The owners of this 120-year-old house had a patio, gazebo and a small pond in the backyard, but they wanted to create an outdoor haven that would better integrate their active lifestyle with their pastoral environment in rural Pennsylvania. The space they envisioned would be more functional and also more architecturally distinctive.
Much more than an expanded patio, the result — designed and built by Excel Interior Concepts & Construction — is a living room and kitchen without walls.
Designed at an angle, the kitchen provides an efficient work triangle, says Excel president Jim Mirando.
Building an outdoor kitchen takes careful planning. Construction materials, design and appliances all must be carefully calculated to withstand the weather. Three months of brainstorming with the design team and the homeowners created many different options before construction began.
"Everything we did needed to be fully exposed," says Jim Mirando, Excel's president. "This is not a typical kitchen by any means. A lot of consideration was in making it weatherproof."
The kitchen includes a grill, gas fireplace, sink, refrigerator and icemaker. After Excel removed the existing 361-square-foot flagstone patio, workers had to install all rough-in piping for water, drain lines, gas and electric lines before the new patio could be laid.
Workers buried the new fuel and water lines 3 feet below grade, working around an old septic pipe. They also relocated the drainage field for the septic system to the side of the house. Because of difficulties in running the existing gas line to the side of the house, Excel also buried a 250-gallon liquid propane tank underground to fuel the new gas grill and fireplace.
Excel established a foundation before laying the new 653-square-foot flagstone patio. To create surrounds for the new kitchen and fireplace, Excel built block walls and then applied a stone veneer matching the natural stone around the foundation of the house.
The new sink was built into a redwood cabinet with a porcelain tile countertop. It is fed from an existing outdoor water line several feet away from the patio, Mirando says. The cold water line is ¾-inch copper piping with a 1¼-inch plastic sleeve. The line also serves a 15-inch built-in outdoor icemaker.
To provide hot water, Excel added a 6-gallon instant hot water heater under the kitchen sink. An access pit allows the homeowners to drain the lines to avoid frozen and cracked pipes during harsh winter weather. The 24-inch refrigerator, 15-inch icemaker and 24-inch gas grill slide in and out of the openings for easy maintenance.
Landscaper Joseph W. Levendusky of Harrisburg, Pa., designed and installed the plantings, taking care to work with existing elements. New landscaping elements were blended with the old, such as an existing gazebo. The small pond was reworked. An existing wooden bridge that crossed the pond was removed and a large rock was put in place.
Hard cost of the project was $111,600. The project was completed in six months.