Located on the idyllic island of Waiheke, Rhys Mellor from Love Kitchens worked closely with the homeowners – NZ media personalities Amber Peebles and Brooke Howard-Smith – to breathe new life into their outdoor living space.

The brief for the new area was to provide ‘multiple areas for enjoyment’ – for cooking, relaxing, entertaining, and most importantly, to preserve the ocean view without any disturbance.

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Style-savvy Amber approached Rhys with a clear idea of how she envisioned the space to function and look, and even crafted sketches and videos so he could fully comprehend her concept.

When it came to the layout of the space, Rhys explains, “Their vision was to create a separate area from the main outdoor kitchen for open fire cooking and relaxing. The Escea EK Outdoor Wood Fireplace Kitchen offered that experience, and its size meant they could capture the view that’s ever-so-deserving”.

He continues, “The connection of these two spaces flows seamlessly, enabling the chef to master both the kitchen and the EK950 while enjoying the company of friends and family, avoiding confusion and crowding in one spot.”

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The Escea EK950 Outdoor Wood Cooking Fireplace features an ember generator and 13-point adjustable cooking plates.

Allured by the multiple grilling options and ember generator of the Escea EK Series, together they chose the EK950 – the smallest of the EK range but with all the sophistication and cooking functionality found in the kitchen.

Experienced in working with the Escea EK Series, Rhys was confident this was the right choice for the couple given their love of slow grilling and entertaining, inviting them to visit the Stoke Fireplace Studio Auckland to help realise their vision.


The fireplace was lowered to sit on a 3-meter-long rendered plinth, carefully chosen to complement the surroundings without obstructing the view, while providing comfortable seating at the same time for ultimate flame and ocean viewing.

"By placing the fireplace on top of the hearth, it not only creates a convenient cooking position for the chef, but also allows people to relax in front of the fire at the end of the evening – it’s the best of both worlds."

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When it came to installing the EK950, the home’s island location and position at the bottom of a steep driveway on a particularly wet day, meant they needed to come up with a novel solution for getting the EK950 into its final position.

Rhys explains, “The fireplace had to be lifted over the house by hiab, then transferred to a custom trolley which eventually transported it to its final place.”

“The entire project unfolded from one truck – beginning with a blank canvas at 6 o'clock in the morning. By 8 o’clock that evening, Amber and Brooke had a magical outdoor kitchen and fireplace. And now, after completing it, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s simply such an elegant piece.”

Learn more about the Escea EK950 Outdoor Wood Kitchen Fireplace