PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: ‘Simple Splash’ Backyard Makeover

Based in Minneapolis, Mom’s Design Build states that their company mission is to create outdoor living spaces that inspire the human spirit to live fully. That mission was wholeheartedly accomplished with a recent backyard transformation they titled, “Simple Splash.” This backyard makeover project took a rarely used yard with a rocky, sloped terrain and converted it to a welcoming contemporary family oasis.

  •  Nondescript patio
  • Contemporary sundeck and pool
  • Sloped backyard transformation
  • Multi-level poolscape

Project designer Heather Sweeney initially met with the family to discuss their goals for the space. The interior of their home has a modern design motif, and they felt the existing traditional paver patio was disconnected with the home’s interior and too small for their needs. The family includes two small children, a 5-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. They knew they wanted a pool that would eventually include a pool house. They wanted the design to have a contemporary feel that would flow well with the home’s interior design, but also wanted some traditional elements so that the space would be comfortable and approachable.

“A major challenge was how do we put a flat pool on this crazy hillside,” Sweeney said, “especially when the city had rules that dictated retaining walls could only be a maximum of three feet tall.”

Sweeney’s answer to that challenge was to create a tiered poolscape that includes a sundeck on the upper area, a poolside bar on the lower level, and a cozy sitting area where Mom could relax and overlook the entire space.

“Kids can sit either on the outside or in the pool,” Sweeney said of the dining bar. “Future plans include a pool house with a kitchen and a fireplace off of that area. This way, we could phase it out without making it look unplanned.”

  • Swim-Up Bar Concrete Pavers
  • Dining Terrace Pool Deck
  • Pool Sundeck
  • Built-in Lounge Paver Pool Area


The project features a mix of materials that includes Nau 2.0 porcelain pavers (Fado color), poured concrete, natural Bluestone and weathered corten steel. The retaining walls and bar are poured concrete trimmed with corten steel. Bluestone was used for the coping, step treads, stepping-stone garden and wall caps. The pool decking areas are all durable Nau 2.0 porcelain pavers, which offer the look of natural woodgrain with the stain-resistance and frost-resistance of porcelain — ensuring lasting beauty despite the harsh Minnesota climate.

“This was my first time using Belgard porcelain pavers,” Sweeney said. “I’ve been intrigued with the product. On this design, we were trying to find something that looks good that won’t burn your feet. The wood look lends to the clean-line modern look and at the same time subtly softens the look.”

For the sundeck area, the porcelain pavers were installed on a crushed stoned base like tradition pavers. Around the pool, Mom’s Design Build used a concrete sub-slab with a mat base between the concrete and paver. “I was a little nervous at first because it was a new process, but the sand locked it into place,” Sweeney said. “It looks great, and I’ve used it on additional projects since. For people who like that clean-line modern look, it works perfectly.”

Adding to both the look and functionality of the design, Sweeney included a natural diving platform that also functions as a water feature. The feature includes an built-in light controlled with the pool controller. To add to both ambiance and safety, lighting was also installed throughout the design, including the step treads. Channels were carved under each step tread to hide LED rope lights that automatically come on at night with a photocell sensor.

tiered garden and paver pool decking

Centered on the pool is a custom built-in lounge seat surrounded by a tiered garden. The mother stays at home most of the time and wanted a place to relax and watch the kids without having to be in the pool or get splashed. Custom built from decking and 6″ foam, the result was an artistic piece that acts as a natural focal point. The overall look of the third tier was softened with a combination of low-maintenance landscaping, ground cover along the corten wall, and maintenance-free artificial turf that connects with the sundeck.

The family has future plans to extend out from the dining area to build a pool house with an outdoor kitchen, along with an outdoor living room with an outdoor fireplace. By discussing the overall plan during the design phase, Mom’s Design Build was able to prep future phases on the front end, saving a lot of time and expense down the road. “All conduits have already been run the through concrete walls for future electrical, water and gas. Everything is setup so we don’t have to redo anything,” Sweeney said. “Footings are also in place for the kitchen and fireplace. We tiled on top of the footings and will remove those sections and build up from there when the time comes.”

Sweeney reports that the homeowners love their new space and spend time outside on almost a daily basis, something they rarely did before the backyard makeover. “They didn’t use their backyard at all before. They had a tiny patio. It was too shady, damp and hilly without a lot of functional space. The mom now spends a lot of time on her lounge reading, and her daughter likes to line up her Barbies along the edge of the pool to play. And they like to entertain large groups, and this space offers them lots of seating.”

For more backyard makeover inspiration, visit Mom’s Design Build on Facebook and Instagram. To find a qualified contractor in your neck of the woods, visit the Belgard contractor locator.

PROJECT PROFILE: Old Town Oasis

The welcoming outdoor spaces of this old town oasis in Fort Collins, Colorado, incorporates an eclectic mix of concrete pavers and natural elements. This striking project features the timeless look of Cambridge Cobble® pavers and garnered first place in the “Concrete Paver” (less than 3,000 SF) category at the annual Hardscape North America awards. Take a virtual walk-through of the award-winning design.

