Ask yourself: “What do many iconic TV sitcoms, popular over the last few decades, have in common?” Look back to the '70s at "The Brady Bunch," still one of television’s all-time favorites; to the '80s for "The Cosby Show"; and then to the '90s at "Everybody Loves Raymond," to draw attention to just a few. In most episodes’ storylines, the cast—immediate family members, relatives and friends—were regularly seen gathered in the kitchen where all-to-familiar events occurred.
As we look back at our own family lives, how often have we heard this familiar comment (no matter how big the home): “Why is everyone congregating in the kitchen?” So if TV-land really does mimic real life, get ready for a brand new set—the open-air patio room, complete with lavish cooking, entertaining and leisure-time conveniences. As modern-day lifestyles are changing, we see entire households moving much of their daily and special occasion activities out-of-doors while at the same time, redefining the backyard patio as we once knew it.
At Cambridge Pavers, our response has been: Move over interior designers, in today’s world, the landscape designer can easily be producer, director, get a starring role and earn rave reviews. To complement paver and wall unit lines, Cambridge made its debut in this important lifestyle revolution by dedicating a major segment of its product line to satisfy the needs and desires of families who have migrated out the back door.
It all started 10 years ago with an easy-to-install, circular barbeque and fire pit made basically of wallstones. Now our products run the gamut and include a full line of round and square fire pits in addition to outdoor fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, grill and bar modules, a pond-less waterfall and even an outdoor pizza oven that cooks pizza pies, bakes bread and roasts veggies with an old world, brick oven flavor derived from an authentic wood-fired oven.
Staff has continued to freshen up outdoor living product group each season through innovation, new unit offerings, diversity and most importantly, with quality. The commitment has earned the brand a great deal of recognition in the public eye year after year. The best part is many of the installation conveniences associated with these Cambridge products have put professional contractors in a position to turn a homeowner-customer’s wish list into real life situations and stay within budget.
Pre-cut feature a plus
Not only are all of these outdoor amenities pre-packaged in kit form but, where necessary, most of these items have undergone delivery preparation via arduous task. Cambridge has pre-cut the wallstones used to build kits and also guarantees quality results. Again, the emphasis is on the fact that all Cambridge Outdoor Living Kits are both pre-cut and pre-packaged. This time-consuming effort on the company’s part was initiated this year to speed-up the installation process. It allows for increased cost-efficiency, practically eliminates any chance for error and factors in value-added components important to the budget-conscious customer, especially in highly competitive economic climates.
Decorator-inspired features, professional-style inclusions
Fireplaces and pizza ovens in a choice of wallstone styles and colors can be ordered with decorator-inspired, cast stone surrounds in a natural Bluestone or a warm Chestnut hue. Pizza ovens, also available in different styles and wallstone colors, include a Care and Cooking Package with an array of pizza peels, flat shovels with long handles commonly used by professional chefs.
Outdoor kitchen and grill modules also include stainless steel appliance packages, which, depending on what is chosen, are comprised of a grill, rotisserie, sink and faucet, cabinet access doors and more. The Cambridge Bar Module has a comprehensively appointed Bar Center Package that puts drink preparation and other convenient features at users’ fingertips. These kits also include polished granite countertops in a choice of Black Uba Tuba or Venetian Gold.
No backyard gathering spot is truly up-to-date without an open-air room. Cambridge offers more than one low maintenance option, also in ready-to-install, pre-packaged kits. The first is a Cambridge Pre-packaged Four-Column Pergola, constructed of high-strength fiberglass in a high-quality, factory-applied white finish with the appearance of painted wood—only without the maintenance. The pergola is offered in 16-ft. square or 16- x 20-ft. sizes.
The columns are designed to be set on any Cambridge wallstone column (not included). An optional overhead canopy can be added to the pergola for greater protection. The canopy with Roman pleats in a choice of two striped fabrics has durable, extruded aluminum parts as well as a WeatherGuard rain layer. A two-column version that covers Cambridge Pre-packaged Kitchens and can be used over other items in an outdoor plan is also available.
Sun or rain won’t cramp the style of a homeowner-customer opting for the Cambridge Pre-packaged Pavilion—a substantial and well-appointed structure of traditional building materials. Low maintenance materials are used in all exposed surfaces and customers can select either a cathedral or flat ceiling as well as roofing and ceiling material. Cambridge offers two standard sizes, 10- x 15-ft. and 12- x 18-ft., with custom sizes available to meet specific requirements of a project.
Both the Cambridge Pre-packaged Pergola and Pavilion come with step-by-step instructions in English and Spanish. Complete, instructions are included with other products as well.
Conversation areas are critical to a well-designed patio. Perimeter sitting walls such as a low, domino-style wall built of Cambridge Olde English Wall can add flexible, casual seating when needed. A pub-style table supported by a pedestal constructed of hardscape material is another way of adding permanent seating. Instead of customers building one from scratch, Cambridge offers a Patio Pub & Bistro Table, available in two wallstone styles and lots of colors. Both come with a 48-in. square polished, granite top and have a 2-in.-diameter hole for a patio umbrella, which is not included. Here too, absolutely no cutting is necessary.
Cambridge has a solution for privacy and security as well with the new Pre-packaged Garden Gate Kit. This all-inclusive product consists of an oiled, solid teak door and frame with a dramatic, 28-in.-diameter, circular opening at the top. Double-action hinges allow the gate to swing both ways, while a dead bolt latch provides needed security. This suits customers looking for additional privacy for an outdoor living space or just an attractive means of entry to an adjacent area of their property. The 38- x 80-in. gate can be secured between two columns on a perimeter wall built from any Cambridge Wallstones.
Building these and other landscape walls, retaining walls, engineered walls, steps and columns can be facilitated by referring to the Cambridge DesignScaping Handbook, which contains instructions and tips for installing pavers, wallstones and other Cambridge products in conventional and unique applications that can also enhance the overall atmosphere of a patio.
As inside the home, ambient lighting, albeit completely functional or not, is also important. It may be time for a homeowner to rethink landscape and hardscape lighting since this category has also seen some improvements. For example, Cambridge paver, column, stair tread and wall lights provide both function and flair that fits almost any hardscape design. They are sold individually or for more convenience, in kits with wire and transformer.
So if you think Room With A View may be an appropriate name for a modern, family-oriented television show, smart landscape contractors can create their own family “reality” series right in their customers’ own backyards.