.
We also used exterior sealant all around the joints, including any inside the frame itself.
We then painted the whole frame with white outdoor paint – I used the same B&Q paint that I’d had mixed to match my rattan furniture set in this post here.
It was then time to screw the doors on and put a thin bead of exterior silicone around the edges of the doors to stop any water from getting in before placing the BBQ and pizza oven in place! (We are one door short at the moment but hoping it will be complete soon!)
The doors are stainless steel intended for outdoor use and guaranteed to be rust proof.
Doors – Link
The finishing touch was a wall mounted bottle opener! (You can also see the worktop shine well in this photo from the triple thick used above).
Bottle Opener – Link
All that was left was to add some bar stools and wait for a nice day to start using it – I’m hoping for some beautiful weather this Bank Holiday for its debut!
Bar Stools – Link
The whole thing lives under a furniture cover when not in use to keep it protected (although all elements used are for exterior use already but the cover protects it further and from bird mess!!)
Cover – Link
I am absolutely a thrilled with how this turned out and it will be well used for years to come! 🙂
Hope some of you will be inspired to try your hand at an outdoor kitchen/bar space too – I’d love to see your results!
Lots of love