DreamCast Design Blog

Prepare your Firepit for Winter

With the cooler temperatures coming on and for some, an end to backyard living, we should talk about winter maintenance of your fire features.

Winter for most of us in the US and Canada means harsh temperatures and much more time spent inside. It’s also time to maintain/winterize your outdoor fire feature. 

Let’s look at some quick basic maintenance tips to ensure proper operation of the fire feature in the spring:

  • Turn off the gas line supply with a service valve or key valve. This will reduce the moisture that may get trapped in the line
  • If your fire feature is electronic ignition turn off the circuit via the installed wall switch or circuit breaker
  • Clean out any debris from the pan/burner assembly to ensure the pan weep holes are clear of debris and now would be a good time to clean any media that may have signs of soot or carbon build-up. Simply wash with warm soapy water, let dry, and reapply media in the pan. Clean the thermocouple and pilot assembly with a soft brush
  • Now is the critical time for your cover. If you do not have a cover, it is important to consider covering the unit. Those that do have a hardcover may want to consider covering the unit, the cover and the enclosure with a vinyl cover to ensure no snow or moisture can sit on the unit for an extended period of time
  • For those in mild winter temperatures, turn the fire feature on as often as possible

These winter maintenance of your fire features tips ensure your firepit will keep in good operating condition through the harsh winter months. It is important to know that by far the worst damage that can be done to any unit is to have snow and water sitting on top of the unit for an extended period of time. So even if you don’t have time for the proper fire feature winter maintenance, it is critical to, at the very least, get the unit covered properly for the cold snowy winter months.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to anyone of our technicians.

Make Sure To Cover Your Firepit For The Winter!

Studio McGee & DreamHome Makeover Fireplace

We’re all binge-watching Studio McGee’s awesome new Netflix show, DreamHome Makeover and isn’t it awesome? Every episode is inspiring, and the families are wonderful. We have to be honest though – first episode is our favourite, with a DreamCast Britannia Mantel making a huge difference in the living room transformation. We’re flattered and excited to have seen our mantel on the show.  We’ve been receiving a lot of questions on this, so here is the low down on the styling for this mantel.

This is our Britannia mantel, but with a small twist. Studio McGee ordered it with a custom height. The standard mantel is 51 1/4″H, Most mantels are about 50 – 53″ in height, because it’s a comfortable level to place items at, and if you want to mount a TV above. However, for this space  Studio McGee wanted the mantel to be the focal point and grounding element for the room. So, this unit was made a whopping 60″ in height. Generally we recommend the 60″ for great rooms with taller ceilings, but here the overall effect is great. The taller than normal wainscoting really adds to overall effect for that modern traditional twist and gives a textured backdrop for the room keeping things airy.

The Britannia mantel is in our Cloud White color in our Smooth Finish. Keeping it a warm neutral white makes the fireplace also seem less hefty for the space. This mantel is only 10″ deep, but that height would be imposing if the mantel was a darker color. 

Britannia Mantel Close up
Britannia Mantel Seen in Love it or List it HGTV

Want some design tips on how to decorate your fireplace in a Studio Mcgee Style? Check out this blog post by designer Courtney Turk

If you haven’t seen the show yet – check out the trailer below. There’s a sneak peak on the mantel!



Check out the great post on RedFin that features advice from DreamCast on Firepit design

9 Backyard Projects to Complete This SummerApril 12, 2020 by Lexi Klinkenberg

Updated on July 27th, 2020
As the warm summer weather continues, you may be starting a mental list of those backyard projects you’ve been wanting to get to. It is easy to put off exterior home projects when you’re living in Portland or own a home in Philadelphia where the winter weather can be rainy and cold, but once the sun is shining the work that your home needs may become more apparent. Summer is the perfect time to tackle some of those backyard projects or if you want to get them done in record time, hire a team of professionals to help get your home in great condition this summer.



