Virtual Tour of the Sunset 2018 Idea House

As the exclusive hardscape sponsor of Sunset Magazine‘s 2018 Idea House in Los Gatos, California, Belgard is excited to offer our readers a virtual tour of the outdoor spaces on this lovely 2,900 square foot 3-bedroom home that offers a modern take on traditional craftsman style architecture.

Landscape designers Tamura Landscapes and Sycamore Design took the contemporary-meets-traditional theme to heart and took a number of novel approaches to the outdoor design elements. Instead of a traditional brick or cobble driveway, the designers chose to use a staggered running bond pattern of Melville™ Plank pavers. Another unique design choice was to eliminate the traditional border and incorporate asymmetrical garden insets with low-maintenance drought-tolerant plants.

Paver driveway.

Another design theme used throughout the home was the concept of seamless indoor/outdoor living. This was facilitated in a number of ways and is immediately evident in the transition from the driveway to the front walk, which was constructed using Sundeck Porcelain Pavers. These durable wide-plank outdoor pavers emulate the look of wood and mirror the current trends in indoor flooring. Asymmetrical garden insets and a staggered running bond pattern create a coordinated look with the driveway.

Entrance walkway.
Stepping-stones walkway.

Branching off from the entrance walkway around the front porch and along the side of the home, the designers transitioned to a stepping-stone walkway of Stones 2.0 Porcelain Pavers interspersed with gravel. The gravel extends towards the home into a rock garden to facilitate adequate drainage from downspouts. Angular landscape light fixtures and warm woods add to the juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary design elements.

Folding glass doors create open flow between the indoor and outside spaces on both the front and back of the home. The front parlor completely opens to the front porch, and the living room completely opens to the back porch, allowing the residents to take full advantage of the temperate California climate.

Back porch and outdoor dining area.

A contemporary fire pit patio flows from the porch like a natural extension of the home. Sundeck Porcelain Pavers on the patio and Quartziti Veneer on the gas fire pit help emulate the look of an indoor space.

Fire pit patio.
Staggered patio transition.

Similar in concept to the asymmetrical insets on the entrance walkway and driveway, the patio incorporates a staggered transition into the yard, which is constructed of artificial turf to minimize water usage.

In addition to the contemporary outdoor living design choices, a number of ultra-contemporary touches were used throughout the interior of the home, including glass staircase rails, a minimalist kitchen design and smart-home technology that is integrated throughout the home. The Sunset 2018 Idea House has been open for tours throughout September and will be featured in the October issue of Sunset Magazine.

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All photos copyright 2018 Sunset Publishing Corporation, photos by Thomas J. Story. SUNSET is a registered trademark of Sunset Publishing Corporation and is used with permission.

Planning Tips for Your Outdoor Living Makeover Project

Outdoor Living Makeover Project Planning Guide

Whether you’re wanting to improve your curb appeal or add functionality to your backyard, these planning tips can help you start your outdoor living makeover planning process, as well as help you avoid potential pitfalls.

TIP 1:  DO YOUR RESEARCH

  • Inspiration: Spend a significant amount of time looking through magazine websites, outdoor living Pinterest boards and the Belgard Inspiration Gallery to see which styles, textures and colors tend to grab your attention. Keep the architectural style of your home in mind to ensure your design works well with your home’s color or architecture.
  • Budget: Check websites like HomeAdvisor to get a rough idea of what installation costs are for your type of project. The costs won’t be exact until you get quotes, but it will help start the planning process. And as with any home improvement project, you should include some buffer room in the budget to cover any unforeseen contingencies, like a last minute design addition.

TIP 2:  FIND A GOOD CONTRACTOR

When planning for any outdoor living makeover project, a good rule of thumb is to get three quotes. Don’t necessarily choose the lowest bid, but the contractor you feel has the best understanding of your vision and the necessary skills to bring it to life. Be sure to ask to see examples of their work and references. If you’re planning to install patio pavers or landscape walls, Belgard is North America’s leading manufacturer of hardscapes and provides an online contractor locator of pre-screened installers who are required to adhere to specific standards and are reviewed annually.

TIP 3:  PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

  • Phasing: If you have an overall vision for your property and know you can’t do everything at once, you should still PLAN everything before breaking ground on the first project. Doing so can save you a lot of money and headaches down the road. For example, if you’re installing a pool and plan to add a pavilion and outdoor kitchen later, put in column footings and pre-run needed electrical and gas lines under the pool deck. It will cost a little extra on the front end but will save significant money and time later. In addition, a contractor who understands the overall vision can help you plan the best way to phase everything out.
  • Design: Be sure to ask for design renderings so that everyone is on the same page. If your project involves Belgard pavers or walls, a Belgard Authorized Contractor can provide Virtual Reality Designs from the Belgard Design Studio free of charge. These designs offer an ultra-realistic 360-degree view of your future space including furniture, landscaping and images of your home.

