Wow Your Neighbors with Unique Hardscape Designs

You put a lot of personal time and effort into decorating the interior of your home to create an environment that showcases your individual sense of style. Today’s outdoor living design is all about making your outdoor spaces function as a true extension of your home as an additional reflection of your personality. So, it’s time to take that sense of individuality outdoors and create some unique looks, and hardscapes give you the ability to do just that. Here are a few idea starters.

Idea #1

Use splashes of color to create whimsical, eye-catching designs.

•  •  •

Idea #2

Turn a patio into an outdoor living room with a faux rug.

•  •  •

Idea #3

Create the illusion of separate rooms by using different pavers for different areas.

•  •  •

Idea #4

Use permeable hardscapes to build a fountain play area.

•  •  •

Idea #5

Add dimension to your design with built-in seating or planter boxes.

•  •  •

Ready to create your own unique outdoor space?

Click here to find a contractor or dealer near you.

Product Highlight: Belgard Walls

Not that long ago, it seemed like fire pits were primarily seen on campgrounds and were mostly enjoyed by scouts and rugged outdoor enthusiasts. Today, however, fire pits are one of the fastest growing trends in residential outdoor living and come in all sorts of shapes and types. Homeowners who don’t have one, likely want one. Let’s face it, fire pits are hot.

Belgard walls offer an excellent opportunity to build a gorgeous fire pit that not only serves as a favorite gathering spot, but is also a cohesive and permanent part of the overall outdoor living design. Not only can Belgard walls be used to construct the fire pit itself, but also coordinating design elements, such as steps, columns, and garden or seat walls.

Below are some ideas on how to use Belgard walls to construct fire pits that are not merely functional, but seamlessly integrate into the landscape to become the focal point of a cohesive outdoor living design.

 •  •  •

For this first design, Celtik® Wall was use for a variety of coordinating elements, including the fire pit, steps, seat walls, flower box, and retaining wall.

Celtik2 •  •  •

The home below used Celtik® Wall to convert a severely sloped yard into an amphitheater. The graduated retaining wall doubles as seating for the coordinating fire pit.

CeltikWall •  •  •

For the next design, a destination area was created overlooking the lake by using Weston Stone® for the fire pit, columns, and protective parapet wall.

4D Schusters Belgard Photography 2009. •  •  •

Weston Stone® was used in this design to create the fascia for step of the sunken fire pit, as well as for the fire pit itself, accent columns, and surrounding garden walls. In the area surrounding the fire pit, the garden wall also serves as a backrest for the seat wall.

WestonWall •  •  •

Wall products can also be used in combination to create an interesting look. For the gas fire pit below, the majority of the pit was constructed with Belair Wall®, which mimics the texture of the home’s masonry veneer. Weston Stone® was used for the base and as decorative accents.

BelairWeston

Creating Interesting Driveways with Paver Patterns

If you’re looking for a way to create unique curb appeal for your home, a paver driveway can present endless opportunities to add flair and individual personality to the entrance of your home through the use of various color combinations and laying patterns. This week’s blog will illustrate a few ideas for creating eye-catching driveway designs with paver patterns.

Bergerac Fan Design The intricate fantail design above was created using the hand-cobbled look of Bergerac® pavers and adds a whimsical touch to this elegant driveway.

Belgard 2010 ~ Northfield Minnesota & Wisconsin

Contrasting colors of Urbana® Stone pavers were used to create a contemporary design of interlocking geometric shapes for the parking pad of the driveway above, as well as add a striking border to both the drive and garden bed.

Mega Bergerac Angles

Contrasting patterns of Mega-Bergerac® pavers add interesting detail to the driveway above. The main field of the driveway utilized a four-piece random pattern laid at a 45 degree angle. The border was created by laying only the rectangular piece in a double soldiers course.

Natural Look Mega ArbelFor the above driveway, irregular-shaped Mega-Arbel® pavers were used to create a natural flagstone look that seamlessly coordinates with the surrounding picturesque landscape. To add a tailored feel, the pavers were edged with stamped concrete stained in a contrasting color.

Belgard Hardscapes 2009 Photography

Different paver products can also be combined to create visual interest or coordinate with architectural detail. For the above driveway, Mega Lafitt™ pavers offer a cut stone texture and were chosen for the main field in a color that mimics the stone veneer of the home. A contrasting color of Urbana® Stone creates a striking border and mimics the color of the brick.

Believe It or Not,
It’s Pool Planning Time!

Marchesano Residence - Oklahoma Landscape

With the polar vortex sending frigid weather throughout the country, it’s hard to think about swimming pools. However, now is the time to dive head first into planning mode if you want to have everything ready for that end-of-school pool party.

