Proper Lighting Makes for Better Outdoor Living

Lighting is an important aspect of the outdoor living experience. Not long ago, the basic outdoor lighting plan was to add flood lights to the corners of the house and call it a day. Maybe a wall sconce or two. If you wanted to get really fancy, you might add a lighting kit to a ceiling fan. Now that outdoor living has become more of a way of life, an integrated lighting plan is crucial to getting the most out of your outdoor living spaces.

Setting the RIGHT mood

Think soft lighting with subtle shadows. Outdoor lighting can be festive, as long as it’s not overpowering. Don’t overlight your space with high wattage lighting unless it’s dimmable. It’s not a bad idea to have a brighter light where you park or over a meal prep space, but sitting areas should have more of an intimate atmosphere.

Safety concerns

Proper outdoor lighting also adds to the safety of your outdoor spaces by helping people avoid injury. Landscape or hardscape lights along walkways, stairs and landscape walls will help people avoid tripping. Lighting on or near fire features will help you can see well enough to start a fire. Lighting over a grill island or meal prep counter will help the grillmaster avoid burns or cuts. Adequate lighting around parking areas and doorways will also decrease the likelihood of criminal activity.

considering the options

When planning an outdoor living space, it’s important to make lighting decisions early in the process. That way, the needed electrical lines or outlets can be run and installed without have to retrofit the space later, which can be quite costly. If you’re planning on phasing out a large outdoor living project, be sure to run the needed lines for your future improvements so that everything is ready when the time comes.

  • String Lights: String lights are currently a popular way to add a festive quality to an outdoor space. Just be sure to buy shatterproof bulbs if you plan to string them over hardscaped areas. For new construction, include electrical outlets in porch ceilings to avoid having to run extension cords. It creates a much cleaner look.
  • Overhead Lighting: Under porches, you can include recessed lights or hanging light fixtures. Pendant lights and chandeliers, in particular, help reinforce the “outdoor room” concept. You may want to consider making any overhead lights dimmable so that you can adjust the level as needed to create the appropriate mood.
  • Candlelight: Candles are an excellent way to add to the ambiance of an outdoor living space. When using traditional candles, be sure to keep fire safety in mind. Battery-operated candles are often the better choice. You can also get remote-controlled candles that allow you to easily turn them on or off or even set a timer to automatically go off after a certain time period. Just be sure to keep battery-operated candles under covered areas because moisture will cause the batteries to corrode.
  • Landscape Lighting: Path lights and landscape accent lights add an ethereal quality to outdoor spaces, especially in areas where the light filters through tree limbs or garden foliage.
  • Flood Lights: These safety lights do still have their place, especially for illuminating driveways or the dark side of a house. Motion-sensing flood lights are particularly helpful in conserving energy for areas that don’t need to stay illuminated for extended periods. However, police often recommend keeping carports and entrance doorways illuminated for crime prevention.
  • Fire Features: Fire bowls, fire tables, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits will help illuminate your space with a welcoming glow when lit. You can also often incorporate low-voltage lighting to the outside of many fire features to help boost lighting as needed.
  • Pools and Water Features: Lighting can add a graceful aesthetic to pools, fountains and water features, creating a shimmering effect as it reflects off of moving water. Lighting can be installed underwater or directed at the water, depending upon the effect you’d like to create.
  • Hardscape Lighting: There are multiple types of hardscape lighting that can be integrated into a hardscape design, including wall lights, step lights, pillar sconces and paver lights. It’s extremely important to plan hardscape lighting prior to installation.
The Belgard Design Studio can help you plan any hardscape lighting during the design phase to avoid costly retrofitting.

Now is the Time to Plan Spring Outdoor Living Projects

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, meaning spring is predicted to come early. Although America’s most famous weather-forecasting rodent is often wrong, one thing is sure… If you want to update or augment your outdoor living spaces in time for that first beautiful weekend, now is the time to get started.

Top 5 Project Planning Tips

  1. Develop a clear vision of your project goals: Before you get started, it’s important to consider how you will use the space. Why do you want to do this project? Are you looking to resolving a problem, add functionality or improve aesthetics? Be sure to communicate this information to your contractor so you’re both on the same page.
  2. Determine your budget: For larger projects, you may want to consider building in phases or talking to a Belgard Authorized Contractor about financing options. If you do decide to build in phases, be sure to plan the entire project upfront so that you can place footings or run utility lines for future phases.
  3. Prioritize: In order to stay within budget, decide which items you’re willing to compromise on and which are the most important to achieving your project goals. Plan your dream scenario and then trim back where needed.
  4. Research code restrictions: Your municipality or HOA may have rules that prohibit certain items. It’s important to know guidelines and approval requirements upfront to avoid costly mistakes. Don’t assume your contractor will have the information.
  5. Get inspiration: Check out the Spring Outdoor Living Project Ideas section below. You can also visit the Belgard Inspiration Gallery and Pinterest boards for more ideas.
For more planning tips, including tips on choosing a contractor, download our comprehensive Project Guide.

