When we go out to play these days, we can take the indoors along
BY CHARLYNE VARKONYI SCHAUB
We may support opposing political parties, go to different restaurants, shop for luxury over bargains. But there is one thing we can agree on here: We love living and playing outdoors.
The economic turndown of the past couple of years has fueled a desire to create a veritable vacation vibe in our backyards. Fire bowls and fireplaces. Outdoor kitchens fit for a gourmet cook. Comfortable settings for al fresco dining.
These amenities can be expensive, but they can mean a higher selling price eventually for your home. A pool, for example, can increase a home’s value in the Southeast by 5 to 10 percent, according to a review of 28,000 homes conducted by real estate professors at Florida State University. The National Association of Home Builders estimates outdoor kitchens can add as much as 130 percent of their cost to your home’s value.
Slip off your shoes, and come with us on a tour of the new backyard.
South Florida homes built in the 1970s and ’80s don’t reflect the obsession we have now for outdoor kitchens and pools fit for a five-star resort.
That’s one of the reasons mere renovation may not do. A house originally built in the late 1970s in North Palm Beach’s Lost Tree Village was torn down because it didn’t have not enough planned space for outdoor living and had structural problems, ceilings that were too low and small rooms.
Michael Conville of Beacon Construction in North Palm Beach says the challenge was to keep within the footprint of the house because of the lot’s size restrictions. The client, who also has homes in Boston, Cape Cod and Spain, requested plenty of space for outdoor entertaining with a traditional style façade.
The solution was to build a 5,500-square-foot home with Tuscan columns, a pediment with an elliptical window, French doors, and a pool that fits the architecture as well as plenty of covered space for outdoor entertaining near the pool.
“The client entertains a lot outside,” says architect Harry Gandy Howle of Harry Gandy Howle Architects in Vero Beach. “In our designs, we try to create a seamless transition between indoors and outdoors for the Florida lifestyle.”
The design also features a courtyard off the kitchen with an outdoor kitchen and a dining area and seating off the master suite. An outdoor fireplace was another must have.
Outdoor fireplaces are becoming a standard feature in many upscale homes, he says.
“A fireplace has become a nice feature to break … the cooler Florida nights during the winter,” Howle says. “They become a central element of the outdoor area, a focal point similar to a fireplace in a living room.”
The geometric pool, which allows laps as well as wading, has a negative – or vanishing – edge.
“As you walk into the house, it looks as if the pool goes right into the lake,” Conville says. “It’s amazing.”
Other homeowners are opting to renovate existing pools. Renovations cost less than building a new pool and make the view from the house more appealing.
Owners of a single family home in Boynton Beach had an appealing waterfront view, but the pool didn’t add to the outdoor ambience. Cliff Freyman of Cliff’s Pools & Patios in Sunrise says the major problems were thick precast coping that detracted from the attractive curved shape of the pool, lackluster gray pavers and water that looked green.
“It just didn’t make any statement,” Freyman says. “The waterfront is the focal point of the home. All of the windows look onto the pool and they wanted to create an ultimate, elegant, pool and deck.”
Freyman and his crew transformed the pool with a state-of-the-art gold travertine deck, which literally vanishes into the pool allowing the attractive curves to show. New tile was installed on the pool border and on the existing hot tub. The pool was resurfaced in an Island Blue finish to give the illusion of blue water. A typical renovation like this is about $20,000.
“It was a standard pool with a standard spa, the norm in South Florida,” he says. “A renovation can turn a very ordinary pool into extraordinary. For a moderate amount of money, it can be as dramatic as any kitchen makeover.”
Money typically is no object for high-end construction, and the pool at Onshore Construction’s 10,500 square foot model at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter is no exception. Pool builder Earl V. Stephens Jr. of ES Unlimited Waterworks in Palm Beach Gardens included some in-demand features, such as a pair of fire bowls, four arching jet streams on each side, a spa and an infinity edge.
Outdoor living rooms
Jennifer Clark of Decorators Unlimited and the designer of the Bear’s Club model in Jupiter, used the detailed fireplace by Precision Cast Stone as the focal point of the lanai, which is off the main family room and kitchen.
“I wanted to use a warmer palate and I thought the coral was very inviting,” Clark says. “The furniture is transitional in style and is reminiscent of a klismos chair, a rendition of a classic yet fun.” (The chairs are from Lane Venture.)
She selected accessories with an Asian flair – carved Buddha heads and pierced metal candlesticks.
The space, which has a tongue-and-groove clear cypress ceiling and mahogany shutters under the arches, also has a bar and outdoor kitchen.
