Whether it’s grilling, furniture, design, or even the building materials used, outdoor living is an essential part of Charleston life. Our experts highlight all the ways you can make outdoor living memorable for years to come.
BY AMANDA OLIVER
2770 Maybank Highway, Suite F, Johns Island
Everything in life requires a solid foundation to build upon, and outdoor living is no different. What better building blocks are there than the materials created by Mother Nature?
“The fact that I get to see all of these amazing materials that mother nature made every day is one of my favorite parts of what I do,” says Joe Sykes, President of Atlantic Stone.
Sykes is nearly as resilient as the stone that he sells, having built his business right as the economy cratered back in 2007. Thankfully, his belief in the long-lasting materials he works with is what led him to have a thriving operation nearly 12 years later.
The durability and strength of these stones is also what makes them an excellent choice not only for outside living, but for use indoors as well. “You know the materials can hold up whether you have a huge crew at home or whether it’s just you and your spouse, since they’ve already been tested out in nature,” Skyes explains.
He continues, “But the best part is technology is now being added to the materials we already have, and it’s opening the door for people to have what they want and get the look they want without needing to worry about things like how heavy a natural stone might be.”
While it makes sense to use materials like tile and stone that have endured the outdoors in high traffic places inside, there are different considerations to take into account. Using stone on the ground outside requires vastly different treatments than installing it in a kitchen or bathroom.
“Five years ago, if you wanted the look of marble, you’d have had to buy a huge slab,” says Joe. The potential problem with this is both the cost and the weight of the stone. It can make it harder to use for what you want in your home.
Luckily, Sykes shares, “the advancements in technology are now allowing us to make products that are stronger, have less of an impact on the earth, and still give you the look and feel of a stone like marble without the pricetag and the literal weight.”
The Atlantic Stone owner especially loves working with homeowners on unique projects, and one of the latest materials hitting the market is from a company called Diresco out of Belgium. They’ve taken the stones from the ground and utilized science to create materials that are UV-resistant. In a city like Charleston, having stone that fights back against the corrosive effects of the sun means that your outdoor living can look as good as the day it was installed for much longer.
While Mother Nature may have given us the raw materials of stone to work with, Sykes and his team are experts on knowing and understanding what works best where and how it will look. “What can I do to help you achieve your dream home?” is the question he asks all of his clients. He then combines his knowledge of what each type of stone can do with your needs to figure out the best path forward.
If you need materials that are equally as stunning as they are strong Joe Sykes is the expert you want in your corner and Atlantic Stone can make sure you get what you need, inside and outdoors.
Outside Is In
1717 N. Highway 17, Mt. Pleasant
The furniture you use in your outdoor space is essential for setting the vibe and allowing you to relax exactly how you’ve always dreamed. But it’s not just your own personal tastes you need to factor in when it comes to choosing outdoor furniture. With all of the elements we experience in Charleston – rain , salt water, humidity, heat – you’ll want to make sure your furniture is built to last so you’re not stuck sitting indoors.
Thankfully, Bob Kelliher of Outside Is In is here to help. “Let’s be honest,” he says, “If you’re living here in Charleston, you know you’ve got company coming to visit. And for a large portion of the year, your focal point is going to be your outdoor space.”
Designing that space, however, is not as simple as randomly selecting a few pieces to go outside and calling it a day. “With this much sun, heat, and humidity, you need furniture that is specifically designed to be used outdoors,” explains Kelliher. “Even if you have great materials, if the furniture isn’t designed for use outdoors, it won’t hold up.”
Thankfully one material that comprises a large portion of what Kelliher does is perfect for outdoor use: teak wood. The teak on display in Outdoors Is In’s showroom is only a small portion of the vast expanse of custom or pre-designed teak furniture housed at this location. “We import directly from Indonesia and can not only offer a great value by doing so, but can also customize pieces exactly as a customer would want,” says Kelliher.
The goal of the team at Outside Is In is to make sure your outdoor space is equal parts functional and beautiful. “We make sure our clients really understand their materials, whether it’s teak, synthetic wicker, or whatever it is they are looking for.” Kelliher continues, “We start by educating our customers and then moving to the design services.”
One of the best ways to educate yourself is to visit the Outside Is In showroom and personally test out the different outdoor seating options available. While this sounds simple, the number of options is larger than one might realize. Additionally, you might not realize you prefer a deep seat with a cushion for lounging versus a more classic seat or even a sofa.
