While outdoor spaces have been increasing in demand over the last few years, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many homeowners to prioritize these areas in their renovations. Designer Chris Dreith of the Home Improvements Group in Woodland, Calif., completed such a redesign, which not only involved a cramped kitchen but also the adjacent outdoor space.
Tackling Issues in the Existing Space
While the renovation was done in stages, it was important to plan ahead and ensure that whatever was done during the first phase did not have to be altered in the second phase. The interior was done first.
“The flat ceiling had drywall cracks and was too low, and the second story did not allow for raising the ceiling,” said Dreith, adding that this contributed to the kitchen’s tight feel. “Also, the sun baked that side of the house because the covering over the patio was too shallow to give the area enough shade.”
To open up the kitchen, Dreith first removed the dining room walls and the hallway leading into the space. The patio door was replaced with a wider one to make traffic more comfortable moving inside and out. To keep the heat at bay, the new doors and windows were energy efficient, and the insulation was improved in the walls. The new patio cover has three sections, each with remote-controlled levers that open and close the coverings to control the sunlight during different seasons.
The kitchen ceiling was redesigned to solve several problems. Faux beams were installed to break up the flatness, and the panels between the beams are thin fiberboard that will never show drywall cracks. The ceiling was then painted a high-gloss white to give the illusion of height.
Fine-Tuning the Details
The floor plan of the interior kitchen was expanded when space from a nearby closet was taken and used for the new pantry. The refrigerator and wall ovens were relocated to a side wall, with a coffee station in between – a beverage that was part of the original inspiration for the project.
“The client had complained to me that his granite table was too cold early in the morning to lean on and drink his coffee,” said the designer, explaining that this idea is what started the whole renovation. “To fix this, we talked about installing a heating system under his tabletop.”
It was after realizing how much work it would need that the client decided to go forward with the full renovations. When it came down to selecting products and putting in the details, this issue came up again.
“The heated tabletop stuck in his head, and he was able to convince his wife on the benefits when he told her how nice it would be to use it to make her favorite pizza dough and allow it to raise on the warm top,” said Dreith. “They both love it now.”
The natural quartz island countertop with its underlying heat system covers all three levels of the island: a lowered seating area, a bar-height countertop also for seating and another section at bar height that hides the sink from view. Several outlets are also incorporated into the island. The base cabinets are naturally finished dark wood, while the uppers around the perimeter of the kitchen are painted white to maintain the light and airy feel the clients wanted. The cabinets are frameless to maximize storage space and give the room a contemporary appeal.
A quartz slab above the range echoes the island countertop and is complemented by a white subway tile backsplash. The backsplash is further broken up by a horizontal window under the cabinets to the right of the range; this lets additional light into the space.
Creating the Outdoor Kitchen
Discussing the outdoor kitchen at the same time as the indoor kitchen allowed the design team to save both time and money, as most of the plumbing and electrical for both spaces was done simultaneously. According to Dreith, the only issues with the outdoor kitchen were working around the weather and dealing with some delays in material delivery.
The outdoor kitchen was laid out so the views to the pool from the kitchen were unobscured. The floor of the patio was altered to be only one step down from the kitchen floor level, and accent bricks were included to match concrete and brick work on other parts of the home. The space is complete with a grill, a pizza oven, a sink and faucet and multiple ceiling fans.
“Working with these clients – who were up for all sorts of design suggestions – was fun,” said Dreith. “It also inspired my whole team to brainstorm.”
Backsplash Tile: Crossville
Custom Hood: Modernaire
Floor: California Classics
Hardware: Top Knobs
Heated Tabletop System: Warmly Yours
Light Fixtures: Hubbardton Forge
Main Faucet & Prep Faucet: Hansgrohe
Main Sink & Prep Sink: Rohl
Backsplash: Siberian Blue Stone
Ceiling Fans: Java
Faucet: The Galley Tap
Grill: Fire Magic Echelon
Patio Cover: Apollo
Pizza Oven: Sloan
Side Burner: Fire Magic Echelon
Sink: The Galley Workstation
Wall Lights: Suspense LED