How do you fit an outdoor kitchen and dining porch, mudroom, lap pool with a waterfall and a patio into a 5,600-square-foot yard when a detached garage already occupies a significant portion of this total area?
Designing the culinary oasis that won Silver in Qualified Remodeler’s 2010 Master Design Awards Outdoor Living category was “like solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle,” according to Donna Southwick, architect with Home ReBuilders, the Atlanta-based firm that provided design/build services for this project.“We needed to fit all the pieces cleanly together, so it didn’t look like this addition was just tacked on.”
Fortunately, the homeowners had a clear vision. As busy professionals who travel frequently, they enjoy using their home to the fullest when they are in town. They wanted a well-designed outdoor space where they could cook and dine al fresco, entertain guests, relax, or simply plunge into a pool to cool off after a long hike or bike ride. They also needed to add a mudroom and expand their breakfast room to make it more usable.
Connecting Outdoor Spaces
The existing 1920s-era home had been altered in the past, resulting in an interesting collage of forms and materials. The exterior cladding blended dark-red and slate-gray brick with a lighter gray stucco and white wood trim. A 2-story addition loomed over a short, elevated deck that created an awkward transition from the house to the backyard. An exterior staircase providing access to the basement had to be preserved and a side-yard setback respected. These constraints dictated where two edges of the new porch had to be located.
“We were intrigued by the opportunity to use a creative palette of materials to better connect the home to the backyard while smoothing the flow between the interior and exterior spaces and providing plenty of room for the homeowners to cook and entertain,” says Bill Bartlett, Home ReBuilder’s owner and account manager for this project.
The design addresses these goals by masterfully using a variety of stone, optimizing the layout and configuration of outdoor spaces, improving the efficiency of circulation and using lighting appropriate
for the activities occurring in each area.
“Like many houses in [its] Morningside neighborhood, this home has a granite foundation,” Southwick explains. “So there was a strong precedent for using stone to connect it to the earth.”
Selecting stone with colorations and textures that complemented the brick, stucco and new stainlesssteel kitchen equipment was critical. The stone work on the pool walls was completed by a separate pool contractor so an exact match was required for the patio and reconstructed pathways. The kitchen countertop and wall cap are granite. Bluestone was used for the porch’s floor and step risers, and stacked fieldstone was used for the vertical surfaces of the porch and steps.
“The clients wanted more texture and pop on the front face of the appliance island,” Southwick says. After reviewing a range of samples, they chose a stone tile that worked well with the stacked stone base of the porch. The stone tile came premounted to 12- by 18-inch sheets of rigid board that had to be meticulously fit together to ensure the finished surface was seamless, making the stone tiles appear as if they had been laid one at time.
To comply with code and appliance-installation requirements, the base of the counter was constructed using noncombustible steel studs and cementitious panel board. The stone tile boards then were adhered to this substrate.
Matching the existing exterior finishes also proved challenging. “Brick is used everywhere in Atlanta so we had a lot of options,” Southwick says. She reviewed these options onsite with the clients to pick the best match for brick and mortar. Because a previous addition prohibited the use of brick for some sections of the exterior wall, the design replicates existing stucco details on two of the walls near the outdoor cooking area.