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By Roelf Nel

Enhance your backyard with a fire pit

Many people want to be able to utilise their backyard space year round. They want to be able to enjoy all of the benefits of having a nice patio or deck and have a comfortable living space created. Many are turning to putting a fire pit in their backyards to enjoy this space all year round.

A fire pit can make an attractive and functional addition to a backyard space. When designing your patio is a good time to include the fire pit.

Typically, the patio and fire pit are concrete with the same design work featured in both the patio and fire pit. This is a great idea to make a very sturdy and functioning fireplace that matches the entire patio.

There are other types of fire pits as well. A pit is generally one that is circular and open. A Chimeneas is a type of fire pit that is enclosed and has a chimney. Some people prefer this type of pit as it cuts down on ash that is blown around since it is enclosed; children also can’t get to the fire as easily.

A traditional fire pit is open but a screen is optional to close it preventing ash from flying. This type of fireplace has tall sides made to sit on by designing benches around the pit.

Some of the fire pits that are on the market today are portable. This is ideal if you want to move your fireplace around your yard. This makes the pit very versatile and useful.

Make a traditional fire pit by digging a circular hole and then placing stones around it. This may seem practical for camping but may not be the best choice in a backyard where there may be pets and small children that will inevitably trip and fall into the fire or stones.

Families have learned that once they install a fire pit, backyard entertainment takes on a new dimension. There are many occasions for gathering around an open fire and adds new possibilities to your outdoor entertainment.

Visit the Pinterest board and get some great ideas on different styles and designs of fire pits.

By Roelf Nel

What’s the Best Landscape Design Idea

A year-round interest is necessary when considering your landscape design ideas. Every landscaping architect and professional will tell you that your yard should have plants, trees, or any element that would make it alive for the whole year. Have a plan for choosing plants and trees. Select for a good structure that will survive during winter, fall foliage in autumn, and shrubs and/or flowering trees in spring and summer.

Do not forget the evergreens. Now that you have trees and plants for the whole year, focus your attention to evergreens. Evergreens provide continuity and add colour and life to your yard. They also give balance to the yard with tall trees and plants. Evergreens are also a winter interest.

Use layering. There is a common way to layer your planting beds using three rows. The first row or the front row is composed of your shortest plants, the middle row has the next tallest plants, and the third row or the back row has the plants trees. You can apply this throughout the design of your yard to provide unity.

Add foliage. Flowers are a great additional to the life of your yard. Diversity is the key to making your landscape design become appealing. Evergreens may offer flowers that offer a heap of colour and texture to your landscape design, but not all evergreens can do that. Select a diversity of flowers for all 4 seasons.

Incorporate other features to your landscape design. Although trees, plants, evergreens, shrubs, and grasses are an essential element of a landscape design, do not disregard the benefit that other elements such as fences can give. What is a painting without a good frame? Fences frame your property; they highlight and provide a design statement not only to your yard but also to your house. Well-decorated walls, gazebos, decks, and patios are also important to highlight your landscape design.

Add the element of water. A good landscape design must have a focal point. The hottest trend today is the use of water as the focal point of a landscape design. Not only it is visually appealing, but also water emits a soothing sound. Installing one is easier that you think. There are durable pumps, pre-formed plastic liners, fountains, and flexible tubing you can buy from any hardware store. You can also adapt a small fountain or pond with fishes.

Keep the maintenance low. You may have good trees, plants, evergreens, and water elements, but still not be happy with what you have in your yard. A beautiful garden needs to a low maintenance plan. Keeping your yard in its tip-top appearing is costly and time-consuming if you did not consider it before you start building your landscape design. Make sure that you plan a design that is for low-maintenance, but still, appears stunning and pleasing to the eye.

Visit our Landscaping Board and get some ideas on how to create a beautiful yard.

By Roelf Nel

An Outdoor Fountain adds serenity with a touch of art to your home design

Outdoor fountains are simply a wonderful way to enjoy the mixture of natural beauty and man-made perfection, all in one simple package. Listening to the beautiful sound of the water flowing from a fountain, a feeling of calmness washes over you. Serenity is your friend, even in the most hectic places, so long as you have an outdoor fountain nestled close to your home. Whether you choose to place your fountain in the front yard or the backyard, this piece of art and nature can fit into any home design – from the most classic to the ultra-modern to the quaint cottage style.

