Laura Morton's Moorish-Inspired Outdoor Kitchen


Laura Morton's Moorish-Inspired Outdoor Kitchen

May 1, 2010
Photo by: (c) Laura Morton Design, 2010

In this West Hollywood garden, Southern California-based landscape designer Laura Morton took a narrow driveway cluttered with pool equipment and turned it into an outdoor kitchen and dining terrace, inspired by the house's Moorish details and Spanish Revival architecture, with seating for 12. With a budget of around $10,000, Morton encased the equipment in a custom-built bar whose cabinetry provided easy access to the pool equipment. Completing the transformation from eyesore to a romantic outdoor entertaining area, Morton installed a lattice like facing to what had been the garage structure and painted it, as well as the neighboring fence a metallic, Venetian blue, added potted plants brimming with edibles, and hand-scored, artisanal stone work on the ground.

Q: What were your clients’ objectives?

A: Hiding the pool equipment was the top item on the list. Since this area was near the side steps into their home’s kitchen, there wasn’t a need for a refrigerator or other appliances. The goal was for Dad to have an area for grilling and counter space for his two teenage girls to sit at or serve themselves buffet-style.

Q: What are the kitchen’s main features?

A: A grill with ample counter space and a deep sink to double as an ice chest or a place to arrange cut flowers. 

Q: Where is the kitchen placed within the context of the garden? 

A: The kitchen is along the driveway and the dining terrace is in front of the garage doors (this structure is now an office). The rest of the driveway was turned into a kitchen garden with movable planters containing edibles like alpine strawberries, basil and arugula. Fruit trees (including a Meyer lemon and braided plum tree) line the driveway; a shallow bar ledge that caps the backsplash effect features small, glazed pots filled with succulents; and the pool area is separated by an archway of Podocarpus henkelii trees.  

Q: How did you deal with the fixed pool equipment?

A: The equipment was an eyesore, especially because the house windows alongside the drive looked out onto this area. I created a multifunctional structure that “floats” around the pool equipment, then created some shape and volume to soften the boxiness of it. It’s completely open on the backside and the front has two doors. A special “turban” was built by a carpenter to lift the filter and an old wrought-iron grill was used to "cage" the heater.  

Q: What brand of appliances did you use? 

A: The grill is from local Los Angeles shop Barbeques Galore.

Q: Were there any additional elements that you customized or retrofitted to work for this outdoor kitchen design? 

A: The sink and counters were poured into place with colored concrete that coordinated with the new driveway paving, and gave the space a warm, terra cotta and artisanal feeling, which helped integrate the large surface area into a usable, attractive feature. I also added electrical outlets to use for appliances.

Q: Were there any other furnishings/décor used to complete the space?

I chose nice hardware for the various knobs and handles that open the service areas to give it an “always been there” appearance. We used lighting to add ambiance to the space, including romantic minilights that illuminate the side of the house. The custom table was also scaled for the space and has two removable half-moon ends that add length. The benches provide more seating than chairs would.  

See more of Morton’s work at