Our Hardscape Blog

from the masonry & pavers expert of Orange County, CA

Fire pits continue to rise in popularity, and with good reason. They add a fun and relaxing element to any outdoor space. The latest fire pit trends involve incorporating multi-dimensional patio design to create the ultimate backyard haven. Below are 10 dimensional fire pit patio designs that would instantly become everyone’s favorite gathering spot in your backyard.

1. PRACTICAL ELEGANCE

According to a recent national survey of landscape architects, built-in seating is one of the top trends in outdoor living. This fire pit patio incorporates built-in seat walls, yet also leaves room for optional patio furniture. The design also incorporates permeable pavers on both the patio flooring and the seat ledges, ensuring that rainwater instantly infiltrates into the hardsapes.

Products: Belair Wall® (fire pit/walls) and Urbana® Stone (pavers/seats).
2. ROOM WITH A VIEW

This terraced patio incorporates both manufactured stone and natural stone to create a rustic look that coordinates well with the picturesque mountainside view.

Products: Mega-Lafitt® (pavers) and Country Manor® Fire Pit with Tandem® Wall Cap (fire pit trim).
3. CARVED OUT OF NATURE

This design takes the natural look a step further by not only using natural stone as a landscape accent, but as a integrated element of the walls and fire pit. The surrounding landscape wall functions as a way to define the outdoor room, but also provides a ledge for additional seating.

Products: Tandem® Wall (fire pit and landscape wall), Mega-Arbel® (primary paver field), Old World Paver™ (inlaid border), Urbana® Stone (border).
4. SUNKEN OUTDOOR LIVING ROOM

By terracing off a sloped yard with retaining walls, this homeowner was able to emulate the effect of a sunken living room off of the pool deck, creating an intimate fireside gathering spot.

Products: Belair Wall® (fire pit, steps and walls) and Lafitt® Rustic Slab (patio).
5. DESTINATION SPOT

This terraced fire pit patio offers built-in enclosed seating on three sides, but leaves the fourth wall completely open for foot traffic. The angular design adds a formal touch to balance the rough-hewn textures of the hardscapes.

Products: Celtik® Wall (steps, fire pit and walls) and Mega-Arbel® (pavers).
6. PRIVATE RETREAT

Natural greenery creates a virtual wall to block the wind and create an intimate atmosphere for this terraced fire pit patio. A retaining wall adds a finished look and provides a ledge for additional built-in seating.

Products: Weston Stone® (fire pit and seat wall) and Mega-Lafitt® (patio pavers and steps).
7. INTIMATE NOOK

The low profile of the fire pit makes the seat wall the focal point of this design. The elegant arched wall is flanked with columns to create a striking look. The sunken level surrounding the fire pit creates a ledge that’s the perfect height for small children to sit and enjoy the fire.

Products: Weston Stone® (fire pit and seat wall) and Urbana® Stone (pavers).
8. MEDITERRANEAN FLARE

The decorative wall surrounding this fire pit uses Mediterranean design influences to help define the perimeter of the patio. The multi-level terraced design adds to the stylish look.

Products: Weston Stone® (wall/columns), Belair Wall® (fire pit/stairs), Mega-Arbel® (primary paver field), Old World Paver™ (inlaid paver border) and Urbana® Stone (paver border).
9. INTEGRATED DESIGN

Sweeping arches define the separate “rooms” of this multi-dimensional outdoor living space, tying everything together into one cohesive and flowing design. Built-in low-voltage hardscape lighting adds ambience and adds a safety factor for each of the level changes.

Products: Belair Wall® (fire pit, steps, seat walls, columns), Mega-Arbel® (fire pit patio pavers) and Lafitt® (pool deck).
10. KITCHEN ADJACENT

This fire pit patio connects to the outdoor kitchen and provides an excellent place for family and guests to gather while the outdoor chef prepares dinner. Paver designs help define the transition from one outdoor “room” to the next.

Products: Weston Stone® (seat walls, columns, kitchen), Lafitt® Rustic Slab (transition, borders), Bullnose Paver (step), Old World Paver™ (inlaid paver border), Mega-Arbel® (primary paver field).

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 in Orange County, CA.  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 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.

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.