Classical homes are perfect for the beauty of the outdoor fountain. Between the elegant landscaping and the overwhelming majesty of the home, there is room for an outdoor fountain of any size. While you should not purchase a fountain that is too large for your home, a classical house demands a classical fountain designed from old world materials like slate, marble or ceramic. If these materials are too expensive, consider looking at a fiberglass model which has the same look and feel of a slate or marble fountain. The classic cascade of a stylish waterfall fountain is preferable for any classically styled home and generally not to be substituted for any other styles.

Modern homes can also present excellent options for outdoor fountains. Generally made from stone, glass, or any type of metal, a modern fountain should generally blend in with the rectangular feel of a standard modern home. From large to small, an outdoor fountain of modern design will be able to deliver the serene sound of flowing water with the hip, urban look of a high-tech home.

Generally, cottage style homes have fountains that are smaller in scale. These fountains are constructed of marble or some other type of stone. Usually adorned with one or two tiers to allow the water to flow gracefully, the cottage style outdoor fountain is a perfect addition to any garden or patio.

Adding Fountain Statutes to your existing pond or pool is an excellent way to combine art with the tranquillity of water flowing. As far as serenity and aesthetics go, the pond fountain statue is a top-notch combination of both and is an excellent choice no matter how your home is styled. Available in two distinct styles, chances are you will be able to find a pond fountain statue that will not only match your home’s style but also your own tastes and preferences.

The first common fountain statue style is that where the fountain integrates seamlessly with your existing pool or pond. You will simply buy a statue that doubles as a fountain that will be able to draw its water from an existing source. In the case of this first type, that source is your existing pond. These types of pond statue designs are available in a variety of materials including stone, ceramic, and certain metals. You simply place the pond fountain statue in the water so the fountain’s hose can draw water from the pond or pool and then allow the fountain to go to work creating a beautiful display to accent your existing pond.

Alternatively, you can purchase a pond fountain statue that essentially draws water from its own pond. These are much larger than the first type of fountain, mainly because they contain a large basin at their base that acts as a storage area for the water. There may be a bit of assembly required, but these types of pond statue are generally easy to install. Simply place it where you desire and add some water to the basin. For the most part, you can purchase the freestanding type of fountain statuaries in a variety of different materials, including stone, metal and tile or ceramic.

No matter what your home design is, adding a fountain into the design introduces tranquillity and serenity into your space.

Visit our Water Features Pinterest Board and get some inspiring ideas on how to create a tranquil environment.

By Roelf Nel

Extend your outdoor living using a Patio Awning

For outdoor enjoyment at home, there are few things better than a patio. Originally designed as an enclosed open-air court within a home, the modern patio has evolved to become a paved section in the backyard area of a home. While this feature can be enjoyed in pleasant weather, direct sunlight or rainy days can lessen the usefulness of this extra “room” in your dwelling.

Adding an overhanging awning to your patio can have many pleasant effects. In bright daylight, a patio awning will provide a cooling shade to enjoy the day in. During rainy weather, it will protect you and your patio furniture from the water and allow greater usage.

Because an awning does not have vertical pole supports to brace the frame from the ground, most patio awning materials are of a strong but lightweight construction.

There are several styles of patio awnings you can obtain to cover your outdoor living room. A permanent covering can be attached to the framework of your patio awning if you desire. Several types of retractable awnings are available to give one the choice of shade or sunshine while the patio is in use.

There are two basic designs for retractable awnings. A motorized version can give you the option of having the awning shade rolled up via pulleys within the lateral arms and this removed from view but still have the side braces extended. Other motorized retractable awnings will simply raise the awning screen up to lay flat against the building wall.

One of the best advantages to the manual crank retractable awning is that the amount of retraction can be modified easily and different effects can be obtained. Since manual crank retractable awnings are generally designed to roll up into a protective tube, they have a greater effective life-span than motorized fold away awnings.

Whether you install a hand cranked patio awning or one that is motorized, the awning can be either folded back against the side of the house or rolled up in a protective tube covering which will more effectively protect the material from pooled water or high winds.

While the most common material used to create a patio awning is canvas, there are several types of plastic fibre coverings that can be obtained that provide either total opacity or a translucent material which will allow a diffuse light through to soften the sunlight. While there are some patio awnings made of aluminium, they are not as versatile and are usually built onto the home as a permanent fixture.

