Top Hat Outdoor Living Blog

Options For Your New Patio

The are so many available options for your patio. It's up to you to dream it up and we'll definitely make it a reality.

The are so many available options for your patio. It’s up to you to dream it up and we’ll definitely make it a reality.

Adding thoroughly usable, enjoyable living area to your home doesn’t have to mean adding to the interior — with a well-done patio, you can add space to entertain, dine, cook and make the most of those bursts of perfect weather we get in Middle Tennessee (even if they do come in unpredictable fits and starts).

At Top Hat Outdoor Living, we specialize in taking our clients’ vision of a perfect patio and bringing it to life, whether it’s just a simple area for grilling or a totally decked-out outdoor living space that quickly becomes your favorite part of your home.

And although you’re probably thinking about adding a patio for your own enjoyment, there can be other added benefits, too. The 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects notes that patios are among the most popular outdoor additions – 97.7 percent of respondents chose them among the most popular features with homeowners and buyers. So if you think you may sell your home at some point, your patio gives buyers another reason to fall in love.

Choosing Details For Your Perfect Patio

If you’ve decided to add a patio, that’s the first decision of many you’ll make in this process. But our goal at Top Hat Outdoor Living is to make the whole process of choosing options and fine-tuning your vision as easy and fun as possible.

A few of the options we can talk about:

Overall Design

The aesthetic of your patio can bring the look of your home’s interior outside, or it can bring a totally different look, setting off your modern home with something more rustic, or vice versa. And whatever you’re leaning toward, the Top Hat staff can deliver — we’ve created everything from sleek patio spaces with well-appointed outdoor kitchens to cozy Tuscan-inspired hideaways. Just talk with us about what you’re envisioning!

Concrete Or Pavers

Depending on your budget and aesthetic preferences, you might be thinking about a simple concrete patio or something a little more detailed, built with pavers. In either case, we can create something beautiful, from stained concrete to eye-grabbing stone paver work.

Covered Or Uncovered

You may want a bright and open patio, or you might want a little protection from the sun or the weather — your needs and expectations will dictate whether or not you want to explore the possibility of a covered patio. And we can add everything from a completely covered roof to a beautiful pergola that adds shade but still leaves the patio area airy.

Added Features

How do you plan to use your patio? If you’re passionate about cooking, Top Hat Outdoor Living can broaden your culinary options, from adding a wood fire oven for perfect pizzas and bread to a fully rendered outdoor kitchen, with everything from ample prep space to a refrigerator and dishwasher. If you’re looking more for entertaining and gathering space, we can design and install a fire pit or outdoor fireplace that makes a perfect centerpiece for outdoor parties, or design built-in outdoor seating that provides comfortable space for your family and friends.

Options for your new patio are truly only limited by what you’re dreaming up — talk with Top Hat Outdoor Living about your perfect patio, and we’ll help make it a reality!

A Space of Your Own

Creating An Outdoor Space That Suits You, Uniquely

A one-size-fits-all outdoor space isn’t any more ideal than a one-size-fits-all home — we all have our own unique needs and expectations when it comes to both the inside and outside spaces we inhabit. That’s why we specialize in custom outdoor living spaces at Top Hat Outdoor Living. We don’t just want to help you improve your outdoor space (though that’s certainly part of our aim). We want to help create the exact outdoor living area you envisioned, whether it’s a simple and cozy nook that lets you cuddle up by a fire, or an expansive outdoor cooking area fit for a chef.

Some of the options we can walk through if you work with Top Hat on your outdoor living space:

A Patio That Suits Your Taste And Space

Do you want to add on to living space outdoors, but aren't sure what will best make use of your space? We can help.

A home doesn’t look or feel finished without flooring, and an outdoor living space usually doesn’t look or feel finished without a patio to frame out and anchor it. If you plan to entertain or enjoy meals and togetherness outside, a patio makes that experience feel like a lot more than just sitting in the yard.

We work with different approaches and designs to help develop the perfect patio, whether it’s surrounding a pool or forming the base for your outdoor cook’s kitchen. We can go over the aesthetic and functional benefits of concrete and pavers, options for covering your patio (like a pergola) and how materials and designs fit into your budget and needs. At the end of the process, our aim is to deliver your vision, and to make you fall in love with your outdoor space.

An Outdoor Fireplace That Fits In Size And Design

We may be biased, but we think an outdoor fireplace really elevates an outdoor living area — makes it cozier, more comfortable and more beautiful. It also becomes a really strong focal point, so most of us want a fireplace that really exemplifies our taste, whether it’s something modern that carries through the aesthetic of the inside of our home, or a totally unique look that makes us feel like we were transported to a Tuscan olive grove.