Cambridge Cobble stone paver walkway and patio
WELCOMING ENTRYWAY: A reclaimed wooden gate and terraced landing create a charming entrance to the home. Lush potted plants and shabby-chic wicker furnishings create a sense of casual elegance.
SPRAWLING VIEW: This overhead view of the backyard outdoor living spaces showcases how all of the concrete, wood and natural stone design elements work together and coordinate with the native landscaping.
ZEN FIRE PIT PATIO: A stone garden wall defines the perimeter of the fire pit area, incorporates ample seating for large groups, and includes a built-in planter to emulate the look of a vertical garden. Anchored and detached wooden benching help soften the look of the stone elements to create a more relaxed, casual atmosphere. A Cambridge Circle breaks up the modular paver pattern to add visual interest to the paver field.
outdoor living space with fire pit area
CASUAL FAMILY-STYLE DINING: The fire pit area looks over into the dining area, which functions as a separate entertaining zone. Multiple picnic tables provide seating for feeding large groups, with bonus built-in seating to accommodate larger gatherings. A built-in grill area includes oversized countertops for meal prep and serving. Low-voltage hardscape lighting is incorporated throughout the fire pit and dining areas for both safety and ambiance.
paver hardscape design and backyard patio with dual arbors
MULTI-ROOM LIVING AREA: Dual arbors and a terraced level help create the look of distinct rooms to create multiple conversation areas, ideal for large parties.

Design and installation by Lindgeren Landscape of Fort Collins, Colorado. To view a flythrough video of the project, visit their website at LindgrenLandscape.com.

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CONTRACTOR’S CORNER: Create your own virtual project tour with free professional photography!

Do you have an outstanding project that you’d like to showcase with free professional photography? Belgard’s professional hardscape photographers know the exact angles, lighting techniques and staging strategies to properly capture the beauty and workmanship of a quality installation. These professional photographs can help elevate your company image and can be used for a wide variety of marketing efforts. Belgard contractors who would like to apply to have free professional photography can submit their projects for consideration by visiting OldcastleAPG.com/submit.

PROJECT PROFILE: Southern California Porcelain Paver Project of the Year

Presenting the Belgard SoCal 2018 Best Porcelain Paver Project, featuring Noon Porcelain Pavers in the Ember color. The installation creates the look of interior wood flooring, yet uses durable Belgard Porcelain Pavers that won’t warp or splinter like wood are resistant to cracking, stains, mold, frost and fading. Available in two different plank sizes, this porcelain paver project uses the larger 12″x48″ planks to create an ultra-contemporary look.

Southern California Porcelain Paver Project of the Year

Created by Pacific Outdoor Living for the Pasadena Showcase House of Design, this tranquil outdoor living space is nestled in a lush mature garden adjacent to the home’s swimming pool. Bamboo sunscreens and draped awnings add to the comfort and help create a cozy space reminiscent of a Japanese garden that feels like it’s both indoors and outdoors.

An intimate sitting area features rattan and bamboo furniture that ties the look together.

porcelain pavers, rattan and bamboo furniture

A gorgeous concrete dining table doubles as a water feature, with water flowing through a rock garden down the middle of the table, creating a unique dining experience that is both communal and serene.

outdoor porcelain pavers noon

Natural rock gardens and Asian-inspired landscape lighting are incorporated throughout the space, enhancing the ambience.

wood look porcelain pavers

Terraced Design Adds Form and Function to a Sloped Yard

This home originally had a steeply sloped and mostly unusable yard. With the help of a multi-level terraced design, it was converted into a family backyard oasis.

Prior to purchasing this home, an Atlanta family of four saw the potential to create their dream backyard and consulted with a design/build contractor who had a terraced design in place before escrow closed on the home. Construction began immediately after the closing.

The existing backyard included a small terraced section held in place by 6’x6’ timber walls, with the remainder of the mostly unusable yard sloping down to a large wooded pond. The renovation design focused on increasing the functionality of the available space with the help of segmental retaining wall to create four terraced levels: a pool level, a sunken outdoor kitchen pavilion, a secluded fire pit terrace, and a recreational play level for the family’s two children. The project was constructed in four phases.

Phase 1: Structural Walls

Since the design included a pool, the first step of construction was to demolish the timber retaining walls (which weren’t capable of supporting the additional weight), remove a few trees to enlarge the main terraced level, and construct new walls capable of supporting the pool. Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall® was selected for its strength and natural stone appearance and was used to create the structure of the two main terrace levels, as well as coordinating built-in planter boxes. Before the walls were capped, wiring was run for low-voltage hardscape lighting, which would be installed during the final phase.

Planter boxes on the second level were adorned with Azalea bushes. Transitions to each level were constructed with natural stone slab step treads. Hardscape lighting lines all walls to improve evening aesthetics and safety.

