Project Planning: Outdoor Kitchens

The popularity of outdoor living spaces is on the rise – and with good reason! A well designed and installed outdoor living feature offers one of the highest return on investment for homeowners when remodeling. Homeowners and trade professionals across the country are asking about the Belgard Outdoor Kitchen Elements (by Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc.). This new product line creates a cohesive and seamless look as the elements are constructed with the same materials as your outdoor hardscape. They come with a warranty that is unmatched in the outdoor kitchen industry, and are available with MediumRare and OCS grills and accessories. The wood fired brick ovens feature an interior cooking dome constructed by Chicago Brick Oven. These pre-built modular kitchens can be ordered as individual cabinets or as pre-designed layouts. Other options such as wine cabinets, display niches, fireplaces, water features and much more are also available. The combination possibilities for custom layouts, colors and accents materials are endless.

We asked Joe Raboine, President of Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc. to share a few tips on creating a successful outdoor kitchen. He offered these items for consideration:

Initial Planning

  • How is the kitchen going to be incorporated into your existing outdoor living spaces? You want to ensure that it blends into the rest of the hardscape area.
  • Take time to consider the placement of your brick oven or grill. Prevailing winds may force the smoke into your house or exterior dining spaces – not a good situation and difficult to remedy.
  • How many people do you typically cook for – this will determine the grill size, work space, etc.
  • Do you want the kitchen to be fully functioning with a sink, natural gas, etc? If so, make sure you check codes and find a qualified installer who can coordinate those aspects.
  • Try to locate the kitchen near your house – preferably near your existing kitchen or family area. If located too far away, it will not be used often.
  • What type of materials do you want to use to build/face your outdoor kitchen? Make sure that whatever you chose blends in well with your home and hardscape.
  • When considering kits, site built, full mansonry, pre-built, etc. make sure that you are choosing a product that will hold up well for the long term in your climate. Extreme temperature swings can wreak havoc on outdoor structures if not designed, installed or planned properly.

Selecting Features

  • What features do you want most in your outdoor kitchen (ex. Grill, bar, refrigerator, etc)?
  • If you want to incorporate a bar, you may want to consider a sink, bar station, larger refrigerator, speed rail, ice chest and/or a keg cooler.
  • Have you considered a wood fired brick oven? They are extremely popular right now and provide an element that is both interesting and entertaining.
  • What type of countertop do you want? The standard Belgard top features an inlay of polished granite based concrete, but you can also have someone install a granite or concrete counter on-site.

 

Regulations & Safety

  • Make sure that your rear landings are large enough that when bringing food in and out of the house, you are safe.
  • Make sure to check local building codes for kitchens – especially setback requirements.
  • Make sure your kitchen comes with a warranty!

According to Belgard’s Vice President, Ken O’Neill, planning is the key to satisfaction. Ken says, “All projects that result in a happy customer start with good planning. Ensuring that the project’s budget and scope are well defined are important steps in the planning process. Selecting a good contractor also helps. A Belgard Authorized Contractor can help set the table for your design. They can provide design options using Belgard products and in some cases provide a 3D rendering of the design to allow the customer to visualize the completed project.”

Visit our website for inspirational outdoor kitchen photos or to locate a Belgard Authorized Contractor in your area.

Grilled Diver Scallops with Pistachio Crumble, Cucumber and Feta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette

Serves 4

For grilled scallops:

8 large diver scallops

2 tbs pistachio oil*

1 tbs lemon

salt and pepper to taste

For cucumber salad:

2 English cucumbers

1/2 cup crumbled feta

2 tbs chopped red onion

1 tsp chopped oregano

1 cup olive oil

2 tbs lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

For pistachio crumbles:

1 cup shelled pistachios

1 tbs dry oregano

1 tsp chili flakes

1 tbs sesame seeds (toasted)

For roasted strawberries:

1/2 cup strawberries (quartered)

1 tbs olive oil

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs mint leaves (finely chopped)

Instructions:

For scallops:

Rub scallops with pistachio oil and season with salt and pepper. Put on grill fat side down and sear on one side on high heat (about 4 minutes). When charred, turn scallops and cook on low heat about 1 minute or until desired doneness.

