Introducing the Weston Stone® Line
of Outdoor Living Kits

The antiqued tumbled-stone appearance of Weston Stone® instantly transforms a simple patio or back yard into a welcoming outdoor living space that compliments any architectural style. With a look that coordinates well with both classic and contemporary design themes, Weston Stone is a versatile wall product that can be used to construct retaining walls, outdoor kitchens, built-in seating and a variety of outdoor living structures and accents.

Now, it’s easier than ever to create beautifully coordinated outdoor living designs with Belgard’s new Weston Stone® line of outdoor living kits (availability varies by market). The revolutionary design of the Weston Kit line earned it an award from Landscape Business magazine as one of the top 20 new landscape products of 2019.

Each kit features an average build time of four hours or less and includes all the needed materials to construct each element, including the required number and sizes of Weston Stone wall blocks, Structure Bond™ masonry adhesive and an applicator gun. Because of the reduced number of masonry cuts required and the step-by-step contractor instructions, these convenient kits add beauty and function to outdoor living spaces for less time and with less waste, which translates to lower overall costs.

Weston Stone® Grill Island Kit

Whether part of an outdoor kitchen or as a stand-alone feature, the Weston Stone Grill Island Kit offers both style and performance with a Napoleon® Prestige 500 grill and matching stainless doors. The efficient design of the Grill Island Kit requires a total of only eight masonry cuts, ensuring quick and efficient installation.

Weston Stone® Linear Fireplace

Weston Stone Linear Outdoor Living Fireplace Kit

Transform a patio into a charming outdoor living room with the stylish Weston Stone Linear Fireplace Kit. Featuring open-air European styling, the Linear Fireplace Kit includes a burner kit. With only three cuts required during installation, the marshmallows will be roasting in no time!

Weston Stone® Linear Fire Pit

Weston Stone Linear Outdoor Living Kits Fire Pit

The ideal centerpiece for a sitting area, the rectangular Weston Stone Linear Fire Pit Kit offers ample surface area for resting drinks or propping up feet to relax. The Linear Fire Pit kit includes a burner kit and requires only 14 cuts during installation.

Classic Weston Stone® Fire Pit Kits

Weston Stone Outdoor Living Fire Pit Kits

An affordable way to add beauty and functionality to any back yard outdoor living design, the classic wood-burning Weston Stone Fire Pit Kit is available in either a square or circular shape, depending upon the market. Kits include a metal insert that adds durability and provides a finished look. Upgrade options include a variety of coping and wall caps to add an elegant touch.

Sample Color Options

Weston Stone Outdoor Living Kits Color Options

Weston Stone outdoor living kits are available in a variety of color options to coordinate beautifully with other Belgard pavers and retaining walls. Due to the use of local aggregates in the manufacturing process, however, exact color options vary by market. For more information, click here to find a Belgard Authorized Contractor or Dealer near you.

Product Availability

Weston Stone Classic Fire Pit Kits are available nationwide, but shape varies by region, with some areas offering the round fire pit kit and others offering the square kit. The Weston Stone Grill Island, Linear Fireplace and Linear Fire Pit kits are currently available in Florida, Nevada and California with availability planned for additional markets in the future.

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!

Home is Where the Hearth Is

Products: Belair Wall® (fireplace and seat wall) and Mega-Lafitt® pavers.

The outdoor living room has been one of the fastest growing trends in outdoor design over the last few years. When considering the popularity of this trend, the question arises: What’s the difference between a patio and an outdoor living room? The answer is simple: Livability.

Products: Bristol Elements™ fireplace and Lafitt® Rustic Slab pavers.

An outdoor living room is more than just a grouping of chairs with a coffee table. It’s a cozy and inviting space that evokes a sense of relaxation, a space where people want to spend time both alone and enjoying the company of others. To achieve this effect, it’s important to apply interior design techniques to creating your outdoor space.

With that in mind, what tends to be the centerpiece of most interior living rooms? The answer, of course, is a fireplace. The reason for this is multifaceted. Historically, a fireplace would be added to the living room to heat the home. But as this need diminished in necessity over the years, the popularity of an interior fireplace did not. That is because the warmth that exudes from a fireplace is not only physical in nature, but emotional, as well. Spending time in front of a fire with a loved one often creates a deeper connection with that person on an instinctual or primal level. Fire, good.

