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Memorial Weekend: Time to Take It Outside!

We Remember.

We Remember.

With a little help from the weather gods, outdoor living season kicks off over Memorial Weekend.

Of course, Memorial Day itself is first and foremost a time to honor our fallen soldiers. And we all want to do that.

But as a precious long weekend, it has also become a time of getting together with family and friends. And as the first weekend of the outdoor living season, it’s ideal for opening pools, heating up the barbecue, spending time gardening — or just reveling in being outdoors.

 

Locating Your Outdoor Kitchen

 

Locating Outdoor Kitchen

Locating Outdoor Kitchen

Fully equipped kitchens have become a key outdoor living amenity.

And there are reasons for locating your outdoor kitchen away from the house — if you have a ‘destination’ pool, or if other key outdoor living areas are set at a distance.

However, it’s generally a good idea to position your outdoor kitchen as close to the house as possible.

Proximity to your indoor kitchen is one obvious reason for this. But your home’s extended roof, not to mention house walls, can provide protection from the elements.

It’s also easier to hook up electricity by being so close to the home’s utility lines.

 

 

Combo Kitchen/Bar

Combo Kitchen/Bar

When you want your kitchen to be equal parts cooking, dining, and drinking spot, however, you may want to set your kitchen where the outdoor activities take place.

In this case, your outdoor kitchen needs to be fully equipped so there’s less back and forth to the house. This means having lots of storage areas for bowls, cooking utensils, frequently used condiments, and definitely it should have a sink.

Wherever you locate your kitchen, just remember you don’t want to get burned up from intense sun during cooking or dining. A pergola is one answer. But another is to have moveable — yet sturdy — outdoor umbrellas for flexible shade.

 

Stand Alone Outdoor Bars

 

Bar With Water Feature

Bar With Water Feature

 

Depending on what amenities you already have, or your particular landscape, it can be wise to have an outdoor bar/dining spot separate from where the cooking is being done.

And don’t limit yourself to what a bar can be. For example, you can even add waterfalls. The elegant sheet falling ones seen in the photo here gave our clients the sleek modern look they wanted. And, of course, they also provide a very pleasant relaxing sound. This helps friends and family de-stress and invites easy conversation.

We installed the waterfalls with an Aquascape Inc. pondless waterfall system so a pond was not required to capture the falling water.

 

Adding Pool Amenities

 

Pools with Waterfalls

Pools with Waterfalls

Speaking of de-stressing. You might think that being able to cool off, do laps, or play water polo is enough to demand of a swimming pool.

But adding waterfalls can provide a whole new delightful experience.

Not only are these beautiful to look at, but imagine treading water underneath one. Or swimming under it.

Adding such a feature to a pool opens up lots of possibilities like incorporating other fun amenities with it: diving rocks, slides, as well as bright plantings.

There’s lots more to enjoying the outdoor living season. And we will highlight some of these as the season goes on.

 

 

Pool Waterfall

Pool Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Memorial Weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality Upgrade Ideas for Your Outdoor Barbecue

 

According to trend spotters, the watchword for today’s outdoor upgrades is:

Quality.

Take the humble barbecue. It remains the beating heart of outdoor entertaining. But more and more it has become only a part of a more expansive outdoor kitchen that’s set in attractive custom cabinetry etc. — and made to last.

 

Of course, the first thing any outdoor kitchen will need is outdoor plumbing and electrical outlets to hook up the sinks and appliances. And it is key to locate the kitchen as accessible to your indoor kitchen as possible. That said, design and function will depend on your style and budget.

Some Deck and Patio Barbecue Projects to Inspire You

 

For easy dining and before and after cocktail hours, Deck and Patio created this handsome stone-faced outdoor kitchen with a raised bar.

The patio paving stones underneath were chosen to stand up to a lot of traffic and weather changes, not to mention the heat from regular cooking on the grill.

Close to the indoor kitchen, and with no obstructions in the way, the custom outdoor kitchen’s appliances and cabinetry should last a good long time.

 

 

 

 

This project  combined a new Trex Transcend deck with a full outdoor kitchen. “Trex is one of several composite decking manufacturers whose names are synonymous with ‘quality,’ says Dave Stockwell, owner of Deck and Patio. “Here, the deck is not only an outdoor gathering area, but it makes an elegant foundation for the barbecue.”

The outdoor kitchen itself boasts a durable and stylish granite top. Its cultured stone facade goes all the way to the ground making a dramatic statement that can be appreciated throughout the yard; kitchen amenities include not just the barbecue, but a refrigerator, double-side burner, as well as three drawers — all made with high quality stainless steel. Note how a large space was not required to design/build a superior barbecue area.

 

 

 

Again, Deck and Patio clients wanted their outdoor kitchen’s mechanics and amenities hidden in a work station with a stone facade for elegance and durability. Boasting a large work area, this kitchen includes a sink, refrigerator, eating bar with bar stools — and, of course, a quality barbecue.

