Great ideas for outdoor rooms

Warm backyard kitchen

See how a couple turned bare ground into an airy pavilion for feasting

Outdoor grill
Photo: Thomas J. Story

"We've turned a postage stamp into paradise," says Sioux Elledge about her 25- by 50-foot backyard in a new Napa, California, development.

The original yard was simply an expanse of dirt framed by fences-like so many lots in new communities across the West.

Sioux and her husband, Terry, love to entertain outdoors, so they organized their garden around a covered pavilion designed by Terry, featuring a cooking center, wine-tasting bar, and dining area.

"We call it Terry's Taj," laughs Sioux, founder of Sioux Z Wow Sauces (, which makes a gourmet marinade (available at many Mollie Stone's Markets and Whole Foods Markets).

The pavilion covers a 14- by 24-foot portion of the yard off the family room and kitchen.

Four posts and long glue-laminated beams support a shallow gabled roof of bamboo fencing covered with translucent panels of corrugated fiberglass.

The unobtrusive panels protect the bamboo from rain but allow diffused sunlight to filter through. A C-shaped food preparation counter wraps around one side of the pavilion.

The star of the space is a custom-made wood-fired barbecue modeled after a grill that the couple saw while vacationing in France. They had a local metal fabricator make the grill and hood, which fit across a rear corner.

Although the counter also contains a gas-burning barbecue, the Elledges cook on the grill, with wood or charcoal as fuel, most of the time.

On cool evenings, they often use the grill as a table-height fireplace.


  • Before


    A barren patch of dirt becomes a shaded outdoor kitchen with wraparound food-prep zones―including a rotisserie grill along one side and a barbecue in the corner. Table and chairs are from West Teak ([866/937-8832).

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