Natural Gas Concrete Fire Pits

You’ve decided you need a fire pit for your yard – great choice! Now, you need to figure out how to make it work. It’s remarkably easy, actually. Living in the city usually means that open air burning is prohibited, so you can’t just chop logs and throw them in. However, most cities have natural gas mains to which your house is already hooked up heating your hot water or furnace. It’s a matter plumbing your fire bowl to this existing gas supply and there are a couple of ways to achieve this depending on the scale of your backyard project commitment. Are you doing a full redo of your yard, or just want to add a fire feature to the existing layout?

Linea 72 Fire Pit

Full Renovation/New Construction
If your project is from the ground up you can plumb a direct line to where your fire pit will be located. This means the gas connection will be buried in the ground under pavers or other hardscape for an invisible connection. All the attachments to the plumbed line will be finalized within the bowl for a crisp look. It’s important when in the planning phase to select your fire pit and it’s BTU output,if you’re going with one of the higher BTU models, so the line can installed correctly. 

Add a Fire pit to your Existing Yard
In this instance your layout is already in place, and the only thing missing is that key feature – a fire pit.  This is easily resolved as well. Many new homes will already have a quick connect or “BBQ box” installed in the backyard. You might need to add a splitter to this box, to run both appliances at the same time, or you can do one or the other. If you don’t have a quick connect already then a gas professional can run a line from your house supply and install one. From the Quick Connect box to the fire table you’ll be able to run a nondescript hose which will easily connect and disconnect. Legal maximum is usually around 20′ for hose length, but you want to keep the length of the line as short as you can. The longer the hose the higher chance you have for pressure drop.  Technically fire pits on a quick connect are “portable” and you will have more flexibility to rearrange your yard layout.

In either set-up, new build or add-on, you will need to have a gas professional set-up your fire pit and leak test it. Our fire pits ship disassembled with all the parts you need for the fire pit hook up: from the valve to the burner. However, the other side of the valve to your gas supply must be done by the gas professional to ensure safe operation of your gas appliance. Why does it ship disassembled? This is to make transport of our concrete fire pits easy and so you can place them on decks or rooftop patios without needing a crane.

Natural Gas Main
Quick Connect Box

Should you do propane or natural gas ?  We cover these pro and cons on a different blog post. With this post focusing on natural gas there are a lot of conveniences to be had with this fuel type. Running off natural gas gives you the modern convenience of a constant fuel source. No need to worry about refills. The height of the flame is easily controlled and there are a number of ignition methods available for natural gas concrete fire tables:
1) Manual lit
2) Push button (piezo)
3) Electronic Ignition

Depending on your climate one ignition method may be better than another and each has it’s pros and cons as well. Most importantly all these ignition systems and the instant fuel means you don’t need to worry about where you’ll be getting dry logs and cleaning up the mess of ash afterwards. Convenience and beautiful aesthetic. Concrete fire pit design is not just about delivery of heat, but also the presentation of this elemental force in our yard. This is the world of modern fire pits. 

What are the other distinct features of a modern natural gas fire pit?

  • Contemporary design fire pits are low profile. This is because outdoor furniture is set much lower than indoor. Plus the lower the fire bowl the more warmth you feel. We’ve found 15″ high is the sweet spot.
  • Various fire topping available to get the perfect look – check out some of our options
  • Concrete firepits come in different shapes and sizes to suit your layout –  view the collection of designs
Email or call us with any questions you have during your design process for a natural gas concrete fire pit.

Phantom 72 Fire Pit

Propane Concrete Fire Pits

If you’re not in an area that has natural gas readily available, or you don’t have the option to connect to your house supply you can still have a stunning modern fire feature. This article will cover some of the benefits, drawbacks and basics of a propane concrete fire pit.

Firstly, What’s The Difference Between Propane and Natural Gas?

Natural gas consists of mostly methane. It also contains propane, butane, and a few other gases too. Natural gas comes from underground shale deposits. You may have heard of the controversial method called fracking to release the gas from the underground. So, propane is actually refined natural gas. It burns cleaner and hotter than natural gas, so it is considered a much more efficient gas fuel. Propane is also much more available than natural gas because after it is liquified, it’s easy to store in tanks and transport. For example, propane can be delivered by truck to a remote home that doesn’t have natural gas lines available.

