5 Fiery Ideas for Building Your Outdoor Cooking Station

Kitchens are definitely one of the hottest trends in outdoor living design, and the centerpiece of any outdoor kitchen is the cooking station. Whether you have a gourmet outdoor kitchen, a modest grill island, or you’re planning to build something in the future, we have some fiery ideas for outfitting your outdoor cooking station to improve the functionality of your space.

1. Lots and Lots of Prep Space 

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas Prep Space

Any home chef needs room to breathe if he or she is to succeed in making their culinary masterpieces. Regarding outdoor kitchens, this is no different. With an expansive prep space at hand, your kitchen is optimized for efficiency at any and all stages of cooking. You can never have too much countertop space, which will keep you from having to run back and forth inside during meal prep. Plus, countertops can also function as serving tables and bar-style dining areas once the meal is ready. If you’re working with a grill island, or you simply don’t have the square footage for more countertops, considering using a rolling cart that you can move when not in use.

2. A Spot for Every Cook in the Kitchen

Indoor Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

A summer pool party can easily bring in upwards of 25+ people. The guest list always seems to grow somehow. No matter how many guests show up, it helps to have multiple cooking surfaces in addition to the standard built-in outdoor grill. Plus, although charcoal enthusiasts will swear the flavor is superior (this blogger agrees), you simply don’t always have the time to wait for the coals to be “perfect” and sometimes just need to be able to turn on the gas and get to grilling. And if you talk to anyone who has a griddle or a brick oven in their outdoor kitchen, be prepared for a lengthy conversation on how they don’t know how they ever lived without it. Other popular cooking surfaces include ceramic kamodo-style grills and gas burners for large pots or frying.

3. Throw Some Shade

Outdoor Living Space Terrace

Unless you live somewhere where it rarely rains and the temperature is always mild (a.k.a. California), you’re going to need your cooking station to be covered. It gets HOT standing in front of a grill. And no one wants to hold an umbrella while flipping burgers. Keep in mind that shaded areas do not have to take away from the beauty of your patio entertainment area but can become a design element in itself. This can be accomplished with an earthy pergola, a farmhouse-inspired pavilion or a colorful canopy. For a more natural aesthetic, consider integrating some flowering vines, ivies or other climbing plants. To add a festive atmosphere, you can never go wrong with edison-style string lights.

4. Be that Person with the Outdoor Brick Oven 

Outdoor Brick Oven Ideas

Yes, we’ve already mentioned brick ovens, but they are so worth mentioning again. There are two prominent benefits of cooking in a wood-burning brick oven versus a traditional oven: the better dispersion of temperature and the additional level of flavor. And there are more options than you might think. Belgard offers a full line that range from mobile and countertop brick ovens to gorgeous stone-clad brick oven kits for a custom built-in look. Aside from the swagger that accompanies having one, a brick oven presents numerous cooking opportunities for amazing wood-fired meals. Even though an outdoor brick oven is often referred to as an outdoor pizza oven, it is not just for cooking pizza. Here are a few brick oven recipes to get the creative juices flowing!

5. Seating for Your Audience… (umm, guests)

Outdoor Seating
HGTV® Dream Home 2019. Photo credit: HGTV. Used with permission.

Preparing dishes in the kitchen is a visually stimulating affair. With you home chefs out there putting on shows, why not give your audience a front row seat? Bar seating or built-in seating near the cooking station creates a cozy atmosphere to enhance the outdoor cooking experience. An additional bonus to constructing permanent seating is that you won’t have to fuss at your kids for leaning too far back on the chairs. With no chair legs to break, rust or unravel, the only things you’ll need to change out each season are the throw pillows.

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The Latest Trends in Water Features

Water is a soothing natural element that can add comfort and ambience to any outdoor space. Whether it’s a pond, fountain, waterfall or bubbling rock, water features continue to be a popular design element for outdoor living spaces. As this practice continues to evolve, technology and contemporary design preferences are definitely influencing the trends.

Water Feature Technology Trends

Smart Features

More and more homes are becoming integrated with smart-home technology, and this is making its way into outdoor living spaces. One of the hottest trends is to incorporate “smart” technology into water features so that homeowners can use a smartphone app, Alexa or Google Home device to turn the feature on or off.

Solar Technology

Utilizing solar technology for a water feature offers multiple benefits. Not only does it eliminate the ongoing costs of electricity to power the water feature pump, but also eliminates the need to run electrical utilities to the water feature. This is especially helpful when installing a water feature to an existing outdoor living space. Retrofitting an existing space with electrical wiring can be a costly endeavor.

