When the weather’s nice, you’ll want to take advantage by spending as much time outside as possible.

A cookout or even an outdoor cocktail get-together help make the most of a beautiful day, but it can be annoying having to move from the grill or table to the kitchen for ingredients. Here are some tips and ideas for building an outdoor kitchen, so you can have all the space necessary for getting as much done as possible while outside.

Countertops

A countertop is absolutely necessary in preparing a meal to be enjoyed outside. Adding an island or peninsula to your patio provides essential space for plating BBQ dishes and to cut veggies for shish kebabs. It need not be expensive; you can easily construct your own countertop from reclaimed materials, such as remnants offered from tile stores. Consider natural stone tops to use for your counter.

Support for your counter can be as simple as cast concrete blocks or even cinderblocks, secured together with masonry glue. Cinderblocks may not be the prettiest solution, but are certainly inexpensive. For an attractive setup, you may lay a brick or wooden facade.

Lighting

You’ll want plenty of light for your outdoor kitchen. Gooseneck lamps provide ample light without getting in the way of your counter space. Of course, solar lights do well for ambient light while dining after dark.

No matter what lighting you choose for your garden kitchen, be sure to use a ground fault indicator for wired connections. A GFI will cut out immediately if the circuit shorts, so there’s no worry of shock even when it comes into contact with water. Safety is essential with electricity, especially in outdoor ever-changing conditions.

Appliances

Now that you have the space to prepare a meal, you’ll want to consider appliances to have outside. It’s useful to have appliances so you won’t have to make trips back and forth from your yard to the house–after all, this is the draw of having an outdoor kitchen at all! An outdoor fridge is great for chilling drinks as well as keeping the meat you plan to grill on hand, and you’ll even be able to house all the applicable condiments. By having everything in one place, you don’t need to step away from the conversation outside to prepare a meal for yourself and loved ones. A mini fridge will fit well under your countertop. Looking for an attractive place to keep drinks iced for an afternoon of fun? It can be as simple as a galvanized metal bucket.

An outdoor sink may sound overly complicated due to plumbing, but it’s not! With products like the Ames True Garden Sync-It Water Station, you can have a simple sink hooked up to your already-existing hose (it doubles as a hose hanger as well). The sink will drain into the ground, so you won’t have to make a mess while washing your hands or produce outside.

Pergola

A pergola outfitted with curtains, vines or other plants can provide shade in a beautiful way. Treated lumber and PVC are both great materials for a slatted structure, and while PVC may not look as pretty, it’s very simple to cut and fasten together into a structure (and is inexpensive). No matter what material you use, consider painting it for a fresh look.

Draping your pergola with foliage or curtains can make a great free-standing bungalow effect, perfect for reclining with friends and a nice meal on a warm day. A table for your dining space is as easy as a sturdy surface atop a couple of sawhorses for legs. By reclaiming old materials, building an outdoor kitchen and dining space is both simple and inexpensive!

This post is adapted from the July 20, 2013 episode of Home Wizards. You can find this segment at the 8 minute mark of the first hour.