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Posts tagged ‘kitchen design’

10 Steps to a Perfect Outdoor Kitchen

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as published in NW Renovations Magazine’s June/July 2013 issue

Oregon’s brief but brilliant summer months demand to be celebrated with frequent backyard dining adventures. The trouble is, there’s never a great place to prep the meat for the grill… and where do you put the grilled corn while you are waiting for the sausages to finish? A chef with a sunburn is never attractive… and wouldn’t it be nice to have a sink to wash up as you go?

Sounds like it’s time upgrade to a full outdoor kitchen.

Sound intimidating? Here are 10 simple steps to create a beautiful and functional backyard kitchen:

1. Get Oriented. Choose your site to work with the elements. Consider:

What direction does the wind blow? Typically, Portland area winds come from the south & southwest, so screening elements at the southern end of your space will keep your napkins and work utensils from blowing away in a sudden summer breeze.

Where is the sun? East-facing spaces will be cooler in the evening. If your backyard faces west, add in curtains to screen the late afternoon sun.

IMG_5362This east-facing pavilion provides ample shade and the gently sloped roof keeps the area dry and comfortable.

2. Integrate Your Natural Wonders. Carefully consider existing trees and shrubs to ensure you are making the most of their beauty and shade without causing future maintenance headaches from expanding root structures or falling fruits. That cherry tree creates a beautiful show of color in the spring… but will it stain your decking when the leftover cherries come down in the fall?

Chain downspoutRain chains can help manage rainwater runoff and create visual interest in your outdoor kitchen.
Rain chain from www.rainchains.com.

3. Manage Your Rainwater. It’s safest to assume that every surface in your outdoor kitchen will get soaked at some point. Minimize the damage by selecting waterproof surfaces and creating gentle slopes on all horizontal elements to encourage water to drain away from your public spaces and foundation. Great waterproof surfaces to consider include concrete, yellow cedar, stainless steel, stone, quartz or copper for a naturally antiqued look.

Great tileThe tile wall on this outdoor kitchen adds personality and interest… and provides a durable waterproof surface.

4. Create a Utilities Plan. Utilities can be connected to your home’s main supply and waste lines to provide complete electric, gas and water hook ups, but this can get expensive. Another approach might be to use a tank-based propane grill or cooking appliance and to connect your sink to an existing outdoor hot and cold water spigot. Buried pipe connections can route your waste water to an appropriate exterior garden feature or rainwater catch system. Be sure to use phosphate-free dish soap to protect your plants.

IMG_5433Stainless steel counters flank the client’s own Weber Genesis gas grill. Note the integrated vent hood (from Zephyr Essentials) to handle airflow and exhaust. This client elected to install permanent integrated can lighting fixtures for a polished look.

5. Light the Night. You don’t need to invest in a permanently wired exterior lighting fixture to have a festively lit outdoor kitchen. Strings of inexpensive exterior chain lights with colorful shades can add charm and task lighting. Balance your lighting plan with candles, oil lamps and fire pits to keep things warm as the night settles in.

6. Create Airflow. Don’t let your 4th of July feast end in smoky disaster. Be sure your structure’s roof includes appropriate venting for your cooking surface. Prevent mold and mildew on your permanent structures by encouraging airflow around and through the space.

Outdoor kitchen_1A built in bar and metal stools add seating options without adding to the footprint of the space.

7. Consider Seating and Storage. Where will you store your furniture and cooking utensils when not in use? Integrated storage benches can shelter your soft goods while adding flexibility to your seating plan for larger groups. Add a broad ledge to a nearby raised bed to create additional seating that will give your guests an up-close look at your favorite blooms and veggies. A moveable island can be tucked under cover in inclement weather or stationed in the garden on sunny evenings to create an inviting satellite buffet station.

8. Delight Your Senses. Rain chains create soothing sounds… and aromatic herbs in nearby garden beds will whet your appetite for the dinner to come. For the ultimate treat for the senses, add a hot tub tucked halfway under an overhang (to enjoy during inclement weather). Leave the other half open to the stars for those rare clear summer nights.

