Home improvement warehouses have been expanding more and more into landscaping specialty items. Fire pits, water garden kits and statuary can be found alongside the standard home and garden bling. It’s no surprise that these stores have been stocking many styles of gas grills for years, but now outdoor kitchens are all the rage.
Who knew having an outdoor kitchen could be so easy? Outdoor kitchens can be bought today – either at a store or online – at a price tag of anywhere between $2,500 and $10,000. There are do-it-yourself kits and preassembled modular units. While I can appreciate the lure of a luxury item at an affordable price – as a designer of outdoor living spaces, I must express a word of caution about purchasing “production line” outdoor kitchens on an impulse.
Your yard is not a showroom. An outdoor kitchen is an extension of your living area. Just like an indoor home remodeling project, your outdoor entertaining area should be approached by design. It is not an island in itself. Positioning and placement is important. Plans for an outdoor kitchen take into account entrance sequencing and circulation. Will there be bar seating with the food preparation station, or will the dining area be separate? Solar orientation is important. Facing the food prep area towards the west, for example, can be problematic for the cook. A lot of entertaining is done after dark. How will the area be lit? Lighting design is a critical feature to consider for both safety and ambience of an outdoor kitchen.
Customizing your outdoor kitchen. There are many advantages to designing a custom outdoor kitchen. With a prefabricated outdoor kitchen, your options are limited. Even when options are available, you are locked into purchasing a specific size and brand of appliance – which may or may not be good quality. It is especially important that outdoor-grade appliances are used when installing an outdoor kitchen in New Hampshire. Engineering the proper size of gas piping and electric service is an important element to consider, especially if you are thinking of adding features to your outdoor kitchen. Customizing your outdoor kitchen space can ensure that you have plenty of countertop space and an oversized sink that will create a work area that is productive and efficient for entertaining.
Hire an outdoor kitchen designer! An outdoor kitchen is a considerable investment in your home. It pays to build something that will last. The architects at Terrain Planning and Design are experienced designers of outdoor kitchen environments. We will work together with you in the planning, permitting for plumbing and wiring, appliance selection and installation process. Even if your “dream kitchen” is not in your “reality budget,” we can design it in stages that make sense, so you can add on elements as your budget allows.
Permeable Pavers: An Important Part of a Sustainable Design in New Hampshire
The buzz about sustainable construction practices in NH has gotten increasingly louder over the past few years. As state and municipal regulations are revised, the requirement to incorporate these practices into site and landscape design projects is growing as well. A fundamental principal of sustainable design is to limit the amount of impervious surface on a site. An impervious surface is defined as any surface that does not allow water to percolate through at a measurable rate. This includes any structural elements of a building plot plan like roofs, driveways, parking lots, walkways, patios and decks. These regulations can affect the size of the building you are allowed to put on a given property, especially on lakefront or shoreline properties in NH.
We are now forced to step “outside the box” when looking at site and landscape design to create solutions that not only follow the new regulations but creatively allow for a property owner to maximize the use of their site. Balancing the impervious and pervious surface percentages is one of the ways Terrain Planning & Design can help our clients construct a larger building or increase the square footage of their addition.
The best way to do this is through the use of permeable concrete pavers. Similar to traditional concrete pavers, permeable pavers are a unit paving system. They are individual concrete pieces that fit together in a modular pattern, which can vary by product. The friction between the contact points of each stone gives the system incredible strength. The difference between permeable pavers and traditional pavers is that the joints (spaces between each paver) are designed to allow water to flow through them. The base for a permeable paver system is a layer cake of clean crushed stone varying in size and depth, depending on the site and volume of water.
These pavers can be used as driveway or parking lot surfaces. They are also well suited for patios or walkways. These pavers come in a wide variety of colors, patterns & textures. They can fit well into both a natural setting as well as a contemporary urban site. The best part is that because they allow water to percolate through them they do not count against your impervious surface tally. In fact, utilizing a permeable paver system can actually reduce the overall impervious percentage on your site.
Permeable pavers are a key factor in sustainable business practices because the stone layers underneath the pavers act as a “filter”- removing oils and toxics substances that end up as runoff in non-permeable pavements like asphalt. This keeps those impurities out of our NH Lakes and streams by “filtering” the storm water on site.
When planning a project it is important to assemble a team of qualified professionals to help you through. As licensed landscape architects, we are trained to help our clients look at the impact of a project over the scale of their whole site, not just the proposed work area. Implementing permeable pavers into your next project may be easier than you think. Give us a call to set up an on-site consultation and we’d be happy to explain the process to you in greater detail.