A backyard retreat is made all the more sweet with the addition of a top-notch kitchen
From the moment she and her husband first walked into the West Barnstable house they would come to call home, Michelle says they were certain it was meant to be. “I just knew right away—I saw my future in front of me, filling the house with my kids and their friends and then grandkids,” she says.
As enamored as they were by the property, Michelle and Neil were equally as mystified by something they would discover at the back of the house. An 11-by-20-foot berm of soil was underneath the second-floor deck, in front of a set of windows part of the home’s indoor gym on the ground level. Not only was it unsightly, it also served no purpose—it was likely left there as a result of re-grading done around the house following the deck’s installation. Without all that dirt, though, the potential of the space was easily imaginable.
“We just thought, wow, that would be an awesome bar area and kitchen—it’s right next to the pool,” Michelle says. The existing pool, patio and surrounding lush landscaping had begun to set the scene for summer fun, and the addition of a kitchen here, well, that would make outdoor living truly irresistible.
For an outdoor kitchen fit for a hostess and her many family members and friends, Michelle and Neil turned to Glenn Meader and the design team at Good Life New England, who previously redesigned the West Barnstable home’s interior kitchen, and Ben LaMora of Lineal Inc. to execute Good Life’s design. The result of their work is a luxurious space that rivals many indoor kitchens, and the impressive design won the firms Gold for Excellence in Design in Outdoor Living at the 2018 BRICC Awards.
In developing this outdoor kitchen, it was important to Michelle that it have all of the amenities of an indoor kitchen—she didn’t want herself and her guests having to go inside every time they needed something, since that would require trips up and down the stairs of the deck. Meader divided the program into two cohesive sections—the “entertaining side” on the left, featuring bar-style raised seating for seven, and the “cooking side” on the right, featuring a built-in Wolf grill. Beverages are always at the ready at the bar end, with Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers and an icemaker. A full-size sink transitions the continuing stretch of light gray granite countertop to culinary prep space, and a secondary refrigerator opposite the grill provides storage for meats and other grilling treats.
Expanses of lower cabinetry allow Michelle to store her acrylic ware and cooking equipment. For Good Life New England, custom cabinetry is a specialty. “Our work with beautiful interiors is part of what gives us the strength and the background to be able to create these great outdoor spaces with fine cabinetry,” says Meader. Here, he and the homeowner chose a weathered graphite hue to contrast the white of the house’s exterior trim and decking—providing a laid-back yet sophisticated coastal look. The cabinet material is 100 percent waterproof, meaning this cabinetry will stand the test of time. To help give the kitchen a sense of definition, Joyce Landscaping installed bluestone pavers, which also complement the calming waters of the pool and hot tub just beyond.
Creating a kitchen underneath a deck came with its own unique requirements. A Best by Broan vent hood installed above the grill was key to prevent smoke from gathering and billowing up to any guests who would be hanging out on the deck. “We had the vent hood installed to be able to direct smoke out through duct work, which carries underneath to the far end of the deck where it exhausts and keeps out of everyone’s way,” explains Meader. To conceal the deck’s framing—as well as protect the kitchen from rainwater and foot traffic on the deck—Lineal installed a finished ceiling system. Plumbing work also required great consideration. “It’s a common challenge amongst many of our jobs that we need to create a finished space within a finished space and protect all the existing conditions while we’re doing so,” says Ben LaMora. “In the house, it wasn’t an unfinished basement on the other side of the wall, so any time we were inside or outside, it took some planning to cause the least disruption to the home.” The benefit to working right up against the house, though, was that no separate underground trenching was needed, as they were able to connect the plumbing directly to the home.
Additionally, LaMora and his team had to navigate the allotted size of the space to fit all of the program requirements. “We had to be very accurate with every layout detail—and keep it square and level,” he says. But working with Meader, LaMora knew that wouldn’t be an issue. “We’ve worked with him and the Good Life team so many times that we understand their exceptional planning ability means we can achieve whatever they drew,” LaMora explains. “A lot of times there’s a functional gap between the intention and the actual design, but never with Good Life. Their dimensions were done to a sixteenth of an inch, and they were right every time. So they do a phenomenal job with getting the owner’s vision to fit technically.”
“If a client starts with us and is looking for us to refer somebody that’s a really solid general contractor, we love referring Lineal,” Meader says. “Ben has a wealth of technical experience and resources; he just brings so much to every project I’ve ever worked on with him.” As much as Meader and LaMora enjoyed a rewarding collaboration on the project, they feel equally as delighted to have worked with Michelle. “She’s the warmest, friendliest personality you can imagine,” says Meader. “Oh, she’s the best,” adds LaMora. “She’s so fun. It makes such a difference for our experience when we’re working for somebody who can really appreciate what we’re doing. This is the homeowner that makes you wish for them all to be like her—someone who is totally engaged and into it.”
For Michelle and Neil, this outdoor kitchen now serves as the backdrop of the magical moments they envisioned enjoying with family and friends. The home is just a half-mile away from the beach and ocean at Sandy Neck, and while she and her family still love spending time in the sand, Michelle now doesn’t have to leave her own backyard to find paradise. It’s palpable the shear delight in her voice as she imagines the coming summer—cooking with family, lounging by the pool and dining underneath a sky full of stars, surrounded by the delicate sounds of music playing and waves gently cascading from the hot tub’s waterfall. “It’s just going to be awesome,” she says. “We will literally live outside.”