Spring Outdoor Living Project Ideas

Landscape Accent Walls

Landscape accent walls add definition, dimension and visual interest to your outdoor living spaces. Whether edging a patio, lining a walkway or simply adding a freestanding landscape element, accent walls can be purely aesthetic or can also function as additional seating, depending upon the design. For a tailored look, include landscape columns as an end cap or accent along the wall. You can also incorporate lighting into the column for both aesthetics and functionality.

Driveway and Driveway Overlays

Nothing brings new life to the front of your home like a new paver driveway. If your existing concrete is sound enough, you can overlay a cracked driveway with thin overlay pavers. An overlay saves a great deal of time and money from having to demolish and remove existing concrete.

stone Edgers and curbing

Dress up your existing hardscapes and landscapes with stone edgers or curbing, which can add a finished look to walkways, driveways and patios. They can also be used alone to add a touch of elegance and definition to gardens and flower beds.

Stone Grill Islands

On that first gorgeous spring day, who wants to cook indoors? Just drive through your neighborhood with the windows down, and you’ll smell that everyone is outside grilling. This year, it’s time to ditch the portable grill and build something that will last. A custom build will allow you to create exactly the dimensions and configuration that you want. Belgard also has a line of prebuilt stone grill islands that save on installation time and costs.

Stone Outdoor Kitchens

When a simple grill island won’t satisfy the calling of your inner outdoor chef, it’s time to plan a full-blown outdoor kitchen. For more ideas, check out our blog on 5 Tips for Better Outdoor Kitchen Designs.

Patios and SunDecks

Ah, to see the sun again, bask in its rays and soak up some much-needed vitamin D. Spring evenings can still be a bit chilly, so if plan to include a fire pit, be sure to read 5 Tips for Designing a Patio around a Fire Pit. And, if you have little ones, check out our blog on Family-Friendly Patio Design Ideas.

Built-in Planters and Raised Flower Beds

Big box stores and plant nurseries are about to start beefing up their inventory of flowering plants and vegetation. Be ready for that first planting by constructing your built-in planters now. Planters and raised beds add dimension and organic warmth to patios and walkways. They can also add to the curb appeal of your home and create a more welcoming entrance.

seating walls

Permanent seating has been one of the leading trends in outdoor living design in recent years. Seat walls can help define the perimeter of an outdoor room and are particular effective in a dining area or adjacent to a fire feature. You can either build a freestanding seating wall or add functionality to a retaining wall with the addition of a seat ledge.

Walkways

Improve access to an area of your yard or add character to the front of your home with a picturesque walkway. When building a large paver patio, a faux walkway paver pattern within the patio design can be an excellent way to visually define the transition from one outdoor room to the next.

Stone Water Features

The look and sound of running water adds a natural relaxing aesthetic to an outdoor living space. For tips on designing a stone water feature, read our blog on The Latest Trends in Water Features.

TREND WATCH:
2020 Outdoor Design Colors of the Year

Tranquility. The sense evoked by this word is often lost in today’s fast-paced world. When life gets too hectic, it’s something we crave — a calm and peaceful moment to stop, take a deep breath and slowly exhale. This is exactly why outdoor living has become essential to the human spirit. And it’s why this year’s outdoor living colors of the year are centered on creating a tranquil space to unwind and reconnect with one another and with the natural world.

Belgard Pantone Color of the Year Terrarium Classic Blue

Both Belgard and the Pantone® Color Institute individually released their colors of the year for 2020. It’s no coincidence that these two color tones complement each other, or that they were both chosen for their connection with nature and a sense of tranquility.

Known throughout the world for their expertise in the realm of color, Pantone annually announces the Pantone Color of the Year, which influences purchasing and design decisions in multiple industries — fashion, home furnishings, product packaging, brand identity and more. Their selection comes after careful analysis of global factors that impact color trends including the arts, entertainment, popular travel destinations and evolving lifestyle.

