How We Fit a Fully-Equipped Kitchen, Pool and Patio in a Compact Backyard

One of my favorite things about this property is how it is set right on the water, but this setup also posed one of the biggest challenges for the job. 

Properties like this one in Poquoson, Virginia, that are set right on the water have one main issue: they are often sitting on an RPA, or a Resource Protected Area. The RPA in Poquoson is a 50-foot buffer area that helps to protect the natural environment near a body of water from being disturbed. The main concern with hardscape projects like this one is the runoff that can occur as a result of installing pavers. We always want to preserve the natural beauty of any space that we’re working in, so we came up with a plan that would allow these homeowners to have the outdoor space they wanted, while also protecting the natural beauty of Poquoson.

Once we had approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals to get started on the job, we still had a few obstacles to face. While the backyard as a whole is not small, the area that we had to work in was pretty compact. After accounting for the boundary lines set by the RPA, we had to fit an outdoor kitchen and bar, a patio, and a full-sized pool inside 700 square feet of space. 

The Pool and Patio

In order to get this full-sized pool to fit in such a tight space, we had to get a bit creative. We also had to get permission from the city to cross over just a tiny bit into the RPA. If you check out the photos below you’ll see the spray paint lines marking out the protected area. In order to make everything fit, the pool needed to sit right on that line, and the corner of the pool ended up crossing over the RPA by a few feet. 

We installed a patio surrounding the pool using the Techo Bloc Blu 60 Smooth pavers with a Villagio border. In order to protect the wetlands from any runoff, these pavers also needed to be permeable. ​

Permeable pavers “mimic the natural process that occurs on the ground’s surface” (Techo-Bloc, Permeable Pavement). Instead of rain coming down and sheeting off like you would see in a parking lot, we installed the pavers with nitro sand joints and an open grade gravel base. The nitro sand allows the water to filter down through the joints, into the gravel, and into the base, preventing any harmful runoff. 

Preventing runoff wasn’t our only challenge. We also had to figure out how to make everything fit without feeling too cramped. There was one area that kept giving us trouble, right between the corner of the bar and the edge of the pool. 

We originally had about 4 feet of space between the bar corner and the pool, but it just was not going to be enough and was creating a bit of a choke point in the flow of the yard. We needed it to be wide enough so that if two people were walking side by side, one person wouldn’t just accidentally knock the other off into the pool! It was a bit tricky to figure out, but we ended up squeezing the bar back towards the house just a little bit, and we pushed the pool about six more inches out. ​

Once we got the location for the pool finalized, we then had to figure out the perfect layout for the kitchen.

The Kitchen and Bar

The first thing you’ll notice is that this kitchen is right up against the house. We had a pretty small space to work with, but we still made sure to give these homeowners a fully equipped outdoor kitchen that would meet all of their needs!

First, let’s talk cooking appliances. On one end we installed a RecTeq pellet smoker with some built in storage underneath. This is an awesome unit, it’s built right in, Wi-Fi controlled, and really easy to use. Next to the smoker is a built in fridge right in the middle for quick and easy access. Next to the fridge on the other side of the bar is an awesome built-in griddle and a big power burner to accommodate any large pots or pans. Between these three appliances there really is no limit to what they can cook up in this outdoor kitchen!

The bar sits about five feet off of the house, and it’s actually a two-level bar. The lower level has all of the cooking appliances we mentioned above, and the upper level is for seating, hanging out, and of course eating! We wanted it to be super easy for them to come out here, cook up their food, and serve it right up to the people hanging out at the pool on the other side.

Not only is this bar functional, but the design is also stunning. If you look closely you’ll notice that the blocks are not all the same size. We used a combination of three- and six-inch blocks and tied it all together with a black band running throughout. The shape of the bar also creates a beautiful curve, creating some visual interest and allowing us to make the most of the space that we had.

Final Touches 

On the outer edge of the patio we added some landscaping that kind of curved out and around the space. We wanted to make sure that the landscaping stayed tucked back a bit so that we could fit everything we needed into the patio. We also made sure that the patio had room for a table and chairs, as well as a little corner with two lounge chairs and a seating wall, which added a nice cozy element to the space. ​

In the end we were able to create a space that was a perfect complement to the water and the natural beauty surrounding it. It doesn’t feel overdone, but it still has all of the features that anybody would want in their backyard. 

Check out our YouTube video for more behind the scenes info!