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2021 Outdoor Living Trends Forecast

by Belgard©

Looking ahead into 2021, we see some new outdoor living trends emerging. Much of this movement has been influenced by the rapid cultural shifts in lifestyle caused by the pandemic. As more homeowners begin to think of their outdoor living spaces as an extension of their interior spaces (and not just a place to barbecue or watch the kids play), interior design trends continue to have a major impact on look and functionality. Here’s how Belgard predicts outdoor living to further evolve in 2021.

Large Scale Outdoor Living Projects are the New Norm

Over recent years, there has been a shift to creating outdoor areas with multiple rooms for family and friends to enjoy. This school of thought exploded in 2020 and will continue to expand moving forward. A recent HIRI survey confirms that outdoor areas have been the focus on much remodeling activity with strong growth in landscaping, decks and outdoor living rooms. Additionally, Thomas James Homes revealed that individuals are requesting multiple rooms within the outdoor space. Anticipating this increase in demand, Belgard began developing a new program in 2020 that will simplify design of cohesive multi-room outdoor spaces that coordinate with the specific architectural style of a home. Stay tuned for our big announcement in 2021!

The Shift from Entertaining to Daily Outdoor Living

With the increase in at-home living, more areas of the home are being regularly utilized than ever before. Nearly 4 in 5 homeowners report they were thinking about changes that could help them enjoy their homes more, with outdoor projects at the top of the wish list (35%). Outdoor spaces are no longer just a place to hang out during downtime. They have become a space of productivity as more people are working and learning remotely.

Fully Functional Microspaces

Microspaces are emerging as a dominant form of renovation in cities and neighborhoods where lot sizes are small. With more and more single-family homes lacking an abundant backyard, utilizing the space alongside a home or even on the front porches is becoming vital to the ability to add an outdoor living space. Homeowners are also beginning to annex sections of an outdoor living area to create microspaces for exercising and working from home (20% each).

Integrating Technology

Outdoor access to technology has become more vital than ever. It’s no longer just about piping in music or watching the big game. Technology integration is becoming necessary to carry out daily functions. This includes incorporating heating and lighting into an outdoor area, as well as WiFi and easily accessible electrical outlets to create a fully functional space that can support more activities throughout the year.

Neutral or Minimalistic Tones with Pops of Color

This prominent interior design trend began expanding into outdoor living design in recent years. In 2020, it became more important than ever to create a soothing outdoor space focused on recharging and relaxing with friends and family, or alone. Expressing balance through color will be vital in 2021 to keep the extended time at home from becoming overly monotonous. That’s why Belgard selected Marigold as the Color of the Year for 2021. This bright and energetic hue enlivens a space, injecting a playful and uplifting spirit into a monochromatic design scheme. And as great minds think alike, it came as no surprise to us when the international color experts at Pantone followed suit by selecting not one, but two colors of the year for 2021 (Ultimate Gray and Illuminating yellow) that mirror the Belgard school of thought.

Modular and Geometric Patterns

Clean and simple lines continue to grow in popularity for pavers and landscape walls. These simplistic patterns allow for an uncluttered aesthetic that puts emphasis on furniture or features in the space, while also fostering easier installation and maximization of space. The newly emerging trend is to incorporate geometric shapes to add a visually interesting accent or to create a retro look.

Fall Outdoor Living and Lighting

by Belgard®

Fall is one of the best times of the year for outdoor living…the colors, the dancing leaves, and the unmistakable woodsy scent that wafts through the air as neighbors begin lighting fireplaces, fire pits and leaf piles. And let’s not forget backyard tailgating and watching football in the outdoor living room! Some don’t really think of fall as an outdoor living season, but more of a time to batten down the hatches and prepare for winter. However, the following tips can help you extend your outdoor living season and continue to get enjoyment from your outdoor spaces, even into winter.

Lighting Tips for Better Outdoor Living

One of the best aspects of fall outdoor living is the ambiance of a properly lit outdoor living space. We’re not talking harsh overhead lights. We’re talking about gently bathing the space with a soft, warm glow. To create this type of welcoming atmosphere, you need low-voltage lighting that comes from multiple light sources. That’s why Belgard has partnered with Tru-Scapes to create outdoor lighting solutions that can be incorporated directly into hardscaped surfaces. The delicate radiance of Tru-Scapes paver lights and garden wall accent lights softens the look of hardscaped spaces to add both character and functionality. And the best part, there’s a Bluetooth transformer that allows you to control the lights with your phone!

