Home is Where the Hearth Is

Products: Belair Wall® (fireplace and seat wall) and Mega-Lafitt® pavers.

The outdoor living room has been one of the fastest growing trends in outdoor design over the last few years. When considering the popularity of this trend, the question arises: What’s the difference between a patio and an outdoor living room? The answer is simple: Livability.

Products: Bristol Elements™ fireplace and Lafitt® Rustic Slab pavers.

An outdoor living room is more than just a grouping of chairs with a coffee table. It’s a cozy and inviting space that evokes a sense of relaxation, a space where people want to spend time both alone and enjoying the company of others. To achieve this effect, it’s important to apply interior design techniques to creating your outdoor space.

With that in mind, what tends to be the centerpiece of most interior living rooms? The answer, of course, is a fireplace. The reason for this is multifaceted. Historically, a fireplace would be added to the living room to heat the home. But as this need diminished in necessity over the years, the popularity of an interior fireplace did not. That is because the warmth that exudes from a fireplace is not only physical in nature, but emotional, as well. Spending time in front of a fire with a loved one often creates a deeper connection with that person on an instinctual or primal level. Fire, good.

That’s why one of the easiest ways to create an emotional sense of warmth in an outdoor living room is to add a fire feature, which has the added benefit of physical warmth during the colder months, allowing you to use your outdoor living room year round. Another benefit to fire features — like fireplaces, fire pits and fire tables — is that they appeal to people of all ages. When multiple generations gather around a fire pit, the generation gap disappears, and they can all relate to one another on a purely human level. It’s no wonder that fire pits have been on the top of the “must haves” list in outdoor design for the last several years.

A fire feature, like this welcoming fire pit at the HGTV® Dream Home 2018, instantly converts a simple patio into an outdoor living room. Products: Belair Wall® 2.0 (fire pit) and Urbana Stone® permeable pavers. (photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

When adding a fire feature to an outdoor living room, be sure to leave ample space for seating and traffic because it will instantly become everyone’s favorite gathering spot. If it’s a wood-burning fire feature, it will also need to be an adequate distance from any structures, as a safety precaution. In fact, some municipalities and HOA’s have specific regulations about this, so be sure and do your homework.

To complete your outdoor living room, add other interior design touches — such as tables, accent lighting, pillows, throws and other accessories. But be warned, once you create an inviting outdoor living room, get ready for company!

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For fire feature design ideas, read our blogs on Fire Pit Design Ideas and  Outdoor Fireplace Design Ideas For more design inspiration, visit the Belgard Pinterest boards.

NEXT WEEK:  Don’t let the frigid temperatures fool you. If you want your new pool to be ready for swimming season, it’s time to start planning now.

Front and Backyard Transformations of the HGTV® Dream Home 2018

Again this year, Belgard is proud to be a sponsor of the HGTV® Dream Home 2018. Located in Gig Harbor, Washington, this year’s home is a contemporary waterfront retreat overlooking the picturesque Henderson Bay, an inlet of Puget Sound.

As the official hardscapes sponsor, Belgard is excited to walk you through the dramatic transformation of the home’s outdoor living areas, which now includes multiple entertaining zones overlooking the spectacular view.

Front Yard – Before

Front Yard – After

The home received a tremendous upgrade to its curb appeal. The disjointed driveway and entryway landing were demolished and replaced with an an attractive, eco-friendly permeable paver system. Urbana® Stone permeable pavers were laid in a modular ashlar pattern to complement the contemporary architecture. The new permeable paver system will allow rainwater to infiltrate through the joints and percolate through a bed of aggregate and into the ground below. This will not only provide a safer environment by keeping water from pooling on the surface, it will also help remove impurities from any infiltrated water to help reduce pollution to the local receiving waterways. To add even more curb appeal, the driveway was trimmed with a border of Avalon Slate pavers in a contrasting darker color. Both Urbana Stone and Avalon Slate pavers have a natural stone texture, which coordinates well with the surrounding wooded landscape.

Photo: David A. Land

The design team also removed the aging raised planter bed and constructed a new planter bed using Belair Wall® 2.0 retaining wall, which features a rustic chiseled stone texture. Quarziti 2.0 porcelain pavers were used to add an elegant, finished look to the entryway landing to complement the new glass doorway and angular portico.

Photo: Thomas Espinoza Photography
backyard before
Backyard after

The deteriorating retaining walls and wooden deck were demolished and replaced. Belair Wall® 2.0 provided the structure for a low-maintenance vertical garden of native plants, and a new covered composite deck was built, which includes a waterfront dining area and a stairway down to a lower landing on the water’s edge.

Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Urbana® Stone walkways now lead from the deck and back patio to a newly constructed fire pit paver patio. The fire pit, as well as a nearby seat wall, were constructed with rustic Belair Wall® 2.0. The paver patio and walkways are trimmed with an Avalon Slate border to provide a cohesive look that ties in with the color of the deck and the look of the driveway, thus creating a continuous design throughout the entirety of the home’s exterior.

Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography
Back patio before

back patio after

The existing concrete of the back patio was overlaid with Quartziti 2.0 porcelain pavers to coordinate with the entryway and provide an elegant transition from the interior spaces to the outdoor living spaces. Belair Wall® 2.0 provided the structure for a built-in stainless grill.

Photo: David A. Land

For more information on the HGTV Dream Home 2018, including an aerial video of the exterior, design videos, and photos of the interior transformation of the home, click here.

To enter for a chance to win this spectacular home, click here.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Ideas

Over the last decade, outdoor fireplaces have continued to be a rising trend in outdoor living design. A fireplace provides an elegant focal point that visually transforms a patio into an outdoor living room, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. When planning an outdoor fireplace, there are a number of options to consider.

Custom-Build versus modular units

Custom outdoor fireplaces can be built using a variety of masonry products, including nearly any Belgard retaining wall product. The benefit to a custom-built fireplace is that you have the design flexibility to create any size or style that suits you. Belgard also offers the Belgard Elements™ line of modular fireplaces that are pre-built in a factory setting, shipped in sections and installed with a pallet loader. The benefits are lower installation costs and a shorter construction window.

This custom-built fireplace, constructed with Celtik® Wall, features a raised hearth, symmetrical arched built-in wood boxes, and built-in low-voltage lighting for ambiance. A row of smooth-face block adds a contrasting element to the rough-hewn look of the design.
Belgard Elements™ fireplaces, such as this one from the Bristol™ Series, offer a custom-built look for a fraction of the cost. Custom-built elements, such as the landscape wall and water features in this design, can be added to enhance the custom-built look.
USE interior design principles

To enhance the “outdoor living room” feel, employ interior design techniques when designing your outdoor fireplace and surrounding patio. Examples include accessorizing the room or creating a faux rug in the paver design.

A semi-circular design of Mega-Arbel® pavers creates the look of an inlaid rug in front of this Brighton™ Elements fireplace and Bristol™ Elements wood boxes.
Research Local building codes

Codes will vary by municipality, but in general terms, gas-burning fireplaces have fewer restrictions and can typically be placed anywhere in a design, including directly against another structure. Wood-burning fireplaces typically need to be placed at least 10 feet from another structure. Some building codes require additional safety measures or restrict the use of wood-burning units altogether.

The chimney of this wood-burning fireplace from the Bordeaux™ Elements collection was extended upward to comply with local building codes, due to its proximity to another structure.
Built-in outdoor gas fireplaceS

An economical option that can typically be installed anywhere is a built-in gas fireplace, which can be built on the exterior of the home, on a porch or under a pavilion.

The built-in outdoor gas fireplace on the left was designed to emulate the look of an indoor fireplace using Tandem® Modular Grid. The same wall product was used to build out an adjacent outdoor kitchen. The design on the right used Weston Stone® retaining wall block with accents of Urbana® Stone and Mega-Arbel® pavers to emulate the look of a freestanding Bristol™ Elements fireplace. The same paver and wall products were used throughout the design to tie the look together.
Think outside the box

When creating a custom build, consider how you want to use the space and work with your contractor to come with with creative solutions and ideas.

This custom fire feature is both a fireplace and a brick oven. A built-in overhead light adds a dramatic look to the piece while providing ample light for operating the brick oven in the evenings.
This outdoor living room incorporates dual open-sided European-style gas fireplaces, constructed using Tandem® Wall. The same wall product was used to build seat walls around the perimeter of the patio, as well as columns for the pavilion, tying all of the outdoor rooms together into one cohesive design.
Consider built-in seating

Built-in seating is one of the leading trends in outdoor design and makes an excellent addition to an outdoor fireplace, adding both form and function to an outdoor room.

This custom natural stone fireplace is flanked with two seat walls, constructed with Celtik® Wall. The rough-hewn face of the Celtik® Wall adds a textural element to this eclectic design.

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Next week: If your yard is sloped, come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog for ideas on using terraced design to create more usable space.

Fireside Memories & S’mores Recipes

Last month, we reached out to our audience and asked them to share their fireside memories and favorite s’mores recipes with us as part of our National S’mores Day Fire Pit Giveway. We had an incredible response and received nearly 1,500 stories and over 600 recipes from all across the nation. It’s clear that spending time with loved ones around a fire is a heartwarming activity for people from all walks of life. Below are some of our favorite submissions. For more stories and recipes, be sure to visit the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook page, where we’ll be sharing more of these throughout the month.