Visit our Outdoor Living Pinterest board to get some great ideas on creating a shaded patio.

 

By Roelf Nel

The Vital Principles of Landscape Design

 

Landscape Design is not a new idea. Almost everyone who owns a home would care to beautify it. However, the task can be a daunting one especially if you have inadequate knowledge of the principles of landscape design. You will need the skills and information on how to go about landscaping to create a welcoming outdoors retreat.

Landscaping is not an easy task and therefore you’ve got to arm yourself of the necessary know-how of the principles of landscape design. It does not matter whether you plan to create your own landscape design or you wish to copy the already existing ones from magazines or brochures. What is important is you incorporate its principles.

Getting a grasp of the principles of landscape design only serves as an aid for you so that you could come up with the creative ideas. A great landscape is always appreciated by the eyes of its maker. And that is you. If you see the beauty of your creation then so be it. Below are the important principles of design that you need to be aware of.

Unity. This is one of the main goals of landscaping. This is further referred to as repetition and consistency. Repetition is created by repeating the nature elements like those of the plants, décor, and other plant groups throughout all of the landscape. Consistency creates unity when all of the used elements fit together to make up a whole. Unity is further achieved by the combination of texture, height, colour schemes, and size of the employed elements thereby harmony is created.

Simplicity. This is a very integral principle of landscape design. The themes need to be simple so that beauty would be achieved. Do not employ an over decorated landscape design.

Balance. This refers to equality in every element employed therein. There are two categories of balance in the principles of landscape design. They are symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance means the matching elements used must be spaced equally whereas asymmetrical balance means that the variations of elements are allowed but they must be able to create differing attractions.

Colour. This is what gives life to the landscape. The neutral colours are best to be used for the background of the bright colours. Colour is able to direct the attention of one to the landscape design.

Natural transition. It means a gradual change that may be ascending or descending. It needs to be employed in the colours, sizes, texture, and the likes.

Lines. They do suggest meanings and emotions. The lines used in the entryways, way beds and walkways are suggestive of flowing or abrupt effects.

Proportion. This means the relation of the size of all the elements with one another.

Repetition. This is mainly related to the principle of unity. When properly done, a diversified dose of expression is created.

Never take it negatively—the principles of landscape design are your guide so never treat them as if they are very strict rules. Good luck to your landscape design endeavour!

Get some more landscape design ideas visiting our Pinterest Board.

By Roelf Nel

Outdoor Entertainment Ideas

The great South African weather encourages homeowners to extend their living area to the outdoors. 

Ways to create an outdoor living area

  1. Have your interior living room flow into the outdoors using large cantilever doors that opens up onto the deck.
  2. Use flooring that compliments or matches the indoors that creates a natural extension of space.
  3. Use furniture and accessories that match or compliments your indoors.
  4. Create a mediterranean feel with climbing vines and exposed beams giving an enchanting setting for an outdoor area.
  5. Use vintage textiles scattered on an outdoor daybed to create a relaxing, tranquil space to enjoy Autumn.
  6. Bright coloured scatter cushions like pinks, and greens add a great contrast to white outdoor furnishings.
  7. Create a pit fire place as a gathering point for weekend evenings sipping on wine and chatting with friends.

Create a space which is relaxing and takes the edge off the week without having to dash to the mountains every weekend.  Imagine sinking into your comfortable couch on a Saturday afternoon with your favourite sundowner.  The atmosphere is peaceful, you kick your shoes off with a sigh. This is your back garden which you converted into your private sanctuary. Life is great!

Follow Buildforce’s board Outdoor living space on Pinterest.

By Roelf Nel

Stylish Interior Doors

Interior doors offer you a design opportunity to enhance the look and feel of your room.  There are so many options you can consider from creating an elegant dining area, to a sophisticated lounge or a fun room for your kids.

Add style and beauty to your room design by using a modern interior door.  Simple and creative door decorating ideas, like paint, wallpaper, ornaments or crafts decorations make interior doors look unique and attractive, bringing more color and decorative accents to room design.

