610.530.8752

Category Archives: Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor Kitchen – Allentown PA

outdoor kitchen
outdoor kitchen, pavilion, paver patio

The term ‘outdoor living’ is thrown around by people to describe all sorts of exterior projects. An outdoor kitchen in Allentown Landscape company projects can be a key ingredient. I visited a project that may be the ultimate in outdoor living and entertaining. I walked out the back door into a roof covered deck space with an extensive outdoor kitchen on one side and a full bar on another side. From the deck I walked down to a patio with a fireplace and seating walls. This was a truly on of a kind outdoor living space that seemed to have all the possible bells and whistles.

I was first stuck by the quality of the construction materials and the design details. The decking is an exotic Brazilian hardwood called Ipe. Ipe is used to wrap all the framing for the roof and any trim pieces. The bar sheathing is Ipe installed horizontally on the walls. The stainless steel cable railings are sharp details that make a complimentary contrast to the dark woods. The ceiling is vaulted with a tongue and groove pine. The deck appears to be built on a natural stone foundation. Stone is carried up to four feet above the deck floor making a privacy wall on one side. The bar roof area has a standing seem copper roof, and all of the gutters and downspouts are copper. This mix of quality materials made a classic, contemporary design feel and look.

The outdoor kitchen is extensive including a natural gas  grill, a single side burner, storage cabinets, a refrigerator and a warming drawer. The countertop is a polished bluestone that blends beautifully with the natural stone facings on the side and back wall. On the opposite side of the deck, a bar includes a full sink, icemaker, food refrigerator, beverage refrigerator, utility drawers and cabinets. The bar countertop is a buffed stainless steel surface that ties into the stainless steel footrest. The flat screen outdoor television is in full viewing from the bar.

This space is designed for all season use day and night. Being covered, it is protected from the elements. Commercial grade heaters in the ceilings made the space very comfortable even at 40 degrees or less. Ceiling fans help keep the summer air moving to cool the space. Extensive lighting design brightens the entire space. The ceiling holds recessed lighting and pendant lights hang over the bar. Perhaps the most innovative lighting is the LED strip lights under all of the counter edges. These lights illuminate the faces of the kitchen and the bar, and cast soft light into the surrounding areas. Some LED lighting can be rather cold and white, but these were the warm yellow variety and cast a soft mood into the surrounding materials.

A custom natural stone fireplace is oriented adjacent to the deck, oriented to be experienced throughout the outdoor spaces. Natural stone seatwalls on either side help to ground the fireplace while providing some casual seating. A water feature has cooper channels built into the exterior deck walls that pour into a gravel basin with a soothing background sound.

Even though this project was recently completed, the large trees that were installed make it feel like it has been there for a while. Up lighting on the tress make for a dramatic effect and reflect light into the surrounding landscape so it can be appreciated in the evening. Path lights and wall lights complete the landscape lighting and extend uses into the evenings.

I’ve visited a number of great outdoor living projects, but this one takes the term ‘outdoor living’ to the extreme. It seems to have every bell and whistle a family could want. The material choices are exquisite quality, the design details are unique, and the craftsmanship is top notch.

Paver Patio and Timber Frame Pergola Project

pergola, patio, landscape
a quaint backyard landscape in Allentown pa

Timber frame pergola. Garden Design Inc. completed the  timber frame pergola project pictured in Allentown PA, during the summer of 2014. The client contacted us to review ideas for creating a new outdoor living space. She started with the idea of a new patio in her backyard and a place to put a grill. The property had more opportunities for outdoor living than just a patio installation. The first step was to determine the clients budget. Once she expressed an interest in spending more than just a patio would cost, we began to discuss the range of additional project features.

The first constraint was a large cherry tree very close to her sunroom addition. It limited the flow and use of the adjacent space, and it made a big mess in areas she wanted to have patio space. But, it also provided shade. I suggested the possibility of removing the tree and installing a pergola overhead. The pergola would provide some shade and define the outdoor room adjacent to the sunroom. The client liked the idea and thus we added that additional design direction and element. The next constraint was how and where to put the grill. Since she was in the market for a new grill anyway, I suggested a built in outdoor kitchen. Nothing extravagant, just a simple grill station. The built in element would allow for a more unified design.

