Terraced Design Adds Form and Function to a Sloped Yard

This home originally had a steeply sloped and mostly unusable yard. With the help of a multi-level terraced design, it was converted into a family backyard oasis.

Prior to purchasing this home, an Atlanta family of four saw the potential to create their dream backyard and consulted with a design/build contractor who had a terraced design in place before escrow closed on the home. Construction began immediately after the closing.

The existing backyard included a small terraced section held in place by 6’x6’ timber walls, with the remainder of the mostly unusable yard sloping down to a large wooded pond. The renovation design focused on increasing the functionality of the available space with the help of segmental retaining wall to create four terraced levels: a pool level, a sunken outdoor kitchen pavilion, a secluded fire pit terrace, and a recreational play level for the family’s two children. The project was constructed in four phases.

Phase 1: Structural Walls

Since the design included a pool, the first step of construction was to demolish the timber retaining walls (which weren’t capable of supporting the additional weight), remove a few trees to enlarge the main terraced level, and construct new walls capable of supporting the pool. Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall® was selected for its strength and natural stone appearance and was used to create the structure of the two main terrace levels, as well as coordinating built-in planter boxes. Before the walls were capped, wiring was run for low-voltage hardscape lighting, which would be installed during the final phase.

Planter boxes on the second level were adorned with Azalea bushes. Transitions to each level were constructed with natural stone slab step treads. Hardscape lighting lines all walls to improve evening aesthetics and safety.
Phase 2: Poolscape

The second phase of construction was to dig and form the pool and shoot the gunite pool walls. The design of the kidney-shaped pool includes wedding cake steps, a submerged tanning ledge, swim-up bar stools, a raised eight-person spa, and a vanishing waterfall that overlooks the fire pit terrace below.

The vanishing edge waterfall creates a dramatic backdrop for the cozy fire pit terrace that overlooks the wooded landscape and pond. Wooden posts and handrails for the cable fencing were embedded inside the structure of the retaining walls for stability.

Next came the installation of the paver pool deck, tiered garden walls, and rectangular fire pit. The pool deck extends to walkways that continue around both sides of the home. For these projects, Lafitt® pavers and Tandem® Wall were selected, which both offer a modular ashlar pattern and have a natural stone look that coordinates with the Mega-Tandem retaining walls of the primary structure.

The false-jointed ashlar pattern of the garden walls mimics the look of the paver field. Low-voltage hardscape lighting lines the garden walls for ambiance and safety.
Phase 3: Pavilion
The outdoor kitchen offers multiple cooking spaces and includes an open cabinet under the brick oven for storing wood. The texture of the wall veneer and Lafitt® paver flooring complement the natural stone elements to create a cohesive design.

The next phase was to build the 18’x30’ outdoor kitchen pavilion, which includes an open gabled metal roof, exposed cedar-wrapped beams, and staggered cedar shake siding. The base of each outdoor kitchen counter is constructed with Tandem® Modular Grid and capped with a granite countertop. The Tandem wall units used on Modular Grid incorporate the same face texture and color palette as the Tandem Wall and the Mega-Tandem retaining walls, which allowed all of the walls throughout the outdoor living design to have a cohesive look and feel.

The well-appointed kitchen includes a double sink, double-door refrigerator, kegerator beer dispenser, and multiple cooking surfaces—including a gas grill, Big Green Egg® ceramic grill, and a wood-burning Chicago Brick Oven®. The kitchen also includes ample seating, including a countertop bar that overlooks the pool and faces the swim-up bar, for ultimate pool-side entertaining. Natural stone slab step treads were used to transition to each level—from the house to the pool, down into the outdoor kitchen, to the fire pit terrace, and down to the play structure.

The two-sided bar is capped with a granite countertop and offers dry seating under the pavilion and swim-up seating from inside the pool.
Phase 4: Final Touches & PLay Area

The final phase of the project began with landscaping and trimming out the pool with natural stone coping and pebbled tiling, including the 20-foot-wide vanishing waterfall edge that serves as a dramatic backdrop for the cozy fire pit area and overlooks the picturesque wooded pond. Each of the terraced levels were finished with protective cable fencing, outlined with wooden posts and handrails painted to match the color of the pavilion roof.