Ideas for selecting interior doors

  • Using glass panels in your doors can enhance brightness into your home and have natural light flowing into the room. Glass doors not only creates more light in your home, but offers a sense of space.  Where privacy is important, the use of frosted or obscure panels offers a perfect solution.
  • When selecting doors for your main living area, consider pairing the style of the exterior doors with your interior doors to create a more harmonious flow and feel to your home.
  • When selected your interior door, consider the overall architectural and décor of your home so that the doors you select complements this style.
  • Consider opening up your living area by adding in bi-fold doors or sliding doors.
  • If you live in a contemporary home, flush doors, like a veneer finish provides a sleek, minimal finish. To create more depth, you might consider a paneled door.
  • If you are wanting to create a retreat in your home a sound proof door helps keep your sanctuary peaceful.

Follow Buildforce’s board Interior Doors on Pinterest.

By Roelf Nel

GO GREEN AND HARVEST RAIN WATER

Today there is a huge emphasis on going green. Whether it’s recycling, being aware of using natural products, eating organic food and so the list goes on. One way of going green on your property is to consider harvesting rain water.

A few benefits of harvesting rain water includes:

  • It’s better for the Environment: The more water we can leave in the ground, the better for the planet.
  • Create Your Own Private Reserve: When the local municipality works on the water main, you don’t have to worry about the water supply that gets shut off.  You will have water on hand stored in your rain water tanks or rain barrels.
  • Plants Respond Better to Rainwater: Rainwater has been proven to grow stronger and healthier plants than those hydrated with municipal water. Usually the water from the municipal supply has been treated with filters and chemicals to make the water ‘safer’ for humans to consume. This makes it worse for plants.
  • Reduce Your Risk of Flooding: If you live in a particularly rainy part of the country, your property is at perpetual risk of flooding. The water supply gets backed up as the rainwater gushes into it. The ground can only absorb so much water before it gets water clogged. Your house will be at risk to structural damage by overflowing gutters. By collecting rainwater in rainwater tanks, you keep your gutters flowing properly, and you reduce the risk of over-saturation on your property.

There are different options to consider when implementing a rain harvesting system:
1. Above the ground tank: This is a tank that can be hidden anywhere in your garden. Rain water is collected from the roof and channelled into the underground pipes that lead to the tank.
2. Under the ground tank: Water is collected from the roof and is channelled into the underground pipes, but the water tank is under the ground. This is perfect for homes with small gardens or if you want your tank to be hidden out of sight.

Why not go green and harvest rain water, not only doing your part in contributing to the environment, but creating a home that inspires your friends and neighbours?

Follow Buildforce’s board Harvest Rain Water on Pinterest.

By Roelf Nel

The New Old – Porch Designs

Whether you’re dreaming of a modest retreat where you can connect with nature or an elaborate space built for serious outdoor entertaining, there’s a verandah to fit your home, lifestyle and budget. Verandah’s can be built in nearly any shape, size, colour or pattern you can imagine. It’s a place where you can seek peace and quiet, have fun with the kids, welcome and chat with neighbours, or have a simple breath of fresh air. It’s truly another extension of family life. Before you start pouring concrete or laying pavers, learn the basics of a well-built verandah, then discover the latest trends in flooring, lighting, furniture and more.

Verandahs don’t have to be constructed of cement or stone. Other building materials include classic wood, natural slate, sandstone, granite, brick, a wood composite and even porcelain.  In addition to traditional pine or cedar floors an increasingly popular choice is ipe, a Brazilian hardwood that is an incredibly strong wood, resistant to insects, rot and mold. Ipe is moderately priced, however, installation can be more expensive than other wood floors, because it’s more time-consuming given the very dense wood, which requires pre-drilling.

Although choices seem endless, concrete is the most common and surprisingly still the most versatile flooring option. Poured concrete can be shaped into just about any pattern and colour. It can be swirled and scored, tinted a subtle or bold colour like red and blue, shaped into patterns or even formed into stone-like shapes.

You may be thinking what about pavers? Interlocking paver stones have been gaining a fan base in recent years. They are four times stronger than concrete and easy to remove and replace should something go wrong underneath the verandah, like a burst pipe, offering a good low maintenance option.

Most people think of a verandah as a strictly outdoor space, perhaps with an umbrella table set up for shade. But you can always add extra protection from the elements with a retractable awning, canopy or going all out by adding a patio sunroom. Depending on your budget and space, your options are virtually endless when it comes to outfitting your patio. You may consider a fireplace, a water fountain or an outdoor bar. Seat walls are currently a functional and artistic trend for verandahs. Look for furniture with cushions that resist moisture and mildew. A lot of chairs, sofas and tables these days have non-rusting aluminum frames that resemble wood and wicker but are much more weather-friendly.