About Propane – How long does a tank last?

We get this question a lot. It does depend on the size of the tank you are using and the BTU rating on your burner. For popular 60K BTU fire pits you get 8 – 10hrs of run time, if you’re burning it on a mid range flame height. If you crank it all the way up you’ll likely get around 6hrs burn.

How Many Gallons of Propane in a 20 Pound Tank?

A 20-pound propane tank is the most common size tank. A 20 lb tank is the typical size tank for barbecue grills and the ones you can get in the easy refill programs at Home Depot and gas stations. A 20 lb propane tank holds 4.5 gallons of propane.

Advantages of Propane Gas:
– Setting up is easy
– No need for new landscaping work, if you are not plumbing directly to an onsite tank
– Instant backyard upgrade
– Emits warmer heat than natural gas
– Easy refill (bottle switch programs)
– Mobile – you can change up your patio layout

– The connection hose is visible
– Emits warmer heat, but it comes in lower BTU options so you can get more fuel time out of a standard 20lb propane tank.
– Higher BTU fire pits need bigger onsite tank
– Propane tank is visible  (a side table or tank cover may be needed to hide it)
– Need to refill tanks

When considering how to incorporate your propane fire pit in your existing yard keep in mind the hose length. Depending on your area the legal hose maximum is 20′. However, your goal is to keep the run of the hose as short as possible because your pressure drops over the length of the hose. If you have insufficient pressure you won’t have as high a flame.

What do you do with the Propane Hose?

One of the biggest design concerns we hear about with a propane fire pit set-up is how do you hide the hose? The hose itself is nondescript. It’s usually either a dark grey or a black, so it’s one of those things that most people pass over visually. Some options:

  • Clever incorporation into a yard layout (along paver edge)
  • Place the fire pit on a rug, make a hole in the rug and snake the hose under it to the propane tank
  • Are you on a deck? Make a hole in the deck right below the unit and run the hose under

Check out the hidden hose in the photo below. It’s tucked off along the brick pavers.

Visible Hose on a Propane Setup (Zen 36 Fire Pit)

Hose Tucked Away in Landscaping (Lotus 32 Fire Pit)
 How do you hide the propane tank?

This is another big concern when designing your new patio. A propane tank is somewhat large and usually unsightly. Depending on your set-up you can have a few options. 

  • Tuck it behind the furniture
  • Hide it in the midst of some potted planters
  • If you have the hose length it could go around the corner of the house for example
  • Place the propane tank into a propane tank side

We offer stylish companion side tables that hide the propane tank as an optional add-on item. These side tables are usually selected in the same color to the fire pit. 

Optional Propane Tank Side Table
Can You Buy a Fire Pit that Hides the Propane Tank Inside ?

All of DreamCast fire pits are low profile and designed to not house the propane tank. There’s a couple reasons for this. Primarily it’s because our firepit is designed to be part of your social gathering area with your club chairs and sofa set. To house a 20lb tank we’d need to raise our fire pits far higher than would be comfortable with outdoor furniture. The lower a fire pit the more warmth you get. We’ve found that 15″ is the ideal height for a concrete fire table. Most fire pits that hide the propane tank well are dining table height. 

You also need consider ease of access and ventilation for a propane tank. This means you need to incorporate vents and a stainless steel removable panel or doors, that can detract from the minimalist organic aesthetic of a concrete fire pit.  

There are fire pits on the market that use a very small sideways propane tanks. Keep in mind that these hold a very small amount of fuel. For the fire pit to provide any reasonable fuel time the flame height on these units is small in order to compensate. These small propane bottles are also fairly expensive (in comparison to a standard 20lb) to replace.

We’ve found that the 20lb tanks are much more user friendly for refills, give great run time, and the trick of hiding them is not too hard! The trade off for a little bit of planning is the perfect concrete fire pit.

