Let’s Eat Outside
Fancy grills and outdoor kitchens make dining on a porch or patio even more fun
At Lacy and Lisa Rice’s house, the freezer near the pool is usually stocked with ice cream and popsicles. The couple’s outdoor kitchen includes a full-size stainless steel refrigerator, a microwave, a sink and maple cabinets. A granite bar with four stools faces a 65-inch flat-screen television, which their kids use for playing music videos when they have friends over.
“Our best parties are pool parties in the afternoon or evening,” says Lisa, an associate professor of special education at George Washington University. “The lights in the pool make it really fun.”
The Rices’ home in Chevy Chase sits on a lot that is 100 feet wide and 600 feet deep—nearly the size of two football fields. The backyard was a plus for the couple when they decided to build their new house in 2014. “My wife and I have three young kids, two dogs, and we all like the outdoors,” says Lacy, a managing partner at Federal Capital Partners in Chevy Chase.
They transformed what used to be a big sledding hill into a yard with three distinct settings: a flat, grassy space where the kids—ages 7, 11 and 14—play lacrosse and jump on the trampoline, a wooded area where they build forts and explore, and a swimming pool with a kitchen and small pool house. “We wanted our place to be the congregating place for kids,” Lacy says. “There is so much they can do in the yard that kids tend to come to our house.”
Since the pool is about 100 feet from the house, the couple decided to put in an outdoor kitchen instead of shuttling back and forth with food and drinks. There’s a gas grill on wheels on the patio, along with two round tables that each seat eight. The pool house includes a changing area, shower and storage room with a dryer for towels. In the center, the kitchen area is covered, but open to the elements. The couple learned during the first winter about protecting the appliances from exposure—they hadn’t thought about things like taking the water filter out of the refrigerator to keep it from freezing. Looking back, a stand-alone ice maker might have been useful, Lacy says, but that would have been another thing to deactivate in the winter.
The pool area, which is surrounded by fieldstone, lush plants and bushes, reminds the couple of their log cabin in West Virginia. “It’s more peaceful a little bit farther away from the house,” Lisa says. “You feel like you are in the woods.”
“It’s like their own little resort back there,” says George Myers, the president of GTM Architects in Bethesda, who worked with Lacy and Lisa to design the house and outdoor living space. “It has a ton of land, which is really unusual for Chevy Chase, and they made the most of it.”