Alene Workman of Alene Workman Interior Design got involved with decorating an 11,000-square-foot house in the Bear’s Club from the drawing of architectural plans.
The clients, a snowbird couple with five children and several grandchildren, wanted the home to be designed to accommodate their extended family.
“They wanted the outdoors to feel part of the interior space and have the inside and outside coordinate as far as quality and look,” Workman says. “Everything had to function and make sense, yet she wanted a very beautiful look. It has a Balinese influence without been overtly Asian.”
The owners, golfers who are prominent in philanthropic circles, wanted to have a place where they could bring friends and host social gatherings.
Workman’s choice for flooring was coquina stone accented with Mexican river tile inserts to define the covered area. The client wanted to seat eight to 10 people so Workman designed the conversation area with two sofas and big lounge chairs. The sofas are Brown Jordan and the chairs came from Heltzer, a manufacturer now out of business. A pair of towel racks that match the Heltzer chairs make drying off after a dip in the pool easier.
“The upholstery contains foam that allows water to drain through,” she says. “Even though it’s a covered area we know that rain travels horizontally in Florida and everything gets wet. We wanted it to dry quickly.”
Behind the sofas are console tables for serving a buffet. The covered area also has a bar near an extensive outdoor kitchen. A large flat-screen television is recessed into a niche.
“It really becomes an outdoor playground,” she says.
Kitchens fit for a chef
Allied Kitchen & Bath’s Rob Feinberg worked with his Fort Lauderdale clients to create an outdoor kitchen on an uncovered patio. The client supplied the Viking grill, U-Line refrigerator, Hoshizaki ice maker and custom-made, wing-shaped sunshade. Feinberg’s job was to layout the kitchen, select cabinets and countertops.
Feinberg’s challenge was to alter the design because building officials wouldn’t let him build a bar-height concrete wall. He placed the kitchen at the corner of the patio and used Atlantis custom cabinetry, a solid marine-grade polymer capable of withstanding sun and rain. The countertops are black Caesarstone, a quartz product that is less porous than stone.
“The main thing to consider with an outdoor kitchen is the placement of the barbecue grill,” Feinberg says. “You have to make sure you follow the specs of the appliance. They show different clearances and how close they can be to cabinetry. You also want the barbecue far away from the house unless it is under cover and has a vent hood.”
Outdoor kitchens are becoming a must for high-end homes, according to Mark Chadwick of Coral Springs Appliance. The majority of the company’s sales are to builders, architects and designers.
“We have seen a lot more outdoor kitchen sales,” he says. “If higher end builders are not putting in outdoor kitchens, they are at a disadvantage for big, luxury homes. It has become a standard part of the package.”
Chadwick says a top-of-the-line brand such as Viking or Wolf can easily cost $6,000, but the quality is good and it will last a long time.
“People will come in and see me looking for a cheap grill,” he says. “They tell me they saw something at Home Depot for $400. I have seen builders put in cheap grills and usually people have to replace them within a year or two.”
Often a grill isn’t enough. People often add side burners and refrigeration. One of the popular new additions is the teppanyaki grill, a large stainless-steel hotplate that you can cook on like chefs do at Japanese restaurants. It can be put either into the center of a table so guests can grill their own food or into a countertop. l
Mark Chadwick: Coral Springs Appliance, 3500 Coral Ridge Drive, Coral Springs, 33065, 954-752-3880, www.csappliances.com.
Jennifer Clark: Decorators Unlimited, 4700 Riverside Drive, Suite 100, Palm Beach Gardens, 561-625-3000,www.decoratorsunlimited.com.
Michael Conville: Beacon Construction, 648 US Highway1, North Palm Beach, 33408, 561-845-5130,www.beaconconstructiongroup.com.
Rob Feinberg: Allied Kitchen & Bath, 616 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33311, 954-564-1611, www.alliedkitchenandbath.com.
Cliff Freyman: Cliff’s Pools & Patios, 10178 NW 47th St.,Sunrise, 33351, 954-742-2000, www.cliffspools.com.
Harry Gandy Howle: Harry Gandy Howle Architects, 2801 Ocean Drive, No. 302, Vero Beach, 32963, 772-231-4222,www.hghowlearchitects.com.
Earl V. Stephens, Jr.: ES Unlimited Waterworks, 10258 Riverside Drive, Suite 6, Palm Beach Gardens, 33410,561-775-1887, www.esunlimited.com.
Alene Workman: Alene Workman Interior Design, 4601 Sheridan St., Suite #218, Hollywood, 33021, 954-989-0898,www.aleneworkman.com.