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This outdoor counter wraps around a corner of a kitchen.

Taking advantage of an unforeseen opportunity during a kitchen remodel took nerve, but it paid off handsomely for this homeowner. While framing in new windows, Palm Desert, California, architect John Krause gazed out through the exposed studs and suddenly envisioned a reinforced-concrete dining counter wrapping the outside corner of his kitchen. Because he was only midway through the remodeling, adding the counter and two supporting wing walls was simple. It was also inexpensive: materials for the counter cost only about $150.

The height of the 2-foot-wide outdoor

counter matches that of the inside work surfaces, visually enlarging the space by creating a horizontal plane that seems to slice right through the wall. Adding to that impression, pale granite-pattern plastic laminate covering the indoor counters imitates the concrete used outdoors.

People reach the new dining area simply by stepping out the kitchen door; food and dishes pass through the pew windows. Overhead, a deep overhang shades the counter from the desert sun-making it usable nine months of the year.

Framed with 2-by-4s, the stucco-covered wing walls are anchored to the existing concrete patio slab with pressure-treated sill plates. Framing is doubled along the top edge; the topmost 2-by-4 is abbreviated to make notches for two 2-by-6s laid flat. One 2-by-6 is set 9 inches in from the walls' outer edges (see diagram); the other butts against the house wall.

Extending to within 3 inches of each end of the countertop-and rounded to follow its curve-the 2-by-6s bridge the 7-foot gap between the wing walls. The 2-by-6s were nailed in place after the house and both walls had been stuccoed. To help support the curved end of the counter, a shallow knee brace extends from under the counter back to the bouse wall.

Resting on the wing walls and the 2-by-6s, a sheet of 1/4-inch plywood serves as the bottom of the counter, A layer of building felt covers the plywood, and stucco corner lath was bent and nailed around the plywood's perimeter. To improve its function as a containing rim, Krause bent the lath-which is designed to go around 90 degrees corners-into a 450 degrees shape before stapling it in place. The perimeter was then stuccoed and left to cure overnight.

Next came a sheet of expanded metal stucco lath. Furring nails (see drawing) hold it off the felt and "float" it within the concrete counter. Then the space between the house and the corner lath was filled with concrete, which was troweled to a smooth finish. To ensure consistent, crack-free curing, Krause misted the counter frequently and covered it with damp towels at night. To promote runoff of rain and cleanup water, the top slopes slightly toward the outer edge.
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Date:Sep 1, 1988
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