In this fifth year of being the exclusive hardscapes sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home program, Belgard relies heavily on local sales team members near each HGTV Dream Home location. They help facilitate the build of each hardscaped outdoor living space by working in tandem with the HGTV team, the home’s designers, the Belgard Design Studio, and local dealers and contractors. Part of the role of the local sales team is to recommend the right contractor to properly bring each dream outdoor living vision to life.
Assembling the Belgard Dream Team
When Hilton Head Island was selected as the location for the HGTV Dream Home 2020 location, South Carolina Belgard sales representative Brian Koellner knew that he had the perfect candidate in mind. Wesley Shaw of ELP Landscape Inc. had been installing hardscapes in Savannah and the surrounding area for over 20 years and had been working closely with Brian for several years as a Belgard Authorized Contractor.
“We wanted to have a local Belgard Authorized Contractor to ensure familiarity with the local materials and Belgard programs. Wesley is talented, reliable and reputable within the community and is a great representative of our contractor program,” Brian said.
In fact, Brian had also recommended Wesley for the hardscape installations of another high-profile Idea House in 2018 in the nearby waterfront community of Habersham, South Carolina. The outdoor spaces of that home included a permeable paver driveway, stepping-stone walkway, fire pit patio, and paver terrace with a built-in grill. The success of that project led Brian to wholeheartedly recommend Wesley to the HGTV team.
For the project at hand, Brian noted that it also helped to have a Belgard Authorized Dealer on the island. “Having Courtyard Landscape Supply so close by facilitated easy delivery of the materials. They’re also great to work with and were a tremendous help on the project,” he said.
Overcoming Site Challenges
Wesley proved immediately that he was the right choice for the job. Upon first inspection of the initial design, he noticed a potential drainage issue due to the use of synthetic turf on the stepping-stone patio. With the uptick in use of synthetic turf installations in the area, he was familiar with the challenges and believed the original design could result in a buildup of algae and mildew.
“The slope and grade of the design was more ideal for a standard paver installation and would take too long to drain,” Wesley explained. He suggested a slight change to the slope and grade and the addition of a micro-drain along the planter wall to facilitate proper drainage.
Wesley also noticed a potential complication with the original driveway design. “The location of the trees on the property would have eventually caused issues with the root systems and their sustainability, so we had to move the whole driveway,” he explained.
The resulting driveway design also allowed for a more visually interesting lay of the Melville™ Plank pavers. The pavers were still laid in a single direction in a standard running bond pattern, per the original design. However, the new curve of the driveway allowed for the pavers to lay parallel with the home for the parking pad, with a striking diagonal lay at the driveway’s entrance from the street, adding to the home’s curb appeal.
The fact that the project was incorporated into television programing also added to the difficulty level of the installation. “Things had to be installed in a different order for filming purposes,” Wesley explained. “I usually do vertical elements first, then horizontal. We had to do the opposite, which made the grades a little more challenging.”
CONTRACTOR’S Behind-the-Design Insights
Although Wesley was given some freedom in suggesting design changes as needed, the majority of the outdoor living design was done through a collaboration of the HGTV Dream Home 2020 design team and the Belgard Design Studio.
With any high-profile project like this, designers often choose newer trend-forward materials, and this outdoor living project was no exception.
The multi-level stepping-stone patio is a combination of Turin Porcelain Pavers and laser-cut synthetic turf. With pre-cut turf and very few paver cuts to the design, the installation was quick and simple, despite the learning curve of working with porcelain for the first time. “I’m about to renovate my own backyard and will likely choose to go with the porcelain,” Wesley said, who was impressed with the upscale look and low-maintenance aspect of the porcelain product.
The row of built-in planters along the edge of the patio’s top level was a familiar design technique for Wesley, who often includes the biophilic design elements of greenery and stone textures into his outdoor living designs. “It adds dimension and texture and softens the look,” he explained. “It also created a nice backdrop for the poolside seating area.”
The multi-level mixed-materials pool deck added a level of difficulty to the installation, but not one that was unfamiliar to Wesley’s team. “We do numerous patios with different levels, textures and layouts to dress up the design. It adds nice contrast,” he said.
The oversized L-shaped grill island was designed using the Tandem® Modular Grid system for the structure. The Modular Grid wall system is unique in that a wooden frame is constructed to act as a base for attaching a wire grid. Stone veneer is then clipped to the grid to create the finished look. “I’ve used the Modular Grid product on quite a few projects, but not to this scale. It’s much larger than most grill islands,” Wesley said.
Once the base structure of the island was completed, the countertop was constructed of Turin porcelain pavers and matching Unico coping to mirror the poolscape. “Installing the countertop was a bit of a challenge, getting everything to line up correctly. But I’m pleased with how it came out,” he continued.
Both the fire pit and built-in planters were constructed with the Tandem® Wall System. The only difference was that the fire pit used the Melville™ face, which features a smooth and linear look, and the planters (and adjacent kitchen island) were designed with the Ashlar face, which has a modular chiseled-stone look. Wesley liked the contrast of using different faces for the different outdoor rooms. “I’ve used the Ashlar Tandem on several projects but personally prefer the Melville,” Wesley said. “The ends are all square, so the corners come together real tight and provide a pristine look. It also worked better with the smooth pavers and was far enough away from the other walls to provide contrast without making it look out of place.”
Reaping the Rewards
Although working with film crews on site added to the complexity, Wesley says he is grateful for the opportunity to work on such a prestigious project, noting that the rewards are multifaceted.
“We get to work more closely with the Belgard team members on projects like this. I like working closely with my vendors. They see everyone’s projects, and getting that feedback is helpful in terms of how others are doing things. I can take that info and improve my own work,” Wesley said. He added, “Working on something that gets a lot of attention definitely adds credibility with future customers. I don’t like to boast to them, but the casual mention makes a difference. I also enjoyed working with the HGTV folks. They were easy-going and open-minded about design changes.”
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