That’s why one of the easiest ways to create an emotional sense of warmth in an outdoor living room is to add a fire feature, which has the added benefit of physical warmth during the colder months, allowing you to use your outdoor living room year round. Another benefit to fire features — like fireplaces, fire pits and fire tables — is that they appeal to people of all ages. When multiple generations gather around a fire pit, the generation gap disappears, and they can all relate to one another on a purely human level. It’s no wonder that fire pits have been on the top of the “must haves” list in outdoor design for the last several years.

A fire feature, like this welcoming fire pit at the HGTV® Dream Home 2018, instantly converts a simple patio into an outdoor living room. Products: Belair Wall® 2.0 (fire pit) and Urbana Stone® permeable pavers. (photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

When adding a fire feature to an outdoor living room, be sure to leave ample space for seating and traffic because it will instantly become everyone’s favorite gathering spot. If it’s a wood-burning fire feature, it will also need to be an adequate distance from any structures, as a safety precaution. In fact, some municipalities and HOA’s have specific regulations about this, so be sure and do your homework.

To complete your outdoor living room, add other interior design touches — such as tables, accent lighting, pillows, throws and other accessories. But be warned, once you create an inviting outdoor living room, get ready for company!

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For fire feature design ideas, read our blogs on Fire Pit Design Ideas and  Outdoor Fireplace Design Ideas For more design inspiration, visit the Belgard Pinterest boards.

NEXT WEEK:  Don’t let the frigid temperatures fool you. If you want your new pool to be ready for swimming season, it’s time to start planning now.

Front and Backyard Transformations of the HGTV® Dream Home 2018

Again this year, Belgard is proud to be a sponsor of the HGTV® Dream Home 2018. Located in Gig Harbor, Washington, this year’s home is a contemporary waterfront retreat overlooking the picturesque Henderson Bay, an inlet of Puget Sound.

As the official hardscapes sponsor, Belgard is excited to walk you through the dramatic transformation of the home’s outdoor living areas, which now includes multiple entertaining zones overlooking the spectacular view.

Front Yard – Before

Front Yard – After

The home received a tremendous upgrade to its curb appeal. The disjointed driveway and entryway landing were demolished and replaced with an an attractive, eco-friendly permeable paver system. Urbana® Stone permeable pavers were laid in a modular ashlar pattern to complement the contemporary architecture. The new permeable paver system will allow rainwater to infiltrate through the joints and percolate through a bed of aggregate and into the ground below. This will not only provide a safer environment by keeping water from pooling on the surface, it will also help remove impurities from any infiltrated water to help reduce pollution to the local receiving waterways. To add even more curb appeal, the driveway was trimmed with a border of Avalon Slate pavers in a contrasting darker color. Both Urbana Stone and Avalon Slate pavers have a natural stone texture, which coordinates well with the surrounding wooded landscape.

Photo: David A. Land

The design team also removed the aging raised planter bed and constructed a new planter bed using Belair Wall® 2.0 retaining wall, which features a rustic chiseled stone texture. Quarziti 2.0 porcelain pavers were used to add an elegant, finished look to the entryway landing to complement the new glass doorway and angular portico.

Photo: Thomas Espinoza Photography

backyard before

Backyard after

The deteriorating retaining walls and wooden deck were demolished and replaced. Belair Wall® 2.0 provided the structure for a low-maintenance vertical garden of native plants, and a new covered composite deck was built, which includes a waterfront dining area and a stairway down to a lower landing on the water’s edge.

Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Urbana® Stone walkways now lead from the deck and back patio to a newly constructed fire pit paver patio. The fire pit, as well as a nearby seat wall, were constructed with rustic Belair Wall® 2.0. The paver patio and walkways are trimmed with an Avalon Slate border to provide a cohesive look that ties in with the color of the deck and the look of the driveway, thus creating a continuous design throughout the entirety of the home’s exterior.

Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Back patio before

back patio after

The existing concrete of the back patio was overlaid with Quartziti 2.0 porcelain pavers to coordinate with the entryway and provide an elegant transition from the interior spaces to the outdoor living spaces. Belair Wall® 2.0 provided the structure for a built-in stainless grill.

