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If you’ve been thinking about building a backyard kitchen, you’ll have to balance budget, space, safety and creativity. Consider the following when moving forward with a project:

Phase 1: Safe planning

Study the space and map out the project with the desired appliances. Your home’s layout may limit whether you choose a smoker, burner or grill. Other options to consider are a kitchen ventilator, sink, mini-refrigerator, dishwasher, wine cooler, icemaker and a pizza oven.

“Selecting appliances determines which utilities are necessary,” says George Ocampo, owner of GO Designs, a landscaping, remodeling and construction company. “Proper utility installation is important and should comply with national safety codes.”

Ocampo, who has 20-plus years of experience, recommends hiring a reputable contractor for outdoor living projects, especially when running power, gas and water. 

Other safety practices include placing grills perpendicular to the walls of a home to avoid burn marks. Keep gravity in mind, too, it determines if a project will prevail against weather conditions. 

“A big problem we see in homes is drainage issues,” Ocampo says. “When it rains in El Paso, it pours. This will leave people with standing water that can affect their investment.”

Phase 2: Durable materials

Build using durable materials. Stick to brick, stone, slate and concrete instead of lumber, which is considered softwood and can catch fire quickly.

The best outdoor appliances are stainless steel. Hard stones, such as granite and quartz, are ideal for counters. Dense stones like marble can corrode easily and should be cleaned with special chemicals.

“When it comes to counters, opt for nothing less than three-quarters of an inch,” Ocampo says. “We have extreme temperatures in El Paso, which may cause them to crack or break.” 

Phase 3: Outdoor style

Incorporate an outdoor style that blends with your home’s interior. 

For a modern, clean look, consider the cool feel of heat-resistant limestone in shades of black, gray, white and brown.

Travertine stone is a good choice if you prefer a warm feel. The veiny stone is ideal for Mediterranean, Tuscan, Hacienda, colonial or traditional-style homes. 

Oklahoma flagstone offers an earthy feel with tones of brown and is perfect for those with a rustic taste.

For an elegant and classy option, the smooth blue-gray Pennsylvania bluestone is ideal for Old World or country French décor. 

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