Before & After: Outdoor Kitchens & Side Yards

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When considering how to make the most of your outdoor space, don’t overlook the side yard. They may lack the views of the front or backyards, but side yards can provide intimate and secluded outdoor spaces for dining, relaxing and entertaining — leaving the front and backyards to satisfy your other outdoor living goals. 

Below are some before and after shots of three side yard makeovers to use as inspiration for your next home project!


 Designer Trevor Fulmer’s 15-foot-wide side yard provided little to entice him outdoors, but he saw incredible potential in having any outdoor space in the center of Boston. He wanted to take advantage of any available space as he planned to design areas for cooking, dining and lounging during the warmer months of the year.


A new fireside lounge anchors one end of the patio. The custom-built gas-burning fireplace adds visual weight to the front of the yard and extends the couple’s enjoyment of the space. The bluestone hearth adds an extra ledge for resting a glass or overflow seating if the patio furniture is filled.

One way the designer made the space feel more expansive is by framing the yard with lush plantings. An existing tree sits to the right of the fireplace and new hydrangeas and other shrubs fill out the left side, softening the edge of the yard and blurring the boundary of the fence. Adding a bright white circle dining table with wooden accents, is a great way to showcase patio dining.


With no outdoor living space to enjoy at their coastal Southern California home, a couple aimed to transform a small concrete area used for storing trash cans and recycling bins into an intimate outdoor lounge. 


Taking up most of the patio’s 400 square feet, the seating was designed to accommodate the couple’s grown kids and grandkids. Teak clads the banquette, warming up the patio and creating a vibe that is casual yet polished. A bluestone fire pit that runs on natural gas fits beautifully with the seating. Its wide lip can be used to rest glasses and small plates on.

At the far end of the patio, a petite outdoor kitchen allows the owners to grill next to their outdoor seating area. Teak slats cover the base, tying in with the built-in banquette. 


This early-1900s shingled home sits on a compact corner lot overlooking the Charles River and abuts a road and public footpath. The clients wanted a private outdoor space in their side yard where they could cook, dine and entertain in a somewhat private space that also wouldn’t block views of the river from the home.


In the center of the new patio, a stylish teak and aluminum dining table anchors the area. Lush green shrubs and hydrangeas envelop the space and complement the sage green seat cushions of the dining set.

The screen includes a custom concrete shelving system that surrounds the grill station and forms bench seating. Storage underneath holds firewood used to fuel the egg-shaped wood-burning grill.

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