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This cedar hot tub enclosure featured spiral stair steps and integrated covered dressing area with towel hooks and wood decking for maximum comfort for barefoot feet. The exterior path includes natural stone pavers embedded in pea gravel directing guests around the side of the house.

9. Pamper your Feet. What flooring surface will you provide that will drain well but be gentle on new summer feet? Pea gravel and natural flagstones can be an inexpensive option, but keep in mind that their uneven surfaces can trip up guests at the end of a long evening. One practical but beautiful surface? Exposed aggregate concrete with a dark stain.

10. Frame the View. Finally, what will your outdoor chef have to look at while whipping up that grilled salmon and asparagus? Add keyhole windows to frame secret garden views that can be enjoyed by chef and guests alike. Utilize perforated screens and semi-transparent materials to create interesting perspectives of your favorite garden features while keeping the wind and rain at bay.

An outdoor kitchen can transform your enjoyment of your home during the warmer seasons, expanding your living space and creating an inviting and convenient space for outdoor entertaining.

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From Pattern to Prep Station: Alternative Surfaces for Kitchen Islands

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I love metal patterns!  These are pieces of metal from which pattern pieces have been cut out – for car parts, for machine parts, you name it.

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Imagine a piece of fabric after you’ve cut out a pattern for a shirt, for example. Now imagine it in metal. There you go – same thing as fabric! While I was working on my deck, my friend Shannon brought me a couple of these patterns for use as whatever. Shannon and his partner, Dennis, are car guys, and picked up the metal for me at the body shop they use. What great friends! Then the Arciform guys, artists that they are, turned the metal pattern pieces into part of my deck railing. They look fantastic.

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One day Anne emailed me and asked how I would describe these pattern cutouts. She had a client who was looking for a cool kitchen island, and Anne had an idea for using the metal pattern pieces. I wrote back describing the pieces as per above, plus I attached some pictures from my deck.

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Anne declined to use the photos, saying, Those photos would just confuse people. Thanks Anne!

But last week I ran across something that might help the situation. While at BBC Steel in Canby, I saw several large pieces of metal patterns. It was a sunny day, and I got some good photos. Perhaps these will help Anne illustrate her idea to clients?

I gotta say, if I were re-doing my kitchen now (I’m not, it’s done), and if I had room for an island (I don’t), I think I would use plywood for my island. I’ve been seeing all kinds of cool pics of plywood, like in this slide show in the NY Times. I would use the plywood for the island, and I would cover it with one of the metal pattern pieces. How insane would that be? I confess, I would probably try to do the same with all my kitchen cabinet doors as well, but Anne might put the brakes on that one. Stick in the mud.

Somebody please use this idea for a kitchen island! I’ll be jealous, but that’s OK.

About Nancy Ranchel

Nancy is an accountant who offsets the practicality of her day job with extravagant and outrageous remodeling projects, often involving massive amounts of scrap metal.  In her free time she can be found dreaming up new ways to turn her house into an art installation, digging through scrap heaps, and contemplating a world without plastic. Check out Nancy’s blog here: www.replaceinpdx.com/

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Mid-Century Mahogany

Sometimes you uncover amazing materials in a home restoration… materials that demand to not only be lovingly restored, but honored with new design elements that tie the new and the old into a cohesive whole. That’s what happened when we discovered gorgeous mahogany trims throughout this mid-century modern beauty (that had suffered through some terrible ’70s updates).

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We restored the mahogany details and in the end they inspired a solution to a tricky design problem: How to maximize the visible light and extraordinary views of the great room and kitchen while still providing a focal point that created natural transition between one living space and the next. Our solution? create a brand-new cantilevered mahogany counter that is simultaneously richly luxurious, solid and built to last, but with a profile that feels lighter than air.

You are cordially invited to tour this mid-century beauty this March- it will be featured on the Tour of Remodeled Homes, March 9th and 10th, 2013. We look forward to having you join us!

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