Belgard recently announced Belgard Rooms, which offers templated outdoor living design plans. For in-depth insight into Rooms, Landscape Business recently spoke with Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes, Belgard.
Landscape Business (LB): Belgard Rooms seems to take outdoor living in a more defined direction with very distinct areas clearly delineated for their respective purposes – yet still tied together in concept via the features and materials being used. What was the impetus for Rooms, and/or what trends are you seeing in outdoor living that have led to this desire on the part of the homeowner to have well-defined structure of traditionally interior “rooms” in their outside living situation?
Raboine: This year more than ever, we’ve seen homeowners shift their focus from having spaces to entertain to making their homes more functional. With the increased time spent at home, outdoor spaces have become a haven for both recreation and relaxation, as well as a valuable asset when it’s time to resell. With Belgard Rooms, homeowners can create an outdoor “oasis” for themselves and their families, while keeping it in the same style as the remainder of their home.
Essentially, with Rooms, we are hoping to simplify the entire sales and design process, and offer solutions that maximize the design potential of our products. Rooms allows contractors the option to offer homeowners a templated design that can be further customized to fit their needs and design style, meaning contractors need less time for the design and installation process, and homeowners are able to enjoy their outdoor space sooner.
LB: How will shape, color and texture help delineate the various outdoor “Rooms,” while at the same time tying the client’s outdoor living areas together in a cohesive plan?
Raboine: We know that after the design itself, color and texture are the next most important considerations homeowners must work through. Rooms simplifies that process, by pairing color, texture and shapes in combinations that are brought to life vividly through our renders and animations. Belgard Rooms’ designs will be categorized by our Collections and home styles – Environmental, Heritage, Legacy, Metropolitan, Natural and Porcelain. With this variety of options, contractors will be able to work with homeowners to find a style to complement their home’s existing design.
We also know how popular shapes, specifically clean geometric patterns, have become in terms of overall home and outdoor design. With Belgard Rooms, contractors are able to offer homeowners a templated design, but then further customize paver styles and colors to create any shape and pattern they desire.
LB: What features and styles will define Belgard Rooms?
Raboine: Rooms will initially be divided up by overall shapes, which will fall into several categories – Modular, Curvilinear, Angular and Entangled. From there, consumers will be able to refine their search by Room type, style, features, and overall size. Think of it much like you would when searching for a home plan – you start with the overall layout, then continue to add features, and eventually finishes (like color and textures).
Modularity will be key, along with simplistic designs and neutral color palettes. Belgard Rooms will allow contractors to offer homeowners a design that is both simple to achieve and customizable, so they can feel like the space if uniquely “theirs.” Modular products will make up many of the offerings in Belgard Rooms, which offers the uncluttered aesthetic many homeowners desire and makes installation simpler for the contractor. And sticking with the trend of the past year, we’re seeing neutral colors and geometric patterns remaining at the top of the trend list in 2021.
LB: Interior designs have trended more toward “open concept” and rooms that flow together in form and functionality with cooking, dining and living spaces blending more seamlessly with each other into open living spaces inside the home. The Rooms concept seems to segment the cooking, dining, living and entertaining spaces into smaller, more defined spaces. I assume this approach helps take the expanse of the outdoors and create more intimate spaces for the homeowner, but I’m wondering if you can speak more to that, and the overall mentality that goes into creating comfortable outdoor living environments.
Raboine: The open floor plan concept has been incredibly popular over the years. However, the pandemic appears to be shifting homeowners away from the open concept and toward defined rooms within their home. It’s become more important to have a place to “escape” or focus, especially as remote work continues. With Belgard Rooms, homeowners can add another “room” to their home – but one that combines the greatness of the outdoors with the amenities of their indoor living quarters, and where they can carry out a multitude of activities.
Once a homeowner has chosen their preferred Belgard Rooms design, they can have their contractors, via Belgard Design Studio, “stitch” their layout together. They will be able to choose the type of “stitching” they prefer – whether they choose to have the pavement be one monolithic field or keep each room segmented, as shown in the individual vignettes. The Rooms will still be intact, but the pavement can blend together, if they so choose.
LB: What advice do you have for landscape designers and landscape contractors when it comes to creating outdoor rooms that will meet – and exceed – the client’s expectations?
Raboine: As outdoor living has grown in popularity, it has also grown in complexity. People are using these spaces as full extensions of their homes on a daily basis, versus only on the weekend or to entertain guests. Because of that, it’s critical to understand their needs and design a space that will enhance their overall quality of life. Given all the possibilities, it can be difficult to narrow down the options and determine their style and budget. With Belgard Rooms, we are hoping to simplify that process. Our intent is to provide practical inspiration that can help both the homeowner and designer speed up the process. By including the materials list, dimensions, and visual sales tools, we can save everyone time, and ensure that our products are being designed to their fullest potential.
We also see Rooms giving contractors and landscape designers the opportunity to enhance connectivity through nature entanglement. Biophilic design is a trend we see gaining even more momentum, and Rooms will allow designers and contractors to create and customize spaces that flow with the natural landscape.
LB: 2020 has led to a rise in homeowners wanting to improve their outdoor living areas and achieve more functionality with their outdoor spaces. How is “Rooms” indicative of this year’s trends, and what is your outlook for how people will continue to evolve with respect to their expectations for their outdoor living spaces?
Raboine: Outdoor improvements saw a huge lift this year, and we believe this will continue into 2021 and beyond. 2020 has brought more perspective, and homeowners realize the importance of having functional spaces to accommodate their lifestyle. Homeowners will continue to seek out outdoor spaces that can be used for a variety of purposes – from work to remote schooling to relaxing and entertaining. Spending time outdoors has many physical and mental health benefits, and we expect outdoor living spaces to continue rising in popularity as we adjust to an “augmented” normal moving forward. Belgard Rooms offers a way to create a functional, beautiful outdoor living area that fits with a home’s existing design and can be enjoyed all year round.
LB: Is there anything we might not have touched upon that you would like our readers to know regarding Belgard Rooms or outdoor living trends in general?
Raboine: We truly believe we are still at the beginning of a tremendous opportunity with outdoor living. In order to effectively tap into that potential, collectively we must look at every possible way to streamline the sales, design, and installation process. Purchasing a finish ODL space is still fairly cumbersome for the homeowner, and we believe Rooms can help alleviate some of the frustration of the initial sales/design process, help our dealers and contractors order and install more quickly, and ultimately expand the opportunity for us all.
We also expect technology to play a bigger role in outdoor living spaces moving forward. As homeowners have utilized their spaces more in 2020, it has become necessary to integrate tech enhancements like WiFi, additional electrical outlets, lighting, heating and more to make spaces fully functional to carry out different activities.