Floridians are spoiled with weather akin to tropical paradise year-round. But how much potential enjoyment goes to waste? Empty backyard spaces are untapped extensions of the home, capable of transforming into sunlit kitchens, poolside lounges, outdoor grills and more.
“It really comes down to what the client is look-ing for,” says Mike Loomis, owner of Tampa’s Landscape Fusion. “We get a lot of customers who say ‘Listen, I grill out occasionally, I don’t need any-thing huge, I just need the essentials.’ Then you get the ones that say, ‘I want to live out here and I want everything.’ Those require the same thought process and the same questions to be asked to get to a ﬁnal design.”
As a one-stop-shop for outdoor living, Landscape Fusion specializes in building outdoor kitchens, living areas and more with bespoke designs and the latest in smart tech. Helping customers sort between “wants” and “needs” means considering items like a $5,000 ice maker that makes ﬂawless, crystalline ice, stainless steel appliances, waterproof televisions and marble or granite countertops.
There are drawbacks to Florida’s weather, as well, Loomis says. Smoke from outdoor grills will congeal on grills attached to homes, necessitating a tile backsplash. High-grade marble will damage in inclement weather. Unrelenting sun exposure can mar expensive furniture.
The layout of every outdoor kitchen will vary depending on the owners. For some who grill out only on special occasions, a simple standalone grill and a weather-proof countertop can suffice. For others looking to build an outdoor extension of their home, Landscape Fusion builds weather-resistant seating areas, upscale ﬁre pits, home bars and more.
For those somewhere in between, a few simple amenities can breathe new life into an existing setup.
“There’s nothing like having a fridge, a wine fridge or a kegerator [a built-in beer tap]. Those give more components to it and always take an outdoor kitchen a little bit to the next level,” Loomis says. “Adding a hood vent [to a grill] is a little more complicated, but it does bring more to the ﬁnished product.”