Stepping Up to the Next Level

One of the popular trends in today’s outdoor living design is the multi-level patio or poolscape. Often, a multi-level design is simply the solution to elevation grade issues. However, adding dimension to an outdoor living space can also be a personal choice, and quite often is.

When planning a multi-level outdoor living design, there is one element of the design that requires thought, but is often overlooked…the step. There are a lot of different ways of designing steps, and here are just a few ideas to help you step up to the next level.

NFD%20W_RES_BEL2013_WALKWAYS_GranikaSteps_002_rendition

Many people like the look of large natural stone steps. An economical alternative is Granika Step, which offers the look of unpolished granite in a large-format step.

untitled

This step design used Bullnose Coping, which provides a softer edge and can coordinate with existing pool coping. For additional personalized flare, a mosaic stone design was added to the fascia of each step.

Colorful ceramic tiles were used as accent pieces on the fascia of these steps. The steps themselves were left simple, with no additional edging, keeping the focus on the tiles.

Colorful ceramic tiles were used as accent pieces on the fascia of these steps. The steps themselves were left simple and clean, with no ledge or additional edging to the Mega-Lafitt patio pavers, creating a more natural look. Notice that the paver field was left untrimmed on the sides of the patio, as well, which adds to the natural effect.

SRA_RES_BEL2013_Patios_DublinCobble_Firepits_WestonWalls_Walls_WestonWall_002

Sweeping arches of tumbled Weston Stone that mimic the shape and look of the fire pit were used to create the steps and walls of this multi-level design. Under-ledge hardscape lights were added to the steps and fire pit seat wall to help create ambiance and enhance visibility.

Belgard ~ Georgia Masonry Supply 2010

Rough-hewn Celtik Wall provides a contrasting texture and shape to the Mega-Arbel pavers in this design. Using the same wall product for the pillars, steps, and water feature ties the whole design together.

C:Documents and Settingslenbrown01My DocumentsNorthfield Pro

Anglia Edger, used for curbs and garden edging, can also be used to form natural steps into sloped terrain (as illustrated above) to create picturesque earthen paths.

For more ideas, visit our Pinterest “Step It Up” inspiration board.

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.

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.

Outdoor Living Gift Guide

When it comes to gift ideas, let’s face it, some folks are tough to shop for. If you’re looking for some unique gift ideas for the outdoor living enthusiast, we’ve compiled some of our favorites for you.

ButaneHeaterTabletop Butane Heater

Enjoy your outdoor living spaces during the colder months with this attractive portable heater that operates with removable butane cylinders. With 11,000 BTUs of warmth and a stylish bronze coating, it not only adds to the functionality of your outdoor living spaces during this time of year, it’s adds character, as well.

slide1Countertop Brick Oven

Turn any countertop into a gourmet outdoor kitchen with this powerful, yet economical, brick oven. Available in either domed or pyramid styles in either bronze or silver vein, the countertop version of Belgard’s brick oven offers the flavor of wood-fired cooking with a small footprint and is available in classic wood-burning and hybrid wood/gas models.

Smores RoastingRackS’mores Roasting Rack

No fireplace or fire pit? No problem! With this specialized roasting rack that includes marshmallow skewers and a graham cracker tray, you can make s’mores on a grill or in an oven. Ooey, gooey, melty goodness…either indoors or out.

Jalapeno Roasting RackJalapeno Pepper Roaster

For those who like to kick it up a notch, this pepper roasting rack also works with either a grill or an oven and allows you to create simple, zesty appetizers by stuffing jalapenos with various types of cheeses or other savory ingredients.

Flameless CandlesRemote Control LED Candles

Light up the night with indoor/outdoor battery-operated candles, with the added convenience of a remote controller to turn them all on and off with ease. Mix and match various sizes and styles, including antique-style lanterns, to create an eclectic look.

Product Spotlight: Belgard Elements Fireplace Collection

preassembledAn outdoor fireplace makes a stunning focal point and favorite gathering spot for any outdoor living room, however building a custom outdoor fireplace can be a time-consuming and disruptive project.

Installation3The Belgard Elements collection of outdoor fireplaces have simplified the process by moving the majority of the construction to a factory setting. Belgard factory-built fireplaces are shipped in sections and quickly installed with a bobcat in a matter of hours, as compared to the days or weeks it would take to build one from scratch on site. This efficient construction process not only greatly reduces the installation time, but reduces overall costs, as well. Each fireplace is available in wood-burning, natural gas, or liquid propane configurations, and each line in the Belgard Elements collection also includes coordinating pieces that can be used to create a cohesive outdoor living design, like outdoor kitchen units, wood boxes, and water features.