Kitchen: Tandem® Modular Grid.  Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.
EVERYTHING INCLUDING THE KITCHEN SINK

A growing trend in outdoor kitchen design is to include all the “creature comforts” of an indoor kitchen. Nearly every indoor kitchen appliance now has an outdoor-rated version — including ice makers, refrigerators, dishwashers, keg coolers and more. With a fully-functioning outdoor kitchen, there’s no need to constantly run indoors for supplies…everything you need is at your fingertips. Add a stereo system, wi-fi access and a TV, and you can truly live in your outdoor living space.

Kitchen: Celtik® Wall.  Pavers: Mega-Bergerac®.
STAINLESS STEEL CABINETS

Stainless steel doors and drawers are popular because they are resistant to rot, weather and insects. Stainless also adds a striking look to coordinate with grills and appliances. Over time, some stains will appear on the surface, but can easily be removed with a stainless steel cleaner, making them look as good as new.

Kitchen: Belair Wall®. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab.
SEAT WALLS

Built-in seating has been trending for years in outdoor living rooms, especially around fire features. Now, the trend is making it’s way into the outdoor kitchen. A seat wall helps define the space, adds a striking aesthetic, and allows you to provide ample seating for large gatherings to supplement seating provided by barstools and dining tables.

Kitchen: Weston Stone®. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab with an inlaid Moduline Series® border. (right) Kitchen: Belair Wall®.
PIZZA OVENS

Forget calling for delivery when you can enjoy a homemade pizza with an amazing flame-grilled flavor. Whether we’re talking about economical gas-powered tabletop ovens, or gorgeous built-in wood-fired brick ovens, outdoor ovens are definitely trending. The great thing about a brick oven is that it’s not just for pizza. Nearly anything you would bake in an indoor oven can be cooked in a brick oven. You may never cook indoors again.

Oven: Bristol™ Series from the Belgard Elements Collection.
MODULAR KITCHENS

The Belgard® Elements Collection of modular outdoor kitchen units enables homeowners to have the look of a custom outdoor kitchen for a fraction of the cost and time. Belgard Elements are built in a factory setting and shipped in sections to be quickly installed on-site, meaning your kitchen will be installed in merely hours instead of weeks.

(left) Kitchen: Bordeaux™ Series from Belgard Elements Collection. Pavers: Laffit® Rustic Slab. (right) Kitchen: Bristol™ Series from the Belgard Elements Collection. Pavers: Lafitt® Rustic Slab with an inlaid Moduline Series® border.

When designing a new paver patio, there are a number of options to consider with regard to paver laying patterns that will vary depending upon the style and shape of pavers you choose. Below are some examples of laying patterns to help guide you through the process. You can even mix and match different styles, shapes and patterns to create unique and interesting designs.

Traditional Shapes and Laying Patterns

For those who like to go with the tried and true, you can’t go wrong with rectangular and cobble-style pavers laid into one of the following traditional patterns. These patterns work especially well in smaller spaces that can be overwhelmed by larger styles of pavers.

 
RUNNING BOND

A running bond pattern is one in which the pavers are laid in rows running in the same direction. You can either go with a classic running bond, or you can get creative with color tones, borders and pattern direction.

 
HERRINGBONE

A herringbone pattern is one in which rectangular pavers are laid in a zig-zag pattern. To add additional pop to a herringbone design, consider adding a contrasting border along the patio edges.

 
BASKET WEAVE

Basket weave patterns utilize rectangular pavers to create block designs. To add contemporary flair to this traditional laying pattern, you can alternate the color tones or laying direction to create modular designs.

Modular Shapes and Laying Patterns

Modular shaped pavers offer a variety of square and rectangular sizes that can be laid in multiple laying patterns that are less repetitive, visually dynamic, and create a contemporary look that works especially well for larger patios.

THREE-PIECE MODULAR PATTERNS
 
FOUR-PIECE MODULAR PATTERNS

Asymmetrical Shapes and Random Patterns

Asymmetrically shaped pavers create a natural look and often incorporate false joints that create the illusion of multiple shapes laid at random. Multi-shape cobble-style pavers can also be laid in a multi-piece pattern that emulates a more random look, as an alternate to using a traditional laying pattern.