TIP 4:  YOU WILL NEED MORE SPACE THAN YOU THINK

  • Driveways: Homeowners who choose to install a standard driveway (8 to 10 feet wide) often wish they had splurged and gone with 12 feet. The additional width provides more room for wider vehicles, as well as walking space around the vehicle. This will keep your future guests from having to step off of the driveway into wet grass on a rainy day, or from accidentally missing a portion of a narrow driveway and leaving tire ruts in your yard.
  • Patios: Don’t just think about furniture groupings, but also the walking and gathering space that will be needed around the furniture. If you like to entertain, you will want to plan enough space for multiple conversation zones. And if you’re planning an outdoor kitchen, remember to plan for food prep and serving space.

TIP 5:  GET THE BELGARD PROJECT GUIDE

Outdoor Living Makeover Project GuideOur comprehensive Project Guide can be viewed online or downloaded for future reference. It offers a wealth of additional project planning information — including project considerations, planning timelines, design basics, budgeting tips, contractor selection tips, long term maintenance tips and more.

GET THE PROJECT GUIDE

Belgard Team Members Build, Walk, Run & Climb for America’s Bravest

Smart Home recipient Army CPL Chris Levi America's Bravest
Smart Home recipient Army CPL Chris Levi finishes a Tunnel to Towers 5K run/walk.

Double-amputee and Purple-Heart hero Army CPL Christopher Levi is the most recent recipient of a mortgage-free “smart home” from the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. The foundation honors both firefighter Stephen Siller, who laid down his life to save others on September 11th, and our nation’s military and first responders who continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.

CPL Levi lost both legs and suffered major damage to his right arm and hand as a result of an IED explosion while serving in Iraq in 2008. On July 3, 2018, he was given the keys to his new high-tech home from the T2T foundation’s Smart Home Program for disabled veterans. CPL Levi’s new home includes motorized kitchen cabinet shelving, a mechanized lift that allows the stove to be at wheelchair height, and a variety of other high-tech accommodations that can all be operated from an iPad.

New Smart Home
CPL Chris Levi’s new Smart Home

Belgard is honored to be a sponsor of the Smart Home Program and serves Tunnel to Towers by donating pavers and retaining wall blocks and by providing manpower to install patios and retaining walls for the homes. The patio for CPL Levi’s new home in Melville, NY, is the latest installation, and several others are in the planning or construction phase in various cities across the U.S.

Belgard Paver Installation
A Belgard volunteer installs the Lafitt® Grana Slab patio for CPL Levi’s new home.

With help from generous local suppliers and installers, teams of Belgard volunteers have already installed outdoor living areas for four Smart Homes for disabled veterans in New York, two in Virginia, one in Texas and another in Maryland. Moving forward, Belgard has committed to provide patios for all of the Smart Homes currently in the planning phases, with locations dotted across the nation in Pennsylvania, Utah, Texas, Florida, Colorado, New Jersey and California.

In addition to these hardscape installations, teams of Belgard employees have also pooled efforts to participate in the Run, Walk & Climb Series of charity races, which is a network of over 65 fundraising race events hosted by Tunnel to Towers in cities around the nation. The majority of the T2T events include 5K run/walk courses. Others consist of a tower climb, in memory of those who lost their lives in the Twin Towers. Some of the events incorporate both aspects. All are heavily attended by current and retired military and first responders, some of whom choose to run in full turnout gear to honor firefighter Stephen Siller and the other first responders who died on 9/11.

A member of Brooklyn’s Squad 1, Siller heard the 9/11 emergency call on his radio but couldn’t get through the blocked traffic in the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Determined to carry out his duty, he parked his car, strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he lost his life while saving others.

In September of 2017, a team of Belgard employees from Anchor Central in New York had the honor of running and walking in the New York City race, which takes the same route that Siller ran on that fateful day.  “We were so emotionally touched, everyone wants to do it again this year,” said Lou Mangiaracina, VP and General Manager of Anchor Central. “There were more than 30,000 people running it. When you’re in the tunnel, you can hear all the corps running and chanting. When you come out of the tunnel, the West Point cadets are at attention on the left and firemen are in dress blues on your right cheering you on and shaking your hands. It was amazing. And to see the firefighters running in full gear, the same way Stephen Siller ran it, was impactful.”

The Anchor team already has nearly a dozen enlisted to run the New York City race again this year, which will be held on September 30. After hearing about their experience, other Belgard groups are working on pulling teams together to participate in race events in other markets.

RECIPES: A New Way to S’more

Guest blog from Chuao Chocolatier® artisan chocolates.

Hey Belgard fam, it’s your friends from Chuao Chocolatier again! Living in sunny San Diego has its perks, including having beautiful weather all year round. That means even in August, we’re breaking out our s’mores kits and gathering ‘round the fire pit. But, that means that the classic s’mores can get a little… boring. So, in true Chuao style, we made up some SUPER fun recipes for s’mores that are so good you’ll want to s’more all year long, too!

maple donut bar, bacon s'more recipeForget The Diet S’Mores

What could possibly elevate a s’more recipe to an unheard of level? How about a maple donut bar, bacon and our Baconluxious Chocolate bar?  Sweet sticky maple with salty smoky bacon come together in a s’more that is completely out of this world good. We say, forget the diet and indulge!