Photo: David A. Land

For more information on the HGTV Dream Home 2018, including an aerial video of the exterior, design videos, and photos of the interior transformation of the home, click here.

To enter for a chance to win this spectacular home, click here.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Ideas

Over the last decade, outdoor fireplaces have continued to be a rising trend in outdoor living design. A fireplace provides an elegant focal point that visually transforms a patio into an outdoor living room, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. When planning an outdoor fireplace, there are a number of options to consider.

Custom-Build versus Modular Fireplace Units

Custom outdoor fireplaces can be built using a variety of masonry products, including nearly any Belgard retaining wall product. The benefit to a custom-built fireplace is that you have the design flexibility to create any size or style that suits you. Belgard also offers the Belgard Elements™ line of modular fireplaces that are pre-built in a factory setting, shipped in sections and installed with a pallet loader. The benefits are lower installation costs and a shorter construction window.

Stone Fireplace Design Ideas
This custom-built fireplace, constructed with Celtik® Wall, features a raised hearth, symmetrical arched built-in wood boxes, and built-in low-voltage lighting for ambiance. A row of smooth-face block adds a contrasting element to the rough-hewn look of the design.

Belgard Elements™ fireplaces, such as this one from the Bristol™ Series, offer a custom-built look for a fraction of the cost. Custom-built elements, such as the landscape wall and water features in this design, can be added to enhance the custom-built look.

Use Interior Fireplace Design Principles

To enhance the “outdoor living room” feel, employ interior design techniques when designing your outdoor fireplace and surrounding patio. Examples include accessorizing the room or creating a faux rug in the paver design.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Principals
A semi-circular design of Mega-Arbel® pavers creates the look of an inlaid rug in front of this Brighton™ Elements fireplace and Bristol™ Elements wood boxes.

Research Local Building Codes

Codes will vary by municipality, but in general terms, gas-burning fireplaces have fewer restrictions and can typically be placed anywhere in a design, including directly against another structure. Wood-burning fireplaces typically need to be placed at least 10 feet from another structure. Some building codes require additional safety measures or restrict the use of wood-burning units altogether.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Elements
The chimney of this wood-burning fireplace from the Bordeaux™ Elements collection was extended upward to comply with local building codes, due to its proximity to another structure.

Built-in Outdoor Gas Fireplaces

An economical option that can typically be installed anywhere is a built-in gas fireplace, which can be built on the exterior of the home, on a porch or under a pavilion.

Rustic Fireplace Design
The built-in outdoor gas fireplace on the left was designed to emulate the look of an indoor fireplace using Tandem® Modular Grid. The same wall product was used to build out an adjacent outdoor kitchen. The design on the right used Weston Stone® retaining wall block with accents of Urbana® Stone and Mega-Arbel® pavers to emulate the look of a freestanding Bristol™ Elements fireplace. The same paver and wall products were used throughout the design to tie the look together.

Think Outside the Box

When creating a custom build, consider how you want to use the space and work with your contractor to come with with creative solutions and ideas.

Custom Outdoor Fireplace Design
This custom fire feature is both a fireplace and a brick oven. A built-in overhead light adds a dramatic look to the piece while providing ample light for operating the brick oven in the evenings.

Outdoor Kitchen Counter Design Brick Pavers
This outdoor living room incorporates dual open-sided European-style gas fireplaces, constructed using Tandem® Wall. The same wall product was used to build seat walls around the perimeter of the patio, as well as columns for the pavilion, tying all of the outdoor rooms together into one cohesive design.

Consider Built-in Seating

Built-in seating is one of the leading trends in outdoor design and makes an excellent addition to an outdoor fireplace, adding both form and function to an outdoor room.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Built-in Seating Arrangement
This custom natural stone fireplace is flanked with two seat walls, constructed with Celtik® Wall. The rough-hewn face of the Celtik® Wall adds a textural element to this eclectic design.

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Next week: If your yard is sloped, come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog for ideas on using terraced design to create more usable space. Or check out Belgard’s fire pit kits for simple solutions to inspire your outdoor fireplace design..

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.