At Top Hat Outdoor Living, we can design and build everything from a small and simple fire pit to an ornate fireplace with a prominent stone chimney and built-in seating around the sides. A custom fireplace gives you a chance to put a design stamp that really reflects your tastes — and we love turning those visions into reality.

An Outdoor Kitchen That Meets All Your Culinary Needs

If you love to cook, an outdoor kitchen can really enhance your life, from allowing you to stay among your guests while you cook (instead of running in and out of the house) to adding new tools to your arsenal, like a wood fired oven. At Top Hat Outdoor Living, we can outfit an outdoor kitchen with everything you need to have a perfect work and entertaining space, from a simple grill and cutting area to the whole works — refrigerator, dishwasher, even a wine cooler.

In terms of value, outdoor kitchens remain hugely popular with homeowners, and that popularity isn’t expected to slow down either — according to The American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey, outdoor kitchens (and fire pits too) are still among the Top 10 Outdoor Design trends. So if you ever decide to sell, you know you’ve added something desirable (and something you’ve been able to love in the interim).

If you’ve been thinking about ways to make your outdoor living area more than it is — something that suits your needs to a T — Top Hat Outdoor Living would love to help you realize that vision. Just give us a call!

 

 

 

 

Creating Outdoor Spaces

Creating An Outdoor Space That Suits You, Uniquely

A one-size-fits-all outdoor space isn’t any more ideal than a one-size-fits-all home — we all have our own unique needs and expectations when it comes to both the inside and outside spaces we inhabit. That’s why we specialize in custom outdoor living spaces at Top Hat Outdoor Living. We don’t just want to help you improve your outdoor space (though that’s certainly part of our aim). We want to help create the exact outdoor living area you envisioned, whether it’s a simple and cozy nook that lets you cuddle up by a fire, or an expansive outdoor cooking area fit for a chef.

We know you have questions about what options are available to you. We have answers.

We know you have questions about what options are available to you. We have answers.

Some of the options we can walk through if you work with Top Hat on your outdoor living space:

A Patio That Suits Your Taste And Space

A home doesn’t look or feel finished without flooring, and an outdoor living space usually doesn’t look or feel finished without a patio to frame out and anchor it. If you plan to entertain or enjoy meals and togetherness outside, a patio makes that experience feel like a lot more than just sitting in the yard.

We work with different approaches and designs to help develop the perfect patio, whether it’s surrounding a pool or forming the base for your outdoor cook’s kitchen. We can go over the aesthetic and functional benefits of concrete and pavers, options for covering your patio (like a pergola) and how materials and designs fit into your budget and needs. At the end of the process, our aim is to deliver your vision, and to make you fall in love with your outdoor space.

An Outdoor Fireplace That Fits In Size And Design

We may be biased, but we think an outdoor fireplace really elevates an outdoor living area — makes it cozier, more comfortable and more beautiful. It also becomes a really strong focal point, so most of us want a fireplace that really exemplifies our taste, whether it’s something modern that carries through the aesthetic of the inside of our home, or a totally unique look that makes us feel like we were transported to a Tuscan olive grove.

At Top Hat Outdoor Living, we can design and build everything from a small and simple fire pit to an ornate fireplace with a prominent stone chimney and built-in seating around the sides. A custom fireplace gives you a chance to put a design stamp that really reflects your tastes — and we love turning those visions into reality.

An Outdoor Kitchen That Meets All Your Culinary Needs

If you love to cook, an outdoor kitchen can really enhance your life, from allowing you to stay among your guests while you cook (instead of running in and out of the house) to adding new tools to your arsenal, like a wood fired oven. At Top Hat Outdoor Living, we can outfit an outdoor kitchen with everything you need to have a perfect work and entertaining space, from a simple grill and cutting area to the whole works — refrigerator, dishwasher, even a wine cooler.

In terms of value, outdoor kitchens remain hugely popular with homeowners, and that popularity isn’t expected to slow down either — according to The American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2014 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey, outdoor kitchens (and fire pits too) are still among the Top 10 Outdoor Design trends. So if you ever decide to sell, you know you’ve added something desirable (and something you’ve been able to love in the interim).

If you’ve been thinking about ways to make your outdoor living area more than it is — something that suits your needs to a T — Top Hat Outdoor Living would love to help you realize that vision. Just give us a call!

 

 

 

 

Extending Chimney Life

Let the service pros at Top Hat Outdoor Living assist you in creating your ideal outdoor living space. Give us a call today!

