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The Neat Retreat: Outdoor Kitchens

Suzanne Oliver
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Photo by Josh Endres, courtesy of GreenSceneLandscape.com<br />A Scott Cohen design.

Images: GreenSceneLandscape.com/Josh Endres. Design by Scott Cohen.

This installment of The Neat Retreat is dedicated to the back yard’s go-to destination — the outdoor kitchen. It’s where all your guests will undeniably gather, awaiting a grilled spread and thirst-quenching cocktail.

For the lowdown on this booming home improvement sector, I talked with Scott Cohen, president and supervising designer of The Green Scene. Based in Los Angeles, this landscape design and construction firm specializes in backyard luxuries such as pools, spas, fireplaces, fire pits and, of course, outdoor kitchens.

“The biggest trend in backyard design is breaking it up into different outdoor rooms,” says Cohen, who has general, landscape and swimming pool contractor licenses. “According to the American Institute of Architects, outdoor kitchens are the largest growing segment of outdoor rooms,” he adds.

“Plus, a husband and wife can agree it’s a good investment. It pays back dollar for dollar, a 100 percent return.” That’s significant considering more and more people are entertaining at home these days.

I asked Cohen, author of 10 design books, an HGTV regular and seminar superstar, to peruse his portfolio and pick his three favorite projects.

The Whole Enchilada

For a family that practically lives outdoors, Cohen built a 900 sq. ft. pavilion enclosing a fully stocked corner kitchen. Pictured above, the stainless steel cabinets flank a full-size refrigerator, dishwasher and sink. One of the counters features a teppan table (which can be used as a grill or griddle), while the other features eight wine bottles melted into the concrete, a specialty of Cohen’s.

Location: Northridge, Calif.

Project Cost: $22,000


  wine bottles melted into countertop

 Wine bottles were melted into the countertop, above.

 The Entertainment Zone

Perfect for busy hosts, this split-level design sits beneath a pergola perched on cream columns. Smooth as glass, the sandstone-colored countertop is made of concrete and crushed glass. There are four distinct zones for prepping, cooking, plating and bartending. The flagship, a 52-inch grill, borders cabinets, a spice rack, marinating drawers and an ice chest. For flooring, Cohen prefers to use sturdy pavers over poored concrete.

Location: Chatsworth, Calif.

Project Cost: $18,000

Photo courtesy of GreenSceneLandscape.com<br />An entertainer's dream.


Photo courtesy of GreenSceneLandscape.com<br />Rope-edge detailing on a concrete counter.

 Rope-edge detailing on a concrete countertop.

 The Blue Lagoon

Cohen’s clients don’t have to venture far from the pool to grab a snack and a cold drink. The tiki bar features a grill and beverage center, while the palapa has a built-in mist system. The countertop has large chunks of colored glass with fiberoptic lights below, making them glow. There’s even a wine-chilling canister built right into the counter itself.

Location: Chatsworth, Calif.

Project Cost: $14,000

Photo by Paul Jonason, courtesy of GreenSceneLandscape.com<br />Tiki bar by the pool.

Image: GreenSceneLandscape.com/Paul Jonason. Tiki bar by pool.


Image: GreenSceneLandscape.com. BlueLagoon Outdoor Kitchen Counter.

 Two of Scott Cohen’s Books


Scott Cohen's Outdoor Kitchen Design WorkbookScott Cohen's The Big Book of BBQ Plans












 Featured image: imging/Shutterstock

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