2017 Outdoor Living Contractor Wish List

In addition to our homeowner audience, the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog is read by many of Belgard’s industry partners. This week’s blog is a nod to those hardworking professionals who create beautiful outdoor living spaces. With that in mind, we offer season’s greetings to our designers and installers with this year’s favorite picks of gadgets, tools and gift ideas for the Belgard Professional.

VIRTUAL REALITY GOGGLES

VR is no longer just for gameplay, but can be a powerful design and sales tool. With the Belgard Design Studio‘s new Virtual Reality platform, you can immerse a client into the design of their future outdoor living space. Simply slip a smartphone into VR goggles to see a 360-degree view of the design as though standing in the actual future space. Contact your local Belgard rep to learn more about receiving your own Belgard VR goggles.

CONCRETE Cup GRINDER

This handy tool will be integral in turning jobs faster in 2018. Earlier this year, Belgard debuted the revolutionary new Techniseal® DriBond™ Advanced Dry Mudset for laying thin pavers over existing concrete, thus eliminating the need for concrete demolition and removal. A concrete cup grinder will help level and prep the slab for the overlay process, allowing contractors to take advantage of overlay opportunities. The concrete cup grinder can also be used for a host of different hardscape applications and is a versatile tool that all crews should have in their toolbox.

AERIAL VIDEO DRONES

Those who read the Contractor Wish List each year know that we regularly recommend buying an aerial video drone. Well, with good reason. The technology continues to improve and get easier to use, making it a must-have for the savvy designer or installer who wants to showcase their work on a website or social media platform. Each year, PC Magazine does an in-depth report on the best drones of the year. Click here for their 2017 favorites.

BATTERY-OPERATED PAVER PLACER™

Large-format pavers are a tremendously popular trend in contemporary patio design, which can be back-breaking work to install. Pav Mor® offers a full line of paver-placing tools that help to both reduce injuries and speed installation. Many of their models work off of a standard air compressor, but the one shown is this photo is a battery-operated model that can allow the freedom to function far away from an outlet.

WESTON FIRE PIT KIT

There’s an old saying that states, “The cobblers children have no shoes.” Many an outdoor living professional has neglected his or her own backyard to spend time beautifying other people’s homes. But the Weston Stone® Fire Pit Kit is so easy to install, the kids will not only have shoes this year, but will be roasting marshmallows to boot.

Seat Wall Design Ideas

According to annual national surveys conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects, built-in seating has regularly been among the top 10 trends in outdoor living design in recent years. The reason for this is simple…people are spending a lot more time in their outdoor living spaces, and they’re bringing friends. Plus, there’s only so much you can do with traditional furniture, and it typically needs to be replaced periodically due to exposure to sun, rain and critters. Whereas, built-in seating provides a more permanent solution and can perform multiple roles within the design. In addition to providing a place to sit, a seat wall can act as a functional design element to define the space itself. Whether you need to control the slope of your yard, or are just looking for a way to define the transition from one outdoor room to the next, a seat wall may be the design solution to your seating needs.

Fire pit seating

Seat walls provide an excellent design solution for fire pit patios. The wall itself helps to reflect the heat to provide a cozier environment. In addition, the bench-style seating can accommodate more people than traditional chairs. For additional comfort, add pillows or cushions.

Add definition to an open area with the addition of a seat wall. This design incorporates a curved seat wall to coordinate with the round fire pit and curved patio.
WALL PRODUCT: Castle Manor™ Wall.
A curved seat wall helped to create a cozy alcove adjacent to the porch of this home. Bullnose coping was used to soften the seating edge of the rustic wall. To tie the design together, the same coping was used to cap the fire pit.
WALL PRODUCT: Celtik® Wall
This fire pit patio incorporates an L-shaped seat wall to coordinate with the square fire pit and angular patio design. Built-in arm rests help provide a finished.
WALL PRODUCT: Weston Stone®
.   .  .
ADDING FORM AND FUNCTION

A retaining wall or perimeter wall can easily be embellished and converted into built-in seating to create a more functional space.