Outdoor Living Fire Pit Kit

In the same respect, Belgard has long been the leader in the hardscapes industry with a definite influence on outdoor living design trends. Belgard also keeps a careful watch on architectural and lifestyle trends to anticipate the needs of the marketplace. With that in mind, the Terrarium color was selected and named for its biophilic ability to connect the built environment with the natural world. A rejuvenating hue found throughout nature, Terrarium complements the full range of colorations in the Belgard catalog and signifies growth, vitality and renewal.

Terrarium coordinates effortlessly with Pantone’s Classic Blue, which Pantone notes is suggestive of the sky at dusk and chosen for its ability to instill calm and bring a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit. Together, these two colors are perfect for ushering in a new decade, one that’s sure to be full of technological advances that continue to pull us away from that elusive state of tranquility.

Pantone Color of the Year Classic Blue Outdoor Living Design

“We are living in a time that requires trust and faith,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky, Classic Blue encourages us to look beyond the obvious to expand our thinking; challenging us to think more deeply, increase our perspective and open the flow of communication.”

In that same line of thought, Terrarium reminds us that no matter how much we evolve, we are still part of the natural world. As technology continues to race ahead of the human ability to process it all, it is easy to understand why we gravitate to colors that allow us to create an outdoor living refuge where we can slow down for a moment and embrace our humanity. After all, outdoor living is not just about building or decorating a patio, it’s about living in your outdoor space.

Sweepstakes is Now Open!
Enter for Your Chance to Win the HGTV® Dream Home 2020

Belgard takes pride in creating dream outdoor living spaces that allow home life to be enjoyed to its fullest. That’s why we’ve been a proud sponsor of the HGTV Dream Home since 2016. As the exclusive hardscape sponsor of each home, we enjoy helping to create unique outdoor living spaces that work in harmony with the surrounding landscape and bring each designer’s creative vision to life. Set on Hilton Head Island, the HGTV Dream Home 2020 is the personification of the South Carolina Lowcountry lifestyle. With ample porches and a mixture of coastal blues and rustic neutral tones, the home is an idyllic retreat with an expansive backyard living space that embraces the lazy marshland backdrop.

ENTER NOW FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN

HGTV Dream Home 2020 outdoor living gallery:

  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Paver Driveway
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Outdoor Living Space
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Contemporary Paver Poolscape
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Porcelain Paver Trends
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Built-in Planter Beds Outdoor Living
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Outdoor Living Space Fire Pit
  • HGTV Dream Home 2020 Grill Kitchen Outdoor Living Space

Over the next few weeks, we look forward to bringing special behind-the-scene looks at the Belgard spaces of this charming southern home.

Learn more about the Belgard backyards from our five years of sponsoring the dream:

. . .

HGTV, HGTV Dream Home, HGTV Dream Home Giveaway and their associated logos are trademarks of Scripps Networks, LLC. No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the U.S., age 21 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends at 5 p.m. ET on 2/19/20. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. For full official rules, prize disclosures, and to enter, visit www.HGTV.com. Main Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC d/b/a Home & Garden Television 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee 37932. Photos © 2019 Scripps Networks, LLC. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

BELGARD PROJECT SHOWCASE:
2019 HNA Project Award Winners

Each year in October, the Hardscape North America trade show honors the best paver and landscape wall designs in the nation with their HNA Project Awards. Battling against a record number of award entries in 18 categories of residential and commercial hardscape design, Belgard projects garnered an impressive 13 honors at this year’s award ceremony. Belgard was particularly honored to sweep all awards in both the residential and commercial porcelain paver categories.