Hopefully this article helps you answer some questions on propane fire pits, and you’ll be able to enjoy a stunning fire feature this season.

Quadra Fire Table

How To Bring The Cottage To Your City Backyard

Loving this cozy setup with our Zen34 concrete fire bowl in Mist color featured by House and Home Magazine. Isn’t this just charming? The stones the fire bowl is nestled in really tie in with the optional cast river stones added to the fire pit. Fabulous idea! 100% staycation ready.

With the low profile of the Zen34 fire pit  it’s the perfect match for muskoka chairs. These chairs also called Adirondack chairs are particulary low set, so the 12″ height of this fire bowl is ideal to make sure everyone still stays warm! 

Learn how to bring the cottage to your city backyard — with tips from H&H’s Stacy Begg.
Photo: Tracey Ayton | Design: Architecture by Jen Heath

Read the article here

Zen 34 Fire Pit (Mist Color)

French Country Mantel Inspiration

Inspirations for French Country Mantel

The inspiration for the French Country mantel was born in the South of France.

Like most powerful countries in Europe, France was known for its lavish lifestyle, priceless treasured arts, and marvelous feats in architecture and exquisite arts. A particular gem  is the city of Avignon in the Provence region in the South of France. The city is known for its important religious history, opulence, and it was briefly the seat of power for the papacy. This is all on top of the enchanting natural beauty and captivating landscape around. Here is a little bit of history on this landmark.

Avignon became a central trade post in the olden days for its strategic positioning and for the bridge over the Rhone River. Avignon was a very profitable city, and its key position forced many different European tribes to fight over it into the late middle ages until the Roman papacy took over.

In 1309, Pope Clement V transferred papal power from Rome to Avignon to avoid political unrest in Italy.  This means he chose it to be the seat of Papacy and to be the site of Pontifical Residence. Under their rule and with the expansion of trading, the city gathered a plethora of merchants of all trades, architects, builders, painters, sculptors and musicians and other tradesmen.

The Palais des Papes (Papal Residence) emerged from the combined brilliance of both the best French architects and the best Italian painters of the time. The marvels of the palace with its flying buttresses and enthralling interior frescoes were truly overwhelming! The palace had a turbulent life after the papacy moved back to Rome, and unfortunately the interior of the palace was all but ruined after the Napoleonic army used it as a barracks and prison over 350 years later.  The remains are still awe- inspiring and is home to where you can purchase the coveted Chateuneuf du Pape wine.

The French are well known for their love of wines. Their adoration for wine goes back for thousands of years. As a result of this passion, the papal government were determined to have areas in and around the region to be recognized and be famous for producing the best wine there was. The area Chateuneuf du Pape (translated as New Castle of the Pope) was established under Pope John XXII and the wines of this region because known as “Vin du Pape”.  These wines are renowned the world over as exceptional.

Another interesting attraction of Avignon, and one of the most famous bridges in the world to date is the Pont du Benezet also known as the Bridge of Avignonbuilt in 12th century. You might know it from the children’s song! It originally had 22 arches, spanning over 900 meters and was the only place bridging the city of Lyon and the Mediterranean sea. Aside from the fascinating legend of how and who built this bridge, Pont du Benezet played one of the most significant pilgrimage passages between Italy and Spain.  

Another interesting attraction of Avignon, and one of the most famous bridges in the world to date is the Pont du Benezet also known as the Bridge of Avignonbuilt in 12th century. You might know it from the children’s song! It originally had 22 arches, spanning over 900 meters and was the only place bridging the city of Lyon and the Mediterranean sea. Aside from the fascinating legend of how and who built this bridge, Pont du Benezet played one of the most significant pilgrimage passages between Italy and Spain.  

The amazing sights, historic importance and astonishing architectural arts of Avignon are the inspirations behind our most popular fireplace mantel, the French Country.

The French Country mantel, befittingly named is our elegant and understated fireplace surround that merges the traditional characteristics of the organic French countryside with the bold architectural elements of medieval structures.