Once you decide on the type of seating you love, then comes the fabric and colors to add to your outdoor living design. Bob’s team works under the mantra that “at the end of the day, we’re going to do all we can to ensure our client’s vision comes to life.”
If you’re looking to find the best outdoor furniture that’s going to last through multiple Charleston summers, you’ll want to stop by Outside Is In today.
Grill Masters of Charleston
8807 Antler Drive, Charleston
So much goes into a well-designed outdoor area, but any outdoor space would be incomplete without a quality grill. Kirsten Williams of Grill Masters of Charleston knows the ins and outs of grills because she’s spent the last few years making grills across the Low Country look spectacular.
“I built this business learning everything I could about grills and the best ways to clean and take care of them,” Williams says. “I love the challenge of taking a grill that others might think is finished and making it look practically new.”
Specializing in rust removal, Williams started Grill Masters of Charleston after she saw a need for an expert in this area. “Even though it’s hot and dirty work, I love educating my clients and truly love what I do. I find it so gratifying,” she explains.
Over the course of her business, Williams has worked with so many types of grills and wishes more people realized that “a gas grill is an outdoor oven; it’s not a charcoal grill.” By this, she clarifies, “it’s important to know that a gas grill is not meant to be caught on fire, it’s not supposed to be black. You wouldn’t ‘season’ your oven, and you don’t want to treat your grill that way either.”
Williams recommends that you “maintain your grill and treat it like an indoor appliance. This will make you a better cook on the grill and it will allow the grill to basically last forever.”
You can also uplevel your grill skills by using your grill’s rotisserie. “Don’t be afraid of it!” Kirsten shares, “I didn’t know what I was doing the first time I tried it on my grill and it turned out amazing! If you’re going to be grilling anyways, why not try it?”
There’s no denying the place of importance that a grill has in outdoor living and rightfully so. Ask most people what their favorite memory of summer involves, and chances are it includes some delicious grilled food, along with time spent with family and friends.
If your grill has seen better days and you want it to look like new for the upcoming season, give Grill Masters a call. Williams will make your grill look like new so that you can make those mouthwatering al fresco meals that everyone will talk about all summer.
554 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Mt. Pleasant
Throughout the past 23 years, Sharon Campbell of Backyard Retreats has made it her mission to transform your backyard into a place you’ll love.
To start, she says you need to evaluate what it is you’re hoping to do with your space. “The most important part of determining the design direction is deciding how you want to use that area,” explains Campbell. “Are you planning to dine out there? Do you want to cook in an outdoor kitchen? Or are you more focused on relaxing and lounging and want large, comfortable seating? Understanding your outdoor living goals will inform the rest of the design.”
You should note that the size of the space will ultimately be the determining design factor. Unfortunately, even if you have visions of both a lounge area and dining table, if your space can’t accommodate everything, you’ll need to decide what matters most.
That’s where Campbell and her design team at Backyard Retreats come in. They provide free design services and consultations, from the logistics of where to place items in the space down to the fabric choices. “Here in the Lowcountry, we use our outdoor areas more than most, so you want to invest in quality pieces that will last. Focusing on the basics elements that make up your backyard retreat means you can also swap in accessories or fabrics to change up the design or keep up with trends,” Campbell asserts.
However, it’s important that you don’t get too crazy with the added colors and fabrics. Campbell notes, “You want your style to flow from the inside of your home to the outside. It should be an extension of your home, not completely different. You want it to coordinate with your indoor color scheme.”
With Charleston’s usually mild winters, fire pits have become a crowd favorite at Backyard Retreats. Campbell shares how “the ambiance of gathering around a fire outside has made them a popular choice in recent years. We even have designs with shimmering and sparkly stones to make them truly unique.”
We all know that the kitchen has long been a gathering place for family and friends, and a well-designed outdoor environment simply adds square footage for greater enjoyment and entertaining. Campbell’s mantra is “people gather where they are happy and comfortable,” and she and her team will go above and beyond to make sure your outdoor space fulfills that goal.
If you’re looking to make the best use of your outdoor environment and create an area that you and your family and friends can enjoy for years to come, Backyard Retreats has the design savvy and pieces you’ll need to make it happen.