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Luxurious Landscapes

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Some of the most cherished memories of time spent with loved ones center on gatherings by the fire, by the grill, or in the pool, all heightened by the naturally welcoming atmosphere. And while it is often said nowadays that it's nearly impossible to coax kids into enjoying the outdoors, many modern landscaping features create an undeniable draw for all ages: It's all about getting creative. An expert's opinion can help transform an area into a personalized entertainment destination for guests, family members or even solo relaxation.

While an all-neutral color palette is a typically trendy option for interior projects, outdoor designs are all about that complementary pop of color. After all, what is natural to that outside space includes a green and blue landscape, not to mention the rich pinks, purples and orange of sunrises and sunsets. Plants are an easy way to start experimenting with color, or they can bring out the hues in already-established manmade fixtures. Particularly, blue accessory additions look amazing next to a pool or water features.

"Blue-colored plants like flowers, perennials, annuals; blues and boulders accent each other and contrast each other very well. I try to use a lot of blue colors when I deal with boulders," says George Mihalchick, owner of Ponds By George. "If you want to do a little formal flair, you can use certain types of sculpted plants ... boxwoods will tend to formalize anything because they're so compact."

Mihalchick adds that the blue color of the boulders is both all-natural and native to Pennsylvania. Lichens or moss that grow on the rocks will not only enhance that effortlessly outdoorsy aesthetic, but also provide a lived-in look that is hard to replicate with synthetics.

Individuality is a key trend in walkways, patios, driveways and pool decks, too, which have been traditionally influenced by simple, clean styles. While major design factors include lifestyle and safety, such as slip-resistant materials near any water features, the rising popularity of home-renovation projects has encouraged people to both experiment with and expand their design preferences.

"The early 2000s witnessed a preference for earthy and irregular designs, which gradually gave way to gray and sharp aesthetics. Recently, there's been a slight resurgence in demand for more color and diversity in design, possibly influenced by the lifestyle changes brought on by COVID-19. This trend seems poised to continue into 2024," says Steve Abel, partner of Architectural Concrete Design.

However, that's not to neglect the stunning browns and beiges that an outdoor vibe would be nothing without. Josh Eberly of Marygrove Awnings has seen a resurgence of bold color accents for awnings as well, which can create a next-level deck that unites the calming and classic patterns and tones of an exterior with the vibrant colors of a landscape. One trick to obtaining a luxury look is to ensure that every fixture and detail harmonize beautifully, as if the separately acquired pieces belong together in a set.

"For awnings, when selecting a fabric, we still recommend a stripe pattern, which is a classic awning approach," Eberly advises. "For a more refined finish, a smaller, more subtle stripe pattern can really elevate the look. Our cafe fabric collection leans into that, with modern color palettes and subdued stripes."

Stunning aesthetics aren't exclusively created with colors and patterns: While those visual components will ensure a picturesque landscape, appealing to other senses achieves a richly layered kind of ambiance. Water features are an excellent choice for this reason, as a waterfall, fountain or pond help enhance a backyard with life and movement. The soothing sounds of the water harmonize with its movement, as well as attract birds for a personal wonderland.

At Ponds By George, each member of the household can get involved with picking out different colors and types of fish representative of their individual flair—an activity that kids particularly enjoy. Opportunities for customization don't end there, as a home with smaller children or pets might be better suited for a still-interactive pondless waterfall or an illuminated fountain.

"Lighting has really become sophisticated. You just use your phone and you can control the lighting, you can control your water flow," says Mihalchick. "The way technology is, you can do anything with your fingertips as far your lighting color in and out of the water, your lighting or your water speed if you're entertaining and you want that big 'wow!' factor. ... If you're just having a nice night, you want to relax a little bit with a cocktail, then you can turn it down."

Technological additions, like with everything else, are highly valued for efficient operation and top-tier beautification. While the contrast of a fire pit next to a water feature is a very popular option, lighting systems are a safer and easier to personalize element—and they can be easily integrated with almost anything.

"Features like our built-in LED lights, smart motor system, privacy screening and our adjustable pitch means you can use our system in nearly any situation, for any occasion. Combined with our wind sensor, these provide utility and protection for your awning," says Eberly.

After spending so much time inside during the pandemic, being surrounded by nature can help channel the Earth's natural healing and calming powers, with which many are still getting back in touch. This concept is often reflected in landscape designs, and can help guide what choices to make in regard to colors, materials and patterns.

"[Some homeowners] are drawn to unique patterns that evoke a sense of connection with the Earth, such as our exclusive rock skin joint patterns that replicate a fractured earth aesthetic or classic brick layouts," says Abel.

"Seamless textures are exceptional in their ability to complement and enhance the overall landscape, contributing to a cohesive and awe-inspiring outdoor environment."

While luxury is subjective, all of the latest trends epitomize fine-tuned customization. It has never been a more exciting time to discover the potential of how landscaping projects can elevate both one's home and one's life.

Architectural Concrete Design
Levittown, Pa. (866) 956-2818

Marygrove Awnings
Multiple locations
1 (800) 44-AWNINGS

Ponds By George
Southampton, Pa.
(215) 396-7500

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 24, Issue 2 (Luxury Living Spring 2024)
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