Water Feature Lighting

Water Feature with Lighting Technology

Adding lighting to a water feature enhances the ambiance and also allows the feature to be viewed at night. For ponds and brook-like features, it’s popular to include lighting under the water or shining towards the water. For features that include a waterfall, incorporating an LED light into the waterfall itself adds an ethereal quality. It’s also popular to affix low voltage hardscape lighting to exterior walls of water features.

Water Feature Design Trends

Interactive Fountains

Interactive fountains are not only beautiful, they are a great family-friendly patio design element. These types of water features can either be designed with a water-recycling permeable paver system, or by adding a drain system to standard pavers.

Fire & Water

There’s just something primal about juxtaposing the natural elements of fire and water that appeals to humans at an instinctual level. As the fire pit and outdoor fireplace trends continues to grow, so does the trend to incorporate a nearby water feature.

  • Weston Stone® Wall Outdoor Hardscapes
  • Highland Stone and Weston Stone® Wall with Water Fall Feature
  • Bristol™ Series Fireplace and Celtik Wall Fireplace and Water Feature
  • Belgard Elements™ Fireplace and Water Element
  • Brighton™ Series Fireplace and Waterfall Feature

Pondless Waterfalls

A pondless waterfall is simply a recirculating waterfall or stream without the presence of a pond. The water typically disappears into a basin or a bed of gravel to recirculate into the water feature. Trends in this style of water feature range from natural stone streams to wall fountains and contemporary stand-alone structures.

  • Allan Block® Outdoor Waterfall Feature
  • Celtik Wall® Landscape Waterfall Feature
  • Mega-Bergerac® Pavers Brick Waterfall Element
  • Tandem® Wall with Water Feature
  • Weston Stone® Outdoor Patio Waterfall

Poolscape Water Features

Modern pool design trends center on incorporating the pool as part of a cohesive design element with the surrounding outdoor living spaces. The pool itself is not just a place to swim, but an active part of the overall design. A great way to achieve this is to add a water feature that flows into the pool.

  • Dublin Cobble® pool deck
  • Lafitt® Rustic Slab pool deck
  • Mega-Bergerac® pool deck
  • Melville™ paver pool deck and Tandem® Wall Waterfall and Pool
  • Porcelain Paver pool deck
  • Urbana® Stone pool deck
  • Weston Stone™ column water feature
  • Cambridge Cobble® pool deck

Artistic Water Features

Many of today’s homeowners gravitate towards water features that act as a focal point of a design, like an interactive piece of modern art that makes a statement. That statement can be bold or simple, often reflecting the personality of the homeowner. Designs of this type add an element of zen to an outdoor space and can range from water walls to urn fountains and bubbling rocks.

  • Aqua Bric® permeable paver patio
  • Mega-Arbel® patio water fountain
  • Tandem® Modular Grid Water Fountain
  • Weston Stone® Water Fountain Outdoor

5 Tips for Merging Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

There was a time when a simple patio or deck was the height of backyard outdoor living. Today, we have transcended to a place where our outdoor spaces rival and often surpass the look and livability of our indoor spaces. The latest trend on this design journey is to merge our outdoor and indoor living spaces in a way that allows the backyard to be a true extension of the home. Here are some ideas on how to accomplish this.

1 – Use Complementary Architecture

When designing an outdoor living space, use materials and architectural touches that mirror the interior space. For example, if the interior includes arches, transoms or large beams, similar touches can be incorporated in the exterior spaces. You can also mirror architectural materials such as light fixtures, countertops and flooring in your exterior spaces. Just remember to buy the outdoor-rated versions for durability in the harsher environment.

outdoor and indoor living space complementary architecture
Belgard Porcelain Pavers and coordinating Porcelain Wall Veneers are a great tool for connecting outdoor spaces with interior spaces. The veneers can be used for both interior and exterior applications, and Porcelain Pavers mimic the look of interior flooring and often have coordinating indoor tile styles.

2 – Create Seamless Transitions

For climates that allow this as an option, collapsible doors provide the perfect opportunity to create a seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor environment. This is not realistic in some climates due to excessive temperatures, mosquitoes and other factors. For these scenarios, the look can be accomplished with large windows, sliding doors or screened enclosures. It also helps to have the initial zone of the outdoor space at the same floor height so there’s not a step up or down when going in or out.

connecting outdoor and indoor living spaces
The HGTV® Dream Home 2019 created the perfect example of indoor/outdoor living with folding doors and windows on first floor room facing the backyard. (photo: HGTV, used with permission)

3 – Incorporate Cohesive Design Schemes

If you’re limited by architecture or climate and want to create a sense of flow to the outdoors, continue the same decorating motif used in the adjoining room. Use similar color schemes, furniture styles, rugs, lamps, vases and other accessories.

outdoor and indoor living space design
The use of wingback outdoor chairs and homey accessories makes this Mega-Bergerac® patio feel more like a continuation of the indoor environment.

