Join Belgard at the Nation’s Largest Horticulture Event

Philadelphia Flower Show

Calling all garden enthusiasts! If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend the Philadelphia Flower Show, you’re missing out on incredible displays from the nation’s premier floral and landscape designers. Belgard is once again excited to partner with the largest horticultural event in the nation as the official hardscapes sponsor of the show, to be held March 3 – 11, 2018, in the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

This year’s show, “Wonders of Water,” will celebrate the beauty and life-sustaining interplay of horticulture and water by showcasing stunning displays that emulate tropical jungles, temperate forests, native woodlands and arid landscapes, featuring the astounding plants that thrive in each environment. As the official hardscape sponsor of the show, Belgard patio pavers and retaining walls will be used exclusively throughout the show in exhibitor displays, garden areas, stage construction and anywhere hardscapes are needed.

One lucky booth visitor will win a Bordeaux Elements™ Grill Island!

Belgard will also have a feature exhibit, designed by the Belgard Design Studio, where visitors will have an opportunity to register for a chance to win a Bordeaux Elements™ Grill Island.

The expansive Belgard display will include an outdoor kitchen and living room and a patio with multiple fire features and water features. The exhibit will showcase installations of more than a dozen Belgard products including a fireplace and grill island from the Bordeaux™ Series of the Belgard Elements™ Collection of outdoor fireplaces and kitchen units. To tie in with the “Wonders of Water” theme, the Belgard display will also include contemporary fountains and an outdoor shower.

The renderings below offer a sneak peek at the exterior and interior of the Belgard exhibit.  Click on any image for a larger view.

Belgard will also sponsor a Virtual Reality experience in The Backyard area of the Grand Hall, where visitors can view 3-D designs from the Belgard Design Studio using the studio’s new VR platform.

Click on the image to view a sample 360-degree VR design. Use your mouse or finger to drag and navigate. When viewing on a mobile device, gyroscope mode will enable you to navigate your phone around the image.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is hosted by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and benefits a variety of year-round programs in the Philadelphia area that have become national models of urban greening. For more information on the show, visit theflowershow.com or read the blog post: Sights from the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show.

Home is Where the Hearth Is

Products: Belair Wall® (fireplace and seat wall) and Mega-Lafitt® pavers.

The outdoor living room has been one of the fastest growing trends in outdoor design over the last few years. When considering the popularity of this trend, the question arises: What’s the difference between a patio and an outdoor living room? The answer is simple: Livability.

Products: Bristol Elements™ fireplace and Lafitt® Rustic Slab pavers.

An outdoor living room is more than just a grouping of chairs with a coffee table. It’s a cozy and inviting space that evokes a sense of relaxation, a space where people want to spend time both alone and enjoying the company of others. To achieve this effect, it’s important to apply interior design techniques to creating your outdoor space.

With that in mind, what tends to be the centerpiece of most interior living rooms? The answer, of course, is a fireplace. The reason for this is multifaceted. Historically, a fireplace would be added to the living room to heat the home. But as this need diminished in necessity over the years, the popularity of an interior fireplace did not. That is because the warmth that exudes from a fireplace is not only physical in nature, but emotional, as well. Spending time in front of a fire with a loved one often creates a deeper connection with that person on an instinctual or primal level. Fire, good.

That’s why one of the easiest ways to create an emotional sense of warmth in an outdoor living room is to add a fire feature, which has the added benefit of physical warmth during the colder months, allowing you to use your outdoor living room year round. Another benefit to fire features — like fireplaces, fire pits and fire tables — is that they appeal to people of all ages. When multiple generations gather around a fire pit, the generation gap disappears, and they can all relate to one another on a purely human level. It’s no wonder that fire pits have been on the top of the “must haves” list in outdoor design for the last several years.

A fire feature, like this welcoming fire pit at the HGTV® Dream Home 2018, instantly converts a simple patio into an outdoor living room. Products: Belair Wall® 2.0 (fire pit) and Urbana Stone® permeable pavers. (photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

When adding a fire feature to an outdoor living room, be sure to leave ample space for seating and traffic because it will instantly become everyone’s favorite gathering spot. If it’s a wood-burning fire feature, it will also need to be an adequate distance from any structures, as a safety precaution. In fact, some municipalities and HOA’s have specific regulations about this, so be sure and do your homework.

