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Genteel conversation in a friendly setting - that's what I need.

14 years ago

Im sitting here, gainfully unemployed since last Monday -- for the first time in 7 years. IÂm trying to stay focused and work on a website I started building last April which was supposed to be my "Plan B". Last night, I wrote an article, planning to test the concept of using it to drive traffic to my site.

While IÂm looking around for the best place to post it, IÂm getting more and more discouraged. So while my site could use the traffic, I think what I need more than anything right now is a little affirmation that working on this website isnÂt a total waste of my time.

HereÂs the article if youÂre inclined to read it:

Is there an outdoor kitchen in your future? Fabulous, because here are 11 inexpensive ideas to add personality and visual punch. Plus 8 tips to make even the most modest outdoor kitchen more functional and convenient.

The old saying still holds true: At every party everyone ends up in the kitchen sooner or later -- even when it's your outdoor kitchen!

And no matter the size, it never seems big enough. That's because it's filled with happy revelers propped up against the refrigerator door, or joking with the chef at the BBQ pit, and scanning the outdoor kitchen counter for good eats and beverages.

There's just something festive and inviting about an outdoor kitchen that makes it a natural gathering place. And just like your indoor kitchen, it forms the heart of a home in everyday life, whether it's indulging in a lazy breakfast in the morning sunlight or playing host at an intimate alfresco dinner party.

And even with everything costing more these days, creativity counts for more when designing an open-air kitchen to suit your lifestyle as well as your budget.

So why not extinguish winter's chill and begin thinking now about how to add punch to your outdoor kitchen with these 12 ideas that are sure to give yours a personal touch on the cheap:

  1. Use bold colors like eggplant with lime accents.
  2. Add an indoor flourish by installing a whiteboard on the outdoor refrigerator where family members can leave affectionate notes and reminders.
  3. Transfer children's artwork to tiles then use the tiles in a border or as insets in your outdoor kitchen floor.
  4. Decoupage outdoor kitchen stools with bits of memorabilia from holidays or events.
  5. Faux paint outdoor kitchen stools to match your outdoor kitchen tableware.
  6. Show your passion for the environment by using energy-saving light fixtures, recycled glass accents, or add a recycling center.
  7. Paint a trompe l'oel carpet or a faux runner on your outdoor kitchen floor.
  8. Make a twig chandelier and hang it above your eating area for a funky rustic look.
  9. Carve your initials or a significant date into the outdoor kitchen hearth.
  10. Paint a mural on an outdoor kitchen wall to evoke a farmhouse or tropical feel.
  11. Bejewel your outdoor kitchen drawers and cabinets with hand-painted knobs.
  12. Paint calligraphic inscriptions of your favorite sayings or exotic oriental symbols on your outdoor kitchen walls.

And there's no time like the present to begin thinking about prepping your outdoor kitchen for Spring. Cooking outdoors means different things to different people. But even the most modest outdoor kitchen can be as useful and convenient as your indoor setup.

So here are 8 tips to help tame and organize your outdoor kitchen:

  1. Sort and toss: Arrange your outdoor kitchen items into groups: Utensils, cookware, containers. Sell unneeded duplicates at a garage sale, or donate them to the Salvation Army.
  2. Get in the zone: Separate your outdoor kitchen into zones or task areas, then arrange as follows: Cook zone: Store pots and pans near stove or BBQ pit. Utensil area: store as close as possible to the cook zone. Coffee, tea, drink station: store near a water source. Serving area: store dishes, flatware, napkins, and candles together. Easy Outdoor Décor Tip: rectangular storage holds more than round.
  3. Cabinet control: An inexpensive rolling cart, a re-purposed microwave cart, or an outdoor storage bench make perfect temporary alfresco storage. They'll also help you keep dishes, flatware, napkins and candles together for quick setup and cleanup. Organize small items by storing them together in clear shoebox-size containers.
  4. Stick it or Shift it: Use adhesive hooks to hold cooking tools, like mitts. Save space by taking items that are seldom used outdoors back indoors.
  5. Lids, lids, lids: Re-assign indoor kitchen storage containers that no longer have lids to duty in your outdoor kitchen. Use them as mixing or serving bowls or as a landing zone for hot foods.
  6. Around and around: Use rotating trays like a lazy Susan for easy access. Easy Outdoor Décor Tip: Save space by using stackable storage containers.
  7. Trash talk: Throw a few loose trash bags into the bottom of your trash can so they are close by when you need them.
  8. Refrigerator art: Place a magnetic notepad on the outdoor fridge to maintain your grocery list. Tip: Add to your grocery list as items are used up. And update the list when you clean out the fridge.

The sky's the limit when it comes to everyone's favorite outdoor room. And because everyone wants to be in your outdoor kitchen, why not tailor it to suit your family's needs?

To personalize yours, glean inspiration from all the outdoor kitchen pictures and ideas in the Outdoor Kitchen Ideas Guide at and transform your outdoor space into a place of tranquility and respite. And remember, at your next alfresco party, I'll see you in the outdoor kitchen!

About The Author: Mercedes "Merci" Campbell is an upbeat and engaging outdoor decor enthusiast. She has written several articles complete with pictures that are full of outdoor kitchen ideas designed to help make yours not just a cooking hub, but a family and friends hub. Visit her at While you're there sign up for Merci's Easy Outdoor Decor Alerts! And stay in touch with all that's trendy, not spendy in outdoor living.

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