Fireside Memories

The only time we got with my dad when we were children was camping. Being around the campfire making s’mores and telling stories was the best because we got a sweet treat, and we got my dad’s undivided attention finally. And mine were always the gooiest!   – Douglasville, GA

Sitting around a fire is one of the few great things I can still remember about my childhood with my grandparents.   -Algonquin, IL

I remember the kids being little and me running around to make sure they didn’t poke anyone or create little fireballs. Kids, now adults, still have fun making fireside s’mores, and I STILL run around trying to make sure they don’t poke each other and create little fireballs!  -Reston, VA

We made s’mores with my grandson on a makeshift fire pit just before my husband was diagnosed with cancer. My grandson’s response was so amazing. He was three.  It was really special to have that first experience with him.  -Trinity, FL

Every year we have a family reunion at our home. Family members fly in from all around the United States for a one-week event where we have a few nights of cookouts in our backyard. And s’mores are part of that on our homemade fire pit.    -North Oaks, MN

My first s’mores experience was when I was nine years old. I was camping with friends and was introduced by my friend’s family. I’ll never forget the incredible taste and experience. It is something that I plan to one day pass on to my children as well.   -Joliet, IL

My favorite memory is making s’mores around the campfire as a Camp Fire Girl, fifty years ago. S’mores have been the best campfire treat for a long long time. So glad they get a special day each year. Now that’s getting your just desserts.  -Pleasant Valley, OR

Our family was in the backyard, around our store-bought fire pit, making s’mores. Our youngest son decided he had enough and told us that he was “going home.” In his mind, we were on a grand adventure, even though we were just in our backyard.   -Jacksonville, FL

S’mores Recipes

A lot of folks suggested augmenting a classic s’more by trading out the milk chocolate bar for other candy bars: Andes® mints, peanut butter cups, Heath® bars, Mr. Goodbar®, et cetera — all of which sound delicious! But here were some recipes that had a little extra creativity.

This is a Trader Joe’s s’more! Take a large marshmallow, carve a small hole and put in these items from Trader Joe’s (whatever amount fits): choc chunks, dried blueberries, dried coconut chips. After toasting that, put between two graham crackers or lemon shortbread cookies.    -Cumberland, ME

This is an adult s’mores recipe that I created and is amazing: Grand Marnier® marshmallows, milk chocolate bar, waffle cookies. The combination makes wonderful s’mores that are not overly sweet.     -N.Mandelke,  Los Gatos, CA

Vanilla graham crackers, chocolate, peanut butter and marshmallow. -Cary, IL

We line up four vanilla wafers on a plate, add a small Heath® bar and two toasted marshmallows. We then top it with four more vanilla wafers and press down. Delish!!  –T. Karnowski, Andover, MN

Shortbread cookies, dark chocolate squares, raspberries and marshmallows!  -Grandville, MI

We like to make s’mores cones — Ingredients: Sugar cones, mini marshmallows, crumbled graham crackers, chocolate chips. Directions: fill cones with remainder of ingredients to the top. Wrap in foil and lay on grate above coals for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool.  -S. Miller, Homer, LA

Our favorite way to make s’mores is with chewy ginger cookies instead of graham crackers. Two chewy ginger cookies (homemade or store bought) with a little Nutella® then add a toasted marshmallow. A delicious classic with a little extra ginger twist.  -Ventura, CA

Enjoy!

Next week’s blog: Come back to the blog next week to learn about using columns as an accent in outdoor living design.

Multi-Dimensional Fire Pit Patios That Add Flare to Outdoor Living

Fire pits continue to rise in popularity, and with good reason. They add a fun and relaxing element to any outdoor space. The latest fire pit trends involve incorporating multi-dimensional patio design to create the ultimate backyard haven. Below are 10 dimensional fire pit patio designs that would instantly become everyone’s favorite gathering spot in your backyard.

1. practical elegance

According to a recent national survey of landscape architects, built-in seating is one of the top trends in outdoor living. This fire pit patio incorporates built-in seat walls, yet also leaves room for optional patio furniture. The design also incorporates permeable pavers on both the patio flooring and the seat ledges, ensuring that rainwater instantly infiltrates into the hardscapes.

Products: Belair Wall® (fire pit/walls) and Urbana® Stone (pavers/seats).
2. Room with a View

This terraced patio incorporates both manufactured stone and natural stone to create a rustic look that coordinates well with the picturesque mountainside view.

Products: Mega-Lafitt® (pavers) and Country Manor® Fire Pit with Tandem® Wall Cap (fire pit trim).
3. Carved out of nature

This design takes the natural look a step further by not only using natural stone as a landscape accent, but as a integrated element of the walls and fire pit. The surrounding landscape wall functions as a way to define the outdoor room, but also provides a ledge for additional seating.

