Color and Tone Considerations When Choosing Hardscapes

When selecting hardscapes, it’s important to spend some time considering the options. Belgard hardscapes are warrantied to last the life of the home, which means your new outdoor living space will become an extension of the home itself.

Hardscape Color Options

Belgard pavers and retaining walls are manufactured at multiple facilities across the nation using local natural materials and aggregates. Because of this, the exact colors available will vary by region, so it’s best to ask your contractor or dealer to show you samples. That way, you can get a better idea of the exact color palette and see how the colors look when paired with the exterior of your home and any permanent structures or existing outdoor living features, such as a pool.

Cool Versus Warm Colors

In general, cool colors are considered to be calming and include blues, greens, and deep purples. Whereas, warm colors are associated with excitement and energy and include reds, oranges, yellows and browns. Neutral colors (like beige and gray), can lean to either warm or cool, depending upon the color blend. In terms of hardscape selection, the choice to go with warm or cool color blends is typically a personal preference; however, you should choose a color scheme that is complementary to that of existing structures.

Fun with Paver Colors and Patterns

You can also take advantage of color options to create interesting and unique paver designs, like laying out pavers to create the look of a faux rug or integrating bold color choices to create intricate designs. Belgard also has a variety of Porcelain Paver options that emulate the look of wood and other natural materials.

Tone Considerations

Tone refers to the darkness or lightness of a color. Again, choosing lighter or darker tones are mostly a matter of personal preference; however, there are some additional considerations. Darker tones can make a space seem smaller or more cozy, and lighter tones can make a space seem more open and bright. Another consideration when choosing hardscapes is that lighter tones will reflect more of the light and absorb less heat, whereas darker tones (especially really deep tones) will absorb more light and heat.

Continuing the Design Beyond the Hardscapes

After the hardscapes have been installed, you’ll need to continue making color choices in terms of furniture, area rugs, cushions, throws, light fixtures, umbrellas, accessories and landscaping. Keep in mind that bigger spaces allow for bolder design choices, and bold colors and patterns are becoming increasingly popular. According to the leading interior and exterior design experts at Pantone, popular color choices this season will be oranges, pinks, golds and rich floral hues. Although it’s often wise to use bright colors sparingly indoors, outdoor settings can handle more color without feeling cramped. Even if the majority of your outdoor design is muted or monochromatic, adding a few accents of turquoise, mango, lime or some other bright, cheerful color will make a statement and brighten your outdoor space. Pantone is also predicting a resurgence of black and white designs, as well as an increase in unexpected color combination and pixilated, digitized patterns for fabrics and rugs.

Design scheme examples

Red pillows and pink flowers add pops of color to complement the warm color scheme of the Urbana Stone® and Bergerac® pavers.

The cool muted color scheme softens the look of the Castle Manor™ seat wall and Weston Stone® fire pit to create a relaxing environment.

Vibrant cool tones and patterns contrast with the warm hues of the Lafitt® pavers and Brighton Elements fireplace to create an eclectic design.

New Exclusive Belgard Line to Launch Nationally at Lowe’s

For more than 20 years, the Belgard name has been synonymous with stunning, durable pavers and retaining walls that professional landscapers and designers can trust. Now, Belgard has partnered with Lowe’s® Home Improvement stores to make beautiful outdoor living even more accessible to homeowners by bringing these professional grade products to over 1,100 locations nationwide with a new do-it-yourself collection sold exclusively at Lowe’s.

The new product line includes three featured paver systems and a wall system that are all a reflection of the premium Belgard offerings that have historically only been available to contractors and dealers.

Providence™ Paver

The three-piece Providence™ Paver system offers the antiqued, rustic look of tumbled stone.

The three-piece Providence™ Paver system offers the antiqued, rustic look of tumbled stone. In the installation above, all three pieces were laid in an ashlar pattern to create a random look. The square piece was used alone to create a border.

Trinity™ Paver

The modular three-piece Trinity™ Paver system boasts clean, modern lines and a smooth surface.

The modular three-piece Trinity™ Paver system boasts clean, modern lines and a smooth surface with larger scale pieces to create a contemporary look.

Portland™ Stone

Portland™ Stone is a single unit that incorporates false-joint technology to simulate the look and feel of random flagstone.

Palmer™ Wall

The two-piece Palmer™ Wall system features crunch technology™ and has the textured look and feel of natural quarried stone. Constructed walls can be topped with Palmer™ Wall Cap to add a finished look, as pictured in the above installation.

