Outdoor Living Spaces & Kitchens

Outdoor living is a fast growing trend in the United States. Many homeowners are beginning to realize that the primary living areas of their homes don't have to be indoors. A well designed outdoor living space can often times be the most utilized area for a family. Furthermore, an attractive outdoor living area is also a great selling point for a home and can significantly raise your home's value. Outdoor kitchens are becoming increasingly popular. The lay-out of an outdoor kitchen depends on your style of cooking from grilling (gas or charcoal), to rotisseries and pizza ovens. Other outdoor kitchen amenities include sinks, concrete countertop prep areas, stainless storage cabinets and small under the counter refrigerators. No matter the area you have to work with, can create a wonderful and inviting Outdoor Living area for your friends and family to enjoy.

Backyard Retreats

With the right designs, you can transform your backyard into a private retreat. It can be as simple as a quiet sitting area to unwind peacefully in the fresh air after a long day cooped up in the busy office. Or maybe you want to vacation in your own back yard by creating a complete outdoor living oasis with everything you would need for hours of outdoor activity. Start by considering the needs and desires of your family to determine the right design approach for your personal retreat. Do you need a comprehensive plan that accommodates the kids and their friends as well as an entertaining space for the adults? Or is it going to be more of a private retreat for you and your spouse. Once the scale and scope of the project are determined, it is time to consider the elements that will be included.


Choosing the right ‘Earth’ elements will help you create a backyard retreat that fits your lifestyle. Unlike the process of creating your ‘public’ entry gardens, your backyard retreat is not nearly as constrained by the style of your homes architecture or the neighborhood. You may live in the northeast but want a tropical or Mediterranean feel in your landscape, so use your ‘Earth’ element choices to achieve your goals. For example, choose plants with large, loose, colorful and informal foliage. And pick a paving stone such as travertine which is more common to the southern and Mediterranean regions. Use large pots and urns throughout and fill them will exotic oversized annuals. Or perhaps you prefer to create a traditional style with boxwood and rhododendron, bluestone paving, and natural stone walls. Define your theme or concept, and then pick your organic and inorganic earth elements to successful achieve your goals.


Fire in the landscape design draws people with its undeniable attractions. Whether it is the lure of the warmth on a chilly evening, the rich fragrances of a meal on the grill, or the visual attraction of flames and glowing coals, a fire is bound to enrich your backyard retreat. A built in fireplace with create a gathering location and define a significant architectural element in your backyard retreat. Or maybe you prefer the subtlety and flexibility of a portable fire pit. Designers and manufactures have vastly expanded the opportunities and characteristic of fire elements in the landscape in recent years with creative stand-alone fire pits and unique gas flame features. If you want to include a fire element in your retreat, there is bound to be one that will work for you desires and budgets.


The gurgling sound of a bubbling fountain, the organic character of a naturalistic pond or the recreation and relaxation of a swimming pool can become part of your backyard retreat. If you are considering a stand-alone fountain, you will find a vast range from old world European to modern contemporary style to fit your preferences. These items can become a sculptural accent in any backyard retreat. Or maybe you prefer a naturalistic pond with waterfalls reminiscent of a country creek with fish and water plantings of all sorts. A swimming people can provide an attractive and active central water feature to build your entire backyard retreat around. Design your pool to accommodate both your practical use desires and style preferences. In cold climates, keep in mind that a pool will need to be winterized and covered. If this seems like an eyesore to you, consider placing your pool in a location that won’t be in central views from the home.

Outdoor Kitchens

It is a beautiful evening, you are gathered outside with family & friends, relaxing on the patio and cooking a meal. Since everyone tends to congregate in the kitchen, when the weather is nice why not take that experience outside to enjoy the fresh air and scenic views. Add an outdoor dining space and you are ready for an entire evening of outdoor entertaining or just relaxing with family. Does this sound like a dream come true to you? If so, it’s time to start asking yourself the questions that get the project started. The first questions are where you would use an outdoor kitchen and how you would use it. Do you imagine a simple grill station near the indoor kitchen or a fully outfitted kitchen out by the pool? Do you want a dining area for a family of four or large enough to entertain fourteen? What types of materials and styles to you tend to prefer? And most importantly, what is your budget? The sections below will help you start answering those questions.

How do you imagine using an outdoor kitchen? What do you need and want to make that happen? These are questions to ask yourself in order to establish your kitchen design ‘program’. How often will you cook outdoors? What will you cook? Will a grill station with countertop accommodate your needs? Or do you desire a fully outfitted kitchen with a refrigerator for food & beverages, a sink for food prep and cleanup, a side burner for stovetop cooking, a grill and more?

The Location

Once the program is established, the next question is where best to locate the kitchen. The program will influence that decision. A person who wants a simple grill station may prefer that be conveniently close to the indoor kitchen. A fully outfitted kitchen with a dining space could be located a little further from the house as it will function more independently from the indoor kitchen and dining. The homes architecture can influence the location choice. Does the homes footprint provide a convenient spot to nestle an outdoor kitchen? The site itself may dictate the right location. Is there an area of the property with privacy and wonderful views of the surroundings where you may want a destination outdoor living space? Are there environmental constraints such as existing trees or steep hillsides? Is the kitchen intended to supplement activities by a pool? The program, the site and a families projected patterns of use will determine the right location for your outdoor kitchen.

Kitchen Form & Style

Good kitchen design form starts with a focus on the work triangle that facilitate the flow from cooking surfaces (grill & cook top) to prep & cleanup surfaces (the sink) to food storage locations (the fridge). The four standard layouts are the galley shape, the L shape, the U shape & the G shape. Establishing a clear program will help determine the appropriate form. The style of your kitchen stems from your personal preferences and the style of the home. You might prefer Tuscan European design stylings with stucco and travertine detailing. Or, you may live in a farm house and want a more rustic stone kitchen. will help you transform your preferred forms and styles into a timeless design.

Appliances & Accesories

The grill is the first and foremost appliance in an outdoor kitchen. If you are building a permanent outdoor kitchen, stick to quality grills with high grade stainless steel, large cooking surfaces and outputs of 50,000 BTU’s or more. You may also want to add features like infrared searing or rotisseries. If you prefer BB-Q flavor you could augment your grill with a smoker or kettle type ‘charcoal’ cooker. Add a side burner for indirect cooking (i.e. stove top) and you can cook a variety of skillet, sauce pan, or deep pot dishes. Warming drawers, refrigerator, sink, storage drawers, and the list goes on. Be prepared to pay more for quality outdoor appliances than you would for indoor appliances. has worked with a variety of outdoor appliance brands and will help you decide which brands are right for you.