What you’ll need: maple donut bar, Chuao Chocolatier Baconluxious Chocolate mini bars, marshmallows, cooked bacon.

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Dark Chocolate S'Mores with French breadQueen Bee S’Mores

We couldn’t help ourselves – we had to take ooey gooey s’mores and add even MORE sticky sweetness. The deliciously sweet honey balances out deliciously with soft French bread slices and rich dark chocolate.

What you’ll need: French Bread loaf, Chuao Chocolatier Honeycomb mini bars, marshmallows, honey.

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Breakfast Waffle S'More Recipe With StrawberriesS’More Breakfast Please!

Eat these for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, because they’re delicious any time of day. Sweet cinnamon cereal and creamy milk chocolate are met with sweet, fresh strawberries and crunchy waffle to balance everything out. It’s a s’more worth getting out of bed for.

What you’ll need: Waffles, Chuao Chocolatier Cinnamon Cereal Smooch mini bars, marshmallows, fresh strawberries.

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Oh, SNAP! S'More RecipeOh, SNAP! S’Mores

We went to flavor town with our last s’more creation. Spicy ginger cookies meet caramel apples meet chocolate meet s’mores… meets total deliciousness. We chose to buy our ginger cookies, and we went with a soft cookie instead of a typical crispy ginger snap, but either version is delicious! If you want to make these s’mores even more delectable, add a drizzle of caramel sauce to them!

What you’ll need: ginger cookies, Chuao Chocolatier Caramel Apple Crush mini bars, marshmallows. Optional: caramel sauce.

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Have Your Own Idea for a New Kind of S’more?

Belgard is celebrating fireside s’mores throughout the month of August and would love to hear your fireside stories and original s’mores recipes. Submit your story or recipe at Belgard.com/smores and enter for a chance to win a free Ashland Fire Pit Kit and a $500 gift certificate for Chuao Chocolatier artisan chocolates!

Happy National S’mores Day! Enter to Win a Fire Pit and Artisan Chocolate!

Happy National S'mores Day

Due to the popularity of last year’s National S’mores Day Giveaway event, we have decided to celebrate again this August by giving away another fabulous Belgard fire pit. And to literally sweeten the pot, this year’s winner will also receive a year’s supply of Chuao Chocolatier® artisan chocolate!

CLICK NOW TO ENTER!

Like last year, share your special fireside memories or unique s’mores recipes when you enter. We’ll compile our favorite entries to share on the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog when we announce the prize winner!

Belgard FIre Pits for S'Mores

So many of us do have fond memories of sitting around a fire, sharing stories and roasting marshmallows. Just the mention of it is likely sending you on a walk down memory lane to a moment during a camping trip or a week at summer camp. Or maybe even just last week in your own backyard. After all, fire pits are currently ranked as the number one trend in outdoor living design.

Types of Fire Pit Features

Now don’t get us wrong, we do love the classic s’mores recipe of a gooey marshmallow sandwiched between melty milk chocolate and cinnamony graham crackers. But if you’ve never tried any other combinations, here are some tasty ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

S'more Recipe Ideas

We look forward to checking out your ideas for delectable fireside treats, as well as reading about your cherished fireside memories. Good luck!

CLICK NOW TO ENTER!

Fire Pit Patio Design Trends

Research shows that fire pits have been among the top five outdoor living design trends for the last several years. As this trend continues to grow hotter with each passing season, design ideas for fire pits have evolved and taken many different forms. Whether a gas-burning, wood-burning or hybrid version, fire pit designs continue to become more unique and individualized in nature.

In-Ground Fire Pits

The appeal of an in-ground fire pit is that it creates the beautiful, primal effect of flames erupting from the ground. In terms of fire safety, there is the added benefit of lower flames that are kept more contained. However, there’s a safety drawback, as well, as there are no protective walls around the fire.

Gas Fire Tables

Gas fire tables offer a contemporary look and appeal to homeowners who prefer the ease of gas — always ready to light, no wood or ash to worry about. An added benefit of a fire table is that it has a larger surface area and can actually be used as a table, creating more of an outdoor living room aesthetic than a traditional fire pit. Fire tables can also be built at varying heights, including bar height.

Multi-Level Fire Pit Patios

A multi-level fire pit patio offers a dimensional element to the design and separates the fire pit area into a distinct outdoor room, making the fire pit more of destination spot in the backyard.

Fire Pits with Built-in Seat Walls

Built-in seating often holds a spot in the top 10 outdoor living design elements as well, so it’s only natural that seat walls would become a popular aspect of fire pit patio design. After all, where does everyone want to sit and gather? By the fire, of course.

COMING SOON: Interested in winning a free wood-burning fire pit for your back yard? Come back to the blog on August 10, when we’ll celebrate National S’mores Day by kicking off our Fire Pit Giveaway Contest!