The summer kitchen is regarded as the original outdoor-cooking space. Prior to the arrival of electricity, the summer kitchen was used for cooking purposes in warm-weather months. That tradition is being revitalized with the popularity of outdoor kitchens.
Summer kitchens took the shape of small, open-sided buildings or sheds. Typically located near the main house, they were used for all aspects of cooking, including meal prep, canning, pickling and meat processing. Style-wise, they tended to complement other structures on the property. After the arrival of electricity, the need for such structures waned, and they became a part of history.
But, the tradition of the summer kitchen is enjoying a renaissance. Outdoor kitchens have become an integral part of the trend to move summertime living into the great outdoors.
The project seen here exemplifies that trend. The homeowners live on a 20-acre property that includes period-look outbuildings and a scenic pond that is a favorite play area for their grandchildren. Wanting to watch over them, their grandmother would supervise their activities from a nearby gazebo.
Noting how pleasant the area is, she suggested they replace the gazebo with something more multifunctional. The idea appealed to her husband, who always wanted an outdoor kitchen. So, they turned to Renovations by Garman for ideas on how their diverse wish lists could be merged. “They had ideas for its use and function, but aesthetically, we had a blank canvas to work with,” says Fred Heim, who is the company’s vice president of operations.
Fred took note of the period-look buildings on the property and surmised the summer-kitchen approach would perfectly complement them. “We wanted to design something that looked as if it had always been there,” he explains. “It would have looked odd to come up the driveway and see something that looked new,” he adds.
The open-air building looks as if it could be a repurposed farmhouse. Composed of brick and stone, the 18×25-foot structure is outfitted with a kitchen, fireplace (with ovens for making pizza and smoking meat), dining space and sitting areas. A soaring peaked ceiling adds to the spaciousness of the structure. Open doorways provide access to the grounds and adjacent patio. The back of the structure is partially open, providing a panoramic view of the pond and surrounding countryside. The stamped-concrete floor resembles wood planks you would see in a barn. “If there was a project that called for it, it was this one,” says Fred, noting that the overall design made both parties happy. “The design bridged the gap of their ideas,” he says.