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In the Outdoor Kitchen with Tres Jolie Maison

This is how designers Sue-Jolie Rioux and Timothy Boylan do dining al fresco.

Jennifer Pinto
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Outdoor kitchen and dining space with fireplace designed by Tres Jolie Maison
Designers Sue-Jolie Rioux and Timothy Boylan of Tres Jolie Maison design outdoor living spaces like this Florida outdoor kitchen to be an extension of in the indoors.

Part of the outdoor living trend, al fresco kitchens are having their moment in the sun — or shade as the case may be. As more consumers choose to stay home and entertain rather than go out on the town, they're sprucing up their outdoor spaces and turning them into their own private retreats

Sue-Jolie Rioux and Timothy Boylan of Tres Jolie Maison, a Buffalo, NY-based interior design firm with an additional office in Naples, FL, and Chicago, can work in the shade and sun along with any other challenges Mother Nature throws their way. The pair lives (and works) outside whenever they have the chance. 

“Tim and I enjoy outdoor living spaces because we, like many of our clients, are outdoor people,” Rioux says. “Designing an extension of one's home, where the sun is shining and the weather is sweet, helps create a positive environment in which to linger, and we’re all about creating positive and uplifting environments for our clients.” 

Read on for Tres Jolie Maison’s top tips for outfitting an outdoor kitchen. 

Brings the indoors out

When designing interior living spaces, we love to bring the outside in to create a cohesive and calming environment. In turn, outdoor living spaces should be an extension of a client’s interior spaces. Adding garden decor, potted plants, decorative cushions, toss pillows and outdoor area rugs will help create continuity between inside and outside living.

Light it up

Lighting is key. For a maximum effect, an outdoor kitchen design should include tasking lighting as well as lighting that creates ambiance and multi-levels of mood for entertaining. Above all else, choose outdoor-rated fixtures, especially overall cooking and food prep areas.

Play it cool in the shade

The overhang/extension of the roof or a purposefully placed pergola offers shade and protection from the elements. Install a ceiling fan for air circulation and to aid in getting rid of the cooking exhaust. We love a quirky company called Big Ass Fans for their high volume, low-velocity fans.

Choose materials wisely

Use outdoor cabinetry made of weather-resistant materials. Countertop surfaces should be able to hold up to the elements, as well. Many stones and concrete are porous and will stain, so choose an impervious product like quartz, Dekton or stainless steel.

Consider your appliance options

Outdoor appliances like grills and outdoor cooktops are the standard, but installing a beverage center and icemaker will help limit foot traffic in and out of the house. Unique additions like a built-in kegerator will take your design to a whole new level and make your client’s home the most coveted backyard on the block. 


Bonus tip from the editors: Don't forget sturdy outdoor furniture as well. Though a porch or patio may be covered, furniture can still take a beating from a summer rainstorm or a particularly windy day. Educate your clients on what they'll need to do to keep their furniture looking like new every year, whether that's covering the furniture during the winter or storing it all in a shed or basement.

What’s on your outdoor kitchen essentials checklist? Share with us in the comments. 

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