Plein Air Cooking

Kitchens without walls

Robert Clark

Mary and Mac McFadden’s outdoor kitchen was built in 2007 and is used quite regularly by the couple and their children and friends. After they decided to build a covered fireplace outside their home, the idea for an outdoor kitchen came next. The counter tops are made of concrete, providing a durable surface for preparing food. The McFaddens installed a sink, grill and refrigerator as well as a gas stove top with two burners. 

The color scheme is gray, green and brown, and the colors blend well with the natural elements surrounding the kitchen. Mary says that they have many precious memories from cooking outside, such as the evening when the announcement was made that they would soon become grandparents. 

The McFaddens use their outdoor kitchen year-round, but they especially enjoy sitting around the fireplace in the fall. The area provides the perfect space for entertaining, and they frequently invite friends over to watch football games. One of the McFadden family’s favorite uses for their outdoor kitchen is over the Thanksgiving holiday, including the Clemson/Carolina football game.


Donna and Baylen Moore regularly host fish fries, and they enjoy visiting with family and friends who stop by their lake home in the summer months. Thus, they decided that an outdoor kitchen was a perfect addition to the home. This kitchen, completed in February 2015, was the result of Baylen’s drawing and re-drawing the design plan and asking for input from a trusted builder. 

It features granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, including a grill, burner, refrigerator and built-in cooler –– all purchased from S & G Appliances. A hibachi grill is also included in the Moore’s outdoor kitchen. Cabinets provide ample storage space for grill tools and cooking supplies. The six bar-height patio chairs surrounding the outdoor kitchen provide comfortable seating and an exceptional view of Lake Murray. When the weather is warm enough, Baylen and his family can often be found cooking and eating dinner outside; however, he, Donna, and their four children, Grayson, Lindsey, Spencer and Bennett, also enjoy the space year-round. 

Baylen says that he and his family use their outdoor kitchen every month of the year, and they especially enjoy frying the Thanksgiving turkey there in November. Birthdays are made extra special with cookouts by the lake as there is plenty of room for guests. 


Libby Lee and Guy Castles’ original home patio was built in 1995, but the couple updated the space in 2016 by adding blue stone and a fireplace with the help of her brother, Fred Gantt, who owns Hay Hill Services. The outdoor space includes a gas grill, a Big Green Egg® grill and a hot plate for sautéing vegetables. Surrounding the patio is a stunning landscape: a perfectly manicured yard with carefully placed shrubbery and flowers.

The Castles say that they love their yard, yet needed an inviting place to sit to enjoy the outdoors, so they chose furniture that would be both practical and comfortable, providing a place for friends and family to gather to enjoy nature as well as watching sports on television or listening to music. They regularly invite guests to join them for an outdoor supper or for an oyster roast. Libby Lee says some of her favorite memories are made when her children are home and relaxing on the patio, talking and laughing into the night.  

While the couple relishes the beauty of the outdoor space year-round, each season brings a different pleasure. In the springtime, Libby Lee says the family loves listening to the birds and seeing the new growth around the yard. In the fall, the leaves on the maple trees change to vibrant colors, creating a beautiful backdrop around the patio. The fireplace makes Christmas an extra special time for the family as they frequently gather with cozy blankets around the fireplace to talk and roast marshmallows. 

The Castles decided to remodel the kitchen inside their home shortly after they completed the work on their outdoor space. This was quite convenient as Libby Lee says the family practically lived outside on the patio during the indoor kitchen renovation, which lasted from September through Thanksgiving. “We only went inside to sleep,” says Libby Lee with a smile.