Phase 2: Poolscape

The second phase of construction was to dig and form the pool and shoot the gunite pool walls. The design of the kidney-shaped pool includes wedding cake steps, a submerged tanning ledge, swim-up bar stools, a raised eight-person spa, and a vanishing waterfall that overlooks the fire pit terrace below.

The vanishing edge waterfall creates a dramatic backdrop for the cozy fire pit terrace that overlooks the wooded landscape and pond. Wooden posts and handrails for the cable fencing were embedded inside the structure of the retaining walls for stability.

Next came the installation of the paver pool deck, tiered garden walls, and rectangular fire pit. The pool deck extends to walkways that continue around both sides of the home. For these projects, Lafitt® pavers and Tandem® Wall were selected, which both offer a modular ashlar pattern and have a natural stone look that coordinates with the Mega-Tandem retaining walls of the primary structure.

The false-jointed ashlar pattern of the garden walls mimics the look of the paver field. Low-voltage hardscape lighting lines the garden walls for ambiance and safety.

Phase 3: Pavilion

The outdoor kitchen offers multiple cooking spaces and includes an open cabinet under the brick oven for storing wood. The texture of the wall veneer and Lafitt® paver flooring complement the natural stone elements to create a cohesive design.

The next phase was to build the 18’x30’ outdoor kitchen pavilion, which includes an open gabled metal roof, exposed cedar-wrapped beams, and staggered cedar shake siding. The base of each outdoor kitchen counter is constructed with Tandem® Modular Grid and capped with a granite countertop. The Tandem wall units used on Modular Grid incorporate the same face texture and color palette as the Tandem Wall and the Mega-Tandem retaining walls, which allowed all of the walls throughout the outdoor living design to have a cohesive look and feel.

The well-appointed kitchen includes a double sink, double-door refrigerator, kegerator beer dispenser, and multiple cooking surfaces—including a gas grill, Big Green Egg® ceramic grill, and a wood-burning Chicago Brick Oven®. The kitchen also includes ample seating, including a countertop bar that overlooks the pool and faces the swim-up bar, for ultimate pool-side entertaining. Natural stone slab step treads were used to transition to each level—from the house to the pool, down into the outdoor kitchen, to the fire pit terrace, and down to the play structure.

The two-sided bar is capped with a granite countertop and offers dry seating under the pavilion and swim-up seating from inside the pool.

Phase 4: Final Touches & PLay Area

The final phase of the project began with landscaping and trimming out the pool with natural stone coping and pebbled tiling, including the 20-foot-wide vanishing waterfall edge that serves as a dramatic backdrop for the cozy fire pit area and overlooks the picturesque wooded pond. Each of the terraced levels were finished with protective cable fencing, outlined with wooden posts and handrails painted to match the color of the pavilion roof.

Next came the playground installation, which required a fourth level to be terraced. Timber wall was selected to terrace this level to coordinate with the wooden play structure and the surrounding natural wooded landscape.

The final task was to install all of the lighting, including low-voltage hardscape lighting that had been pre-wired during earlier phases, which both added an aesthetic element and improved the safety of the multi-level structure. All electrical elements of entire design—including the hardscape lighting, spa, waterfall, pavilion lighting, and sound system—can all be controlled by an app on the homeowner’s phone.

For a fly-through view of the entire multi-level terraced design, watch the drone video below.

PROJECT TEAM:

Designer: Clint Tucker, PLA
Contractor: Sugar Hill Outdoors, LLC
Engineer: John R. Gehrlich, Jr., PE
Engineering Firm: GeoWerks Engineering, LLC
Pool Construction: Bennett Custom Pool Construction
Play Structure Design/Installation: PlayNation Play Systems, Inc., of Georgia

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG: Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog to get inspired by winning designs from the 2017 Hardscape North America Project Awards.

Rigorous Selection Process Results in Attractive Pool Deck Design for HOA

The Morgan Hill Homeowners Association of Temecula, California, takes pride in its impressive community amenity areas, and they should. In addition to the well-appointed community pool, the development includes an expansive clubhouse with pool tables, ping pong tables, tennis courts and an ample lounge area for watching sporting events.

When the homeowners association decided to upgrade the decking of the community pool, they meticulously perused the products, styles and color selections of multiple paver manufacturers, but ultimately settled on a selection of Belgard pavers at the recommendation of the installer, Modern Paving, of Rancho Cucamonga, California.

The group selected the “bishop hat” shape of Moduline Series™ pavers in the Toscana color blend for the primary paver field, accented with 6″x6″ squares of Moduline in the Sahara color. A total of 12,000 square feet of pavers were installed in a castle parquet pattern, creating an contemporary look that complements the elegant development’s modern architecture while blending well with the natural landscape. The project was installed during the colder months of the year so that use of the pool was not disturbed.

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.

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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.

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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.