Next came the playground installation, which required a fourth level to be terraced. Timber wall was selected to terrace this level to coordinate with the wooden play structure and the surrounding natural wooded landscape.

The final task was to install all of the lighting, including low-voltage hardscape lighting that had been pre-wired during earlier phases, which both added an aesthetic element and improved the safety of the multi-level structure. All electrical elements of entire design—including the hardscape lighting, spa, waterfall, pavilion lighting, and sound system—can all be controlled by an app on the homeowner’s phone.

For a fly-through view of the entire multi-level terraced design, watch the drone video below.

PROJECT TEAM:

Designer: Clint Tucker, PLA
Contractor: Sugar Hill Outdoors, LLC
Engineer: John R. Gehrlich, Jr., PE
Engineering Firm: GeoWerks Engineering, LLC
Pool Construction: Bennett Custom Pool Construction
Play Structure Design/Installation: PlayNation Play Systems, Inc., of Georgia

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG: Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog to get inspired by winning designs from the 2017 Hardscape North America Project Awards.

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.

•   •   •

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

Product Spotlight: Brick Ovens

design3Nothing beats the flavor of wood-fired cooking. That’s why we’ve partnered with Chicago Brick Oven to offer a full line of brick ovens. Inspired by the ancient Italian wood-burning ovens first used over four thousand years ago, the secret to our ovens is our authentic, low-height dome design. The design creates a unique FlameRoll™, which generates high, even temperatures for balanced cooking and genuine wood-fired taste. Made from high-strength, cast-refractory materials, our ovens ensure long-lasting performance and reliability. All components are built in the USA and have been specifically designed to withstand North American climate extremes. With five different lines available, there’s a Belgard Brick Oven to fit any lifestyle, from compact urban spaces to expansive suburban backyards, and even a new model you take on the road.

Brick-Oven-ElementsBelgard Elements Oven
One of the modular options available in the Belgard Elements Collection, the Elements brick oven is pre-built in a factory and quickly installed on-site to offer the look of a custom installation for less time and expense. The Elements oven is available in three designer styles: Brighton Series, Bristol Series, and Wexford Series.

• • •

 

Brick-Oven_Countertop_Pyramid_Copper-VeinCounter Top Ovens

With four versions to choose from, the counter top brick oven offers a small footprint and can easily turn any outdoor kitchen into a gourmet cooking space without the time and expense of a full custom installation. The counter top oven is available in copper or silver finish with either a pyramid (shown) or dome roof line.

• • •

Brick-Oven-MobileMobile Oven

The perfect complement to an existing grill and patio, the mobile brick oven is available in two colors and two different styles and comes with a durable steel cart for portability around the backyard. Like the table top, the mobile oven is available with a silver or copper finish in either the dome (shown) or pyramid roof line.

• • •

HybridCBOLandingPg2
The hybrid oven is available in the Elements, table top, and mobile versions.

Hybrid Brick Oven

Our hybrid gas/wood brick oven allows you to cook with either gas, wood, or a combination of both heat sources simultaneously. The hybrid oven includes a two-burner gas system, with an infrared burner under the hearth and an ambient burner at the back of the hearth. Wood can also be burned at the back or side of the oven to provide smoky wood-fired flavor.

• • •

Tailgater Brick Oven

Now, you can take your passion for wood-fired cooking on the road with our new towable Tailgater package, making it possible to take the unmatched experience of wood-fired cooking and entertaining to collegiate and professional football games, motorsport events, music concerts, festivals, and more. The Tailgater is currently available in the wood-burning model and will be available in the hybrid gas/wood model in 2015.

For more information, contact a local dealer or installer or visit the brick oven page on Belgard.com.

Kitchen of the Year Opens Monday 7/18

View from W. 50th St. into the Kitchen of the Year set-up in Rockefeller Center

Belgard® is excited about their progress on the House Beautiful’s Kitchen of the Year, opening Monday, July 18th in NYC’s Rockefeller Plaza. The area went from a plain plaza to an indoor/outdoor chef-inspired entertaining space. Chef Tyler Florence has made the design in such a way that you can’t help but want to linger, smell the cooking and enjoy friends. They say the most popular place when entertaining is in the kitchen – and this set-up has both indoor and outdoor ones!

