Longtime angel investor Chris DeVore has helped dozens of software companies in early seed stages. But when it came to planting a garden at his Wallingford home, the tech executive finally had had it with a project that was bearing more burden than fruit. “The amount of time needed to keep up a garden amidst a busy work life and two kids…it was just too much,” he says. In 2013, DeVore decided to transform the overgrown space into an outdoor kitchen that would yield a different kind of bounty: pizza pies.
DeVore has had an enduring love affair with the Italian dish, which conjures memories of his East Coast college days, when he frequented competing pizza parlors, each claiming to make the best pie ’round town. Years later, on the opposite coast, DeVore met his wife, Emily, in California, and after moving to Seattle in 2001, the pair began a routine of cooking pizza on Friday nights at home. “The idea [for the backyard] came from taking that tradition and expanding it,” DeVore says.
The outdoor pizza oven designed by Shed Architecture & Design
He enlisted the help of Prentis Hale, a college buddy and cofounding principal of Shed Architecture and Design, to create the backyard’s redesign, which would revolve around three main elements: a wood-fired pizza oven, a fire pit and a modern cantilevered garage. “The original garden was not a hangout space,” Hale says. “So what we did was try to make it a place to socialize.”
Now, moss peeks through fireproof stone pavers under a hodgepodge of seating options, including a cement bench, galvanized chairs and a trio of red Adirondack chairs by Loll Designs. Cedar shiplap siding was used on the adjacent garage to visually integrate the structure with the yard’s previously planted plum and pear trees, and its cantilevered roof shelters the seating area. “There’s something of a craze going on [with pizza ovens]” Hale says. “We have a number of clients who want them but ultimately don’t use them as often as they imagine. With Chris and Emily’s yard project, the design of the oven and sitting within the trees back there…they really use that space.”
DeVore preps a pizza
This Friday night (weather permitting), you’ll find DeVore baking fresh pies in his backyard, often inviting guests such as Hale to break crust at his family’s pizza night.