Carl and Lynne Steffens loved spending time in their Northern California backyard, so the desire for a built-in barbecue area was natural.
They couldn't find a premade model to meet their needs, though, so they built an outdoor kitchen themselves and made it a family project by including their four young daughters ― Sophia, Helena, Isabel, and Caroline ― in the process.
Carl and Lynne, both of whom had minimal building experience, researched and planned the project, incorporating the girls' ideas about the barbecue area's look and features.
When construction began, the girls ― then ages 4 through 8 ― helped shop for supplies, assisted Carl while he built ("He always needed at least one assistant to hold things," says Lynne), and photographed the project's progress.
The barbecue area took two months of mostly weekend and evening work. It includes a barbecue, sink, bar, and storage space along with gas, electricity, and plumbing lines.
The area shares a wall with the kitchen, making it easy to talk and pass food and dishes through a connecting window.
Now the built-in barbecue is family central. "We have a rotisserie, a vegetable cooker, and a griddle," says Lynne. "With the warmer weather, we use the barbecue about four nights a week. The girls like to sit outside for breakfast on the weekends."
Barbecue unit: $750
Sink and fixtures (including cabinets): $500
Watr/electric/gas lines: $75
Framing (concrete blocks, wood framing, backerboard):$750