Extending Your Patio Season Year Round

By guest blogger Katie Kuchta

Katie Kuchta

Katie Kuchta is a gardening guru, outdoor living expert, and self-proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos, follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.

Homeowners who have recently hardscaped with a newly built patio space will want to use it year round. Adding hardscaping to your outdoor space can help to lengthen your enjoyment outdoors all year long. Depending on your location, being able to use your outdoor patio can vary depending on weather conditions and seasons in your area. However, there are many different ways that you can get full use of your beautiful new patio with these easy tips:

Use The Grill

Outdoor Patio Grill Pavers Hardscapes

Seasons in some regions allow homeowners to use their patio space well into the winter compared to other areas of the country. Areas like Kansas City, Tucson, Atlanta and parts of Texas have been reported to be ranked in the top metro areas for backyard grilling so take advantage of the extended warmer climate by choosing to grill dinner out on the patio. Making this a habit will not only help keep the house cooler by not using the oven, but will also encourage you to spend time out on the patio with family and friends.

Shield from the Elements

Outdoor Patio Paver Wind Shield

Using your patio means being outside but that doesn’t mean that you have to bear all of the elements that outdoor living can bring. Consider adding a pergola or sun shade above your patio to help lengthen the amount of time that you can comfortably use the area. Shielding yourself from the hot summer sun will help to keep you comfortable and enjoy your outdoor space. If you live in a particularly windy area, consider adding side curtains or awnings that can help to protect you from gusts of wind as well.

Add a Drink Station

Outdoor Brick Kitchen Cooler

For warm days out on the patio, consider adding a drink station that is stocked with your favorite staples such as bottled water, soda, or spirits. Many products are now available that include well-hidden coolers that will add beauty to your outdoor area without the eyesore of a cooler. Another great idea is to have a large amount of ice cold tea or lemonade in easy to use carafes. Making it easy for visitors to grab a drink will cut down on time going indoors and extend the use of your patio area.

Heat It Up

Outdoor Fireplace Brick Pavers

When in a colder area with cooler fall and winter temperatures, consider adding an outdoor heating element that will help to extend your time outdoors. Both small and large heaters can offer instant warmth to a cooler outdoor space. Incorporating a fire pit into your patio space is also a great way to add heat along with the ambience and welcoming scent of a crackling fire.

Consider the Brighton Fireplace Series from Belgard that features an impressive fireplace that is flanked by beautiful stone. Sources of heat are a great way to lengthen your time outdoors to enjoy the sights and sounds of the changing seasons.

Provide Extra Seating

Outdoor Patio Pavers Seating

You’ll want to share your new patio space with family and friends after finishing a patio project. Be sure to provide adequate seating for all of your guests by purchasing different pieces of outdoor furniture. Start with a main focal piece of furniture and then add in other easy types of seating like extra chairs or footstools that double as seats. Adding cut slabs of a fallen tree is another great way to add extra outdoor seating while also using natural elements.

Using a retaining wall as extra seating is also a great way to easily add room for everyone. Having easy to use pieces of extra seating in an outdoor space will encourage gatherings and more time spent outdoors.

There is absolutely no reason why beautiful patio spaces shouldn’t be used year round. Consider adding extra seating and heating elements to help encourage friends and neighbors to join you outdoors. Cover your patio space from the elements and provide an easy to use drink station to enjoy your outdoor space. Follow these tips to creating a patio area that will be well used all year long.

Decorative Ways to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space in Colder Months

Just because the temperature has dropped doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the outdoors. There are a number of decorative ways to keep your outdoor spaces livable during the winter months that add both ambiance and warmth.

Fire Features

Fire pitarbel_stone_urbana_stone_aqua_rock_horz_1_rt-newedits are currently one of the top must-haves in outdoor living, and with good reason. They easily fit into any outdoor living design and provide a spot for groups of any age to gather and enjoy the outdoors. Whether roasting hot dogs or s’mores, sharing a bottle of wine, or just having a cup of hot cocoa, everyone loves sitting around the fire pit. For design tips and trends, check out our fire pit design blog.

Outdoor fireplaces make a dramatic statement and become the focal point of your outdoor living design. Not only will it add physical warmth to your outdoor living space, it will become the favorite spot for enjoying a glass of wine or an intimate conversation. When designing your outdoor living space, remember that gas fireplaces can be placed just about anywhere, but a wood-burning version will likely need to be 10 or more feet from any structure.

Gas fire tables also make an excellent gathering spot and typically either emulate the look of a coffee table or a high-top bar. There are endless varieties available for purchase from retail outlets. However, a built-in fire table constructed with Belgard wall products will be much more durable and will actually add to the value of your home.

