A vacation to Tuscany inspired a couple in Maine to transform their backyard and add a luxurious granite outdoor kitchen. After enjoying the alfresco dining culture in Italy, they wanted to recreate that experience at home. This article explores how their travels motivated them to undertake an ambitious remodeling project and construct a high-end outdoor cooking and entertaining space.
Many homeowners find inspiration for renovations and additions after visiting new places. Seeing beautiful architecture and design in other parts of the world can spark ideas for improving your own home.
For one couple living in southern Maine, a trip to Tuscany ignited their creativity. They marveled at the charming outdoor kitchens made from natural stone materials. Upon returning from their Italian vacation, they decided to build a similar oasis right outside their back door.
Transforming a regular backyard into a Tuscan-style retreat took careful planning and high-quality craftsmanship. The couple worked diligently to add Old World charm through material selection and layout. Their outdoor kitchen became a relaxing destination for cooking, dining, and entertaining.
This article will showcase how travel can influence home design and provide tips for constructing your own gorgeous granite outdoor kitchen. Follow along as we explore this Maine couple’s journey from inspiration to completion. Their story demonstrates how a Mediterranean vacation can transform your perspective and motivate you to create an elegant outdoor living space.
How Travel to Tuscany Inspired the Remodeling Project
This couple from southern Maine spent two weeks exploring the Tuscan region of Italy. They stayed at a villa in the countryside and visited charming villages and wineries. During their trip, they dined at many restaurants with outdoor seating areas.
The alfresco dining culture allowed them to soak up beautiful views and enjoy the warm climate. They were captivated by the rustic outdoor kitchens built from local materials like limestone and granite. These kitchens seamlessly blended with the surrounding landscapes.
When the couple returned home, they saw their backyard in a whole new light. They dreamed of building a luxurious outdoor cooking and dining space reminiscent of those found in Tuscany. Their vacation made them view their home’s potential differently and got their creative juices flowing.
Some key elements that inspired their remodeling plans included:
- The use of natural stone – Granite, limestone, and other native rock formations are common in Tuscan architecture. The couple wanted to incorporate stone into their project for authenticity.
- Open floor plan – Many Italian outdoor kitchens have an airy feel with minimal walls or boundaries. The couple envisioned a free-flowing design.
- Pizza ovens – Wood-fired or brick pizza ovens are quintessential in Italian backyards. The couple decided this would make a delightful addition.
- Alfresco dining – Dining outdoors is integral to the Tuscan lifestyle. The couple wanted to design an inviting area for meals with family and friends.
After being immersed in Italian culture, the couple felt eager to bring elements of Tuscany into their Maine home. Travel was the catalyst that prompted their backyard renovation.
Selecting High-End Materials for an Authentic Design
The couple invested in luxury materials to mimic the elegance of Tuscan architecture. Their contractor helped turn their vision into reality through the meticulous construction process. Key design elements included:
Granite is an extremely popular material in Italian landscaping and design. The couple selected high-end granite slabs for their countertops and accents. Granite is an excellent choice for outdoor kitchens because it is durable, heat-resistant, and weather-proof. The timeless beauty and veining patterns add sophistication.
Stacked Stone Facades
To replicate the rustic charm of Tuscan buildings, the contractor constructed facades from local fieldstone. The uneven and multilayered stone walls provide delightful visual texture. This type of stacked stonework involves an intricate installation process but delivers stunning results.
Travertine Tile Flooring
For the flooring, the couple chose elegant travertine tile with an Old World look. Travertine comes from natural limestone deposits and has a slightly textured surface. This material stands up well to outdoor conditions while imparting warmth and charm. The neutral tones blended nicely with the landscaping.
To complete the Mediterranean look, the contractor covered some wall sections with a hand-troweled stucco finish. The milky beige color matched Tuscan buildings and gave the space a seamless flow. Stucco also withstands moisture and holds up outdoors.
The attention to detail really paid off, as the materials work together to create an authentic Tuscan aura. Their contractor was essential in finding the right stone, tile, and finishes to match the couple’s vision.
Constructing an Open and Inviting Layout
In addition to choosing top-notch materials, the couple focused on an open layout. Their contractor helped sketch ideas to make the space feel welcoming and conducive to entertaining. Some important aspects included:
The outdoor kitchen has roomy granite countertops with an overhang for bar-style seating. There is ample prep space for cooking elaborate meals. The countertops extend to different stations to avoid a cramped galley layout.
Outdoor Pizza Oven
A built-in pizza oven serves as the focal point. Located in the center island, it has a stone exterior made from materials sourced in Maine. Family and friends will enjoy gathering around to watch pizzas bake.
Fireplace and Seating Area
Off to the side, a granite and stone fireplace provides ambiance and warmth. Comfortable outdoor sofas and chairs circle the fireplace, creating an ideal spot for relaxing.
Minimal Upper Cabinets
To keep sight lines open, the couple opted for only a few small upper cabinets rather than a full wall of clunky cabinetry. This maintains an airy aesthetic.
Pop-Up Shade Canopies
For flexible shade options, retractable canopies extend out from the roofline. These canopies allow for sun protection while keeping the layout visibly open.
Thoughtful planning and precision construction enabled the couple’s contractor to build a setup evenly dispersed across the backyard. Everything is easily accessible from multiple vantage points.