The curved shape of the outdoor kitchen’s station, including one end designed as a circle, hints at the home’s turret. Note: A large shade umbrella over the bar can be moved as needed. Also, when sun is intense, extra umbrellas from the patio’s lounge area can be brought to the bar/cooking area.

 

 

When we think of pergolas, we think of beautiful architectural statements. And they are that for sure. They also beautifully delineate spaces such as for an outdoor kitchen.

But did you also consider that a pergola allows you to cover the top with a tarp that can hang down a bit when it’s pouring outside? After all, a quality barbecue and it’s juicy grilled meats and vegetables shouldn’t be inaccessible just when you want a grilled steak the most.

This L-shaped outdoor kitchen countertop also serves as a bar.

 

 

 

Certainly, the more seating the better when planning your outdoor kitchen. Here, Deck and Patio used natural stone for the veneer of the barbecue/bar and added a seat wall made with the same veneer.

We also added the same edge-restraint as the capstone, creating an interesting tie-in with the extensive brick veneer used for the house. The seat wall is handsome and ample in size, but it is also comfortable and will last a long time.

Once again, the curved design of the kitchen and seat wall complement the home’s turret, while some of the dark stones in the veneer echo the turret’s roof.

“One way you know any upgrade you are planning will be, in fact, one of quality,” says Dave Stockwell, “is how well your build/design firm stands by its work. We always recommend materials that are backed with good warranties from trustworthy manufacturers and are proud of our own reputation for ensuring complete satisfaction in our work.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying Your Deck in Winter: Expert Tips from Fiberon Decking

“Enjoying my deck in winter?” you might be asking. Actually, yes!

To get the snowdown on how to enjoy our decks even when it’s snowy outside, we spoke to Edie Kello, Director of Marketing Communications at a leading capped-composite decking manufacturer: Fiberon Decking.

# 1 Removing Snow from Your Deck

Kello says the most important aspect to outdoor winter enjoyment is to remove any existing snow.

“Whether you have a wood or capped-composite deck, we recommend not using metal shovels for this, but plastic ones. If you feel it necessary to use de-icing materials, rock salt is the best choice for any deck surface.  Be sure to choose rock salt that is labeled safe for flagstone or concrete and will not kill grass.”

Kello does not recommend using sand to remove ice and snow because that can mar a deck’s surface; if the snow is light, a broom is a good choice or, again, a plastic shovel, Kello recommends sweeping the used rock salt into the trash, then rinsing the deck off to remove any residue. This is especially important if you have pets.

“You can use a pressure washer if you like, but we recommend not going beyond 3,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). Also, keep the nozzle about 10” above the deck. This applies to both wood and composite decking.“

 

Removing Snow and Ice from Decks:

Removing Snow and Ice from Decks:

Removing snow is key to outdoor winter enjoyment. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Keeping Warm on Your Deck

Having a heat source, such as a deck heater (or patio heater), permits you to enjoy your winter wonderland and the fresh crisp air longer. Not to mention you can make s’mores and keep hot cider and hot chocolate warm. Available in building supply stores, they come free standing, fit on a table top, and usually run on propane gas.

“These heaters will throw heat down and around where you are sitting,” says Kello.

“Fire pits and fireplaces are other popular choices. If you are not using a natural gas heat source, we recommend putting a fiber-cement mat (made of a mix of wood pulp and cement) underneath a fire pit to catch any embers.

It is also important to ensure heat doesn’t build up against the wood or composite decking, so keep any heat source up off the deck by at least a foot.”

 

Fire Pits/Fire Tables:

Fire Pits/Fire Tables:

A fire pit adds warmth and is the perfect place to roast a marshmallow for s’mores. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Trapping Your Heat

Since heat rises, Kello says you probably want some sort of deck covering that will help trap the heat. “It’s great if you can add a roof, but if you have a pergola, you can put a tarp or outdoor fabric over it, or add an awning. These options help keep harsh elements off the deck as well, so there’s less shoveling.

 

 Deck Covering:

Deck Covering:

A roof is an ideal way to trap heat when it’s cold; plus a fireplace not only adds warmth, but it provides a lot of ambiance. Photo: Fiberon Decking and Railing

 

Now, for the Enjoyment!

If we go through the effort of keeping our decks clear of snow and add a source of warmth, that means we get to use our outdoor grills much longer into the winter season.

 

 

Photo # 5

 

Additionally, some people install a hot tub to take full advantage of winter outdoor living — even when there is a massive amount of snow. Just be sure any hot tub is properly supported within the sub-structure of the deck, says Kello.

 

 

 

 

 

# 6

 

 

 

She also suggests the addition of lights for a cozy winter atmosphere. “If you don’t have any deck lights built into the railing, just add Christmas/holiday lights, or snowflake lights along the railing, pergola, shrubs/planters, or even on a deck umbrella.”

 

 

Other suggestions:

 

# 7

add color and life on your deck by including flowers such as Pansies, Johnny Jump Ups, Cabbage and Kale, or perennials such ornamental grasses and lavender.

“The point is, even when it snows, you really can enjoy the crisp fresh air right outside your door if you make it comfortable enough,” says Kello.

More: Fiberon Decking