Sights From the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show

flower-show-panorama2

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, happening now through March 19, 2017, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

brick-oven

Belgard booth visitors have the opportunity to register to win a Bordeaux Brick Oven.

This year’s show, “Holland: Flowering the World,” showcases 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 shares the diverse stories of horticulture, innovative eco-design, and the modern urban greening and sustainability efforts of the Netherlands.

Vibrant floral displays throughout the show focus include the many tulip varieties indigenous to the Netherlands.

Vibrant floral displays throughout the show include the many tulip varieties indigenous to the Netherlands.

The show includes impressive floral and landscape design displays and also includes live head-to-head competitions and how-to demonstrations in the Designer’s Studio, master classes with top Dutch floral designers, presentations by leading experts on a variety of topics in the Gardner’s Studio, an interactive attraction of over 1,000 butterflies, and more.

Belgard's Joe Raboine gives a seminar on using 3-D design technology to plan landscape and outdoor living projects.

During a packed Gardner’s Studio presentation, Belgard’s Joe Raboine gives a seminar on using 3-D design technology to plan landscape and outdoor living projects.

The Belgard display has been an extremely popular spot for event-goers at this year’s show as they pose for group photos, relax in the outdoor kitchen and living room, and learn about the outdoor living design possibilities of Belgard paver and garden wall products.

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.

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.

Enter for Your Chance to Win HGTV® Dream Home 2017

dh2017_proudsponsor_landscape_color-1

As a proud sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home 2017, we are excited to give you an insider’s look at the transformation of the outdoor living spaces of this coastal retreat on the picturesque St. Simons Island, Georgia. And the best part…you can enter for a chance to win this amazing waterfront home!

ENTER NOW FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!

For this year’s HGTV Dream Home, a dated 3,200 square foot three-bedroom, two-bath Mediterranean-style home was selected and transformed into a modern southern farmhouse that takes advantage of the spectacular waterfront view. As the exclusive hardscape sponsor, Belgard helped make the most of the home’s outdoor living areas. Just take a look at these dramatic before and after exterior images.

Driveway

The cracked driveway was replaced with a new tailored paver driveway, which consists of a two-color blend of Catalina™ pavers laid in a 3-piece modular pattern. The driveway was trimmed with a contrasting sailors course of charcoal-colored Catalina pavers. To tie the look together, the concrete porch was overlaid with coordinating pavers and trimmed with charcoal-colored Bullnose Coping. New Old York™ paver walkways add additional charm and provide paved pathways around the sides of the home.

driveway2

Backyard

Renovation of the backyard focused on taking advantage of the picturesque landscape and dramatic lakefront views. The existing poured concrete patio was overlaid with Catalina™ pavers to provide a cohesive look that mirrors the entrance to the home. The outdoor living areas were extended with a combination of composite decking and Old York™ pavers to provide a variety of entertaining zones.

backyard

Poolscape

The existing poolscape was rehabbed with the help of a two-color blend of Catalina™ pavers and complimentary granite-colored Fountain Head Coping that allows the patio pavers to seamlessly integrate with the pool. The patio was extended with composite decking to provide a relaxing lounge area.  pool2-after2

A stylish new built-in gas Bordeaux Grill Island adorns the poolside dining area. The grill island boast the look of stacked stone and is capped with midnight-colored accents that coordinate with the decking and paver tones and provide ample prep and serving space.

fso-dream-home_rustic-white_020-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-966-644

The poolscape was also extended on the opposite side with a pergola-covered composite deck that provides additional outdoor dining and relaxation space. The paver and decking tones are all in the transitional brown-grey family to provide a cohesive design scheme that carries through to the interior of the home.

dh_2017_pool-11-toward-lounge_h-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-966-644

Fire Pit Patio

The pergola-covered deck opens onto a newly added fire pit patio. Old York™ pavers provide the setting for the circular Weston Stone® fire pit and welcoming Adirondack chairs that are soon to become a lucky family’s favorite gathering spot.

dh2017_backyard-01-fire-pit_h-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-966-725

To learn more about the HGTV Dream Home 2017, click here.

No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes starts at 9 a.m. ET on 12/28/16 and ends at 5 p.m. ET on 2/17/17. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. For full official rules, visit www.hgtv.com or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: “HGTV Dream Home Giveaway 2017”, P.O. Box 52915, Knoxville, TN 37950. Main Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC d/b/a Home & Garden Television. HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC. Photos ©2017 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

Setting Outdoor Makeover
Goals for 2017

During this time of year, it’s typical to take a personal assessment and set new goals regarding lifestyle, health, investments, and various other areas of our lives. Since your home is likely your most valuable asset, it’s important to factor home improvements into the mix. Those who make even small improvements each year are not only more likely to see a higher return on their overall investment over time, there’s also a sense of pride that comes from completing each task, plus the enjoyment of making each space more “livable”. As you plan your 2017 home improvement goals, keep in mind that research shows that many outdoor living improvements can increase the value of your home at a higher rate than under-beam improvements. Two outdoor living categories that typically have a high rate of return are curb appeal and entertainment spaces.

Improving Curb Appeal

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Even small improvements to your front yard can make an impact — both on how you feel every time you approach your own driveway, and how a potential buyer will envision the quality of your home if and when you decide to sell. Some type of curb appeal improvement should be on your “to-do” list each year, whether it’s a minor tweak to the landscaping, adding embellishments here or there (like a new mailbox or built-in planter), or a large project like a driveway renovation.

Upgrading Entertainment Spaces

By upgrading your outdoor living entertainment spaces, not only will you add to the enjoyment that you get out of your own home, every dollar you spend could earn back between 60 cents and $2 on resale, according to reports by Houzz and Realtor.com. Makeover projects should focus on making your outdoor living spaces an extension of your home. According to annual surveys by the American Society of Landscape Architects over the last five years, consistently desirable upgrades include outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, built-in seating, lighting upgrades, and paver patios.

Prioritizing Goals

Before you get started with planning your improvement goals for 2017, you should consider the following factors: 1) How long do you plan to live in your home?  2) What is your overall vision? If you plan to be in your home for many years, you can take a look at your overall vision and break it up into a multi-year plan that puts priority on the projects that YOU most desire. If you plan to sell within the next two years, your money would be better spent on projects that are most desirable in the marketplace. For the lowdown on the most desirable outdoor living features for your specific neighborhood or housing pricepoint, talk to some local realtors.

Getting Started

The first step is to get inspired. Look through Pinterest boards, magazine websites, online inspiration galleries…anything that will help you develop your overall vision. The free Belgard Idea Book is another excellent resource, offering page after page of gorgeous inspirational outdoor living photography. Another useful tool is the online Belgard Project Visualizer, which allows you to upload photos of your own yard to try out various paver styles and colors. You can even save and share your designs for future use. Next, consider meeting with an outdoor living contractor who can provide you with additional design ideas and help you pull together an overall plan, prioritize projects, and set a timeline. To find a Belgard Authorized contractor near you, click here. Next, decide which projects you want to accomplish this year and what you’d rather put off until a later date. Whether your 2017 goal ends up being a major makeover or a simple DIY project, set a date and stick to it. This time next year, you’ll be glad that you did.