It is one of our most sought-after designs that easily matches any interior with its classic details and timeless style.  Its imposing presence is refined and humbled with the down-right-at home welcoming feel to it inspired by the natural traits of the rustic country aesthetics. This mantel bears the element of balance and harmony between elegance and comfort. It is a stunning focal point for great rooms or smaller living spaces, if using one of the more compact sizes.

The French Country Mantel is available in two heights and two standard lengths. Customization is also available to this design. Contact us if the standard dimensions do not work for your project, and we will review your requirements for the necessary adjustments.

To add a full effect of grace and drama, or to meet the requirements of your fireplace unit consider a hearth to complete the look.

Venezia – Mantel Inspiration

Venezia Mantel in Moonlight Old World

Venice History 
Venice is an extraordinary city well known for its rich history, opulence in arts, astounding architecture and ingenious innovations. The city is emblematic of dazzling romantic imagery as typified by the rowing scenes of Gondola ride coasting along the water canals, availing the pleasure of the magnificent views portrayed in hundreds of Hollywood movies.
Venice is composed of 118 small islands, situated in the Veneto Region of Northeastern Italy, and it solely relies on canals, waterways channels and bridges. To this day, thoroughfares are only accessible either by boat or by walking through its countless twisted streets and crossing small footbridges.

The city, in the middle of a lagoon has a challenging landscape and would have not been habitable if not for the brilliant minds of the Venetian people. Their ingenuity propelled the construction of building structures above water. They used thousands of wood pilings of about 60 feet, driven to the bottom of the lagoon that reached past the silt and dirt until it hit the sturdy hard clay that could hold the weight of the structure piled above it.

However, with the proliferation of building structures, the weight of the city pushed it down deeper into the mud forcing the water out and compressing the soil. This distinctive occurrence has combined forces with the tide movement of Mother Earth and causes cyclical flooding. This phenomenon is what makes Venice well known to date as “The Floating City”.

Piazza San Marco

The exuberance and luxuriance of the architectural elements around Piazza San Marco was perpetually inspiring! As the largest square in the city, it is the main location where important government buildings are located and was the central hub for the goings on around the city. It was laid originally in front of St. Mark’s Basilica, a small chapel that was inside the complex of the infamous Doge’s Palace.

​St. Mark’s Basilica is aptly named the “Church of Gold” for its extravagance and grandiosity.

The Doge’s Palace

The Doge’s Palace built in a Venetian Gothic style is considered a masterpiece.  The architectural style was influenced by Islamic and Byzantine Architecture. The combined influences of these architectural marvels are symbolic of the Palace’s richness and grandeur.
Doge’s Palace, also known as Palazzo Ducale has the most intricate and unparalleled interior woodwork! Their use of gilded woodworking significantly elevated their status in the society as the splendor of gold paintings deliberately impressing upon an image of wealth and their status in the upper echelon.

As much as Venice is surrounded by water, their fear from time immemorial has always been fire. Since wood is what the buildings were made of, it was a necessity to come up with a solution wherein they could safely use fire inside their homes. That is when they thought of building hearths, chimneys and fireplaces. With the Venetians’ unprecedented love for grand style, they took advantage of the use of fireplaces to flaunt their great wealth and fortune. Their fireplaces were designed bearing a status symbol and built massive for a more imposing effect. They are so big that it could stable a horse! The fireplaces were lavishly embellished with detailed artwork, including family crests. They needed a more visible place to exhibit their glorified power and having an extended mantel with hood, fully ornate, above the fireplace featured all of that.