•   •   •

 

Belgard Elements Bristol FireplaceBristol Fireplace

The Bristol Series is constructed with tumbled Weston® Stone walls with architectural accents of Arbel® and Urbana® Stone pavers. The rustic look of the Bristol line blends well in any landscape. Coordinating pieces include an arched hearth, wood boxes, brick oven, grill island, water features, and more.

•  •  •

Belgard Hardscapes 2009 PhotographyBrighton Fireplace

For those who like the look of Bristol, but are looking for a more economical alternative, the Brighton Series is also constructed of Weston Stone, but offers simpler accents and features a smaller, built-in hearth. The Bristol fireplace is available with or without the chimney top and offers optional matching wood boxes.

•  •  •

Belgard 2012 ~ Northfield BlockBordeaux Fireplace

The latest addition to the Elements line, the Bordeaux Series marries sleek contemporary styling with rustic charm by combining the stacked-stone appearance of Lamina® Stone with the limestone accents of Cordova Stone™.  Coordinating pieces include a grill island, wood boxes, and a brick oven.

For more information on Belgard Elements Fireplaces, click here to find a contractor or dealer near you.

Designing with Fire

A gas fire table can make a unique gathering spot.

A gas fire table can make a unique gathering spot.

Research continues to name fire features as one of the top “must haves” in modern outdoor living, making designing with fire a hot topic. In the early days of the trend, the fire feature was typically an add-on freestanding element, like a ceramic chiminea or metal fire bowl, which could be easily moved to other positions as needed. However, the trend has evolved over time to include more built-in permanent fixtures — such as a custom outdoor fireplace, fire pit, or gas fire table — which require more planning in terms of the overall design scheme of the outdoor living area.

Safety First

When planning a permanent fire feature, there are a number of safety issues to consider. Before beginning, check with local municipalities regarding safety codes to avoid costly design mistakes. Never underestimate the value of a professional plumber when running and installing gas lines. Also, be sure the contractor uses only non-combustible materials, and remember to include a fire-resistant liner when building a fire pit over existing hardscapes. This is especially important if the fire pit is on top of granite or limestone, which can retain water and explode when overheated.

Location Location Location

This outdoor living room incorporates several units from the Bristol Belgard Elements collection of prefabricated outdoor living features.

The design of this outdoor living room centers on the Bristol fireplace and incorporates several other pieces from the Belgard Elements Collection.

A fire feature will be the visual anchor of the design. When determining the best placement, it’s best to check for building code restrictions. Although it varies by municipality, gas-burning fire features can typically be placed just about anywhere, but most building codes require a wood-burning feature to be placed at least ten feet from any vertical structure. When using a wood-burning fire feature, it’s also a good idea to test wind patterns in the yard with a portable grill to check smoke flow direction and avoid choking out seating areas. Making the fire feature the furthest design element from the home will create a dramatic view and take into account both safety and functionality.

Integrated Design

Once placement of the fire feature has been determined, additional hardscapes can be integrated into the design to complement the feature and create a cohesive outdoor living space. Paver patterns and retaining wall designs can mimic the lines of the fire feature, delineate separate gathering areas, or direct traffic flow. One option is to create a paver pattern in front of a fireplace that mimics the look of a rug. Seat walls can also be incorporated into the design but should be placed at least four feet from the fire feature to maintain a comfortable distance from the heat source. It’s important to consider how the space will be used and remember to leave room for furniture and walking space.

A faux "area rug" of Mega-Arbel pavers break of the design of this Urbana patio to enhance the "living room" concept of this design.

A faux “area rug” of Mega-Arbel pavers in front of the hearth break up the design of this Urbana Stone patio to enhance the “living room” concept.

Finishing Touches

A number of elements can be added to the design that will make the space more functional, as well as add ambiance. Low voltage lighting can be installed directly onto the fire feature, as well as nearby walls, pillars, and around landscaping to increase both visibility and mood. Outdoor rated music speakers can be installed at various locations around the space to allow for a consistent sound level without bothering the neighbors. And, custom cushions added to seat walls will add both color and comfort.