One of the best ways to weather through the final stretch of winter chill is to simply "think spring". The first step is to let thoughts of your outdoor lifestyle preferences be a guiding force. You may find that today''s hardscaping products - interlocking pavers, wall systems and other components produced specifically for outdoor living - are compatible with your ideas for updating most areas around the exterior of your home for the upcoming seasons. Step two is to learn what new products are available from leading manufacturers and what styles and colors are in fashion.
We continue to see homeowners bringing more of their indoor lifestyles outside the home. This trend is evident with stylish patio cooking components, elaborate entertainment areas, exotic multi-level gardens, accent lighting, fountains, waterfalls, pergolas, and interesting artifacts incorporated into backyard environments. In front yards we observe interlocking paver driveways, decorative columns at entranceways, steps and stone-like facades. An interesting aspect of hardscaping is that the products are inspired by natural materials, elevated by sound architectural standards, and grounded in the principles of form follows function. And for that reason, they are made to provide years of trouble-free performance and a positive return on investment (aka ROI) especially when selling a home at a later time.
Staging a hardscape project can be a rewarding creative experience given the range of styles and colors in the market. When designing a patio, driveway or walkway, the pattern or other arrangements of the pavers or wall units can give the final outcome a grander aesthetic. For example, most homeowners don''t realize it, but larger pavers tend to make a small patio appear bigger just as larger tiles can have the same impact on inside rooms. Large-scale pavers continue to be in fashion this year. Among the larger-size pavers and products available from Cambridge - makers of Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec® and Cambridge Wall Systems - are Ledgestone 18 x 18 and 15 3/4" x 23 5/8" pavers, cast stone slabs, steps and stepping stones, which are also fully compatible with smaller shapes, some of which are sold separately and also found in design kits for a host of freestyle, random placements and running bond patterns.
This illusion can be intensified in the other ways that the pavers are laid. One way to do this is to lay down tiles in a diagonal 45-degree pattern with the widest part of the pattern facing the entrance side of the space; this creates the illusion of an even more expansive space. Another approach designers and contractors utilize is a running bond pattern with rectangular or square pavers. They place the widest part the paver perpendicular to the first view of the patio or outdoor room from the back of the house. The same design principle can be adapted to a driveway or narrow walkway.
Incorporating bandings and unique border treatments are also in vogue. This is accomplished with geometric patterns, grids or simply by installing double or triple borders that utilize one or more pavers of a different style or texture. The border should set off a contrast to the primary field of pavers. Contrasting bands are also a way to separate areas of pavement or to highlight features such as reflection ponds, spas, water features and kitchen spaces. For example, look into Cambridge Brick Alley Cast Stone or mix shapes from the Cambridge Ledgestone with border shapes from the Cambridge Renaissance Series or vice-versa. Cambridge also makes QuartzTec™, shell-colored pavers infused with black crystals that resemble real granite for accenting or in larger spaces. Many more options are available.
Although neutral, natural colors in blended shades remain on the Cambridge Best Seller
List, two more dramatic Cambridge blends were introduced this year - Montauk Blue and
Redrock Blend, which will also marry well with other blended colors to spice-up a laying pattern. These colors are available in shapes having either textured or smooth surfaces and in larger sizes. Samples are available at any Authorized Cambridge Distributor. To find the nearest distributor, go to CambridgePavers.com.
Circle and fan patterns are still found in larger paved areas, at entrances to driveways and at the bottoms of staircases, but the creativity has evolved where almost anything goes from the classics to more avant-garde. Cambridge Circle Design Kits - available in several styles and surfaces - provide ideal tools to create interesting treatments.
Choosing and integrating wall systems, columns and other outdoor living components and amenities are made easier knowing that manufacturers like Cambridge have coordinated styles and colors for you. An experienced hardscape contractor or landscape architect can inform you of all the latest trends, show you examples from their own project portfolios, and be your number one trusted partner - along with a leading manufacturer like Cambridge - to give you an outdoor space that''s dressed to the nines. You can also go online at CambridgePavers.com for a glimpse of hundreds of applications.
About the writer:
Charles H. Gamarekian is the Chairman/CEO of Cambridge Pavers Inc. He is one of the founders and a current board member of the Interlocking Pavement Institute. Organized in 1993, ICPI is the North American trade association representing the interlocking concrete paver industry and considered by peer associations around the world as the leader in development and dissemination of technical information for design professionals and contractors. Mr. Gamarekian is recognized worldwide as an expert in his field and is a frequent speaker on the proper installation of pavingstones, wallstones and many outdoor living products.