The above featured lines will be in-stock items available nationwide*. In addition to these featured product lines, there will also be a variety of special-order Belgard pavers and wall products available online for in-store pickup. Each of the featured and special-order product lines come in multiple color options that will vary by location due to localized manufacturing, which utilizes local aggregates.

For more information on the partnership between Belgard and Lowe’s, visit www.lowes.com/belgard.

*Stores that are unable to stock the featured product lines will offer in-store pickup for online orders.

 

Snuggle Up with 3-D Hot Chocolate

Looking for an indulgent reason to snuggle around the fire pit? Look no further than this delectable recipe. Yes, this hot chocolate is dark, decadent, and delicious, but it actually gets its name from three “D” ingredients: dark chocolate, dulce de leche, and Drambuie liqueur (scotch whiskey flavored with honey and spices). Using half-and-half instead of milk makes the hot chocolate extra creamy and rich. Adults will love this grown up, not-too-sweet take on hot chocolate, but it’s also great (and kid-friendly) without the Drambuie. Make this hot chocolate truly over-the-top with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of dulce de leche, and a few crunchy chocolate rolled wafer cookies on the side. Yield: 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup canned or jarred dulce de leche, extra for topping
  • 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, extra for topping
  • 1/3 cup Drambuie
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • chocolate rolled wafer cookies (such as Pirouette)

How to Make

  1. Whisk together 4 cups half-and-half and 1/2 cup canned or jarred dulce de leche in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium, stirring constantly, until heated through, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, and whisk in 8 ounces chopped dark chocolate, 1/3 cup of Drambuie, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Next, beat 1 cup of cold heavy cream in a cold bowl with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.
  4. Pour hot chocolate mixture into 4 serving cups. Top each with whipped cream, a drizzle of dulce de leche, and chopped or shaved dark chocolate. Serve with chocolate rolled wafer cookies (such as Pirouette).

If prepping the recipe in advance, prepare the hot chocolate mixture as instructed but omit the alcohol and store the mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat the hot chocolate mixture gently, then add the alcohol once the mixture is heated through. Do not boil the mixture, or the alcohol will burn off.

Recipe and photo courtesy Southern Living and Time, Inc. Photo by Greg DuPree.

Join Belgard at the Upcoming Philadelphia Flower Show

flower-show-logo As the largest hardscapes manufacturer in the nation, Belgard is once again proud to partner with the largest horticultural event in the nation as the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show’s official hardscapes sponsor at the event to be held March 11-19, 2017, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

This year’s show, “Holland: Flowering the World”, will showcase the talents of our nation’s top horticulturalists and designers along with award-winning landscape and floral designers from the Netherlands. From towering windmills, wooden shoes and delectable cheeses, to the whimsical bicycles, canals and vibrant tulip fields of the iconic Dutch landscape, this year’s show will share the diverse stories of horticulture, innovative eco-design, and modern urban greening and sustainability efforts of the Netherlands.

In addition to the use of Belgard hardscapes throughout the entire show, Belgard will also exhibit a selection of hardscape products and Dutch-inspired landscaping in their display garden. The Belgard feature exhibit, which was designed by the Belgard Design Studio, will be constructed to emulate an expansive outdoor living space that includes an outdoor living room, kitchen, and dining area — featuring a variety of Belgard pavers, wall products, and the Bordeaux Series of the Belgard Elements Collection of outdoor fireplaces and kitchen units.

Rendering of the future Belgard display at the upcoming Philadelphia Flower Show.

Rendering of the future Belgard display at the upcoming Philadelphia Flower Show.

Sneak peek into the outdoor living room and kitchen that will be constructed in Belgard's expansive display.

Sneak peek into the outdoor living room and kitchen that will be constructed in Belgard’s expansive display.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and benefits a variety of year-round programs in the Philadelphia area that have become national models of urban greening. For more information on the show, visit theflowershow.com.

The Importance of Texture in Outdoor Design

In our current culture of creating outdoor spaces that mimic indoor rooms, it’s helpful to apply interior design concepts to outdoor design, and texture plays an important role. Texture adds contrast and balance to a design by visually creating a perceived sense of touch. Interior designers often add textural elements to a design to add visual weight or “pop” to a room. Sometimes when you’re trying to convert an outdoor space into an “outdoor room”, you may have the furniture and accessories, but it just feels incomplete. Chances are, you’re missing textural elements needed to make the room pop.