For better outdoor living, also sprinkle some of these lighting ideas here and there:

  • Shatterproof Edison string lights can add a festive quality to your lighting design. There are also solar-powered options. Just make sure that everything is weatherproof and rated for outdoor use.
  • Like hardscape lights, landscape lights not only add an elegant touch but also improve the safety of your outdoor space, especially along walkways. Garden accent lights add an ethereal quality, particularly when used to “uplight” trees.
  • Candles add a rustic touch, but be sure to keep safety in mind when using real candles. Flameless LED candles are a safer alternative, and you can buy them in convenient multi-pack quantities operated by a single remote or a timer.
  • Well-placed pendant lights add functionality to an outdoor kitchen or bar, without destroying the ambiance. They also reinforce the “outdoor room” concept.
  • Whether a fire bowl, fire pit or some other fire feature, there’s nothing like the warm glow of a real fire to enhance the ambiance of an outdoor space.

Decorating for the Season

One of the fun aspects of decorating an outdoor living space is that you can be a little bolder than you might be with the typically more neutral pallet of an indoor space. But it’s time to put away the bright summer colors and bring in some warmer hues. If your outdoor throw pillows are still in good shape, don’t throw them out! Just use new pillow covers. Both Amazon and Etsy have a lot of options that are inexpensive enough to adjust your design theme seasonally — and maybe even add some “team colors” to the repertoire for those backyard tailgate gatherings. You can also enhance the fall look by sprinkling in seasonal flowers, gourds and rustic design elements like lanterns, wicker, or aged wood and metals.

Keeping it Cozy

To get more enjoyment from your outdoor living spaces during the autumn months, both you and your guests will need a way to stay cozy and warm, particularly during those chillier moments in the evening or early morning. A fire pit, fireplace or fire table will not only offer a warm gathering spot, it adds a visual focal point to your space. For additional comfort — and to add to the cozy aesthetic — drape soft throw blankets on seat walls or the arms of furniture pieces. You may also want to purchase outdoor floor or tabletop heaters to add ambient heat throughout your entire outdoor living space. Adding retractable solar shades to a porch or pergola not only provides protection from the glaring sun in summer months, it can also help keep you warm in the winter by blocking the wind and helping to hold in any ambient warmth created by space heaters.

Maintenance Considerations

Autumn is also a good time to do a little maintenance on your outdoor living spaces to keep them beautiful and functional. If you have a pool, you may want to consider covering the pool to keep out leaves that will change the pH of the water and clog filters. However, a covered pool is not as attractive. So if you choose to keep it uncovered for the aesthetics, be sure to ramp up your weekly maintenance to adjust for the extra debris. You can also add some floating pool lights to add to evening ambiance.

Top 5 things you need to know about weatherproofing concrete (and other masonry surfaces) for winter


1. Don’t wait until winter to winterize.
The ideal time to prepare and protect your driveways, sidewalks, parking lots and other masonry surfaces from the effects of winter is late summer to early fall. That’s because Saltguard, Saltguard VOC, Saltguard WB, our penetrating water and salt barriers, need to be applied during warm and dry conditions with ample time to cure.

2. Weatherproofing concrete and masonry surfaces saves money in the long-term!
A little weatherproofing today is much more cost-effective than repairing damaged, unprotected concrete in just a few years. Left untreated, water and salt can penetrate in to concrete and lead to costly damage such as rust, spalling, buckling and other serious problems.

3. Vertical surfaces need weather protection too.
Saltguard and Saltguard WB work wonders for driveways, bridges, sidewalks, streets, parking lots and other horizontal surfaces, but they also are commonly (and effectively) used to protect the sides of parking garages, brick walls and vertical block surfaces. Water, ice and all the contaminants that are carried with them in the winter can splash up on vertical surfaces too.

4. Surfaces need to be cleaned prior to being protected with Saltguard or Saltguard WB.
We recommend using Cleaner/Degreaser to remove general grime, and Oil & Grease Stain Remover for more deeply-set stains. This will maximize the performance of Saltguard and Saltguard WB. Here’s a quick how-to video for using Oil & Grease Stain Remover.

5. Here’s an easy trick to find out whether a surface has already been protected with a water repellent.
Just pour a little water out of a small container onto the surface. If the water beads up and puddles on the surface, it’s already been treated at some point. If it wets out and soaks into the surface, you’ve got an excellent candidate for Saltguard or Saltguard WB on your hands.

Giles Road Closing

Beginning Saturday, September 12th, Giles Road will be partially closed as the County will be completing some road repairs. County officials have informed us that Watkins will only be accessible from the east to enter Watkins, and traffic will need to exit to the west.

Repairs are expected to be completed in approximately one week. Please take extra caution when entering and exiting our property during the duration of this project.

Opening Saturdays on May 2nd

Beginning this Saturday, May 2nd, Watkins is open for business on Saturdays. Showroom hours are 8:00am to 12:00pm and Contractor Sales hours are 7:00am to 12:00pm. Stop in and see us.

