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This outdoor living space incorporates many of this year’s top 10 design trends, including Subterra® Stone permeable pavers, a centrally placed fire pit, downturned low-voltage hardscape and landscape lighting, and low-maintenance landscaping.
The results of the annual nationwide survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) indicated that concern for the environment appears to be driving the design trends of 2015, with eco-friendly or sustainable practices dominating the top 10 trends in this year’s survey. Here are the top 10 design trends reported by the survey, in order of popularity.
1. Native plants: Back in the 70s and 80s, it was typical to see lush green lawns and tropical plants in the gardens of dryer climates. Today’s homeowners, however, are choosing plants that more easily thrive in local conditions, without having to overtax the municipal water supply.
2. Drought-tolerant plants: Even in wetter climates, homeowners are choosing plants that require less water.
3. Edible gardens: With an edible garden, a homeowner can grow more of their own food, requiring the purchase of fewer food items at the grocery, and thus requiring less use of natural resources to get those foods to market.
4. Fire pits/fireplaces: Although not necessarily an avenue to help improve the environment, fire pits and fireplaces do offer a gathering spot where people can spend time together enjoying their outdoor environment.
Fire pits and fireplaces rank as the fourth most popular in overall outdoor living trends, but rank number one in terms of most popular design elements.
5. Low-maintenance landscapes: Today’s homeowners want to spend less time mowing, weeding, and watering their yards and more time enjoying them.
6. Permeable paving: Permeable pavers offer an attractive way to reduce flooding and improve the quality of local waterways by allowing stormwater to percolate through a graduated bed of aggregates into the ground below, removing pollutants in the process.
With permeable pavers, water infiltrates into the pavement system instead of running off.
7. Water-efficient irrigation: Multiple technologies exist that automatically sense the amount of water needed and help avoid unnecessary over-watering, thus conserving water use.
8. Rain gardens: Rain gardens offer an attractive, natural way to reduce the burden on urban and suburban sewer systems caused by stormwater runoff.
9. Lighting: Many of today’s outdoor lighting options include energy saving features, such as solar power, low-voltage output, or timers. The light fixtures themselves often incorporate design elements intended to reduce resulting light pollution.
10. Rainwater/graywater harvesting: Many municipalities now offer rain barrel programs to conserve outdoor water use. In addition, a permeable paver system can be designed to harvest and reuse rainwater for irrigation and graywater purposes.
A permeable interlocking concrete pavement (PICP) system can be designed to incorporate water harvesting and recycling.
The popularity of the outdoor kitchen is undeniable. In many areas in Orange County, California, kitchens are becoming a standard element of the home design in new construction, particularly in median level homes and above, and can range from a simple built-in grill to full-scale gourmet kitchens that rival in quality and scale to the indoor kitchen. In fact, it’s not unusual in today’s outdoor living culture to spend more money on the construction of the outdoor kitchen than the indoor kitchen, considering that all of the building materials and appliances need to be sturdy enough to survive outdoor conditions, including moisture, harsh sunlight, and a wide range of critters.
In the continued evolution of this developing phenomenon, here are a few of today’s hottest outdoor kitchen trends:
Outdoor entertaining is optimal for large groups because the very nature of the open setting allows for large numbers of people to gather without feeling crowded. However, entertaining large groups requires large amounts of food, which makes multiple cooking surfaces a must. Options can include both charcoal and gas grills, standard cooking burners, fryer burners, brick ovens, and even standard ovens. Many don’t consider including a brick oven due to the mistaken belief that brick ovens are only useful for cooking bread or pizza, however brick oven owners know that anything can be cooked in a brick oven that can be cooked in a standard oven. For brick oven recipe ideas, click here.
Outdoor kitchens with different functional zones allow for multiple cooking, prep, and entertaining activities to occur simultaneously. Today’s outdoor kitchens incorporate lots of counter space for food prep and serving, in addition to extra counter space for creating a communal environment so that the guests can visit with the hosts during food prep and cooking. One popular trend is to incorporate a multi-level counter top, with one level functioning as the prep area, and the higher level functioning as the serving surface or bar area.
In any kitchen, proper lighting is key to functionality. However, the modern outdoor kitchen needs to function as both a kitchen and an entertainment space. Popular lighting options include outdoor rated pendants, uplighting into the rafters, and under cabinet lights. Installing dimmer switches allows for brighter lighting during cooking and lower ambient light when the cooking is done. Also, low voltage lights installed directly onto the exterior of the cabinetry is a popular way to provide additional ambiance. Other trending lighting options include nearby fire features like outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and fire tables. For other outdoor lighting ideas, click here.
The modern family is accustomed to being constantly plugged in. Naturally, this trend has moved outdoors. The trendy outdoor kitchen is fully equipped with all of the comforts of the home’s interior, including comfortable furniture, outdoor rated audio speakers, televisions, fans, gas heaters, wi-fi, and retractable solar screens for shielding guest during sunnier times of day. Specialty outdoor appliances are also rising in popularity, like kegerators, wine refrigerators, and bar style roll-top beverage coolers.
Article by Belgard Hardscapes
Research shows that one of the top ways of increasing the value of your home is to boost your home’s curb appeal. Anything that can make a home stand out in a positive way will automatically increase the perceived value by others, but can also affect the homeowner’s own personal sense of fulfillment, creating value for the homeowner as well. Even simple changes can make a big difference. Dramatic changes can be a bit more costly, but can also pay bigger dividends in the long run.