Adding Finishing Touches to Complete the Luxury Retreat
After structural work was complete, it was time for the fun finishing touches. The couple scoured decor shops to find accents aligning with their Tuscan theme. Their choices infused personality while remaining elegant and cohesive.
Ornate Door and Window Shutters
Intricately carved wood shutters on the exterior façade add a hint of European flair. These decorative shutters frame two large windows and the arched entranceway.
Stone Fireplace Surround
The fireplace receives a majestic upgrade with a hand-cut stone surround made from a local quarry. This custom masonry surround mimics what you would find in an Italian countryside villa.
Mediterranean-Style Planters and Urns
Terra cotta pottery planters and classic Tuscan urns bring in greenery while complementing the color palette. The planters contain lemon trees, olive trees, and other Mediterranean vegetation.
Hanging Accent Lighting
Iron chandeliers and sconces with a black finish hang above the seating areas. These striking light fixtures resemble pieces found in Italian piazzas and add ambiance once the sun goes down.
Weather-resistant rugs, throw pillows, and draperies in sun-bleached patterns complete the alfresco theme. The textiles incorporate motifs reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside.
Meticulous attention to detail with the finishing selections helps transport guests to the Mediterranean. The couple brought in items with regional charm that align with the overall design scheme. Their vacation memories came to life through the decor.
Overcoming Challenges During the Building Process
Although the outcome was idyllic, the project faced some hurdles along the way. The couple dealt with common setbacks when managing a complex outdoor renovation:
Supply Chain Issues
Global shortages due to the pandemic affected availability of certain materials like stone and tile. This required flexibility with timelines.
Maine’s harsh winter climate complicated things. A heavy snowstorm collapsed part of the stonework facade, requiring repairs.
Permits and Regulations
Local permitting offices had long delays and extensive requirements for site plans and inspections, dragging out the process.
With skyrocketing construction costs, the couple went over budget due to material expenses and additional labor. They scaled back in certain areas to compensate.
Demand for contractors far exceeded supply following COVID shutdowns. Finding an available company with the right expertise was difficult and time-consuming.
Despite unavoidable headaches, the couple remained focused on their ultimate vision. Their persistence led to the breathtaking finished product they now enjoy on a daily basis.
Tips for Constructing Your Own Granite Outdoor Kitchen
Does a Tuscan-style outdoor kitchen sound enticing for your own backyard? Here are some top tips to guide you through the process:
- Take time to plan. Think through your layout, materials, features, and budget thoroughly before breaking ground. Consider consulting a landscape architect.
- Choose durable surfaces like granite, stone, or tile that can withstand the elements. Avoid high-maintenance materials.
- Incorporate a covered area so you can cook and dine outdoors even in inclement weather.
- Factor in ample countertop space and electrical outlets so the area is highly functional.
- Pay attention to sight lines and don’t let bulky cabinets obstruct views.
- Add ambiance with a fireplace, fire pit, or freestanding heat lamps for evening enjoyment.
- Splurge on professional-grade appliances like a pizza oven or grill that will perform well outdoors.
- Adorn with planters, pottery, lighting, and accessories that suit your style. These details make all the difference.
With thoughtful preparation and design, you can create your very own relaxing getaway right at home. An elegant outdoor kitchen provides years of enjoyment for entertaining and savoring lovely weather. Turn inspiration from your travels into reality.
FAQs About Constructing a Granite Outdoor Kitchen
What’s the ideal layout for an outdoor kitchen?
Optimize functionality by planning multiple prep zones including sinks, refrigerators, cabinetry, and grills. Keep traffic flow and open sight lines in mind. Island configurations work well for spacibility.
What factors affect the cost of building an outdoor kitchen?
The main factors are materials, appliances, labor, site prep, permits, and size. Luxury materials like granite and stone raise costs substantially. Expect to invest anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000+ depending on selections.
What’s the best way to add shade?
Consider a wood pergola or trellis, retractable awnings, umbrellas, sail shades, or roll down screens. Make sure coverage allows sun to reach plants as desired. Strategically place for optimal comfort and visibility.
How do I prep the site for construction?
Proper grading, drainage, underground utilities, and foundation prep are crucial first steps. This prevents erosion and allows durable construction. Professional landscapers can assess the site and advise on preparation.
What finishing touches make an outdoor kitchen feel luxe?
Carefully chosen accents like ornamental shutters, woven rugs, accent lighting, and greenery infuse character and charm. Potted lemon trees, herbs, and Tuscan-inspired decor enhance the ambiance.
What are maintenance tips for outdoor kitchens?
Year-round cleaning, sealing, and covering will preserve surfaces and prevent weathering damage. Inspect appliances routinely. Make repairs quickly to prevent costly problems. Use durable, weather-resistant materials.
This Maine couple embarked on an ambitious journey to construct their very own slice of Tuscany right at home. Their travels opened their eyes to the possibilities and inspired them to create an inviting granite outdoor kitchen. Despite some bumps in the road, their persistence paid off with a breathtaking finished product that provides daily enjoyment.
Their story showcases how vacations can expand your perspective and motivate you to view your home through a fresh lens. You may be surprised by the creativity travel ignites. The world is filled with magnificent architecture and design to admire. Let the places you visit stir your imagination and improve the comfort of your own outdoor living space. By making mindful design decisions and embracing top-quality materials, you can blend different regional influences into a personal backyard oasis.