These top five accessories are worth consideration:

  • A large piece of outdoor art, hung above the sitting area.
  • A new outdoor rug to finish off the look of comfortable, stylish living space.
  • Bright outdoor pillows that pop against neutral furniture.
  • Twin urns on either side of the steps, filled with seasonal plantings. Fabulous-looking urns will draw visitors into the space from the outside, and outside to the verandah from the house.
  • Curtains made from outdoor fabric can be drawn to block afternoon sun or pulled back and tied for a homey look.
  • Coloured potted plants add life and creates and enhances your personal space.

When choosing lights for your verandah, think about purpose. Path lights can safely lead the way from a verandah to a driveway, uplights can highlight landscape focal points or architectural features and specialty lights, such as rope lights, torches and lanterns, can add ambiance. Remember, it’s no longer the old style black plastic lights, but the copper lantern with stained glass that’s hanging on a shepherd’s hook instead.

A right combination of lights will make your verandah safe and inviting. Bright standard-voltage lights can ward off possible intruders at night, while low-voltage lights provide a soft glow for entertaining, plus they’re easier on your electric bill. Investing in energy efficient bulbs is another great way to cut down on lighting costs in the long run.

Remember, verandah memories are the kind we keep forever. Have fun in yours.

Visit our Pinterest board and get inspired by what others have created.

By Roelf Nel

Design Trends for your Backyard

Home is the only place in which we can find the complete comfort that we need, relax our minds and refresh our bodies after working for long hours. Gone are the days when people only ventured into the backyard to water the plants or clean up after the dog. Today, homeowners see their yard as an extension of the inside of their home, and they are increasingly willing to spend money on converting their backyards into comfortable living spaces if it means they can spend more time there. Homeowners, now more than ever, are looking to incorporate indoor elements into their backyard designs. In fact, functional outdoor living spaces have gone from a luxurious comfort to a must-have in today’s homes.

The style now is to turn this space into another charming place which is more appealing and enticing not just for you and your family, but also for your friends and guests who come to visit you. There are simple and inspired design ideas that are presented for the next year to transform backyards into an incredible place that allows you to enjoy your time at your home. Here is a quick glance at some modern outdoor living trends to help you to freshen your backyard.

  1. After working hard or laying out in the sun, it’s best to hit the shower—the outdoor shower, that is! Outdoor showers have been around for years, but this year they’re back in the spotlight for their sheer convenience and accessible luxury. Less maintenance than a pool and more versatile too, the outdoor shower lets you cool down, enjoying the summer sun all the while soaking in the peace and tranquility of your surroundings.
  2. Homeowners have always sought to live in harmony with nature. But whereas the trend used to be toward bringing the outdoors in, many today are doing the opposite, taking the “indoor” comforts onto the deck, porch, or patio. Thanks to advances in all-weather materials, furniture and accessories are now available in so many shapes, sizes, and styles, you can decorate outdoor living spaces in much the same way that you would any room in the home.
  3. To officially kick off outdoor entertaining season, update your outdoor space with a fire pit. The right fire pit can serve not only as a potential focal point for your outdoor space, but it also creates a warm, cozy ambiance, adds lights, provides an adequate cooking source, or even a be just the right spot for a romantic dinner.
  4. Having a simple grill in the yard is soooo last year. Full-blown kitchens with a grill built-in as well as spaces for prep, seating, and keeping drinks cold comprise today’s must-have space. Estate agents agree that people don’t build homes without summer kitchens anymore. Built-in braai grills, refrigerators, even icemakers. Perhaps even an outdoor pizza ovens – not a feature everyone will want, but in line with the trend of personalising outdoor spaces to meet individual lifestyle needs.

Visit our Pinterest Board and get inspired by some of the awesome ideas we have discovered.  How will you convert your backyard into a luxurious space and enjoy the summer evenings?

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Enhance your backyard with a fire pit
What’s the Best Landscape Design Idea
An Outdoor Fountain adds serenity with a touch of art to your home design
Extend your outdoor living using a Patio Awning
The Vital Principles of Landscape Design
Outdoor Entertainment Ideas
Stylish Interior Doors
GO GREEN AND HARVEST RAIN WATER
The New Old – Porch Designs
Design Trends for your Backyard