RESIDENTIAL PROJECT AWARDS

Porcelain Paver (Winner): Lotz Residence – Irvine, CA
  • Porcelain Pavers of Lotz Residence - Irvine, CA
  • Porcelain Paver Water Element of Lotz Residence - Irvine, CA
  • Porcelain Paver Driveway of Lotz Residence - Irvine, CA
  • Porcelain Paver Patio of Lotz Residence - Irvine, CA
  • Porcelain Paver Pool Deck of Lotz Residence - Irvine, CA
  • Porcelain Paver Walkway of Lotz Residence - Irvine, CA
  • Porcelain Paver Fire Element of Lotz Residence - Irvine, CA
  • Contractor: Richard Lusk Landscape & Design – Newport Coast, CA
  • Designer: Aaron Sevilla
Porcelain Paver (HM): Otero Hinckley Project – Hinkckly, OH
  • Porcelain Paver Tiles
  • Porcelain Pavers
  • Indoor Porcelain Paver Tiles
  • Kitchen Pavers
  • Porcelain Paver Tiles
  • Indoor Pool Pavers Porcelain Tiles
  • Contractor: Otero Signature Homes – Chagrin Falls, OH
  • Designer: Ted Otero
Combination of Hardscape Products – under 4,000 SF (Winner): Rustic Paradise – Omaha, NE
  • Backyard Pavers Rustic Paradise in Omaha, NE
  • Rustic Paver Patio Rustic Paradise in Omaha, NE
  • Retaining Wall Blocks Column Rustic Paradise in Omaha, NE
  • Belgard Pavers Fire Element
  • Backyard Hardscapes Pavers Rustic Paradise in Omaha, NE
  • Rustic Backyard Patio Paver Ideas
  • Contractor: Executive Outdoor Living, LLC – Omaha, NE
  • Designer: Jake Johnson
Concrete Paver – over 3,000 SF (Winner): Tuscan Retreat – Timnath, CO
  • Concrete Paver Project of Tuscan Retreat in Timnath, CO
  • Concrete Pavers of Tuscan Retreat in Timnath, CO
  • Outdoor Living Space Pavers of Tuscan Retreat in Timnath, CO
  • Belgard Pavers of Tuscan Retreat in Timnath, CO
  • Contractor: Lindgren Landscape – Fort Collins, CO
  • Designer: Georgia Perry
Concrete Paver – under 3,000 SF (HM): Poolside Retreat – Bennington, NE
  • Concrete Paver Ideas of Poolside Retreat in Bennington, NE
  • Concrete Pool Deck Pavers
  • Pool Deck Pavers
  • Retaining Wall Pavers of Poolside Retreat in Bennington, NE
  • Paver Patio Backyard Design Ideas of Poolside Retreat in Bennington, NE
  • Paver Patio Pool Deck Design Ideas of Poolside Retreat in Bennington, NE
  • Pool Coping Pavers
  • Contractor: Executive Outdoor Living, LLC – Omaha, NE
  • Designer: Susan Gregory – Executive Outdoor Living, LLC
Outdoor Living Features (HM): Backyard Entertainment Venue – Kingman, AZ
  • Pool Paver Design Ideas
  • Outdoor Living Features of a Backyard Entertainment Venue in Kingman, AZ
  • Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas
  • Unique Paver Design Ideas
  • Outdoor Pool Patio Paver Design of a Backyard Entertainment Venue in Kingman, AZ
  • Outdoor Living Space Design of a Backyard Entertainment Venue in Kingman, AZ
  • Pool Deck Patio Paver Ideas
  • Contractor: Innovative Stoneworks & Landscaping – Kingman, AZ
  • Designer: Kevin Wilkerson
Combination of Hardscape Products – over 4,000 SF (HM): Desert Highlands – Scottsdale, AZ
  • Hardscape Products of Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Hardscape Patio Pavers of Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Belgard Patio Pavers of Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Living Space Design of Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Hardscape Paver Products of Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Paver Patio Design of Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Paver Pool Deck Design of Desert Highlands in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Contractor: G&T Custom Homes – Scottsdale, AZ
  • Designers: Lynn Tenney and Kori Tichenor