Decorative Heaters

tabletop1Tabletop propane heaters come in a number of sizes and decorative styles and are available from various hardware stores and online retail outlets. They typically heat a 5-foot radius and operate off of 1-pound propane cylinders that can be found at just about any hardware, sporting goods, or camping supply store. Although it will vary by heater, each cylinder only lasts a few hours, so it might be a good idea to buy cylinders in bulk to get you through the season.

Full-size propane heaters also come in a number of decorative styles. With higher heat output than the tabletop versions, they heat a wider radius (6-7 feet) and operate off of a standard refillable propane tank. Be wary of operating taller units under a porch, which could potentially cause heat damage to the porch ceiling. One way to help alleviate this possibility is to run nearby ceiling fans in “reverse” mode while heaters are in operation, which will disperse the rising heat without blowing cold air onto guests.

lamp3Endless Summer offers a line of electric patio lamp-style heaters that come in both tabletop and floor models and are available from a variety of retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Amazon. Each heater looks like a standard lamp, but actually functions as both a lamp and a heater, offering a soft glow and heating up to 144 square feet, depending upon the model. The only drawback is that an outlet needs to be nearby.

hanging3Decorative hanging heaters are a more permanent option and are available in natural gas and infrared (electric) models. Both can be designed to operate from a wall switch and will heat a large area, approximately 10 feet in diameter, depending upon the model.

Homey Accessories

Adding retractable solar shades to a porch will not only provide protection from the glaring sun in summer months, they can also help keep you warm in the winter by blocking the wind and helping to hold in any ambient warmth created by area heaters.

Comfy throws not only add a cozy look to your outdoor space, they provide that extra layer that some folks need to keep warm. Decorative outdoor bins can be a good place to store throws; however, you may want to choose an easy-to-carry basket that can be stored indoors when not in use, which will keep your throws free of unwanted critters.

Tour the 2016 Coastal Living Showhouse in The Hamptons

As the official hardscape supplier of the 2016 Coastal Living Showhouse located in the heart of the quintessential coastal community of The Hamptons, Belgard is proud to offer you this virtual tour of the outdoor living areas of the elegant coastal cottage — including charming cobbled walks, tailored garden walls, a contemporary poolscape, and an inviting outdoor living room with a gourmet grill station.

To begin our virtual tour, take a step back in time to the cobbled streets of yesteryear, with a stroll down the Old World Paver™ driveway and adjoining walkway (color: Sable Blend).

Next, enter the elegant poolscape, constructed with Stones 2.0 Porcelain Pavers to create a contemporary modular design (color: Pierre Blue). Because Belgard Porcelain Pavers can be installed over a variety of bases, the same pavers were able to be used on the pool deck (traditional paver base) and the adjoining stepping stones (grass base) and porches (concrete base), which helped to create a cohesive outdoor living design.

On your way to the cabana, take in the cozy backdrop of the surrounding garden walls, built with the natural stone look of Tandem® Wall in an ashlar pattern (color: Bella).

Tandem Wall also serves to enclose the relaxing outdoor living room with connecting grill station. Fireplace and grill island pieces from the Bordeaux Series of the Belgard Elements Collection serve as focal points for the inviting outdoor living space (color: Midnight). Stones 2.0 Porcelain Pavers provide the patio flooring for the living room and connect with the pool deck via the stepping-stone walkway.

“The coloring and trim of Belgard’s Midnight Bordeaux Elements flowed very nicely with the rest of the outdoor space, as we were going for a comfortable, coastal look,” said Calais Ongania with landscape design firm Mahoney Associates, Inc.. “To soften up the hardscapes, our team used bluegrass, hydrangea, and other flowers of similar color to tie into the grill and fireplace coloring, but give the backyard a warm feel.”

landscape design team: calais Ongania and nasir molla, Mahoney Associates, Inc.

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For more on the Coastal Living Showhouse, click here. The home will be open to the public through September 4, 2016.

Holiday Outdoor Entertaining

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Baby, it’s cold outside..but don’t let that stop you from enjoying your outdoor living spaces with family and friends this holiday season. Here are some tips for entertaining outdoors in colder weather that embrace the holiday spirit.

The Fire is So Delightful

There’s a reason that outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are one of the fastest growing trends in outdoor living: there’s just something universal about sitting around a fire. The dancing flames, the smokey aroma, the gentle crackle…fire’s are mesmerizing! This holiday season, it’s time to invest in that fire feature you’ve been wanting. And, be sure and stock up on wood and marshmallows.

All is Calm, All is Bright

Festive lighting is essential to any holiday gathering. String lights and candles will not only create a holiday atmosphere, they provide lighting that’s softer and more intimate than standard overhead lights. For creative ideas on outdoor lighting, check out our lighting ideas blog.