Let the service pros at Top Hat Outdoor Living assist you in creating your ideal outdoor living space. Give us a call today!

When thinking of ways to spend your hard-earned savings this summer, chimney problems are not where you want those extra dollars to go. There are a few things you can do to make sure that your chimney’s lifespan is as long as it can be. To learn more about how Top Hat Outdoor Living can help you, give us a call today!

Chimney Sweeps

The most important thing you can do for your fireplace and chimney is to have it cleaned by a CSIA-certified chimney sweep, as this is the only way to truly remove dangerous creosote buildup. Creosote is a sticky chemical residue that is formed when wood is burned at lower-than-optimal temperatures and is capable of building up within your chimney. As the gas moves up the chimney, the oils are deposited on the inner walls of your chimney. This buildup decreases the amount of open space through which harmful combustion gases and smoke can pass. When this happens, odor can be caused in the home; another undesirable consequence is the increased risk of a chimney fire.

Keep up with Repairs

When your chimney needs to be repaired you should give it attention sooner rather than later. If there are cracks in your chimney, you should have them fixed immediately both to prevent it from worsening and to keep water intrusion to a minimum. Water can also get in when the flashing is loose or damaged. If water gets into your chimney, it creates optimal conditions for the growth of mold. If mold is allowed to spread, it can eventually spread throughout your home. Also, you want to make sure your chimney cap is properly installed and working.

Waterproofing

It is recommended that if you live in a wet area that you have your chimney waterproofed. This can be done in a day’s time after you’ve had the chimney swept and the structure cleaned. Chimney technicians will spray a coat of water repellent on the outside of your chimney. It is recommended that this be done on a clear day; will take about six hours to dry. In some cases, you may need to have two coats applied.

Chimney systems are made up of numerous parts, all of which should be inspected by your chimney professional during your yearly chimney inspection and sweeping. To prevent major chimney system repairs, it’s crucial to make minor repairs as soon as the need for them arises. Contact the team at Top Hat Outdoor Living with any and all of your chimney service related questions. We want you to have all of the information you need!

Want an Outdoor Fireplace?

Are You Dreaming About Adding An Outdoor Fireplace?

If you don't know how to spruce up your outdoor space, opt to have an outdoor fireplace installed. Know your options.

If you don’t know how to spruce up your outdoor space, opt to have an outdoor fireplace installed. Know your options.

While the dead of a Southern summer can get the best of all of us, we really do have a great weather benefit here in Middle Tennessee: extended, outdoor-time-friendly stretches in spring and fall that are made that much better with the addition of an outdoor fireplace.

At Top Hat Outdoor Living, we specialize in what our name implies: Turning outdoor areas into extensions of your home, whether that means building an expansive patio with a pergola, a customized outdoor kitchen or a cozy nook with an outdoor fireplace perfect for entertaining or family togetherness.

Sizes, Styles And Finishes: We Can Create Your Dream Fireplace

At Top Hat Outdoor Living, we’ve been creating outdoor fireplaces for more than two decades, and we’re committed to taking our clients’ visions and making them a reality.

We can customize your outdoor fireplace from start to finish, whether you’re looking for a simple fire pit or a large and detailed fireplace with intricate stone design that becomes the focal point of your property. We’ll work with you to choose materials (brick, stone, tile or beyond), pinpoint your desired aesthetic (clean and modern, or like the grounds of a Tuscan villa?) and decide on the right fuel (do you want the convenience of gas, or the classic charm of wood?). No matter how simple or grand your outdoor fireplace vision is, Top Hat Outdoor Living’s CSIA-certified technicians can bring it to life, with the detailed workmanship we’ve built our reputation on.

Your Outdoor Fireplace Can Be More Than A Fireplace

Are you passionate about culinary pursuits? Your outdoor living area can bring a versatile new tool into your cooking arsenal too. We regularly install, build and customize woodfire ovens for clients who want more than just warmth and ambiance from their outdoor fireplace. You can certainly sit and enjoy a glass of wine next to your woodfire oven, but you can also perfect your bread and pizza making, and cook a host of other dishes. Since woodfire ovens can get as hot as 1000° F, you can do a lot with these that you can’t do in your traditional oven. And like all of our outdoor appliances, we can customize your oven, and make it exactly what you want.

Ready to talk about the outdoor fireplace you’ve been picturing? We’d be glad to answer any questions you have, and talk options, approaches and installation. Give Top Hat Outdoor Living a call!

Advantages of Inserts

Why You Should Get a Fireplace Insert

Have you ever dreamed of having one of those Friday night, outdoor patio dinners? Just imagine you and your family plus a few of your closest friends come over your place for dinner. You enjoy good food, good company and a great evening view of the outdoors. You can even throw in an outdoor movie for everyone to enjoy.