For cucumber salad:

Toss all ingredients together in mixing bowl.

For pistachio crumbles:

In a food processor, combine all ingredients until a powder is achieved.

For roasted strawberries:

In a hot saute pan, add olive oil. Add strawberries. Saute 1-2 minutes or until somewhat soft. Add vinegar, turn off heat and add mint.

To Serve:

Dip warm scallops in crumble until well coated on seared side. Bake in hot oven or on hot grill to brown for about 1 minute. Arrange cucumber salad on plate with some additional crumble and crumbled feta. Drizzle with strawberry vinaigrette. Place scallops on salad and redress with fresh lemon and olive oil. Serve with toasted pita or crusty bread and a drizzle of olive oil.

*Pistachio Oil: In food processor, add 3/4 cup pistachios (shelled, preferably toasted) and 1 cup of light olive oil. Puree the mixture, until desired consistency is reached. Let it sit overnight or for several hours until the mixture settles. Skim off the oil which is now pistachio infused.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the Western Pistachio Association

Belgard Leads the Way for a Rebounding Industry

The Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard’s center for research on U.S. housing, released an article last week stating that a healthy rebound for remodeling is expected in 2010. According to the article, research suggests that annual spending will reach nearly a 5% growth rate in 2010.

Director of the JCHS, Nicolas P. Retsinas, stated, “The gradual recovery in the broader economy should encourage more remodeling spending by homeowners. This year could produce the first annual spending increase for the industry since 2006.”

Belgard has been preparing for this increase by boosting efforts on the national and local levels to raise awareness and improve education for both trade professionals and homeowners. Making educated decisions and providing quality service will increase loyalty and satisfaction for all of Belgard’s customers.

For the professionals, Belgard offers a series of certification classes and seminars through Belgard University. Established in 1995, Belgard University provides the latest tools, techniques and programs in the market today. Here are just a few of the advantages BU has to offer:

  • Receive new 2010 Belgard literature
  • Be the first to see our new 2010 product launches
  • Network with other trade professionals
  • Learn valuable tips your competitor is not
  • Earn ICPI and NCMA certification

This year’s curriculum also includes exclusive presentations from Belgard product partners including Chicago Brick Oven, Harmony Elements and Medium Rare.

In 2010, Belgard has also reached out to dealers and contractors through the Belgard Co-op Program. This program offers assistance in creating and executing advertising campaigns at the local level. Participants receive help in implementing plans that can raise overall brand awareness or create a buzz for specific events. Belgard has received great feedback in regards to the co-op program.

As a result of increased efforts to the trade, Belgard’s trade professionals are sharing their education with homeowners through local DIY clinics and workshops. Through these local events, homeowners have had the opportunity to watch live Chicago Brick Oven demonstrations (and enjoy wood-fired pizza), visit local product displays and learn hands on from trade professionals about the quality and versatility of Belgard products. A full listing of upcoming events can be found on the Outdoor Living by Belgard Facebook fan page.

As the market conditions become more favorable, Belgard will continue to empower professionals and homeowners alike by providing educational tools and hands-on experiences. Visit us at www.belgard.com to learn more about building your future through Belgard Hardscapes.

Click here to view the full article “Healthy Rebound for Remodeling Expected in 2010”.

Belgard Introduces the Chicago Brick Oven Collection

Belgard recently announced the addition of the Chicago Brick Oven collection to their product line.  “We have always focused on creating a spectacular outdoor living environment,” states Ken O’Neill, Vice President of Belgard Hardcapes. “The addition of the Chicago Brick Oven Collection will help homeowners and contractors create a focal point for outdoor living spaces without the hassle of working with multiple distributors.” The ovens are light-weight, easy to install and can fit into a variety of landscape design and styles.

The oven line includes a variety of pre-fabricated models, “finish-it-yourself” models, and oven kits bundled with Belgard’s hardscape products. The flagship of the oven product line is the series created especially for world-renowned New York chef and restaurateur Mario Batali. “Nothing beats the authentic taste of food cooked in a wood-fired oven,” states Batali, who purports the wood-fire cooking method for bringing out the natural flavor of food.

