It began with a love: a love for the outdoors. Nikki and Josh O’Quain knew exactly what they wanted, and that was an outdoor kitchen that would complement the riverside next to their home. Their dream became reality when they hired Natalie and Paul Thompson of Fireside Stone.
The construction of the outdoor kitchen was approached just as if it were a house. Nikki and Josh told Fireside Stone their ideas and the features they wanted, and a floor plan was designed for their needs and desires.
Imagine living by the river. You have the means and ability to construct a piece of architecture, separate from your home, to seamlessly blend in with the waterfront. It is for your own personal use. You can look out of the windows that face the river while you’re cooking or sit out on the patio while enjoying coffee — literally, on the river — in the mornings.
You can immerse yourself in whatever outdoor activity you desire, or simply watch television while the cool breeze flows through the open doorways.
This is the type of place Nikki and Josh own.
Their outdoor kitchen, which, for them, is so much more than just a kitchen, sits on the West Fork of the Calcasieu River in Moss Bluff, not far from Sam Houston Jones State Park.
Nikki told the Thompsons at Fireside Stone she wanted as much of the view of the river to be as uncompromised as possible. As a result, the outdoor kitchen is a very airy building. It seems to be half building and half nature.
There are two doorways in the front, one in the back, and a variety of glassless arched windows that allow a relatively unobstructed view of the river and its surroundings.
One can be in the kitchen and feel as if he is still out in the open. The building is created in such a way that it seems like an extension of its natural surroundings.
When the builders were clearing the way for construction, three cypress trees had to be taken down. However, the family made the most of this loss by recycling the downed trees. The trees became a mantel for the fireplace, a stump to set the base of their patio umbrella on, and two log-like seats to sit on. Nature continues to live on through the O’Quain’s mindful efforts not to unnecessarily destroy the natural resources in the area.
The outdoor kitchen disrupts the natural world as little as possible. When disruption was necessary during the construction, measures were taken to make sure the sacrifice was not a waste.
The outdoor kitchen actually brings one to a greater awareness of the environment. It can provide a great deal of happiness for all who, like the O’Quain family, are lovers of the outdoors.
The family generally cooks breakfast, lunch and supper in this outdoor kitchen, while being exposed to and protected from the elements at the same time.
Aside from being a place for cooking and eating meals, the outdoor kitchen serves as a playground for children and adults. The family can fish for striped bass, catfish or perch off the back deck, where a fake alligator stares as if he were waiting for his catch too. Crab traps are set up along part of the river. If the urge to go out onto the water hits them, family members can take off in their boat, which is docked next door to their outdoor kitchen in a 900-square-foot boathouse.
Easy and safe access to the water for swimming is provided too. The children can step off the back porch and onto a ladder dipping directly into the river. At the same time, a member of the family can have an appetizing meal going, while being within a safe distance and keeping an eye on the children.
The kitchen boasts poured-in-place concrete countertops with an acid stain, a stainless steel hibachi grill, a custom meat smoker, a beer keg and a small refrigerator and stove. There are even blinds to cover the windows in the event that the family would want more privacy.
Nikki and Josh didn’t fail to take into account the cool winter months in their planning. The kitchen is equipped with a six-foot high fireplace and a propane fire pit. The family is eagerly awaiting the cool weather of fall, so they can take advantage of their heating mechanisms, and enjoy gumbo, a roaring fire pit, and a built-up fire in the fireplace.
Fellowship is at the center of the outdoor kitchen. The O’Quain family loves to have big parties. They call their neighbors, and soon there are golf carts zooming down the street and boats being docked at their boathouse. The smell of smoked ribs and sausage entices the guests, who bring finger foods to share.
With this type of outdoor kitchen, football season is a real treat for the neighborhood. Everyone in their company eats until he’s full. As friends gather around the television to watch LSU or the Saints, all eyes are bright with the excitement that only a well-played game can bring.
The party doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. The building is equipped with LED overhead lights and tiny neon lights underneath the bar. The neon lights provide the perfect distraction for the children because, with a remote, they can change the colors and speed of the lights.
The O’Quains enjoy cooking and getting together; interacting with each other and the scenery. If they happen to have 20 or 30 people at their place, it doesn’t faze them at all, because their enjoyment isn’t in the building itself. It’s in the things the building stands for. It means enjoying family, friends, food and football the Louisiana way.