Well, based on our experience here at Top Hat Outdoor Living, this kind of dinner experience can be made into a reality. Yes, you have a patio, and you also have an outdoor fireplace but there is one thing more. It is also a good time to consider getting a fireplace insert, and here are a few reasons why:

Pushing a button and having a fire is convenient, but it is also energy-efficient.

Pushing a button and having a fire is convenient, but it is also energy-efficient.

1.       You can save a lot – choosing to get a fire insert installed saves you a lot of money by lessening your energy expenditure. Because of the efficient wood-burning heating system, you get to effectively keep your home, in this case your patio, warm without having a crazy electric bill. So you get to save yourself a lot of money without compromising the comfort and warmth of your household.

2.       They’re hassle-free – another major reason why a lot of homeowners are getting inserts installed in both their indoor and outdoor fireplace is the fact that inserts generally are easier and faster to install compared to having your old fireplace remodeled. Plus there’s also the added bonus that, compared to remodeling, installing inserts is relatively cheaper.

3.       They’re more efficient – it is now an established fact that fireplace inserts are much more efficient compared to the open fireplaces. The old kind of fireplace resulted to a lot of wasted energy and quick-burning fires. On the other hand, the fireplace inserts come with an airtight door system which allows for a slower burn and therefore, lesser energy wastage.

4.       They look nice – practicality aside, another reason why we should definitely get a fireplace insert installed is for its aesthetic properties. You have the option of the look and feel that you want to have. There are a wide variety of designs that are available for you to choose from.

Why settle for wishful thinking when you can make your dream dinner become a reality? You and your family can enjoy and make unforgettable memories while staying warm and cozy. You can have this and more if you decide to get that fireplace insert installed. So what are you waiting for?

 

Time to Accessorize

Some people could spend all day accessorizing their homes, their outfits, their cars, or whatever else they may hold dear to them.  However, no one really thinks about what extra pizzazz they can add to their chimney, or how they can reuse products efficiently.  In an effort not to waste anything usable, always try to find a practical use for something before tossing it out.  Be careful though, as this could lead to a mild case of being a hoarder – and no one wants that!  If you are new to having a chimney or outdoor fireplace and need some expert advice, call the professionals at Top Hat Outdoor Living.

If you have any questions about getting the most of your outdoor fireplace, don't hesitate to call.

If you have any questions about getting the most of your outdoor fireplace, don’t hesitate to call.

 

Tools On Hand

You should always make sure that your fireplace has the appropriate cover.  One of the things you will need is a cover or glass door to prevent any type of spark, flame, or smoke from entering your home.  You will also need a fireplace blanket for non-burning hours to keep outdoor air from making its way in.  For matches and lighters, you can use whatever type you like.  Just make sure that you ask a pro before using something new so that you can check for safety.  Lastly, a mat outside of your fireplace will keep ash and other debris from being spread all over your home.  The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) also includes other accessories that they feel are important.  These include blowers, grates, dampers, and screens.  To learn more click here.

Companies also make a variety of firewood and ash holders to keep things tidy and safe.  Do not worry though, because they come in a variety of colors and sizes to best fit the space you are working with.  And remember, a fireplace is only as good as the way it is kept so be sure that you have all of the right tools to help with that.  Your kit should include a broom and scoop for cleaning purposes, and a poker and tongs for situating the fire logs.  Utility gloves are always important to wear when dealing with your fireplace and chimney because they will protect your skin from heat, ash, or creosote.

How can you change up the way you use your accessories?

  • Buy painted or decorative styles of covers
  • Use old firewood holders for garage organization
  • If the mat is not too soiled, use it for an outdoor rug
  • Use your old utility gloves for landscaping or gardening

6 Questions to Ask Your Sweep

Your chimney sweep wants to ensure that your heating system is working at peak performance and that your family is as safe as possible.

Keeping your chimney in good working order saves you money.

Keeping your chimney in good working order saves you money.

Saving Energy, Saving Money

Be a wise homeowner and save money and energy this season.

Be a wise homeowner and save money and energy this season.

In our everyday life, we are always looking for ways to save money and energy, and quite often we can easily do both. From the simple task of turning lights off when you leave the room to a larger job of installing an outdoor kitchen from Top Hat Outdoor Living, saving both energy and money can be a breeze this spring and summer with the following strategies recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Windows

You can keep heat from coming in through your windows by installing energy-efficient window treatments like black-out curtains, blinds, or awnings. These will also keep the cool air trapped inside your home.

