Our 10 Top Tips for Planning Your Outdoor Living Space and Outdoor Kitchen
Today’s post is all about our 10 top design tips for you, if you are considering designing an indoor outdoor living area and/or kitchen, for your own homes, (or hiring a designer to help you do it), which you’ll find at the end of the post.
As I was planning this post, though, I started thinking about my personal favorite outdoor living space and outdoor kitchen, and it’s our family’s camp in the Adirondacks.
It’s pretty basic, but that’s what old camps are.
Each evening (when it’s not raining) we grill dinner over an open birch log fire…
As I thought about my own favorite place, I began thinking back over some of the indoor outdoor living areas and kitchens we’ve designed for our own clients.
About 10 years ago, we designed an intimate outdoor living space for a couple – almost *city garden* in its aspect – as part of a carriage house renovation. A years after the project was completed the client added an outdoor kitchen.
It is furnished with Summer Classics Provence Collection, complementing the refined French influenced interior. Note the small fire pit just beyond the chaise lounges on the right. The outdoor kitchen surround can be seen through the tree trunks on the left.
The patio overlooks a small water feature and brook. The sound of running water is so calming.
Fast forward to today…
In the past two years, we’ve been involved with three outdoor living area/kitchen area projects. The first was for a family with four young, very active children in Acton, part of the western suburbs of Boston.
The entire project was completed in four phases, spanning three years, with the patio/outdoor living area/kitchen/grille being the second phase. The family entertains regularly and the home is the social center for neighborhood kids after school and summer. The outdoor living area is spread around two sides of the pool between the main house and the pool house to accommodate the “crowds”.
The pool house has a full kitchen and seating area just inside and much of the outdoor activity moves back and forth between the pool and the poolhouse. Because of the nearby kitchen, the only outdoor kitchen feature was the addition of a high quality grille.
The casual seating area overlooking the pool was done using another favorite of ours, the St. Tropez Collection (discontinued), by Grange. The two lanterns in the bottom right of the photo below are from Janus et Cie. Toss pillows are custom designed by Sally, using fabric from Old World Weavers/Stark.
To the left of the patio is this outdoor eating area. Our clients love not having to worry about any of the fabrics and furnishings – knowing they were all chosen to stand up to the activities of their four young children.
Subsequently, we designed the family’s summer home on Cape Cod, which was designed by fellow New England Chapter ICA&A member, architect Ivan Bereznicki. (Click the link here to see the recently published article about this home in Cape Cod Home magazine.) The outdoor living area stretches across the back of house and on the deck above the sun room.
We could have combined the seating and eating area on the right side of the terrace, in front of the kitchen, but it would have felt too crowded. Besides, what’s summer if it’s not for easy, gracious living?
So, logically, we put the eating area just outside the kitchen with its large french doors. Once again, only a grille was needed, as an extension of the kitchen. (We New Englanders are so practical and pragmatic!)
Sally turned to Summer Classics to furnish this area and the fire pit. Chairs in the dining area are from their Athena Collection with fabrics from their Outdoor Collection. The table is natural unfinished Teak.
The sunroom furnishings are Lloyd Flanders with their standard off white fabric. (We were on a very tight schedule…) Pillows by Go Home Ltd. offer additional comfort and the round, white end tables from Global Views offered the perfect height for a *set your drink down* table.On the other side of the sunroom, we arranged a seating area and fire pit. As the sun goes down, it’s the perfect spot to gather and continue after-dinner conversation. The comfortable lounge seating is from Summer Classics London Collection and the coffee table is from their Club Collection. The toss pillow is custom using a Thibault fabric. (One of Sally’s nicknames is The Pillow Lady…)Our most recent project is in a suburb just west of Boston. As part of a larger landscape architecture project, Sally worked collaboratively on the terrace furniture layout with fellow New England Chapter ICA&A member and landscape architect Dan Gordon. Once again, Sally turned to Summer Classics, mixing product from their Sedona, Athena and Club Collections.
We LOVE how you can mix and match with their product!
I particularly liked this project because we came full circle, back to a real wood burning fireplace, although a much fancier one than the one in our family camp. Nothing can match the smell of a real wood burning fire – except maybe freshly baked chocolate chip cookies! Even in this quick snapshot, you can feel the intimacy and coziness we sought to achieve for our client, based on their request of us to do so.
Sally and I have been long time admirers of Dan’s sense of scale, use of foliage for color, texture and lighting as seen in the image below. What a wonderful place to spend a summer evening!
As I worked on this blog, images of a full working outdoor kitchen remained elusive until I approached ICA&A New England Chapter President and Principal of Andreozzi Architects, David Andreozzi, who had recently designed a home on the Rhode Island coast with a poolside outdoor kitchen. WHEW!!!
I love how the grille is tucked discreetly away around the corner from the dining table, while the fridge, sink, dishwasher and storage are tucked inside the bar area, protected from the weather. Check out the seating under the pergola on the left! Heaven!
With gathering space like this near the pool as well as poolside, I’d venture a guess this indoor outdoor living space sees a lot of summertime activity! I am delighted to share with you that David’s project was published in Period Homes this past fall and more recently on New England Living’s television program. He has orchestrated a masterful renovation of an old classic New England shingle style home!
- Understand the intended use of the space and subsequently how much space it will occupy. Is it for entertaining larger groups or for quiet contemplation?
- Proximity to the house, especially if you plan to only install a grille.
- Is sun and or shade important. Maybe both?
- Consider the surface materials you will be using in the seating areas, cooking areas and countertops. Remember, in New England, we have freeze/thaw cycles, which affect installation. I like a high quality stainless steel countertop. It’s easy maintenance and it is mechanically fastened to the base cabinet, so it won’t move.
- Wood or metal frame seating. Teak weathers beautifully and is more casual. Metal is more durable and there is more variety in styles to choose from.
- Fabric needs to be fade and stain resistant, such as Sunbrella.
- In New England, ideally, appliances need to be under a roof of some sort to protect them from the weather, moisture and again the freeze/thaw cycle – as much as possible. Sitting outside under several feet of snow all winter will only encourage rust and shorten the lifespan of the appliance..
- If you plan on the full complement of appliances – fridge, sink, grille, warming drawers, etc. remember the kitchen work triangle!
- And finally, grille placement and care. Place the grille so smoke doesn’t blow into the house… As Smokey the Bear said, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” so be sure your gas line connections are tight, the grille burners are clean, etc.
- Adding a fire pit, heat lamps and outdoor lighting will extend the season in New England and add a great deal of ambience and charm to your outdoor living space.
With these points in mind, if you go back through the images in this post, I hope you will see how Sally and I (and David ), took all of these points into careful consideration for our clients when designing their indoor outdoor rooms.
We hope they will help you, too! Cheers!
Enjoy your summer!
If Sally and I can help you with any aspect of the design of your indoor outdoor living area and kitchen,please don’t hesitate to contact us via the contact form on our website, here:
Or, if you’re not sure if you need to hire an interior designer, please, give us a call. We’d be happy to chat.
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