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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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This post was originally written and published on Belgard.com
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….”
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