Thermostat

If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to where your home is warmer while you are away. Your air conditioner will automatically begin cooling your home before you get home, bringing the temperature down to your normal setting. It also helps to set your thermostat as high as you can stand it during the summer because the difference between the temperatures outside and inside affects your cooling bill.

Ceiling and Ventilating Fans

You can actually raise your thermostat up four degrees when you use a ceiling fan and have no difference in temperature. Just be sure to turn the fan off when you leave the room because ceiling fans only cool people, not rooms, because they create a wind-chill effect. The bathroom fan can also be used to save energy by removing heat and humidity when you shower or bathe.

Cooling System

Be sure to have your HVAC system on a regular maintenance schedule. Also vacuum the registers and keep the filters changed to keep your system running problem-free.

Appliances and Lighting

Avoid using the oven; having an outdoor kitchen with a woodfire oven from Top Hat Outdoor Living, or even just a grill, is an excellent way to still cook yet save energy and keep your home cool during the summer. Install ENERGY STAR lighting products and appliances in your house. Take advantage of daylight instead of artificial light. Avoid heat buildup in your home by not doing a lot of activities that burn a lot of electricity like running a computer. Only run the dishwasher if you have a full load of dishes. Similarly, don’t do small loads of laundry.

Hot Air Leaks

Keep hot air out of your house by caulking air leaks around doors and windows. You can also apply weatherstripping to seal up any openings you may have where hot air is leaking into your home.

Water Heater

Since your water heater can be responsible for up to 25% of your energy consumption, you will want to lower its temperature to 120 degrees, the warm setting, lowering costs and risks of scalding your hands with excessively hot water.

Adapting these simple strategies this season can save you both energy and money as well as keep you and your home comfortable and cool.

The Perfect Outdoor Fireplace

Tips For Your Perfect Outdoor Fireplace

If you’ve been thinking about improving your patio or other outdoor living space with a new outdoor fireplace, you have a lot of decisions to make. Thankfully, they’re fun decisions.

So many Top Hat Outdoor Living clients around Middle Tennessee have told us that their outdoor fireplace quickly became the favorite part of their home. And we love hearing that, because we put a lot of time, attention and focus into designing and building the exact fireplace our clients were envisioning, from shape to size and finishes. Our aim is to walk you through the steps of developing your perfect fireplace, then exceeding your expectations while we bring it to life at your home.

A few things to think about, while you dream up that outdoor fireplace:

Your patio would be greatly enhanced by adding an outdoor fireplace.

Your patio would be greatly enhanced by adding an outdoor fireplace.

Different Fuels Suit Different Lifestyles

A wood-burning fireplace is the traditional choice, whether we’re talking about an indoor fireplace or an outdoor one, and it’s still a great choice — roasting marshmallows with family and friends over a wood fire is the stuff of lasting spring and fall memories, whether it’s 2014 or 1974. But a wood-burning fireplace certainly isn’t your only option.

If you’re looking for an outdoor fireplace that offers a little more convenience and a lot less cleanup, our CSIA-certified technicians can build and install a gas-burning outdoor fireplace that offers plenty of charm and minimal work, so you can enjoy a fire with the turn of a knob.

If you want help weighing out the pros and cons of different fuels, Top Hat technicians are always here to help.

Materials And Design Can Match Your Aesthetic

You’re not limited to a traditional-looking brick fireplace either (though we think those remain very beautiful). We can show you a wide variety of beautiful stones or unique brick designs that our expert masons can use to build your fireplace, and we can also share possibilities for more modern finishes, from tile to concrete. Whether you want to mimic the fireplace at a Tuscan villa with a homey stucco finish or bring a pop of color with Spanish-style tile, Top Hat Outdoor Living can realize your vision.

An Outdoor Fireplace Doesn’t Have To Be ‘Just’ A Fireplace

At Top Hot Outdoor Living, we also specialize in building woodfire ovens that bring that cozy warmth and togetherness you want from an outdoor fireplace, but also add to your cooking arsenal. These are top-notch for pizza, since you can really get that perfect pizza crust with the high temperatures a woodfire oven provides (over 1000° F). But you can also bake bread, roast meats and vegetables — your options are really only limited by your creativity.

If you’re a big fan of the culinary arts, these can be a great addition to your outdoor space, and to your dinner table.

Outdoor fireplaces are one of Top Hat Outdoor Living’s specialties, so if you have a dream fireplace in mind, we’d love to help make that dream real. For starters (and maybe some inspiration), take a look at our online portfolio  to check out some past outdoor fireplace projects. And if you want to talk about the possibilities at your home, just give us a call!