Step 1. Get inspired

Start thinking about what type of design you want. Gone are the days of the boring rectangle surrounded by a simple concrete pad. With all of the colors, textures, and multidimensional design elements available today, the possibilities are literally endless. So grab your mouse, head to our pool deck Pinterest board or the Belgard Design Studio, and start working on working on some ideas.

Step 2. Think long-term

Is the pool the only missing element in your long-term outdoor living plan for your home? If not, think ahead to save yourself some major headaches. For example, if you intend to add a cabana, outdoor fireplace, or outdoor kitchen later on, plan to discuss that with your contractor so you can address the need for future utilities or footings, which could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Step 3. Find a qualified contractor

This is definitely a situation when you do NOT want to make a choice solely on cost. There are a lot of bad pool contractors out there who can put in a cheap pool and disappear. Then, when it cracks and leaks into the yard or the pump dies due to faulty materials or wiring, you could find yourself in a remediation situation that’s much more costly than putting the pool in correctly the first time. Our contractor locator page is a good place to start. Many of our authorized hardscape contractors are also pool contractors. If the Belgard contractors in your area do not build pools, they can typically make good recommendations.

Step 4. Design phase

Now the fun part…making decisions. An experienced contractor will be able to guide you through this process. The most important thing to remember during the design phase is to pick what YOU like. Forget what Aunt Tilda and your carpool friends say. If you like it, do it. You’re the one paying for it and the one who will be swimming in it. Trust your contractor’s experience regarding what works well and what doesn’t. In the end, stick to your guns on a design feature that you really love, or you’ll regret it later.

Step 5. Develop a construction plan

Most of these details can be worked out with your contractor. Your start date will typically depend on mother nature and the permit office. The construction time can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks, depending on the type of pool, complexity of design, and weather. Be prepared for a muddy mess for a little while. You may need to make alternate parking arrangements for your family to avoid blocking construction access. You will also need to consider some type of bathroom access for the construction workers. Lastly, you may want to bring your neighbors some cookies and invite them to the pool christening party as a gesture of goodwill for all of the construction noise and traffic.

Belgard Hardscapes Showcased in Southern Living Show Homes across the South in 2014

Showcase homes and idea houses are sponsored by various magazines, builders, design professionals, organizations and manufacturers across the country to illustrate the top design trends in today’s custom homes. In 2014, Southern Living Magazine looked to Belgard Hardscapes to create stunning designer looks for a total of nine showcase homes across the south. Here is a taste from some of these stylish homes.

Southern Living Idea House – Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton, SC)

Belgard Aqua-Bric permeable pavers not only add character to the parking areas and walkways of this airy coastal-style home, they also filter pollutants from stormwater to help protect the three rivers that surround the development. In a separate and unique interior application, Lafitt Grana Slab added a rustic touch to the mudroom, powder room, and multi-purpose “clutter room” off of the home’s kitchen.

Creative Home Concepts Showcase Home – Hallsley (Midlothian, VA)

The hand-cobbled appearance of Bergerac pavers provided the perfect complement for the walkways and back patio of this English-style cottage, further enhanced by the rough-hewn texture of Celtik Wall on the fire pit and surrounding seat wall. Both the front and back porches were floored with the slate-like Lafitt Grana Slab in coordinating colors to add a contemporary touch.

Wayne Harbin Builder, Inc., Showcase Home – Ford’s Colony (Williamsburg, VA)

The random flagstone appearance of Mega-Arbel pavers creates a striking look for the back patio and sunken fire pit of this colonial-style home. Mega-Bergerac provides the step ledge and complements the patio trim of smaller Bergerac pavers. Weston Stone provides the ledge fascia, fire pit and surrounding seat wall and end caps in a texture, laying pattern, and color scheme that coordinates with the home’s brick accents.

Warm Apple Pie Cocktail

ApplePieCocktailLooking for ways to continue to enjoy the outdoors during the frigid winter months? Time to light the fire pit and snuggle up with a spicy, sweet, and savory beverage that will warm you from the inside out. This delicious beverage is like a slice of apple pie in a glass, but with a kick!

Yield: serves 6

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 qts. fresh unfiltered apple juice
3 cinnamon sticks (2 1/2 in. long)
12 whole cloves
6 whole allspice
1 1/2 cups spiced rum
Sweetened whipped cream

 

PREPARATION

Combine apple juice and whole spices in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes. To serve, reheat juice, then strain into heatproof mugs, dividing evenly. Add 1/4 cup rum to each and top with whipped cream.

 

recipe courtesy of Sunset Magazine. Photo: Thomas J. Story; Styling: Dan Becker