Products: Tandem® Wall (fire pit and landscape wall), Mega-Arbel® (primary paver field), Old World Paver™ (inlaid border), Urbana® Stone (border).
4. Sunken Outdoor Living Room

By terracing off a sloped yard with retaining walls, this homeowner was able to emulate the effect of a sunken living room off of the pool deck, creating an intimate fireside gathering spot.

Products: Belair Wall® (fire pit, steps and walls) and Lafitt® Rustic Slab (patio).
5. Destination Spot

This terraced fire pit patio offers built-in enclosed seating on three sides, but leaves the fourth wall completely open for foot traffic. The angular design adds a formal touch to balance the rough-hewn textures of the hardscapes.

Products: Celtik® Wall (steps, fire pit and walls) and Mega-Arbel® (pavers).
6. Private Retreat

Natural greenery creates a virtual wall to block the wind and create an intimate atmosphere for this terraced fire pit patio. A retaining wall adds a finished look and provides a ledge for additional built-in seating.

Products: Weston Stone® (fire pit and seat wall) and Mega-Lafitt® (patio pavers and steps).
7. Intimate Nook

The low profile of the fire pit makes the seat wall the focal point of this design. The elegant arched wall is flanked with columns to create a striking look. The sunken level surrounding the fire pit creates a ledge that’s the perfect height for small children to sit and enjoy the fire.

Products: Weston Stone® (fire pit and seat wall) and Urbana® Stone (pavers).
8. Mediterranean flare

The decorative wall surrounding this fire pit uses Mediterranean design influences to help define the perimeter of the patio. The multi-level terraced design adds to the stylish look.

Products: Weston Stone® (wall/columns), Belair Wall® (fire pit/stairs), Mega-Arbel® (primary paver field), Old World Paver™ (inlaid paver border) and Urbana® Stone (paver border).
9. Integrated Design

Sweeping arches define the separate “rooms” of this multi-dimensional outdoor living space, tying everything together into one cohesive and flowing design. Built-in low-voltage hardscape lighting adds ambience and adds a safety factor for each of the level changes.

Products: Belair Wall® (fire pit, steps, seat walls, columns), Mega-Arbel® (fire pit patio pavers) and Lafitt® (pool deck).
10. Kitchen adjacent

This fire pit patio connects to the outdoor kitchen and provides an excellent place for family and guests to gather while the outdoor chef prepares dinner. Paver designs help define the transition from one outdoor “room” to the next.

Products: Weston Stone® (seat walls, columns, kitchen), Lafitt® Rustic Slab (transition, borders), Bullnose Paver (step), Old World Paver™ (inlaid paver border), Mega-Arbel® (primary paver field).

 

Explore the Outdoor Living Spaces of the 2017 Coastal Living Idea House

Belgard is proud to once again partner with Coastal Living magazine as a sponsor of the 2017 Coastal Living Idea House, located in the historic New England town of Newport, Rhode Island. The bay-front home boasts amazing panoramic waterfront views and is packed with classic style, smart decorating ideas and a trove of seaside inspiration. As the official hardscapes sponsor, we are excited to offer you this virtual tour of some of the home’s more than 1,000 square feet of outdoor living spaces.

Varied sizes of Provence® Slab are laid on the bias and bordered in large 15×30 pieces. The limestone driveway is lined with rustic Bergerac® pavers to add a contrasting texture and tie in with the brown color tones of the home’s exterior.

Step up to this welcoming front porch by way of the lovely Belgard walkway. The featured paver chosen for the Newport Idea House is our new Provence® Slab, which utilizes the innovative Satura™ color technology to offer the most realistic look and feel of natural stone available in a manufactured paver. To complement the blue color theme used throughout the interior and exterior of the home, the designers chose the Shenandoah Blue paver color, which emulates the look of natural bluestone and includes variegations of brown tones to coordinate with the home’s taupe siding. The paver sizes were varied and laid at a 45-degree bias to add a formal touch to what are otherwise casual outdoor living spaces.

Next, step onto the rear terrace, which includes multiple lounging areas, a dining area and a pool.  Striped fabrics and vibrant blue pillows pair with crisp white wicker to create a nautical ambiance.

Garden Wall: Celtik® Wall. Pavers: Provence® Slab.
Photo credits: Amy Neunsinger (top), Chipper Hatter (bottom).

Lastly, join us on the charming fire pit patio. A circular design of rustic Bergerac® pavers centers on a Countryside Fire Pit, beckoning guests to gather and share fireside chats while taking in the breathtaking view of Easton Bay.

Photo: Amy Neunsinger

The home is currently open for tours  Thursdays through Sundays through September 4, 2017.  For more information on dates and times, click here.  To virtually explore the interior spaces of this amazing home, visit the 2017 Coastal Living Idea House web page.