The client is an active gardener and has an eclectic backyard landscape. The plantings and the elements are organic in form and character with nothing being formalistic. Reflecting that aesthetic, we designed a timber frame pergola constructed with rough, large Douglas fir lumber. The pergola would be constructed in the timber frame approach with mortise and tenon joints, pegs and wood brackets. It will be allowed to turn grey naturally and not be oiled to maintain the yellow, new cut color. The pergola is designed architecturally as an extension of the sun room and the two sliding doors leading to the landscape.

The outdoor kitchen was designed with enough space to function as a grill station and allow for a bar overhang at one end. The overhang bar seating area accommodates two stools so a couple guests can visit with the cook while she is grilling. Or, the grandchildren can eat at the bar while the adults eat at the outdoor dining table. The grill itself is professional quality Delta Heat. Delta Heat grills are a great quality for perhaps the lowest price in the professional grill range. The countertop is granite and a propane line was run tot he outdoor kitchen to eliminate the need to switch grill tanks.

The patio is designed with two levels. The upper main patio includes the pergola area and the outdoor kitchen. The lower patio is oriented to the pond. The client picked a CST ‘Ridgestone’ concrete paver with a natural cleft finish. The edges of the patio have curb stone to hold the planting beds and define the patio form. Outdoor lighting was installed in the step risers and path lights were installed around the patio. Kichler landscape lighting fixtures were chosen by the client.

The end result was a quaint outdoor living space with unique architectural elements to define the use and character. We enjoyed working with the client during the landscape design process and the landscape construction phase of the project.

 

 

Outdoor Kitchens – Overview of Elements & Costs

An outdoor kitchen is a well used addition to any outdoor living spaces. After all, families spend most of their time in the kitchen, so why not get that gathering outside. The outdoor kitchen design can range from a simple grill station to a complex design with all the elements of an indoor kitchen. The biggest factor in the design is the budget so let’s look at the basic elements and costs.

The first element of an outdoor kitchen is the base which will hold the appliances and countertop. The most economical kitchen bases are built on concrete slabs with steel or wood frames and exterior grade sheathing. A higher quality base is built with concrete block on a concrete frost footer. The exterior of either structure can be covered with wood, stucco, tile or stone with natural stone being the most expensive. Expect to spend anywhere from five thousand to fifteen thousand or more on your outdoor kitchen base.

 

Outdoor Kitchne_Allentown Pa
Outdoor Kitchen with grill, sink, side burner, trash drawer and refrigerator.

The range of potential outdoor kitchen appliances is vast, so we will stick to the basics. The outdoor kitchen starts with the grill. If you are going through the expense of building a kitchen, you are going to want a professional quality grill, built with high quality stainless steel, very high cooking heat potential and excellent long term durability.  A medium size high quality grill will cost around three to four thousand dollars. The next requirements are stainless steel cabinetry for utility drawers, trash drawers, and storage space which will add another thousand or so to the project. Beyond those basics, you can add refrigerators, sinks, beverage centers, side burners, griddles, smokers and more spending upwards of fifteen thousand or more on outdoor kitchen appliances.

The last elements of the outdoor kitchen are the countertop and the utilities. Granite countertops are by far the most popular and will cost anywhere from twenty five hundred to sixty five hundred or more depending on the kitchen size. When you add the costs for a licensed electrician and plumber, an outdoor kitchen will cost anywhere from fifteen to forty thousand or more depending on the size and the elements included.

Reasons to Hire a Landscape Architect to Design your Swimming Pool

Landscape master Plan
Landscape Master Plan with Swimming Pool, Pool House, Patios and Landscape Plantings

If you are considering a swimming pool, start by calling a qualified landscape architect or designer who has experience with custom swimming pool designs. If you call a pool construction company first, they will encourage you to install one of the standard pool shapes that are easiest and cheapest to build. The pool company will also encourage you to put the pool in the easiest place to build it. Sometimes those are the right answers, but most of the time some more thorough and professional landscape design attention could be applied to the project. If you are looking for a custom swimming pool that is fully incorporated into your total outdoor living design, then a landscape architect is the right person to work with. However, it is important that you review the designer’s previous work and make sure they have experience with outdoor living projects and custom swimming pools. Not all landscape designers are created equal and many landscape architects have little if any skill with residential outdoor living projects. The most skilled landscape and custom swimming pool designers tend to be associated with landscape design companies who also manage landscape construction projects. The designers and project managers have learned from firsthand experience the elements of design that are most successful in a built project and result in the greatest quality outdoor living spaces.

