Creating outstanding outdoor kitchens & entertaining spaces
Featuring C.E. Pontz Sons
Remember when a cookout was essentially limited to firing up a few burgers and steaks on the grill? Thanks to advancements in appliances, materials and design, today’s outdoor kitchens and entertaining spaces have introduced the comfort and amenities of interior spaces to the back yard, beckoning us to join the ranks of homeowners who are living it up outdoors.
Bringing the Inside Out
Kitchens, dining areas, living areas—the spaces that define a home—are now being extended beyond our interiors. Surrounding our homes with functional, open living spaces is a growing trend, according to Joe Nardo, owner of Private Paradise Construction in York (privateparadiseconstruction.com).
While some point toward the economy and fewer family vacations as a possible cause, Nardo says, even with the economy improving, his company is seeing increased demand for these sophisticated outdoor spaces.
“I think it’s a combination of reasons. Homeowners are enjoying more open lifestyles and really want to enjoy all of their home,” says Nardo.
Bringing the family together is also a motivating factor, according to Adrian Kapp of C.E. Pontz & Sons (cepontzsons.com) in Lancaster. One of Kapp’s clients, a gentleman with grown children, built an elaborate outdoor kitchen that his professional chef son could use during visits to his family home.
“Many of our clients are in the 45-to-65 age range. They want a place that their children and grandchildren will enjoy,” commented Kapp.
First Things First
To create an outdoor kitchen and entertaining space that meets your unique needs and lifestyle, thoughtful planning is a must. Consider the number of people you typically entertain, the frequency with which you play host and your budget for the project.
“If it’s just a group of four to six people, an expansive area will make the space seem cold and uninviting. Starting with a number, we can determine the scale of the project,” Kapp says.
Generally speaking, homeowners should keep these spaces closer to the home, according to Nardo. Bringing water to an outdoor kitchen can be costly, so some homeowners opt to forgo the sink. Being close to your indoor kitchen is a matter of convenience.
“Unless you’re entertaining massive amounts of people, you want it as close to the house as possible. Some cold evening, you’ll have a hankering for a steak and you’ll be glad it’s right out back,” says Nardo.
Starting with clear expectations is critical to successful results. Computer-generated design renderings can help eliminate guesswork and delays and ensure your vision is being carried out according to plan, according to Nardo.
Cooking Under the Stars
Ready to take your love of cooking outdoors? Whether your budget is modest or grand, there are a variety of options available, according to Bowman’s Stove & Patio’s Dustin Bowman (bowmansstove.com), whose Ephrata-based company offers appliances and furniture for outdoor spaces. On the high end, today’s outdoor dream kitchens feature high temperature brass grills, rotisseries, icemakers, wine cooling bins and more. In recent years, kamado-style ceramic grills and pizza ovens have gained popularity, according to Bowman.
“The kamado grill allows you to cook your food using wood charcoal over low temperatures to give it that good, smoky flavor,” Bowman says.
For those with a smaller budget, an outdoor grill station with built-in countertops is a functional and convenient solution, Nardo says. Building a block or stone structure around a rolling grill “takes a basic grill to a whole new level.”
Aside from appliances, materials will also drive cost. For a more cost-conscious project, consider a stamped concrete patio versus natural stone or opt for poured concrete countertops over granite, Kapp recommends.
Where price is no object, the sky is the limit. Nardo is currently working on a dream project that includes Brazilian walnut-faced Perma-Panel cabinetry, concrete fiber optic lighting in the concrete countertops and stunning fire and water features with automated controls.
Living It Up Outdoors
Many homeowners are opting for an outdoor living space around a fireplace where guests can gather, enjoy conversation and, in some cases, even take in their favorite movie or TV show.
With some smart planning, homeowners can get nearly 10 months of outdoor living from their space, according to Kapp. In colder months, fireplaces and supplemental heaters take the chill off, while fans and even fine-spray misters keep guests cool during hot, humid summers. To maximize ambience and functionality, Kapp emphasizes the importance of well planned outdoor and landscape lighting. Whether it’s path lighting to encourage the safe passage of your guests or outdoor-rated floor lamps that inject a little interior charm into your exterior spaces, lighting is key.
“It’s often overlooked in budget-conscious projects, but good lighting impacts usability in the evening and provides the biggest ‘wow’ factor,” Kapp says.
Not sure where to start? Dream big. Both Kapp and Nardo recommend conceptualizing your ideal space and approaching the project in stages. Doing so keeps the budget manageable and ensures you’re getting a space that you’ll enjoy well into the future.
This article appears in the April 2013 issue of Susquehanna Style
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