Jingle Bells. Jingle Bells.

What’s a party without music? A boring party, that’s what. If you don’t have a sound system in your outdoor space, don’t fret. There are a number of inexpensive bluetooth speakers on the market that will allow you and your friends to take turns showcasing your holiday playlists. Or set your iPad on a Pandora or Spotify station, link it to the speaker, and you’re good to go. When you’re ready to install something more permanent, look into the Sonos wi-fi system, which will allow you to link together your indoor sound system, desktop computer, any number of devices, and an outdoor speaker system that can all be operated together or in separate zones, all from a smart phone or other device.

Here We Come A-Wassailing

Sometimes it helps to warm your guests from the inside out. Be sure and have warm drinks available, like traditional English wassail, hot buttered rum, or peppermint cocoa. But to make sure they’re warm on the outside, too, it’s probably a good idea to keep lots of throws handy. You may want to consider investing in some tabletop and full-size butane heaters, which are available in a number of attractive styles, shapes and sizes from just about every hardware store. Just remember to keep extra fuel tanks on hand.

Oh, Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

No holiday entertaining blog would be complete without a mention of food. You might want to skip the figgy pudding, though. It’s not that great. Stick to small bites like cocktail meatballs and goat cheese crostinis. The primary issue with outdoor holiday entertaining is keeping food warm in the cold. You may want to keep the food station indoors or use covered warming trays outdoors.

Fall DIY Project: Lavender Pine Cone Fire Starters

ideas for enjoying your Belgard Backyard from
Lifestyle and Entertaining Expert, Alexandra Hedin.

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The outdoors provides the perfect spot for entertaining during the crisp days of fall – but those crisp days also call for a way to stay warm. An outdoor fire is the perfect centerpiece for a fall celebration. A basket full of pine cone fire starters next to your fire pit or outdoor fireplace invites the party to continue as the evening cools down.

Homemade fire starters are easy to make. By making them yourself, you can infuse them with scents like lavender, which is a natural mosquito repellent.

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Here’s what you’ll need

  • Muffin tin
  • 12 paper muffin liners
  • 1 ½ pounds paraffin wax
  • Candle wick
  • 12 dried pine cones
  • Dried lavender blossoms & sticks
  • 8-10 drops lavender essential oil

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Fire Starter StepsHere’s how to make them

Step 1: Line the muffin pan with the muffin papers. Fill each paper half full with cut pieces of lavender sticks. Top each one with a few blooms.

Step 2: Wrap a short length of candle wick around each pine cone and place on the top of the lavender blooms. Make sure the wick is sticking out of the top.

Step 3: Melt the paraffin wax in a double boiler over low heat. If you don’t have a proper double boiler, fill a small pan with an inch or two of water and place a mason jar in the center of the pan. Fill the mason jar with small chunks of wax.

Step 4: When the wax has melted, add a few drops of essential oil. Gently pour melted wax into each cup until filled to the top.

Step 5: Let cool. You can leave the starters in the paper cups or remove them. The paper provides an additional point of lighting when you are starting a fire.

* Hot tip * The wax melts easier in smaller portions. Divide the wax in three equal quantities and work in batches.

For more inspiration, recipes, and crafts visit alexandrahedin.com.

Our Outdoor Room Wish List

Our Outdoor Room Wish List

Homeowners are moving out – outside that is – turning their plain patios into outdoor rooms with all the conveniences of the indoors, extending their home’s square footage. So what would be on your outdoor room wish list? Ours would look a little like this:

Big Screen TV

You can’t throw a tailgate without the game and that’s why our wish list includes a permanent outdoor television. For those who can’t get enough of the action, add multiple screens so you can keep up with all the scores in real time. Extra points for built-in surround sound!

Outdoor Kitchen

The most important – OK, the second most important – part of tailgating is the food. Create the ultimate outdoor kitchen with all of the equipment needed to pull off the winning game day menu, such as a built-in grill and ice maker.

Comfortable Seating

With Thursday Night Football, NCAA Saturdays, Sunday Night Football, and Monday Night Football – that’s a whole lot of football. Not to mention all the other sports you’ll be watching in your outdoor room. Design a room with seating that is comfortable enough to last four quarters and then some. Deep cushion seating makes the outdoors feel like the comfort of inside.

Fire Pit/Fireplace

As playoffs get closer and the season is warming up, the temperatures outside are cooling down. Stay warm and toasty during your tailgate with a fire pit or fireplace. Pre-built modular pieces like those from the Belgard Elements Collection are quick and easy to install, allowing for minimal disruption to the football season.