Grill Islands Explained

If you're serious about backyard cooking, a standard barbecue grill alone won't do. It just doesn't provide enough space. Even if all you're doing is grilling up a plate of burgers or chicken, that plate can end up perched precariously on the side and knocked over with ease. You find yourself dragging over the picnic table to give yourself some extra counter top. And if the table isn't quite level, the juices run off the meat and over the edge of the plate.

A grill island provides the solution to your outdoor counter space problem and adds in more convenience besides. These days, anything that you have in your indoor kitchen can be had outdoors as well with the right grill island. A grill island can provide you with plenty of drawer and cabinet space beneath to match the counter space above. Store spices and condiments, bowls and plates, utensils and measuring devices with ease. Add in a refrigerator to keep the things that need to be chilled at their proper temperature until you're ready to use them.

If you want to get really ambitious, hook the island up to running water and add in a sink or even a dishwasher! Instead of prodding the steaks one too many times to see if they're done, you can spend time cleaning up the plates before everything gets hard and set without ever taking your eyes off the food you're preparing.

Even the simplest grill island can add a bit of counter space and provide a little protection for your outdoor grill. If you've got a small patio, a simple 4 foot grill island will still extend a couple of wings on either side of the grill for more counter space. This unit can cost about $2,400 unfinished or $2,600 finished.

Thinking slightly larger, a 6 or 8 foot stucco island can surround your grill with shelf space extending behind it and off to one side. Unfinished, such an island can run about $3,200 for the 6 foot model and $3,700 for the 8 foot. If you want the finished model, tack on another $300 or $400 to those prices. Expand the island and the counter space to 9 or 10 feet for perhaps $200 more.

But those are all straight designs. A crescent design may be more to your liking, with the shelf space intersecting the main housing at an angle that makes them easier to reach and defines the cooking area better. The pricing is similar to the straight models mentioned above. Indeed, since grill island are designed to be modular, you can mix and match. Put an angle shelf on your left and a straight extender of your right if that's what best fits the space you have.

You can bring the shelving in at 90 degree angles to enclose the space even more and make the counter space easily reachable from any point. Or you can simply have a shelf at a right angle on one side and tuck the whole unit neatly in a corner. This design can have a small footprint, leaving most of your deck or patio useable, yet it provides a big payoff in terms of functionality.

The countertops can be made from durable ceramic or porcelain tile. The whole ensemble should be weatherproof, of course. That means you can keep grilling even in the colder months when your neighbors have wheeled their barbecue grills into the garage to wait for next summer.