4 – Make the Space More Functional

If you really want your outdoor space to be cohesive with your indoor space, it needs to be a place where people want to hang out. That means adding functional elements like a bar, outdoor kitchen or fire feature.

functional indoor and outdoor living space
This Tandem® Modular Grid outdoor kitchen is a fully functional cooking and entertainment space, complete with multiple cooking surfaces, full-sized sink, outdoor-rated appliances and built-in television. The half wall also serves to enclose the space to make it feel more connected with the home’s interior.

5 – Link Entertainment Zones

Adding a television is a no-brainer, which is easy enough to link with your home’s system. But you’ll also want to add WiFi extenders to improve internet connectivity. To really enhance the sense of flow from the indoors out, add audio speakers and connect them with your home’s entertainment system. That way, you can hear the same background sounds when walking from one space to the next.

connecting outdoor and indoor living spaces
This outdoor living room already feels like an interior space, thanks to the roof pitch and the Bordeaux Series™ outdoor fireplace. To make a space like this even more connected with the interior, place outdoor speakers at the four corners and connect them to the interior sound system. Be sure to include the ability to adjust volume by zone, either with a phone app or with manual volume knobs.
HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC.; Photos © 2018 Scripps Networks, LLC.; Used with permission; all rights reserved.

Family-Friendly Patio Design Ideas

When investing in an outdoor living installation, consider features that offer multi-generational appeal. This will not only help your family enjoy the space more now, but will also add to your home’s resale value down the road. If you’re designing a family-friendly patio space specifically with kids in mind, it’s also important to think long term. Plan features that will entice them to spend more time outside now, but will still be appealing to you later once the nest is empty. Here are some inspirational backyard design ideas with those considerations in mind.

Backyard Interactive Fountains

An interactive fountain is a picturesque water feature that can double as a play area during warmer months. Small children will be enthralled for hours at at time running through the dancing waters. And in the off-season, or in later years, you’ll still enjoy listening to the soothing sounds and watching the playful spouts. These fountains can either be created with a water-recycling permeable paver system, or by adding a drain system to standard pavers.

  • Eco Dublin® permeable paver patio space
  • Subterra® permeable paver patio ideas
  • Urbana Stone® and Cambridge Cobble paver patio design ideas

Firepits and Outdoor Fireplaces

Nothing offers multi-generational appeal like a fire feature. The fabulous thing about a fire pit or outdoor fireplace is that it will actually entice multiple generations to spend time together. A backyard fire tears down generational barriers and allows everyone to enjoy each other’s company while listening to the crackle, watching the flames, roasting marshmallows and telling stories — all while creating new stories to be told later.

  • Belair Wall fire pit with seat walls
  • Mega Arbel sunken fire pit
  • Weston Wall outdoor fireplace

Garden Walls and Seat Walls

A garden wall offers the multi-functional ability to serve as a retaining wall, seating space or a decorative component to your outdoor spaces. It can be a spot for landing G.I. Joe’s helicopter, lining up Barbies for a modeling show, or just hanging out with a friend to tell secrets (that last one works for any age). You can also use landscape walls to build a raised garden bed that can either house science fair experiments, herbs and veggies for farm-to-table dinners, or elegant gladiolas.

  • Celtik Wall garden seat walls
  • Weston Stone Wall Urban Flower Garden Built-in Garden Design
  • Celtik Wall raised garden planters

Outdoor Kitchens with Multiple Cooking Surfaces

As the kids get older, if you want your house to be the one where all their friends come to hang out, be aware that adolescents and teens feed like a plague of locusts. You’re going to need multiple cooking surfaces to feed the masses. And you’re going to prefer they hang out outside, which is MUCH easier to clean before or after a gathering. Honestly, isn’t that why leaf blowers were invented?

  • Bristol outdoor pizza oven and bar design ideas
  • Tandem Modular Grid Outdoor Kitchen with multiple cooking surfaces
  • Weston Wall outdoor kitchen with pizza oven and wine cooler

Outdoor Bar Top Dining

When designing an outdoor kitchen, a bar top dining area is a must — and you can never have too much seating space. Everyone wants to sit near the cook to visit during food prep. Plus, kids love to eat at a bar and let their little legs dangle. And adults love to sit at the bar to watch the game. That’s why sports bars exist, so why not just have one at home where you can watch what YOU want.