To complete your outdoor living room, add other interior design touches — such as tables, accent lighting, pillows, throws and other accessories. But be warned, once you create an inviting outdoor living room, get ready for company!

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For fire feature design ideas, read our blogs on Fire Pit Design Ideas and  Outdoor Fireplace Design Ideas For more design inspiration, visit the Belgard Pinterest boards.

NEXT WEEK:  Don’t let the frigid temperatures fool you. If you want your new pool to be ready for swimming season, it’s time to start planning now.

Outdoor Fireplace Design Ideas

Over the last decade, outdoor fireplaces have continued to be a rising trend in outdoor living design. A fireplace provides an elegant focal point that visually transforms a patio into an outdoor living room, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. When planning an outdoor fireplace, there are a number of options to consider.

Custom-Build versus modular units

Custom outdoor fireplaces can be built using a variety of masonry products, including nearly any Belgard retaining wall product. The benefit to a custom-built fireplace is that you have the design flexibility to create any size or style that suits you. Belgard also offers the Belgard Elements™ line of modular fireplaces that are pre-built in a factory setting, shipped in sections and installed with a pallet loader. The benefits are lower installation costs and a shorter construction window.

This custom-built fireplace, constructed with Celtik® Wall, features a raised hearth, symmetrical arched built-in wood boxes, and built-in low-voltage lighting for ambiance. A row of smooth-face block adds a contrasting element to the rough-hewn look of the design.
Belgard Elements™ fireplaces, such as this one from the Bristol™ Series, offer a custom-built look for a fraction of the cost. Custom-built elements, such as the landscape wall and water features in this design, can be added to enhance the custom-built look.
USE interior design principles

To enhance the “outdoor living room” feel, employ interior design techniques when designing your outdoor fireplace and surrounding patio. Examples include accessorizing the room or creating a faux rug in the paver design.

A semi-circular design of Mega-Arbel® pavers creates the look of an inlaid rug in front of this Brighton™ Elements fireplace and Bristol™ Elements wood boxes.
Research Local building codes

Codes will vary by municipality, but in general terms, gas-burning fireplaces have fewer restrictions and can typically be placed anywhere in a design, including directly against another structure. Wood-burning fireplaces typically need to be placed at least 10 feet from another structure. Some building codes require additional safety measures or restrict the use of wood-burning units altogether.

The chimney of this wood-burning fireplace from the Bordeaux™ Elements collection was extended upward to comply with local building codes, due to its proximity to another structure.
Built-in outdoor gas fireplaceS

An economical option that can typically be installed anywhere is a built-in gas fireplace, which can be built on the exterior of the home, on a porch or under a pavilion.

The built-in outdoor gas fireplace on the left was designed to emulate the look of an indoor fireplace using Tandem® Modular Grid. The same wall product was used to build out an adjacent outdoor kitchen. The design on the right used Weston Stone® retaining wall block with accents of Urbana® Stone and Mega-Arbel® pavers to emulate the look of a freestanding Bristol™ Elements fireplace. The same paver and wall products were used throughout the design to tie the look together.
Think outside the box

When creating a custom build, consider how you want to use the space and work with your contractor to come with with creative solutions and ideas.

This custom fire feature is both a fireplace and a brick oven. A built-in overhead light adds a dramatic look to the piece while providing ample light for operating the brick oven in the evenings.
This outdoor living room incorporates dual open-sided European-style gas fireplaces, constructed using Tandem® Wall. The same wall product was used to build seat walls around the perimeter of the patio, as well as columns for the pavilion, tying all of the outdoor rooms together into one cohesive design.
Consider built-in seating

Built-in seating is one of the leading trends in outdoor design and makes an excellent addition to an outdoor fireplace, adding both form and function to an outdoor room.

This custom natural stone fireplace is flanked with two seat walls, constructed with Celtik® Wall. The rough-hewn face of the Celtik® Wall adds a textural element to this eclectic design.

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Next week: If your yard is sloped, come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard blog for ideas on using terraced design to create more usable space.

Top 10 Outdoor Living Design Trends

This outdoor living design incorporates several of the most popular trends this year: permeable pavers, fire pit,
This outdoor living design showcases several of the most popular trends this year: low-maintenance landscaping, Subterra® Stone permeable pavers, a fire pit, low-voltage lighting, and a built-in cooking area with ample seating and counter-top space. A permeable system can be designed to incorporate rainwater harvesting to be used for irrigation to create the ultimate eco-friendly patio.