Belgard Elements

The outdoor space is designed around Belgard’s Bristol Elements Collection, including a U-shaped kitchen with a Chicago brick oven and a living area with a fireplace. To keep the design cohesive, the Bristol line’s coordinating kitchen pieces are used as design elements for the counters and cooking spaces. Medium Rare grills and accessories are integrated with this kitchen and come standard with the Elements line.

Outdoor living space

For the covered outdoor living room, the Element’s Bristol line outlines the living space using planters, columns and walls. In this space, seating will be abundant and the smells of Chef Florence’s cooking waft through the air. Visitors can relax and sip a glass of wine alfresco. Adding an outdoor space to your home is like adding on a new room.

Arrival of the pavers

The senses will have so much to take in, but not to be overlooked is the transformation of the grey road and sidewalk from drab to fab! The look now includes lively colors of the natural collection’s popular Mega Lafitt with its look of cut flagstone yet with the strength and long-term durability of a paver. Natural looking Mega-Arbel is used on the patio entrance and as accents, while Urbana pavers, also part of the natural collection, are used as trim throughout the project.

Below are some pictures of the building process. Using Belgard products makes installation a breeze! The Element’s items arrive in pre-made components, so they are set into place. All Belgard pavers are designed with the simplicity of installation in mind.

Come back next week to see photos of the final product! Click here for the schedule of events. Read previous posts.

Outdoor area being prepped
Starting the paver installation
Elements components
The U shaped kitchen keeps work and cooking areas within easy reach
Awaiting appliances
Appliances being installed
Brick Oven being “cured” = excess moisture removed
Come out & relax by the fire in the outdoor living space
Outdoor area before
Now a fabulous entertaining space

Belgard & Chicago Brick Oven

Brick Oven from the Harmony Collection

An April blog featured the Belgard Elements Collection of modular fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and multiple matching accessories. One of the most popular pieces within the collection is the Chicago Brick Oven. This unique focal point is a natural addition to any Belgard outdoor kitchen. Featured in the media across the country, and showcased on the Today show with Chef Mario Batali, the brick oven craze has only just begun.

Partnered with the Belgard Elements Collection, the wood-burning Chicago Brick Brick Oven comes ready to install. Or, create a custom look for your Brick Oven with Belgard walls. All ovens are built with a flue for ventilation, so placement should be considered. An Authorized Belgard Contractor can assist you through the entire process. Chicago Brick Oven president Bill Paschen says, “The ovens come in various sizes. If you entertain, consider the largest oven. You will not be displeased.”

Pizza
Onion Soup
Kabobs

Paschen adds, “When I searched for a brick oven for my home, 99% were made overseas, which added huge freight and duty costs. So, I created my own. We offer a variety of sizes, so if you entertain, consider the largest oven. You won’t be disappointed”

It is important to note that along with Belgard Elements, the Chicago Brick Oven is made in the USA.

Components

Components

The beauty of using Belgard’s Elements and the Chicago Brick Oven are that all items coordinate and the oven’s installation consists of only two modular pieces: the oven and the supporting wood box. Each item is delivered and placed on your pre-poured foundation. Once installed, build a few small fires to cure the oven, and you are ready to create mouth-watering masterpieces. The ovens can be enjoyed all year-long and, along with all the Elements components, are designed to be weather resistant.

Maintenance is simple: just brush out ash and crumbs when done. There are two doors, one for decoration to keep out the weather and one insulated to control the oven temperature, especially for baking. Preheating is also simple. Most recipes call for the oven temperature to be over 400 degrees, which takes about an hour to heat. Once it’s hot, you can use the oven for hours.

Wood
The type of wood used is extremely important, and the user guide will give directions. When buying, ask for wood that’s been aged for about two years, or that has less than 25% moisture content. Soft woods are easy to light, but they produce less heat than hardwoods. Trying different varieties of aromatic, flavored woods will give different foods unique flavors.

