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

Join the Thousands Using
Belgard Style File

A few months ago, we launched the new Belgard website with a unique feature, the Belgard Style File. Since that time, over 12,000 Style Files have been created by more than 8,000 homeowners and contractors across the country.

How People are Benefiting from Belgard Style File
Style File allows you to collect, organize, and share ideas you love from the Belgard website. Web surfers can browse our image gallery, save photos for inspiration, explore styles and textures, and collaborate on projects with friends and professionals. Homeowners are using Style File to help with the planning, designing, and decision-making processes of outdoor living projects. At the same time, contractors and dealers are also using Style File to share design solution ideas and information with their customers.

stylefile_iconHow to Create Your Style File
If you haven’t already starting filing your ideas in your own Style File, simply click here to get started or click on the Style File icon (see image at right) in the upper right corner of any page on Belgard.com. Then select Sign Up and fill out a brief form (see image below). Select Get Started on the form to start collecting your ideas.

8.26.13 - 2Once you’ve set up your Style File profile or have logged in, simply click on the Start a New File button to create a new file and begin organizing your favorite photos, products, and contractor information. 8.26.13 - 3As you browse the website, click on the plus sign on any photo to add it to one of your Style Files. At any time, you can print one of your Style Files or share them with others via email, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook.

A3-StyleFile

New Year, New Yard

NewYardMost New Year resolutions tend to be about changing, growing, and investing in oneself for the better. We look inside and outside of ourselves to decide what we need to let go of, what we need to add, and what we need to improve upon to make life better for both ourselves and those around us.

“New yard” resolutions should take the same direction. It’s time to take stock of what you’d like to accomplish this year. Whether your goals are to increase your curb appeal, improve drainage, or create a new outdoor entertaining area, the process can sometimes seem overwhelming at first. Take it one step at a time.

Get inspired.

Sometimes we get so accustomed to how our yard currently looks, we have trouble imagining it any other way. It’s time to get clicking.

Set concrete goals.

When investing in your yard, you want to get the most return on that investment, both while you live in the home and once you sell it. Know why you want to make these changes. What goals are you trying to accomplish? How can you improve your environment and your lifestyle in a meaningful way? Think both long term and short term. If you have a larger overall plan that you want to phase out over time, save yourself time, money, and headaches by putting the entire plan together now.

Get expert advise.

Develop a relationship with an Authorized Belgard Contractor in your area who can help you with your long-term plan and knows what will work and won’t work with regards to your goals. For projects that will be phased out, a qualified contractor can help you pre-plan critical preliminary work that you will need to have in place for a later project down the road.

Get started.

Depending on where you live, January may not be the best time to start digging  in your yard. But, you can get started with some of the decision-making processes…choosing a contractor, working on a design, choosing pavers or retaining wall products, researching costs. Also talk to your Belgard Contractor about Belgard Preferred Payment, a same-as-cash payment program that allows you to spread payments over time on hardscapes, labor, and even additional items like furniture and appliances. Once your plan is in place, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when the time comes.

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.