Paver Borders

Border selection can add an entirely new dimension to a patio design. Options can range from using the same paver at a different angle to choosing a contrasting color, shape and/or style of paver (or more than one). But the options don’t end there. Once the border paver is selected, there are a number of border laying pattern options, as well.

SOLDIER COURSE

The soldier course is likely the most-used laying pattern for a paver border. For this pattern, rectangular pavers are laid in a row, side-by-side.

 
SAILOR COURSE

Another popular border, the sailor course lays rectangular pavers lengthwise in one or more rows. For additional visual interest, wide sailor course borders can be created using more than one type of paver.

 
INLAID BORDERS

Striking designs can be created by laying a contrasting border further inside the paver field.

 

As the saying goes, if you want something to last, be sure to start with a solid foundation. This definitely holds true for paver patios, walkways and driveways. We’ve all seen paver installations that are uneven and cracking. In most cases, the fault lies with an improperly installed base. Although soil conditions can certainly be a factor, the information below can help those do-it-yourselfers looking for insight on installing concrete or porcelain paver installations that can remain beautiful for years to come.

Standard Concrete Paver Base Installation

Step 1 – Excavation:  Excavate all the topsoil off the area where the project will be installed.  It’s imperative to dig down to the clay or subsoil.  If the subsoil in your project area has recently been filled (i.e. as a result of new construction), it’s a good idea to compact it with a large walk-behind compactor before adding the gravel.  Otherwise, if it hasn’t recently been filled or disturbed, you can begin adding the aggregate layer. When calculating the depth of the excavation, you will need to add the thickness of the paver itself, 1” of bedding sand, and the necessary gravel recommended for the type of project you are installing.

Step 2 – Aggregate Layer:  Typically, this layer consists of crushed gravel that will vary in size from  3/4” down to dust. For walkways and patios, you will need to add 4-6” of this material. For driveways, you will add 8-12”.  If you have heavy clay subsoil, it’s also a good idea to add a geotextile underlayment. This woven layer of fabric will prevent aggregate from mixing with the soil below. This is especially important in driveway applications. In colder climates, it may be necessary to add more aggregate base material to allow for the freeze/thaw conditions present there. It doesn’t hurt to add more base material if you are unsure. Once the material has been placed, you will want to rake it off evenly.  It’s critical at this phase that the gravel be pitched away from the house to allow for water runoff.  Typically that slope will be between 1/8” and 1/4” of drop per linear foot (or more for driveways, depending on the location).

Step 3 – Compaction:  For this, you will need to rent a plate compactor with a minimum of 5,000 lbs. of force.  Most local rental companies will carry this piece of equipment.  Ideally you will want to compact in lifts (layers of gravel) no greater than 4”-6” at a time.  Doing more than that will result in an improperly compacted base.

Step 4 – Bedding Layer:  Next, you will add and level 1” of bedding sand.  The easiest way to level the sand is to purchase two pieces of 1” metal or plastic electrical pipe conduit.  Place the two pieces of conduit down, and using a 2 x 4 board, screed the sand smooth.  Keep moving the tubes down as you go, making sure to fill the voids where the tubes were by smoothing the surface with a trowel.  You are now ready to lay the pavers.

Overlays – Installing Pavers over Existing Concrete

Thin concrete pavers or Belgard Porcelain Pavers may be placed over an existing concrete slab or a new concrete slab (4,000 psi  and 4” thickness minimum) on a sand or DriBond setting bed. DriBond will actually adhere the pavers directly to the concrete slab, similar to how thinset adhesive works for tile. It goes on as a thin dry powder (3/8” thick max). Once the pavers are installed, simply soak the pavers with water to activate it. If just using sand, you will want to install an edging restraint as shown in the above diagram.  Prior to installation, verify that the distance from the top of slab to the doorsill will accommodate the proposed paver and setting bed thickness. If the concrete won’t allow for the thickness of the new overlay material, many rental companies will rent small grinding equipment. As long as you are left with a minimum of 4”, you can remove some of the top layer of the existing concrete. The other option would be to cut and remove the concrete near the transition and re-pour it at a lower height. If the site is located in a freeze-thaw zone, consider any heave movement in your height calculation. Thickness of the concrete slab should be 4”-6” with consideration given to heavier loading (RV, travel trailers, trucks, etc.) to determine the correct depth of concrete base and any internal reinforcement.