Not only does the oven give food an authentic taste, it provides an opportunity to create an culinary outdoor experience. Not only can you can bake a pizza in a minutes, but the ovens are just as well suited for cooking an entire meal. A few items finding their way into the oven are stuffed turkeys, calzones, vegetables, pasta dishes, stuffed peppers, kabobs, whole chickens in a salt crust, ribs, cedar plank cooked fish, paella, baked apples, dessert pizzas, and various breads such as flat bread, focaccia, cibatta, and pita. Bill Paschen recommends his favorite recipe of stuffed jalapeno peppers.

Fox TV Station Outdoor Kitchen in Atlanta

Recipes are as numerous as the chefs who use the Chicago Brick Oven from numerous Iron Chef contestants to TV chef and celebrities. World-renown Chef Mario Batali has his own line of wood-burning ovens which integrate with Belgard Elements.

Read latest blog on Belgard’s Elements.

Outdoor Kitchen & Brick Oven from the Nottingham Collection

Belgard Elements = Outdoor Enjoyment, Fast!

Outdoor Kitchen from the Nottingham Collection

Spring naturally brings people back outdoors, with friends and neighbors gathering in the backyard more frequently as the weather warms. Belgard offers you the opportunity to be the neighborhood house that’s always “prepared for company.” Adding outdoor living spaces, such as an outdoor kitchen, outdoor bar, water feature, or a fireplace creates a naturally appealing gathering place. Yet, to build these features from scratch can be laborious and time consuming.

install
Installation is Easy

With that consideration in mind, Belgard has partnered with Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc. to offer the Elements Collections. Each item is modular, uses Belgard products and arrives ready to be installed. Most installations are done in one day! With five collections, and multiple color options, there’s a style to coordinate with any architectural look.

The Bristol and Wexford Collections offer upscale options with extra details and generous sizing, and the upper end Nottingham and Euro Series each offer a distinguished look.

Euro Fireplace Series

“Whether it is the entry level Brighton collection or our top of the line series, all Elements are build to the same exacting standards and carry the Belgard lifetime warranty,” states Joe Raboine, President of Harmony Outdoor Living.

How do I decide

It’s a judgment call in most cases. “Considering the home’s architectural style is important, as is color. When in doubt, keep it neutral,” suggests Raboine.

Bristol Collection

Look at your area – measure and layout the available space on graph paper. Cut out pieces representing the features you are considering. Don’t forget to add furniture and leave ample space for walking. Rule of thumb is to leave four feet of space around all cooking features. At this stage, consider contacting a Belgard Authorized Contractor who can create a 3D scale model.

What do I need

Nottingham fire pit

The beauty of the Elements collection is they’re designed to coordinate with Belgard pavers. For a complete look, consider the backyard as a whole – this could be the right time to install pavers as well. At a minimum, it is recommended pouring at least a concrete base for all features, which allows for easier installation. The Elements Collections are designed to be buried four inches below the finished pavement. “This is specially important when installing the kitchen and bar units, which would be too high otherwise,” Raboine points out. Natural gas, propane and wood options are available. Most important, be sure to check  your local building codes first.

Wexford Collection
Wexford Collection with Brick Oven

What are the options

The Elements Collection offers a wide range of options – from complete kitchen islands to simple grill combination to fire pits and fire tables.  Plus, there are accents galore! Collections can be accentuated with wood boxes, a hearth, seating walls, planters, lighting pillars, a mailbox, water features, and the popular Chicago Brick Oven. “And don’t overlook lighting,” Raboine is quick to add. “If you skimp on lighting, you will be very disappointed and it’s difficult to retrofit after the fact.”

Click to see our whole product line or download our catalog.

More on Chicago Brick Ovens/Medium Rare Grills.

Wexford with Water Features
Brighton Fireplace Series
Nottingham Collection
Nottingham Fire Table and Seat Wall

Read past posts on this topic: fireplaces and fire pits, choosing a fire feature, project planning: outdoor kitchens, modular units

Examples from various collections:

Island Bar
Outdoor kitchen
Fire table
Wood boxes
Water Feature
Brick Oven
Small Water Features
Grill Island
Gas fireplace
Hearth
Pillar
Mailbox