The slope of this yard presented a significant grade change, which required a retaining wall in order to build the pool. The designer took advantage of the grade change to create tiered seating around the fire pit, also creating the perfect built-in “movie night” setup.
WALL PRODUCT: Celtik® Wall
By adding a ledge to this perimeter wall, additional permanent seating was created to provide a conversation area for this patio.
WALL PRODUCT: Tandem® Wall.
This fire pit patio is adjacent to an outdoor bar area. The seat wall extends from the built-in bar to defines the perimeter of the space and provide seating for both the bar and the fire pit, creating a multi-purpose entertainment zone.
WALL PRODUCT: Weston Stone®
.    .   .
Incorporating Natural Elements

When using manufactured stone to build seat walls, natural materials can be incorporated into the design to add visual interest.

This seat wall incorporates natural wood into the design, using wooden posts for the seat ledge and back rest. Mitered edges and a stair-stepped design soften the look and create an intimate space.
WALL PRODUCT: Weston Stone®
This design uses natural stone for the seat ledges and the stair treads leading to the back porch. The designer also took advantage of the terraced design to construct a planter wall for a raised flower bed, creating the feel of a sunken outdoor living room.
WALL PRODUCT: Weston Stone®
.   .   .
Terraced Design

Terraced design lends itself well to the addition of seat walls, as a retaining wall is already being used to create the terrace and needs only to be embellished with a seat ledge.

A ledge wall is added to this terrace and continues along the wall of the house to create a curved seating area. The terrace and exterior wall of the home act as built-in back rests. Low-voltage lighting was installed under the seat ledge to provide ambiance during evening gatherings.
WALL PRODUCT: Belair® Wall
A curved ledge wall was added to this terraced retaining wall to create seating for the fire pit. The designer also took advantage of the multiple grade changes to add planters at every level and create a built-in vertical garden.
WALL PRODUCT: Celtik® Wall

Next week: The holidays are just around the corner! Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog for holiday backyard entertaining ideas.

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.

And, the Winner of a Fabulous New Belgard Fire Pit is….

In honor of National S’mores Day, Belgard hosted a fire pit giveaway contest. As part of the entry process, we asked everyone to submit their favorite fireside memories and s’mores recipes to share on the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog, and we got a tremendous response! Thank you to everyone who shared all of your special moments and ideas with us. We look forward to sharing some of our favorites with you next week.

Congratulations to our
Belgard Fire Pit Winner:

 WENDY P. from PENNSYLVANIA

Wendy’s S’mores Recipe:

Chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows and caramel-filled
chocolate bars! Makes a very yummy s’more!!

We hope that Wendy enjoys her new Belgard fire pit and continues to make more outdoor memories for years to come. Come back to the blog next week for some of our favorite picks of fireside memories and mouth-watering s’mores recipes submitted from around the nation.

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.

In Honor of National S’mores Day, We’re Giving Away a Belgard Fire Pit!

Today is National S’mores Day, so get ready for some ooey, gooey, chocolatey goodness. In honor of this delectable treat, we picked today to kick off our contest to win a fabulous Belgard Fire Pit!

Fire pits have become one of the fastest growing trends in outdoor living design, and with good reason. They appeal to people of all ages and instantly become everyone’s favorite gathering spot. Fire pits have the magical ability to break down generational barriers as everyone gathers around the flames, sharing remembrances while creating new ones. It just so happens that many of those memories include roasting marshmallows, which is why we chose to celebrate National S’mores Day with a fire pit giveaway.

As part of the fire pit giveaway contest, we’re collecting s’mores recipes and fireside memories from people around the nation to share with our blog readers. We all know the classic s’mores recipe of a roasted marshmallow sandwiched with milk chocolate and graham crackers, but maybe your family has come up with a new twist — like using Andes mint chocolates or peppermint bark. If you’ve tried a fun variation, we’d love to hear about it. We’d also love to share some of those fireside memories that make gathering around a fire such a meaningful pastime.

The contest ends August 31, so click the link below to enter today!

Enter Now for Your Chance to Win!

 

Coming up next week:

Come back next week to get a sneak peek at the outdoor living spaces of the 2017 Coastal Living Idea House in Newport, Rhode Island.