Once you have hired a qualified landscape designer for your swimming pool project, then it is time to review the elements, character and locations of the swimming pool in relation to the other elements of a landscape master plan. Will an outdoor kitchen be integrated into the project? If so, will the outdoor kitchen be in the swimming pool area of associated with another outdoor living space at the back patio of the house?  Will there be a pool house or pool side cabana either now or in the future? Is the pool meant for lots of family activity and play? If so, then there needs to be plenty of pool decking in various areas around the pool to accommodate outdoor dining areas, outdoor furniture arrangements, chaise lounges, umbrellas and kids toys. Or maybe the pool is a classic design surrounded by lawn and meant as an architectural feature in the garden. Such a swimming pool may be ideal for a swimming pool that is more often viewed than actually used. Will there be fire features around the pool? How does the overall landscape lighting plan fit into the swimming pool lighting plan?

The above questions and concerns are part of the approach a professional landscape designer or landscape architect will take when designing a swimming pool with a client. This approach tends to dig far deeper into the entire range of design considerations required to design the most successful swimming pool project. Then once the pool is designed, the client is open to interview multiple swimming pool companies in order to get the best product at the best price.  Garden Design Inc. has the professional design experience to guide you in this process. Call Frederick and ask to review his portfolio of swimming pool designs and installations.

A review of the Mid-Atlantic Hardscape Trade Show MAHTS 2014 – Sponsored by EP Henry

Outdoor Kitchen & Patio with EP Henry Pavers,
Outdoor Kitchen & Patio with EP Henry Pavers,

EP Henry Incorporated sponsored the Mid-Atlantic Hardscape Trade Show (MAHTS) in Atlantic City, NJ from February 11-13. The trade show offers a wide range of educational seminars tailored to hardscape installation crews, landscape designers and landscape company managers. Approximately fifty vendors attend and set up trade show booths to promote their products.

Much of the show is a marketing platform for EP Henry products. EP Henry paver and wall system products were some of the earliest available in the industry. Though an early innovator, EP Henry products have not kept up in aesthetic appeal when compared to other producers such as CST, Techo-Bloc or Unilock. It seems they have realized this in the last few years and made some positive advancement in both the colors and the styles of the product. In wall systems they have added the 3-length Coventry wall which allows for a variety of block sizes and a much more dynamic character. The 3 piece modular, the Cobblestone & the Bristol Stone are paver systems with an end product that has a character at the higher aesthetic and quality end for paver installations. EP Henry still produces the Coventry paver lines, which for many people look unattractive and outdated. Overall, I see EP Henry moving in good directions. It is not my first choice, but if a client asks for the product I have and will continue to use it.

The vendor line up at the show is limited overall. Focus Industries was there with a display of landscape lighting products. I’ve known these guys for a few years and like the products. Focus Lighting has a wide range of budget oriented LED landscape lighting products. The ratio of quality to price is outstanding and I especially like the Small Ledge LED light (SL-42). Ray Murray Incorporated was there with outdoor kitchen product displays. I have worked with them on FireMagic and Twin Eagles brand orders in the past. The Twin Eagles is an outstanding grill with a very positive price to quality ratio. The company was started by an innovator who helped develop some of the better known company products over the years and recently started his own venture. All products are made in the USA. Aquarius Irrigation was at the show presenting a wide range of products for water features. The aqua bloc system is always a show stopper for an efficient approach to building pond less water features in the landscape.

The education seminars range in quality. Installation oriented seminars tend to get moderate reviews from the field installation teams who attend. I received my International Concrete Paver Institute (ICPI) certification at the MAHTS show during two day long seminars several years ago. Those courses were taught by an especially well qualified concrete paver installation professional and I learned a good deal. This year I focused on internet marketing seminars. They were also taught by an extremely well qualified professional who understood the topic in specific relation to the landscape industry.

Overall, I recommend the MAHTS show for any landscape contractor in the Pennsylvania & New Jersey regions. It is rather inexpensive overall and well worth every penny in my experience. The show is an opportunity to stay current with landscape industry products, knowledge and other professionals in our industry.