Cover Feature

Outdoor Kitchens Around the West Sound

Some of the most treasured memories are made on the dock, deck or terrace. Sometimes the subtle details are among a home’s most important — especially when it comes to outdoor living.

Outdoor KitchensA Kitchen for the Love of Grilling

The homeowners love grilling — less fat, less cleanup. This outdoor kitchen was in the plans when they built the home 10 years ago.

The homeowner, Mike Spieker, designed the space and hired Cascade Specialties to build the shell. The selected stone matches the stone in the home’s interior entry. The countertop was a remnant from Creative Countertops, and the faucet was from Home Depot. The rest of the hardware was from the Delta collection at Rich’s Outdoor.

The family is very happy with the result. They grill all year round, including oysters from their beach and spotted shrimp from the canal, which are the favorites of visiting guests. “Our friends love to watch the oysters pop and always note, ‘These might be the best oysters I’ve ever had!’ We cook Dungeness crab on the burner, and that keeps the odors outside,” Spieker says. “We’ve done pizzas, steaks, burgers, rotisserie chicken and veggies too. Grilled asparagus, vegetable kabobs and romaine lettuce are our go-to veggies.”

The team and suppliers:

  • Cascade Specialties
  • Creative Countertops
  • Warfield Masonry
  • Rich’s Outdoor

Outdoor KitchensThe BBQ as the Centerpiece

The owners, Aaron G. Thomson and Sarah R. Wilson, wanted an upgrade to provide aesthetic and functional improvements that made the garden more livable. Wilson designed the space and selected all the contractors, Hughes Custom Masonry, Creative Countertops and Green Thumb Solutions.

The couple matched and extended the existing rock face from the fireplace. It ties that entire side of the yard together aesthetically and provides greater capacity for grilling. The barbecue is the centerpiece of this outdoor living space.

They note that they’re still in the early stages of progress and expect that the backyard will be incredible in another three to four years. But they “absolutely love” the end result so far.

Outdoor KitchensA Dream Outdoor Kitchen

The owners, Nurjan Cross and Jeremy and Ali Cross, were remodeling their deck and needed to lay a new patio, so they just went from there. It’s always been a dream to have one, and they felt like it would complete the project.

Ali Cross was the contractor with help from her father, John Armstrong, who was a general contractor for Armstrong Custom Homes in Kitsap County for over 30 years. For all the appliances, Cross went to and read all the “best” review articles. She made a list of all the pros and cons of each, and they chose from there.

Outdoor KitchensIt was important to the family to have a grill, a pizza oven, a stovetop, a smoker and a charcoal-burning cooking appliance. Cross loves to cook and wanted to be able to still taste all the different flavors.

The family is very pleased with the entire team of professionals who worked on the project, and said they were all great to work with and reliable.

Outdoor KitchensThe selected appliances included:

  • Blaze Premium LTE Marine Grade 32-inch four-burner propane gas grill with rear infrared burner and grill lights — it had great reviews and accessories options, and also has the option of the marine grade. “We are about 200 feet away from the water with a strong wind front that goes right through the barbecue area, so we wanted to protect the material from the weather conditions to help prolong the life,” Cross explains.
  • Blaze 20-inch cast aluminum kamado smoker — they liked that it matched all of the other appliances. The available accessories pieces are also important. “We were excited about this kamado because of the smoking capability and that it is charcoal burning. We are so happy with this purchase; everything we make is so amazing and it’s easy to use,” Cross says.
  • Outdoor KitchensForno Venetzia Pronto 200 33-inch countertop outdoor wood-fired pizza oven — they wanted a wood-fire burning pizza oven, specifically made in Italy. They chose the pronto size because they were happy with making two pizzas at a time and love that it can be used as a wood-fire burning oven.
  • Blaze Premium LTE built-in propane high-performance power burner cooktop with wok ring and stainless steel lid — they wanted a burner for summertime crab boils or game-day chili. “I like the option of the wok ring because it allows for other variety of cooking methods,” Cross says.
  • Solo Stove Bonfire with cast iron wok — the Solo Stove was a great addition to the outdoor kitchen because during the colder months, everyone can be out there and keep warm. “We love to cook using the large cast iron wok. We have made gourmet camping breakfast right in our backyard,” Cross says.
  • Blaze 20-inch, 4.1-cubic-foot outdoor-rated compact refrigerator — Cross chose this refrigerator based on the recommendation of “The lifespan of outdoor refrigerators is variable, so I wanted a quality fridge but also affordable,” she says. “We also purchased appliance protection plans for all the appliances, but especially for the refrigerator.”

Outdoor KitchensThey also selected Blaze for the cabinetry and trash receptacle for quality and aesthetics: They wanted the appliances, cabinetry and trash to be seamless. From Creative Countertops, Inc., they chose granite countertops due to the durability. They went with the “rough” side up for an outdoor, rugged look.

Outdoor KitchensFor the backsplash, they wanted a pop of color and character to the kitchen. The fireplaces inside the home are brick, but they also lived in Kettering, Ohio, which is known as one of the originators in brick home architecture. The family chose the color “Old University” Slim Brick to match the reclaimed brick from their parents’ home that they used for their vegetable planters.

They absolutely love their outdoor kitchen; it feels like an extension of the house. Even on rainy days, the family is out there cooking and spending time together.

Outdoor Kitchens“We love everything for different reasons, but we have been having the most fun with the kamado because of how easy the setup is and how well everything cooks. The heat control is perfect,” Cross says. “Our new love is the versatility of the Solo Stove — our daughters have been enjoying making campfire s’mores for dessert after dinner.”

If you have a dream, don’t give up, Cross advises. “Through the deeps of medical school, a quote that helped us was by Desmond Tutu, who said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.’ I am from a family who built people’s dream homes for a living, so it is important for me to continue that tradition and to create those spaces for own my family. I feel so fortunate to have worked with my father on this project and hope this story inspires others to create their dreams, no matter how big or small the project is.”

The team and suppliers:

  • Barbecue frame, stucco and backsplash | All Masonry Construction, LLC
  • Countertops | Creative Countertops, Inc.
  • Patio | J&M Concrete, LLC
  • Framer/decking | Prime Construction of Washington, LLC
  • Decking material | Arrow Lumber & Hardware Trex
  • Railing | Railpro
  • Electrical | Mathews Electric