A World of Color
One of the easiest ways to add character is to add color. Landscaping, whether do-it-yourself or professionally installed, is a quick and easy way to add curb appeal. The options are literally endless and can range from simple flower gardens to multidimensional vertical gardens. Pathways and walkways also add a charming element. The photo to the right shows a simple, yet colorful flower garden with a stone Anglia Edger border that coordinates with the Lafitt Rustic Slab pavers of the walkway. The clean lines and sweeping curve of the hardscapes combine with the tasteful flower selections to create an understated, elegant look. Other garden ideas that will boost your curb appeal include container gardens and built-in planters.
Show Your Personality
When guests arrive at your home, they should immediately get a sense of the type of person who lives there. Are you carefree or conservative? Whimsical or stylish? From clay pots to antique doorknobs, every element you choose can combine to illustrate your personal sense of style. The following image shows a home with a unique sense of curb appeal. All of the elements of the design combine to create an earthy feel, including the natural wood shutters and door, the stacked stone veneer, and the man-made creek. The eclectic plant and flower selections in the garden create a random look that appears both natural and manicured. The Bergerac pavers of the walkway and Celtik Wall of the steps both emulate stone textures that combine with the landscaping and architecture to create a country-cottage atmosphere.
Small Touches Can Make a Big Difference
The right accent item can go a long way in upgrading your curb appeal. The objective of using an accent piece is to create a focal point to your landscape design that will draw the eye and add dimension and character. This accent item doesn’t need to be grandiose, like a fountain or gazebo. Inexpensive ideas include building a stone mailbox, picket fence, or wooden arbor.
The outdoor kitchen craze continues to sweep the nation, and there’s no quicker way to build a stunning and durable outdoor kitchen than with the Belgard Elements Collection. Belgard Elements are modular outdoor kitchen and living room pieces that are built in a factory setting using Belgard pavers and retaining wall blocks, shipped in pieces on a pallet, and quickly installed on site with the use of a forklift. This quick and easy installation method saves time and money, allowing the construction of an outdoor kitchen in minutes or hours that would take days or weeks to build from scratch on site. This means fewer headaches and a shorter disruption of your daily life.
There are two styles available for outdoor kitchens, the first is the Bristol Series (shown above), which is constructed with tumbled Weston Stone® and trimmed with the flagstone look of Arbel® pavers. The combination of these hardscapes creates a striking look that blends well with any style of home or landscaping. The countertop is made of polished terrazzo, for a maintenance free surface that resists outdoor stains and cleans easily.
The Bristol Series is available in two color palettes: the warm earth tones of Gascony Tan or the cool gray tones of Cotswold Mist. There are a variety of pieces available within the series, including a grill island, brick oven, and a selection of straight and L-shaped kitchen pieces that can include accessories like sinks, burners, grills, appliances, and stainless drawers or cabinet doors. Accent low voltage hardscape lighting can also be installed prior to delivery.
For those who want to create a more expansive outdoor living space, the Bristol Series also includes modular living room pieces, including an outdoor fireplace with option hearth and wood boxes, as well as motorized water features. And because the Bristol series is constructed with Belgard Hardscapes, patios, garden walls, fire pits, and seat walls can be constructed with the same materials to create a cohesive outdoor living design.
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The Bordeaux Series is slightly smaller and more lightweight and is constructed with Lamina™ stacked-stone veneer. The smooth limestone finish of Cordova Stone™ is used both for trim accents and the countertop surface. The combination of rustic stacked-stone and beveled limestone creates a contemporary look that complements both rural and urban settings. The smaller footprint of the Bordeaux Series allows for installation in locations with tighter access.
The newest series in the Elements collection, the Bordeaux Series currently includes grill island and brick oven kitchen pieces. The grill island comes outfitted with a stainless gas grill and matching cabinet doors.
Living room pieces available in the Bordeaux Series include an outdoor fireplace and optional wood boxes. As with the kitchen pieces, the Bordeaux living room pieces offer a smaller footprint and height and are a more lightweight option than the Bristol Series. Both the Bristol and Bordeaux fireplaces can be constructed as gas-burning or wood-burning.
Belgard Elements are shipped in pieces on pallets and installed on-site with the help of a forklift. The site must have adequate access and be properly prepped to support the weight of these structures. Contact West Hills Masonry today to discuss more at your soonest convience.
Building a retaining wall is always a challenge. Fortunately, West Hills Masonry is highly skilled to help. No matter what the property layout, we can build a wall that is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing. The Mega-Tandem™ Mass Segmental Retaining Wall system can achieve your project’s structural goals, with the bonus of an enhanced aesthetic look of natural stone. It will last longer than your home and never go out of style.
Contact our family-owned company to discuss how we can help you with your block wall ideas. Thanks for reading!
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West Hills Masonry 109 Meadowcreek Rd Brea, CA 92821 Tel: (714) 519-5009
Orange County, CA
License # 920870
Driveways, Front Yard Remodels, Backyard Remodels, Block Walls, Outdoor Living, Patios, Walkways, Barbecues, Water Features, Fireplaces/ Fire Pits, Pool Remodels
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