Texture can be added to an outdoor design in a number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. An obvious place to begin is with hardscapes, which can literally serve at the foundation of your design. The video above illustrates how pavers with natural textures can be used to create dynamic visual interest. Belgard offers a number of paver styles that emulate the look of natural stone to provide an organic textural element. Some examples include the cut slate look of Mega-Lafitt®, the natural flagstone appearance of Mega-Arbel®, and the hand-cobbled look of Bergerac®. Each of these paver styles provide the textural look and feel of natural stone without the price tag.

Retaining wall block can also be used to add both dimension and texture to outdoor design. Functionally, retaining walls can be used to convert a sloped yard into usable terraced outdoor living spaces. In terms of design, retaining wall block can be used to build garden walls, planter boxes, built-in seating, fire features, and more — all of which add both texture and dimension to a room. In terms of textural style, the retaining wall finish can have a tumbled stone appearance like Weston Stone®, a chiseled finish like Tandem® Wall, or a rough-hewn finish like Anchor Diamond® 9D.

Another design tactic is to use smooth hardscapes (like many styles of Mirage® Porcelain Pavers) to provide a sleek contemporary backdrop, then add in pops of texture to balance the design. Examples could include incorporating natural stones, wicker, heavy linen fabrics, or textured decorative accessories like pottery or lanterns. Another way to balance texture is with landscaping choices like layered gardens, fringy plants, or textured planters.

Decorative Ways to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space in Colder Months

Just because the temperature has dropped doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the outdoors. There are a number of decorative ways to keep your outdoor spaces livable during the winter months that add both ambiance and warmth.

Fire Features

Fire pitarbel_stone_urbana_stone_aqua_rock_horz_1_rt-newedits are currently one of the top must-haves in outdoor living, and with good reason. They easily fit into any outdoor living design and provide a spot for groups of any age to gather and enjoy the outdoors. Whether roasting hot dogs or s’mores, sharing a bottle of wine, or just having a cup of hot cocoa, everyone loves sitting around the fire pit. For design tips and trends, check out our fire pit design blog.

Outdoor fireplaces make a dramatic statement and become the focal point of your outdoor living design. Not only will it add physical warmth to your outdoor living space, it will become the favorite spot for enjoying a glass of wine or an intimate conversation. When designing your outdoor living space, remember that gas fireplaces can be placed just about anywhere, but a wood-burning version will likely need to be 10 or more feet from any structure.

Gas fire tables also make an excellent gathering spot and typically either emulate the look of a coffee table or a high-top bar. There are endless varieties available for purchase from retail outlets. However, a built-in fire table constructed with Belgard wall products will be much more durable and will actually add to the value of your home.

Decorative Heaters

tabletop1Tabletop propane heaters come in a number of sizes and decorative styles and are available from various hardware stores and online retail outlets. They typically heat a 5-foot radius and operate off of 1-pound propane cylinders that can be found at just about any hardware, sporting goods, or camping supply store. Although it will vary by heater, each cylinder only lasts a few hours, so it might be a good idea to buy cylinders in bulk to get you through the season.

Full-size propane heaters also come in a number of decorative styles. With higher heat output than the tabletop versions, they heat a wider radius (6-7 feet) and operate off of a standard refillable propane tank. Be wary of operating taller units under a porch, which could potentially cause heat damage to the porch ceiling. One way to help alleviate this possibility is to run nearby ceiling fans in “reverse” mode while heaters are in operation, which will disperse the rising heat without blowing cold air onto guests.

lamp3Endless Summer offers a line of electric patio lamp-style heaters that come in both tabletop and floor models and are available from a variety of retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Amazon. Each heater looks like a standard lamp, but actually functions as both a lamp and a heater, offering a soft glow and heating up to 144 square feet, depending upon the model. The only drawback is that an outlet needs to be nearby.

hanging3Decorative hanging heaters are a more permanent option and are available in natural gas and infrared (electric) models. Both can be designed to operate from a wall switch and will heat a large area, approximately 10 feet in diameter, depending upon the model.

Homey Accessories

Adding retractable solar shades to a porch will not only provide protection from the glaring sun in summer months, they can also help keep you warm in the winter by blocking the wind and helping to hold in any ambient warmth created by area heaters.

Comfy throws not only add a cozy look to your outdoor space, they provide that extra layer that some folks need to keep warm. Decorative outdoor bins can be a good place to store throws; however, you may want to choose an easy-to-carry basket that can be stored indoors when not in use, which will keep your throws free of unwanted critters.