Optional Bases for Porcelain Pavers

Porcelain pavers have the option to be installed over a standard base, permeable base, sand, grass, concrete or pedestals. For additional information on installation of porcelain pavers on these various bases, and for special instructions regarding accommodating vehicular loads, download the Belgard Porcelain Paver Installation Guide.

Get cooking with some of our favorite grilling station design ideas, from simple grill islands to gourmet outdoor kitchens.

•   •   •

The Angular Look

These outdoor kitchens use multiple angles and countertops galore to create expansive grilling stations with ample prep and serving space, as well as bar-style seating.

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Weston Stone® clads the Bristol Brick Oven and was used to create a coordinating base to the grill station and extended kitchen, as well as the staircase leading to the back of the home, which ties the entire look together. 

Rough-hewn Country Manor® wall adds a rustic touch and was used to create an angular kitchen that follows the shape of the gazebo roofline.

•   •   •

The Classic L-Shape

With a classic L-shaped grilling station, everything you need is within arm’s reach.

mlrs_res_bel2015_outdoorkitchens_borders_lafittrusticslab_moduline_bristol_001_preview

This L-shaped kitchen unit is part of the Bristol Series of the Belgard Elements collection and is prefabricated in a factory setting and shipped in sections for a custom look that installs quickly.

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This custom L-shaped grilling station is constructed with the chiseled stone look of Belair Wall® and houses multiple storage cabinets and drawers to keep everything you need close at hand.

•  •  •

Multiple Cooking Surfaces

Gourmet outdoor chefs can’t settle for just one cooking method.

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With the design flexibility of Tandem® Modular Grid, this outdoor chef has it all…wood-burning brick oven, charcoal-burning Big Green Egg®, butane grill, sink and refrigerator!

•   •   •

Gorgeous Curves

Outdoor kitchens and grilling stations don’t have to follow the limited linear rules of an indoor cooking space. Get create with curvy designs.

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Multi-level counter tops and diamond-shaped embellishments add visual interest to this Weston Stone® grilling station. A built-in umbrella stand helps protect the cook from sun and rain.

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Doric columns and curved Tandem® walls add an elegant look to this outdoor kitchen.

•   •   •

Timelessness

You can’t go wrong with the classic look of brick.

A copper vent and roof add a modern twist to the traditional look of this brick grilling station and bar, which offers ample seating for guests to visit with the grill master.

•   •   •

Creative Touches

For a unique design, sometimes you have to think outside of the box.

A built-in gas fire feature adds flare to this Weston Stone® grilling station and bar.

This sunken kitchen was created using rough-hewn Celtik Wall® to retain the pool and build out the kitchen structure, which includes a grill, beverage cooler and refrigerator.

•   •   •

Grill Islands

Even when space is at a premium, you can still have an eye-catching cooking space.

expo_bel2015_res_patios_outdoorkitchens_megalibre_bristol_001_preview

This grill island from the Bristol Series of the Belgard Elements collection includes a bar top for seating on the opposite side. Embellishments of Arbel® pavers add visual interest, and in this design, coordinate with the paver patio.

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The Bordeaux Series grill island from the Belgard Elements collection has a smaller footprint and offers a stacked stone look with either a midnight (shown) or limestone countertop.

•   •   •

Multi-Media Mecca

Some folks want an outdoor kitchen that offers all of the convenience of the indoors.

Tandem® Modular Grid was used to build out this outdoor kitchen, which houses multiple cooking surfaces and outdoor appliances, as well as a built-in flatscreen TV and sound system.

•   •   •

Wood & Stone

There’s just something earthy and fabulous about combining the looks of wood and stone together. An excellent way to do that is by adding an arbor to your outdoor space, which not only helps filter the sunlight, but adds pop to your design.

Reclaimed wood creates an eye-catching arbor for this Weston Stone® grilling station.

Arbors flank both sides of this Tandem® Modular Grid cooking station, adding an interesting look and coordinating with other wooden structures in the outdoor space.

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