In the annual national survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), landscape design professionals are polled regarding the outdoor living project types and individual design elements that have the highest demand. The results of this year’s survey are in, and for the third consecutive year, eco-friendly projects dominate the top 10 project list. And although it’s no surprise, internet connectivity made its way into the must-have list this year. In terms of individual design elements, the overwhelming majority of the design items have to do with making outdoor areas more livable. For the third consecutive year, fire pits and fireplaces top the list of most popular design elements.

RANKING PROJECT TYPES DESIGN ELEMENTS
1 Drought-tolerant plants Fire pits and fireplaces
2 Native plants Wireless/internet connectivity
3 Low-maintenance landscapes Lighting
4 Edible gardens Outdoor furniture
5 Permeable paving Seating/dining
6 Reduced lawn areas Built-in grills
7 Fire pits and fireplaces Planters, sculptures, garden accessories
8 Water-efficient irrigation Counter space
9 Wireless/internet connectivity Outdoor heaters
10 Rainwater/graywater harvesting Stereo systems
This outdoor kitchen design incorporates drought-tolerant plants,
This outdoor kitchen design incorporates the popular items of drought-tolerant plants, festive overhead lighting, ample prep and serving space, a large seating area, and a wood-burning fireplace. The kitchen, fireplace, and built-in wood boxes are all constructed with Celtik® Wall to create a coordinated look.
This outdoor kitchen is fully connected
This highly livable outdoor kitchen is fully appointed with all of the modern conveniences of the indoors, including the must-have elements of internet connectivity, dining space, multiple outdoor cooking surfaces, ample counter space, and both ambient and overhead lighting. Tandem® Modular Grid was used to construct the kitchen base and a partial wall to house and protect the television from sun and weather for ultimate game-day viewing.

Outdoor Living Trends in New Home Construction

For over a decade, the gradual trend has been for homeowners to transform the formerly open backyards of existing homes into definable “outdoor living” spaces. In new home construction, however, this phenomenon has grown exponentially in more recent years to the point that outdoor living has becoming a standard feature at just about any price level. Although upgraded outdoor living spaces are more common at higher price levels, new construction home buyers at all levels want to know that they’ll be able to live in and enjoy their outdoor spaces. According to builders, realtors and landscape architects, some definable trends have emerged as being “highly desirable” to potential buyers.

Indoor/Outdoor Convergence: For several years, the trend has been to create outdoor living areas that mimic indoor living. This has evolved in a way that with many new home designs, there is no distinct separation between the indoor and outdoor spaces, but more of a fluid separation between the two areas. These types of designs might incorporate floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls, stackable doors or floor materials that contribute to that sense of flow. For example, Belgard Porcelain Pavers were designed for outdoor use, but coordinate with a line of interior porcelain tile, which allows for the same flooring aesthetic to be used both inside and outside of the home.

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Multiple floor-to-ceiling glass doors and Ardesie porcelain pavers make this porch feel like a continuation of the home’s interior living spaces.

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Fully Functioning Kitchens: Although this trend is more typically seen in higher priced homes, smaller homes are jumping on the outdoor kitchen bandwagon, even if on a smaller scale — like with a simple built-in grill. But for mid-level homes and above, buyers want an outdoor kitchen with all the conveniences of an indoor kitchen, and then some. In luxury homes, the outdoor kitchen often costs more than the indoor kitchen, with amenities that incorporate everything from dishwashers to brick ovens. In many cases, the outdoor kitchen also functions as an outdoor bar and includes items like roll-top beverage coolers, kegerators and wine refrigerators.

This well-appointed outdoor kitchen and bar includes seating, outdoor refrigerator, kegerator, Bristol Brick Oven, built-in grill, sink and storage.
This well-appointed outdoor kitchen and bar includes seating, outdoor refrigerator, kegerator, Bristol Brick Oven, built-in grill, sink and storage.

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Integrated Audio/Visual and Lighting: New homes of every price range are incorporating outdoor televisions and sound systems, even if on the smaller scale of an outdoor-rated bluetooth speaker system. Mid-level homes and above are taking the trend to the next level with outdoor sound systems that are integrated with the interior of the home so that the same music can be played inside the home as outside, which follows the indoor/outdoor convergence trend. With the rapid advance of smart phone technology, this can be taken to an even higher level with systems that can operate off of a mobile app to control every electronic aspect of the outdoor living space, including TVs, sound systems, lighting, fire features and pool equipment.

