Tips for mak­ing the most of liv­ing al fresco

The Palm Beach Post - Residences - - News - Deb­bie Travis

Ques­tion: We are sell­ing our sum­mer cot­tage this year, as the week­end com­mute has be­come crazy. Our back­yard has enough space for a small pool and an en­ter­tain­ment area. We’re won­der­ing what’s new in grilling.

An­swer: There has been a def­i­nite shift to­ward build­ing a back­yard oa­sis over the past 10 to 15 years. In­creased fuel costs and traf­fic con­ges­tion as well as more work hours for both par­ents have caused many of us to re-eval­u­ate how and where we spend our down­time. With this change has come a surge of in­ter­est in build­ing out­door fire pits, su­per grills and pizza ovens. Now is the time for you to make your dream list of what you would like to see out­side your back door. Ex­te­rior build­ings and pools re­quire per­mits; you want to be sure to meet your area build­ing codes for elec­tric­ity, fuel and wa­ter. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s best to hire a pro­fes­sional de­signer/con­trac­tor to en­sure you are mak­ing the best long-term de­ci­sions.

I con­ferred with Joanne Bloye, head de­signer at Out­door Lux­ury, about what to­day’s out­door kitchens are look­ing like, and how best to plan your own space. They cre­ate fab­u­lous out­door kitchens from the de­sign stage to the fi­nal set-up and have the in­side track on the best prod­uct lines and add-ons that make cook­ing and en­ter­tain­ing out­side a treat. Learn what’s avail­able, from the grills, side burn­ers, in­frared burn­ers, ovens and warmer draw­ers to sinks, fridges and drop-in cool­ers built into your counter. Visit their web­site at www.out­door­lux­ury.com. Be aware of the im­por­tance of qual­ity; in­vest in the best you can af­ford, and look for ex­cel­lent war­ran­tees on grills.

You may choose to build a kitchen or ca­bana away from the house, be­side a pool or wa­ter fea­ture. The lo­ca­tion of the kitchen is the first con­sid­er­a­tion, as all the plumb­ing and elec­tri­cals have to be built in. Your out­door kitchen walls can be stone, wood, stucco or a com­bi­na­tion of ma­te­ri­als that com­ple­ment your home’s ex­te­rior. Bloye notes that the wa­ter­fall coun­ter­top style is very pop­u­lar, as is gran­ite for fac­ing. In­clude some seat­ing, such as a bar on the far side of the counter. This is a glam­orous new room where you and your friends and fam­ily will gather, just like your in­door kitchen.

Porch di­vider

Ques­tion: Have you any ideas for set­ting up a di­vider be­tween front porches? The houses on our street are very close to­gether. I’d like it to look good from both sides.

An­swer: Think about build­ing a live di­vide. It can be a wall of ivy or flow­er­ing vines grow­ing up a lat­tice frame­work. Or line up a row of slen­der bam­boo trees planted in con­tain­ers. They grow quickly, are easy to man­age and can be en­joyed from all an­gles. Space be­tween trees al­lows the sum­mer breezes to drift through. If you pre­fer to have a solid di­vide, look for bam­boo screens. They are flex­i­ble and can stand on their own or propped up be­hind a bench. If wind is an is­sue, hook the screen to the top and side of the porch. Talk to your neigh­bors and see what ideas they have. It’s for ev­ery­one’s ben­e­fit.

The lo­ca­tion of the kitchen is the first con­sid­er­a­tion when cre­at­ing your out­door oa­sis, as all the plumb­ing and elec­tri­cals have to be built in.

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