5 Ways to Build a Better Outdoor Living Space in Orange County, CA

Your outdoor space can either add beauty to your home and bring people together, or simply be an area of burden and upkeep. If you’re keen to building the former, there are many creative ideas that can help make your outdoor living space a more pleasant and enjoyable atmosphere, and without spending a fortune. Below we share five of those ideas to help you create a better outdoor living space.

 

Outdoor BBQ Built in North Orange County, CA

 

Outdoor patios are the perfect gathering space positioned just outside your home. Not only can patios be built using a wide variety of materials, ranging from wood to stone brick pavers, but patios can also help make your house appear bigger than it actually is. They offer many uses ranging from relaxation areas to hosting spaces. If you add the right furniture to the patio, you can create a second living room that caters to hosting gatherings, parties, and even outdoor picnics.

Outdoor Fireplaces & Fire Pits

Like indoor fireplaces, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits come available in different varieties ranging from gas to wood fired and coral limestone to bonfire pit designs. You can choose either style depending on the type of your house and the type of fuel you prefer. For those with large patio spaces, outdoor fireplaces add a layer of elegance and inviting warmth. Fire pits, however, are typically better for backyards and open spaces that call the homestead to join around the fire.

 

3D Design of Outdoor Living Space in North Orange County, CA

 

Other than adding beauty, outdoor fire pits and fireplaces are great at keeping you warm when it gets chilly. Not only do such improvements inspire conversations and gathers, but you can keep your guests warm when sitting on the patio. In addition, you can choose a multipurpose fireplace such as one that doubles as a grill to get more functionalities and add value to your investment. Or for something simple, consider outdoor fire pit kits that can be easily built and enjoyed in the same day.

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Outdoor Space Remodels in Orange County, CA

Outdoor Kitchen Trends in Orange County, CA

Just as the kitchen has always been the heart of the home, the outdoor kitchen is quickly becoming the heart of the backyard outdoor living space.  According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), more than 75 percent of all U.S. households currently include an outdoor grill or smoker. However, that’s only part of the story. More and more homeowners are converting patio grilling areas into fully functioning outdoor kitchens that become the central gathering place for family and guests. Check out some of the latest trends.

Bar-style Seating

Bar-style seating has become very popular in outdoor kitchen design for the same reason it’s popular in indoor kitchen design…it creates a communal atmosphere where family members and guests can all interact during the prep and cooking process. It also provides additional dining space, and with the addition of a television, becomes the perfect spot for outdoor tailgating.

Outdoor Kitchen with Bar-style Seating
Kitchen: Weston Stone® Bar Foot Rail: Bullnose Coping.  Pavers: Bergerac® with Old York™ border.

Multiple Cooking Surfaces

Today’s outdoor chef isn’t happy with just a standard grill. Modern outdoor kitchen design quite often includes multiple cooking surfaces — including gas burners, gas or charcoal grills, ceramic smokers,  and wood-burning or gas ovens.

Outdoor Kitchen with Multiple Surfaces
Kitchen: Tandem® Modular Grid.  PaversLafitt® Rustic Slab.

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Outdoor Fireplace Design Ideas in Orange County, CA

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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This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com

Backyard Ideas in Orange County, CA

Tips for Planning a Pool Installation in Orange County, CA

Don’t let the frigid temperatures across the country fool you! If you’re planning to install a pool and want it to be ready in time for that first day of swimming season, it’s time to start the planning process. Planning and installing a pool can take a considerable amount of time, and there are a lot of different aspects to consider. Here are a few tips to get you started.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Do some research on the different types of pools and the pros and cons of each. Keep in mind that the specific pros and can often depend upon your location and the local environment. In-ground pools can be made with different materials including fiberglass, concrete (gunite) and vinyl. There are also different types of filtration and cleaning systems. It helps if you’ve done a little research before you start talking to contractors, so you can speak the same language and make a more informed decision.

TALK IT UP

Put the word out with friends and family that you are planning to install a pool and are looking for advice. Anyone who has ever owned a pool will help you navigate the waters in ways you would never have expected. Learn from the mistakes of others and pay particular attention to sentences that begin with, “I wish I had thought to….”

GET INSPIRED

Browse through inspirational photos of pools to get ideas on shapes, colors, trim accessories, pool deck materials and various other design elements. Keep in mind that although standard concrete decking may be a more economical option in terms of the initial construction costs, it may not be the most economical choice in the long run. Concrete slabs will crack as they settle, and concrete coatings will crack and chip off over time. Pavers, however, will last the life of your pool. For inspirational ideas of paver pool decks, visit the Belgard Pool Deck Ideas Pinterest board.

GET MULTIPLE QUOTES & REFERENCES

A good rule of thumb is to get three quotes from contractors who come highly recommended. Check out their references and ask if you can see photos and possibly visit the sites of pools they have built. Don’t be afraid to talk to their former clients and ask tough questions, like “What were the best and worst things about working with this contractor?” Also, realize that it’s not always the wisest to go with the lowest quote. Sometimes, you do indeed get what you pay for. That fact will likely become evident once you start checking references.

PRIORITIZE YOUR “MUST HAVES”

After the initial design is planned and quoted, you’ll more than likely think of new elements you want to add on to the plan, so factor about 5-10% of contingency into your budget. Upgrades will add up quickly, so prioritize in terms of what you will get the most use out of, what you will most regret not doing, and what is harder to change or add at a later date.

 

This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com

2018 Landscape Architect Survey Results on Outdoor Living Design Trends in Orange County, CA

Belgard Outdoor Backyard Design Infographic ASLA Survey

 

This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com

Fire Pit Patio Design Trends in Orange County, CA

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.

This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com

More Orange County Backyard Ideas

Planning Tips for Your Outdoor Living Makeover Project in Orange County, CA

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

This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com