In other news, to continue our efforts to minimize the threat of COVID-19 and still provide effective service to you, Watkins has implemented some changes to our operating processes:

  • Maximum ten customers permitted in our Showroom at any given time.
  • To avoid physically entering our facilities, we encourage customers to call in advance for any pick-up orders. When you arrive, proceed directly to Customer Loading or Contractor Sales.

We ask for your patience and understanding as we try to develop procedures to most efficiently serve you while maintaining a healthy and safe environment for our customers and employees. Thank you for your business.


John LaRandeau
General Manager

Saturday Schedule

To Our Valued Customers,

Watkins initially scheduled commencement of Saturday hours on April 18, 2020. However, to aid our ongoing efforts to minimize the spread of COVID 19, we have delayed that date to May 2, 2020. We feel this helps protect our employees and customers from possible exposure to the coronavirus causing the disease. Watkins continues to sanitize and disinfect common surfaces, restrict movement within our facilities, work from home if possible and monitor for symptoms and respond appropriately. The safety and health of our employees, customers, vendors and other visitors is our top priority. If further delay of our Saturday schedule is warranted, we will communicate that to you as timely as possible. We remain open for business Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 5:00pm and welcome the opportunity to serve you.

Thank you for your business, patience and understanding.


John LaRandeau
General Manager

Watkins – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

To Our Valued Customers and Vendors,

On behalf of everyone at Watkins Concrete Block Company, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are living in a confusing time where the escalation of concern for the safety of our community has resulted in unprecedented decisions. Currently, we are not experiencing any Coronavirus related interruptions in our production capacity or product availability. Our focus at Watkins remains to provide quality products and exceptional service while maintaining the safest and healthiest environment for our employees, customers and vendors.

Our team of employees is adjusting work practices and monitoring the implications of the projected spread of the virus. During this rapidly evolving situation, we are responding in accordance with recommendations by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our State and local health departments. Some of that response includes constant cleaning of surfaces and requiring employees to stay home that display any sign of illness. We are also implementing social distancing protocols such as limiting group sizes, limiting or canceling in-person meetings, remotely working from home, and limiting access for employees, customers and vendors to specific areas of our facility.

We ask for your patience and understanding as we attempt to do our part to minimize the spread of Coronavirus. As conditions and concern seem to change rapidly, we will continue to communicate any adjustments to our business operations that may affect you. As long as we feel that we can minimize the spread and contribute to the containment of this disease, then we will remain open for business. Thank you. Good luck and please stay safe.


John LaRandeau
General Manager

2019 MOBA Street of Dreams

The Street of Dreams is the most anticipated and premier 
home tour event in the region. Make sure to stop by the locations below to view beautiful Watkins’ products . . .

Sierra Homes & KW Landscaping
10220 S. 183 Ave Circle
– Vertica Pro Smooth Midnight

Shamrock Builders & Dean Simonson Masonry
10212 S. 183 Ave Circle
– Bucktown Heritage & GS Carriagehouse Thin Brick w/ Earth Sills
– Cottonwood European Ledge

Click here to learn more.

Emerging Trends in Large Scale Patio Pavers

by Belgard®

There’s an old saying that “bigger is better.” Although that’s quite often not true at all, in the contemporary world of outdoor living design, large scale pavers certainly are one of the hottest trends.

This phenomenon has a lot to do with the continuing evolution of what’s known in design circles as “indoor/outdoor living.” In layman’s terms, this design concept refers to outdoor living designs that are a continuation of the interior environment. For the last several years, popularity has continued to increase for larger tiles and wider wooden planks for interior flooring. Continuing this trend outdoors was a natural progression in creating designs that flow more easily from one environment to the other. And as demand for larger pavers continued to grow, a multitude of style options began to emerge.

Popular Paver Face Textures

Natural stone textures have been popular for the last several years — and continue to be so, particularly in certain regions — however, there’s a rising trend towards smoother faced pavers that offer crisp, clean lines. With the rise in porcelain pavers, there has also been an increase in woodgrain-textured pavers. This is reflective of a rise in the popularity of interior wood look porcelain tile — one of the hottest trends in interior flooring. This style offers the look of natural wood without any of the stain or maintenance worries, which is particularly beneficial in an outdoor environment.

Trends In Plank-Style Pavers

You guessed it…with an increase in woodgrain pavers, the plank shape naturally followed suit. In addition to porcelain styles, plank-style concrete pavers are also trending. With woodgrain porcelain pavers, wider planks are more popular, as they more closely mimic wooden decking and also reflect interior flooring trends. However, both wide and narrow planks are trending in the concrete styles, both in textured and smooth-face plank pavers. Plank shapes are also available in the Belgard’s versatile Moduline Series™, which offers an array of colors that allow designers to have some fun with their paver designs.

Large Scale Paver Shapes

It’s definitely hip to be square, and the larger the better. This can be seen in both slab-style pavers and numerous porcelain paver lines. Belgard regularly sees orders for sizes up to 24″ x 24″, with custom orders of porcelain pavers in even larger squares. However, large rectangles are also quite popular, which is more reflective of the current trends in interior flooring.