These ageless mantels became the inspiration behind our Venezia fireplace mantel.
The Venezia is a classical chimneypiece with an overmantel design that is both graceful and elegant in style. The profile has layers of attributes to keep the classical fireplace mantel design interesting within the picture frame style. Although inspired by the exquisite mantel designs at the Palazzo Ducale, the Venezia is conceptualized with current style in mind. It is perfect for all types of living spaces but perhaps a little more partial toward traditional interior designs. The Venezia has an absolute commanding presence yet subtle enough to be the centerpiece in today’s homes. The height of this mantel is also adjustable to accommodate most fireplace inserts.
Would you like a bespoke mantel that echoes classic style and royalty? If a timeless and luxurious mantel design is your goal, then you would love our Venezia mantel. To achieve that classical elegance, add a hearth to complete the look.  ​

Chateau – Mantel Inspiration

Chateau Mantel in Charcoal Smoothcast

Rome is known as one of the most traveled and most visited cities in the world. Located in the beautiful country of Italy, Rome is known for its vivacity, amazing natural scenery, fascinating history and not to mention its astounding architectural achievements.

Roman architecture has a significant influence in design, planning and construction of building structures to this day. It is assumed that one of the most ingenious innovations that Roman architecture brought forth was the prevalent use of concrete. They realized how it was more sustainable to produce and how much more durable concrete was to use for their landmarks and architecture. Rome’s famous landmarks include the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Castel Sant’Angelo to name a few.

Castel Sant’Angelo summarizes the grandeur of Roman architecture. It was originally commissioned by Emperor Hadrian in 135A.D. as a mausoleum for him and his family. It was once considered the tallest building in Italy.
 Castel Sant’Angelo has massive collection of paintings, military memorabilia, sculptures and medieval weapons. But most of all, Castel Sant’Angelo is treasure trove of fireplace design ideas! 

The exceptional craftmanship of the structures inside Castel Sant’Angelo is enthralling! A fireplace in one of the rooms was quite captivating that it became as an inspiration in designing our own Chateau Mantel. This mantel has an exuding elegance, clean lines with timeless style that is ideal for both traditional and contemporary interiors.

Inspired by classic European designs, our mantels go through extensive studies and different stages from concept to installation to produce an upscale and ageless quality of our products.

Here is a glimpse on the interesting stages that our mantels endure to be unique and bespoke to you.

  1. Inspiration. We do take our designs to heart and we do travel all over the world for fireplace inspiration designs and ideas.
  2. Drawing. Once a design is conceptualized, we then put it into drawing using the latest parametric 3D modeler to make the vision more concrete.
  3. Modeling. The next stage is creating a model for the drawn design. The model is created specific to the measurements used from drawing.
  4. First Mould Trial. Once modeling is completed, the next step is to make a mould. Each piece requires it’s own unique mould and it is into these moulds the concrete would be poured.
  5. First Casting. After ensuring that the mould is good enough to hold poured liquid, first casting follows. This is when the concrete is poured into the mould to cure and solidify. The cast is taken out of the mould once solid and it is ready for the final stage…
  6. Final Review. If the first casting shows flaws we go back to the modeling stage to fix any deficiencies and pour a new mould for the defective piece.

There is a lot that goes into making a mantel!

Every mantel that we designed has a hidden and interesting story behind it. Each is inspired by timeless architecture and classic arts derived from our trips and travels in search of new ideas and designs. Our mantels go through an exhaustive process from Inspiration to installation before it could even reach your home to make sure that each and every one is bespoke to you.

Our mantels have been featured in HGTV’s Love It or List It a few times and in Worst to First where they shot some scenes at our facility, showing how our mantels were made and captured our artisans at work in action. Our production crew are trained craftsmen with extensive experiences in European art works. Check out the video below to see the fireplace from  Castel Sant’Angelo which inspired the Chateau Mantel.

If you are looking for unique and timeless designs for your fireplace mantel, browse our website, go through each design and get an idea from our mantel collections. Be inspired!

Roman architecture has a significant influence in design, planning and construction of building structures to this day. It is assumed that one of the most ingenious innovations that Roman architecture brought forth was the prevalent use of concrete. They realized how it was more sustainable to produce and how much more durable concrete was to use for their landmarks and architecture. Rome’s famous landmarks include the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Castel Sant’Angelo to name a few.


A member of our design team will be in touch shortly.

Meanwhile, why not follow us on Instagram for more inspiration?

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