The above picture shows a combination of modular units from the Nottingham collection. The Nottingham Brick Oven comes in two pieces. The top unit features a wood-fired brick oven and the bottom unit is designed for wood storage. The kit also includes a pizza peel and brush. In addition, this outdoor area features the Nottingham Bar/Grill Island. To view the full collection of modular units offered through Belgard, visit our website to download the 2010 Belgard Elements product catalog.

Over the coming months, Belgard and Chicago Brick Ovens will be co-hosting a number of events to promote the product line partnership and illustrate a variety of uses, design options, and product specifications. In addition to trade show presentations, Belgard will be offering specification and design information on their new oven line at upcoming Belgard University distributor training classes.

Visit the BelgardOutdoorLiving YouTube channel to see a Chicago Brick Oven in action.

Creating A Modular Outdoor Living Area

For those ready to foray into the world of outdoor living, the experts at Belgard and Harmony offer the following advice when it comes to creating a modular outdoor living space.

Consultation is Key

Colors and design elements should complement both the architecture of the home and the lifestyle of the homeowner.  It’s important that the contractor know how the homeowner envisions using the space. Form should create function, not impede it.  Get to know your contractor so that your outdoor refuge reflects your personality.

Know Your Codes

Nothing is more frustrating than a design that cannot be implemented due to setback restrictions or a compromised foundation. Design elements like a kitchen bar or a fireplace often require additional foundation work, such as a thicker layer of gravel, or cement pads or footings. Knowing these details before you begin your design will save you a lot of time, headaches, and ultimately, money.

Choose Wisely

Choose a reputable product line that offers a variety of styles and options. Check to see if there is a local supplier with a showroom or spec sites.  A design may look good on paper but have a different feel in full-scale. Be sure to get full disclosure on all product warranties.

Get Creative

Just because you’re designing with modular units doesn’t mean each project needs to be a cookie cutter of the next. Don’t be afraid to vary your designs with texture, color, and dimension.  Mix complimentary elements, hues, curves and lines that work in harmony with the home’s environment.  Create focal points and use paver variations and design elements to create lines that lead to them. Consider using retaining walls or seat walls to define different areas and provide additional seating.  Remember to consider what the purpose and future usage of each space will be and to leave adequate room for walking, gathering, and furniture.

Phasing it Out

If you don’t have the budget to create your dream now, discuss the option of building the project in phases. If planned correctly, you can add an element at a time until the dream is complete. Once the site is excavated and leveled, have your contractor run lines for future plumbing and electrical. Most modular units are designed so that these elements can be added after the fact, but preplanned buried lines are much more aesthetically pleasing. And if you know ahead of time where the heavier elements will be, you can properly prepare the foundation to prevent sag.

Sample Design Project


A fire table with an elevated bar was placed adjacent to the dining area to provide an element of interest and additional seating. The table includes a beaded glass top, built-in natural gas burner, and wood box. In the background, the fireplace wall continues to define the perimeter of the space and is capped with a pillar unit with additional lighting.

Opposite the fireplace and flanking the rear of the home is a fire pit living area designed to create a separate cozy conversation area, yet still coordinate with the colors and textures of the other units and the exterior of the home.

The only element constructed on site can be the patio with buried plumbing and electrical lines. All other elements can be prefabricated in a factory setting, shipped on palettes, and placed on site using a Bobcat. Within hours, a patio can be transformed into a designer living space using modular units.

For more inspiration on building your backyard paradise, visit our Outdoor Living Gallery!

Grilled Chicken Rice Salad with Pineapple and Pistachios

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Dressing

1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks (packed in juice), drained, 1/3 cup juice reserved

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, grilled and cut into cubes

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped

4 large lettuce leaves

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

To make the dressing: Reserve pineapple chunks for salad. In small bowl, stir 1/3 cup pineapple juice with oil, salt, and pepper.

To make salad: In medium bowl, combine reserved pineapple chunks, chicken, rice, bell pepper, and red onion. Add dressing and toss gently to mix.

Arrange lettuce leaves on 4 plates. Top with salad and sprinkle with pistachios.

Recipe and photo provided courtesy of Prevention.