Every electronic aspect of this outdoor living area is controlled by the homeowner's mobile app, including the fan, lighting, TV and the gas starter on the fireplace.
Every electronic aspect of this outdoor living area is controlled by the homeowner’s mobile app, including the fan, lighting, TV and the gas starter on the fireplace.

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Intimate Outdoor Spaces: Home buyers are interested in having a relaxing outdoor living area where they can socialize and unwind, creating a trend towards more cozy seating areas, often incorporating a fireplace or fire pit. Some experts relate this trend to the fact that there’s typically a TV in every room of the house, so a cozy outdoor space away from a TV can be a place to escape. Unlike expansive outdoor kitchen spaces, which may be limited to luxury homes, an “outdoor retreat” can be created on a smaller budget and appeals to buyers at all levels. In fact, a cozy outdoor space can easily be created by adding a freestanding wall or two. With the help of a few staged furnishing, potential buyers can get a feel for how they would live in the outdoor space.

The Bristol Fireplace serves as focal point for this intimate gathering spot.
The Bristol Fireplace serves as focal point for this intimate gathering spot. This same sense of intimacy can also be created with the use of a freestanding wall, which can help define the space and create the illusion of an interior room.

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Sustainable Design: According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, this year’s top trends in landscape design include both rainwater harvesting and the use of permeable pavers. Although a standard permeable paver installation simply allows water to filter through the paver joints into the ground below, a permeable paver system can be designed to also harvest and recycle rainwater, converging these two trends into one and allowing the reclaimed water to be used for garden irrigation and other uses. Current top landscape trends also include native plants and low-maintenance landscaping.

A permeable paver system, like this Subterra Stone® patio, can be designed to include a collection cistern and a pump to harvest water for reuse with water features, irrigation or other greywater uses.
A permeable paver system, like this Subterra Stone® patio, can be designed to include a collection cistern and a pump to harvest water for reuse with water features, irrigation or other greywater uses.

Build Custom Outdoor Kitchens and Fireplaces with Less Hassle

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Custom outdoor kitchens and living rooms continue to gain in popularity all across the nation. The modular design of the Belgard Elements collection allows you to create a custom look in a fraction of the time and for significantly less cost than building from scratch on site. Couple that with the fact that homeowners can spread the cost out over time with Belgard Preferred Payment same-as-cash options, and designer outdoor living spaces suddenly become much more affordable for a wider range of homeowners.

Belgard Elements are built in a controlled factory setting and shipped in pieces on pallets and install in a matter of hours, once the footings are in place. Constructed with Belgard pavers and walls and coordinating Echelon Masonry, the Belgard Elements line blends seamlessly with Belgard patios and poolscapes to create beautifully cohesive outdoor living designs.

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But, don’t just take our word for it! See what contractors across the country are saying:

Clint Tucker, Sugar Hill Outdoors – Auburn, GA

“Belgard Elements are easy to move with a forklift. You pop two stones out, run the forklift under the base of the fireplace, or the log boxes, take them to where you created the footing, set it into place, and they’re ready to go. On one project, we installed a fireplace with matching woodboxes, a very nice grill island with a stainless steel grill, and a brick oven with a log box underneath. Had we done this with a more traditional masonry product, it would have taken close to a month. All of that would be out of most people’s price range if it was done in true masonry.”

John Brightenstine, The Paver Company – Rancho Cordova, CA

“Belgard Elements really add a wow factor. And because they’re made with Belgard products, they coordinate with other Belgard hardscapes to tie everything together.”

Andrew Vear, PaverCrafters – Reno, NV

“So often with a lot of custom construction projects, everything takes two weeks. Installing an Elements fireplace takes about two hours because the modules are prebuilt. It looks exactly as it does in the catalog. You just can’t build anything like that by hand. And, I don’t have to go shopping for any other materials. Everything that I need is right in the kit.”

Rod Trahan, La Pavers – New Orleans, LA

“Outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity in our area. The Elements line has the potential to go through the roof. It’s faster, safer and cheaper to install and ties in with the pavers. Building this project by hand would have taken at least three or four times longer. Plus this way, the customer knows exactly what they’re getting.”

For more on the benefits of Belgard Elements, check out our Belgard Elements Outdoor Kitchens blog.