The Art of Mixed Materials in Outdoor Living Design

by Belgard®

There’s no denying the fact that eclectic style is all the rage. For several years now, interior designers have experimented with creative use of mixed materials to fashion unique and visually-interesting interior designs. By artfully using a mix of wood, metal, multiple fabric textures and seemingly mismatched accessories from multiple periods, each room presents a one-of-a-kind personality to reflect that of the homeowner.

Now that the concept of outdoor living has evolved to become an extension of the home, it’s no surprise that illustrious designers and contractors are utilizing this same design principle with outdoor living installations. Eclectic style can be evoked outdoors by using a mixed palette of wood, concrete hardscapes, natural stone, porcelain, metal, fabrics and other materials. Here are some examples of stunning outdoor living spaces for inspiration.

Designer Fire Pit Patio

This artful fire pit patio utilizes an array of materials in the design. The primary paver field consists of an ashlar pattern of Urbana® Stone concrete pavers. The chiseled texture and modular pattern offer a stark contrast to the inlaid walkway and raised level, which uses an offset running bond pattern of Noon plank-style porcelain pavers to create the look of wood but with the durability of a paver. The landscape walls, seat wall, columns and fire pit were constructed with Weston® Stone wall block and trimmed with bullnose coping. The seat wall and columns were accented with the random flagstone look of Mega-Arbel® pavers. Natural stone and wood were used to add additional texture and help the design flow into the wooded background.

Old World Oasis

This textural design evokes the feel of a bygone era. The linear pattern and rough-hewn texture of the Highland Stone® landscape columns and seat walls provide a visually interesting contrast to the random flagstone look of Mega-Arbel® pavers. A reclaimed wood arbor, large pottery urns and lush tropical gardens add natural elements to add dimension and soften the overall look of the design. Geometric patterned throw pillows add visual interest and reinforce the “outdoor room” concept…

Riverside Retreat

MoistureShield® composite decking provides a durable multi-level dock that can withstand the harsh riverside environment. The natural wood look of the composite decking is enhanced by the use of real wood for the arbor, benches and Adirondack chairs. A Dublin Cobble® paver landing adds an elegant touch that coordinates well with the Diamond® Stone Cut fire pit. Container gardens and metallic string lights add finishing eclectic touches to the design.

Backyard Resort

This lovely poolscape incorporates multiple colors and textures of natural stone and manufactured stone hardscapes. The pool deck is paved with two different color blends and layout patterns of Urbana® Stone pavers, creating sweeping curves that mimic the shape of the pool. The uniform modular paver pattern of the primary paver field is offset by the curved inlaid border as well as the random shapes of natural stone used in the rock gardens and slide base. The linear patterns of the Marina™ Coping, Creekside Wall and Bristol™ fireplace add additional textures to enhance the eclectic feel of the design and coordinating colors that visually tie the design together.

Cozy Contemporary Nook

Concrete, porcelain, wood, metal and fabrics work together to add an eclectic feel to this contemporary patio design. The patio is constructed with Belgard porcelain pavers in a contemporary large-format linear design. The metal-trimmed wooden wall, sun shade canopy and simple concrete bench add additional linear elements to reinforce the contemporary feel. Randomly shaped accessories and string lights soften the lines to add eclectic touches and pops of color, including the 2019 Pantone Color of the Year (“living coral”).

Gourmet Outdoor Kitchen & Living Room

This eclectic outdoor kitchen and living room space incorporates multiple styles and patterns of concrete hardscapes as well as natural stone, wood and metal. An area of textured and stained poured concrete breaks up the Mega-Arbel® paver patio to create the look of a curved rug for the sitting area, which reinforces the “outdoor room” concept. Weston® Stone retaining wall blocks were used to build out the outdoor kitchen so that it flows seamlessly with the bordering retaining wall, raised rock garden, Bristol™ outdoor fireplace and built-in planters. Mega-Arbel accents on the bar and fireplace coordinate with the patio pavers and help tie the design together. A wooden arbor, granite countertop and water feature provide additional touches of natural elements to enhance the design.

Cut from Nature

Randomly shaped natural stone boulders act as focal points for this eclectic fire pit patio design. Tandem® Wall was used to build out the fire pit and landscape walls, which extend out from the boulders to create a design that looks like it was cut from nature. The wall blocks and pavers used offer the look of various natural stones to enhance this effect. Multiple shapes, sizes, colors and laying patterns add to the eclectic feel. The Tandem Wall elements use a modular ashlar pattern and offer the look of hand-chiseled stone. Mega-Arbel® pavers create the look of randomly laid flagstone. Urbana® Stone pavers create linear borders with a cut stone appearance.