  • Weston Stone® wall and Bergerac® paver patio family-friendly
  • Weston Wall outdoor kitchen with bartop dining

Patio Chalk Art

Kids (and some grownups) can entertain themselves for hours with a box of chalk and a concrete surface. And with a simple spray of water, the canvas is ready for the next artist. Smooth-faced pavers work best for drawing, and modular styles like Lafitt® Grana Slab can offer natural boxes for housing separate creations…or opportunities to color outside the lines. Patio pavers with textured surfaces can also be fun for creating colorful, abstract chalk designs.

  • Lafitt Grana Slab Outdoor Living Room Family-friendly
  • Lafitt Rustic Slab with chalk designs patio ideas

Multi-Zoned Outdoor Living Areas

Whether you typically host adult gatherings, family get-togethers, or kid paloozas, having multiple entertainment zones is a must. This allows for the natural creation of different conversation areas, or even separate play areas. The moms can visit together in one zone while the kids play with blocks in another. Or one zone can be for cinephiles to discuss the latest twist in the Marvel universe, while elsewhere a group of oenophiles can discuss the intricate flavors of their latest Pinot Noir discovery.

  • Lafitt Rustic Slab Outdoor Living Room with pergola
  • Family-friendly patio design with multiple entertaining zones
  • Outdoor Kitchen and living room design ideas

Enhancing Your Gardens with Hardscapes

We’ve officially entered that time of year when you have trouble finding a parking spot at your favorite hardware and nursery locations. While you’re contemplating how you want to spruce up your yard or improve your curb appeal this season, we thought we’d offer some inspirational ideas for enhancing the look of your gardens with hardscapes. Patio pavers, garden wall blocks and edging stones not only add to the visual appeal of your garden but also add to the value of your home, providing lasting beauty for your outdoor living spaces.

Contrasting Paver Borders

For gardens that abut a patio, walkway or driveway, the visual appeal can be enhanced through the use of contrasting paver styles, paver colors or paver laying patterns on the border of the paved area. This works both when bordering a paver field or poured concrete.

  • Soldier course border
  • Double Paver borders
  • Raised Planters Outdoor Living Space Design
  • Contrasting paver borders
  • Sailor course border ideas

Edgers

Edging stones can add a clean or more formal look that works both for gardens that abut paved areas and for gardens that are bordered by grassy areas. For grassy areas, edging stones also help protect the garden from encroachment from grass and weeds.

  • paver edger with no border
  • garden edger ideas
  • buried edger ideas
  • unique paver edger combinations

Built-in Planters and Raised Beds

Built-in planters and raised garden beds can add dimension and act as a focal point for your garden designs. This also works well for accenting trees or creating a vertical garden.

  • paver hardscapes focal point
  • raised garden pavers
  • paver hardscape Borders and beds
  • sloped landscape garden ideas
  • Weston Stone Wall Urban Flower Garden Built-in Garden Design

Entangled Borders

One of the latest trends in landscape design is to “entangle” hardscapes with nature. This can be done in a way that either makes the hardscapes look like part of the natural landscape, or it can be use to create contemporary modernistic designs, depending upon the hardscape selected.

  • garden pathway ideas
  • garden paver pathway ideas
  • garden edging ideas
  • garden driveway paver ideas

Columns

Columns can be used to border a garden or create a focal point within the garden itself. For extra textural design, a planter can be built into the top of the column.

  • column garden planter hardscapes ideas
  • built-in paver planter hardscapes
  • garden wall columns
  • Paver Column lighting

Terraced Landscape

A sloped yard can be converted into a terraced landscape using retaining walls, creating an elegant multi-dimensional garden.

NALP’s ‘Top 5’ 2019 Outdoor Living Trends Focus on Bringing the Indoors Outside

A recent National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) survey reveals the top outdoor design trends that will influence the design and maintenance of backyards across America in the year ahead. As outdoor design continues to focus on functional spaces that bring the indoors out, homeowners are turning to their backyards as an extension of the home and truly enjoy using their space.

NALP Outdoor Living Trends 2019
*Information sources: Associated Press, NALP

These outdoor living trends for 2019 show that homeowners and design innovation are transforming the backyard from a simple patio into a functional outdoor oasis. For inspiration on transforming your space visit our inspirational outdoor design Pinterest boards or go to Belgard.com/inspiration. To find a qualified contractor near you, visit our contractor locator page.

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