COMMERCIAL PROJECT AWARDS

Porcelain Pavers (Winner): 30 E. Huron – Chicago, IL
  • Porcelain Pavers 30 E. Huron - Chicago, IL
  • Porcelain Paver Design 30 E. Huron - Chicago, IL
  • Porcelain Paver Tiles
  • Porcelain Paver Tile Design
  • Porcelain Patio Pavers 30 E. Huron - Chicago, IL
  • Contractor: TOPIARIUS – Chicago, IL
  • Designer: Delph Gustitus
Porcelain Pavers (HM): Sky Harbor Towers – Phoenix, AZ
  • Porcelain Pavers at Sky Harbor Towers in Phoenix, AZ
  • Belgard Porcelain Pavers at Sky Harbor Towers in Phoenix, AZ
  • Belgard Hardscapes and Pavers at Sky Harbor Towers in Phoenix, AZ
  • Porcelain Paver Walkway at Sky Harbor Towers in Phoenix, AZ
  • Outdoor Porcelain Paver Tiles at Sky Harbor Towers in Phoenix, AZ
  • Contractor: Re-Create Companies – Phoenix, AZ
  • Designer: Sharon Miller
Combination of Hardscape Products (Winner): SkyDeck at the Gatlinburg Sky Lift – Gatlinburg, TN
  • Combination of Hardscape Products for SkyDeck at the Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Gatlinburg, TN
  • Gatlinburg Sky Lift SkyDeck Hardscapes Pavers
  • Belgard Pavers Hardscape Products for SkyDeck at the Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Gatlinburg, TN
  • Retaining Wall Pavers Hardscape Products for SkyDeck at the Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Gatlinburg, TN
  • Paver Hardscape Products for SkyDeck at the Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Gatlinburg, TN
  • Contractor: Hickory Hardscapes – Knoxville, TN
Concrete Pavers – under 15,000 SF (HM): Phoenix Corporate Center – Phoenix, AZ
  • Concrete Pavers - Phoenix Corporate Center - Phoenix, AZ
  • Belgard Concrete Pavers - Phoenix Corporate Center - Phoenix, AZ
  • Decorative Concrete Pavers - Phoenix Corporate Center - Phoenix, AZ
  • Phoenix Corporate Center Concrete Pavers
  • Design Concrete Pavers - Phoenix Corporate Center - Phoenix, AZ
  • Phoenix Corporate Center Paver Design
  • Contractor: European Pavers Southwest Inc – Phoenix, AZ
Segmental Retaining Walls (Winner): Encore Dealership – Mobile, AL
  • Segmental Retaining Walls for Encore Dealership - Mobile, AL
  • Segmental Retaining Walls for Encore Dealership - Mobile, AL
  • Commercial Retaining Wall Blocks
  • Encore Dealership Retaining Wall Installation
  • Building a Commercial Retaining Wall
  • Installation Commercial Retaining Wall
  • Encore Dealership Retaining Wall Building
  • Contractor: Synergy Earth Systems LLC – Daphne, AL
  • Designer: Synergy Earth Systems LLC
Segmental Retaining Walls (HM): FedEx Ground Distribution Hub – Middletown, CT
  • Segmental Retaining Walls at FedEx Ground Distribution Hub - Middletown, CT
  • Large Retaining Wall Pavers
  • Fedex Shipping Center Retaining Wall
  • Fedex Shipping Center Retaining Walls
  • Fedex Shipping Center Retaining Wall Blocks
  • Contractor: Earth Retention Systems – Danielson, CT
  • Designer: Advantage Engineers, LLC

Enviable Outdoor Living Room Designs

The difference between a simple patio and an “outdoor living room” is in the details. Think in terms of visually recreating an interior space outdoors. These five unique outdoor living rooms utilize a variety of interior design concepts while taking advantage of the outdoor venue. By incorporating some of these ideas, you can create an enviable outdoor living room that will have the Joneses wanting to keep up with you.

Cozy Retreat

Cozy Outdoor Living Room Designs
Mirroring a classic indoor living room design, the outdoor fireplace serves as the focal point of this outdoor living room and includes a nearby bar for serving guests. Privacy fencing provides a backdrop to make it feel more intimate. Tropical plants, textured pavers, water features and an additional fire feature work together to add an exotic quality.

Villa Veranda

Villa Veranda Outdoor Living Room Designs
This Mediterranean-style home uses a mixed-material design to visually define the living room area of the outdoor space. Vibrant color blocks in the paver design help reinforce this by creating the look of an oversized area rug. The fire pit design incorporates an extra-wide wall cap, allowing it to also function as the coffee table of the furniture grouping.

Entertainment Mecca

Fireplace Outdoor Living Room Designs
A terraced design divides this outdoor living room into separate entertainment zones. The upper level offers an intimate conversation area with furniture facing the fireplace. The lower level features a stunning waterfall fire feature that serves as the base for a weatherproof outdoor TV. The expansive patio area surrounding the fire feature allows for multiple furniture groupings, perfect for movie nights or backyard tailgating.

Light and Airy

Outdoor Back Deck Living Room Designs
Outdoor lighting design plays a major role in this relaxing outdoor living room. An oversized fire pit, uplights, edison-style string lights and lanterns all add to the ambiance. Attractive pendant lights hang over the seating area to add additional illumination and create the aesthetic of an interior room. A faux rug paver design reinforces the living room concept.

Terraced Sitting Rooms

Enviable Outdoor Terrace Living Room Designs
This multi-level terrace design creates the look and functionality of multiple sitting rooms. Utilizing retaining walls to convert a sloped backyard into usable entertainment space, the design incorporates a contemporary paver pattern to mimic the look of interior carpeting. Contrasting paver banding and landscape walls create visual separation between each distinct sitting room. Wall caps mirror the color of the banding to tie the look together.

For more outdoor living room design ideas, visit our Stylish Roomscapes Pinterest board.