Destination Gazebo

Aq 605 79pg 0001

When most English speakers hear the word "gazebo," they picture a quaint, storybook structure with decorative brackets and spindles, probably painted white, sited on a lush lawn or in a garden. When the hot-tub world hears the same word, most think of a redwood, cedar or vinyl enclosure that serves as a barrier to the weather (either hot or cold) and prying eyes. Whichever image pops into your mind, it is a bit of a folly; it's used for only one thing or for nothing at all.

But as the habit of al fresco living expands in the United States and Canada, gazebos are morphing from single-purpose or decorative-only structures into backyard destinations. They are becoming useful and flexible spaces that invite homeowners to bring even more of their daily activities outside.

Rooms To Grow

The still-growing outdoor-living trend presents an opportunity to offer customers a wider range of gazebo options from one end of the price scale to the other. Whether they are for a base-model kit or an architect-designed, stickbuilt structure, accessories and manufacturer upgrades are attractive to the backyard afficionado. Gazebos also offer retailers and builders an opportunity to talk with clients about the entire outdoor living space and how to outfit it. When customers buy gazebos, they are buying into the concept of the outdoor room, and there's no reason to leave that room empty and alone in the landscape. All rooms β€” indoors and out doors β€” need furniture, lighting, music, flooring and a view, just for starters.

Gazebo Getaway

"A gazebo β€” or a structure or a detached patio with a roof or a soft shade on top, whatever it may be β€” we typically in our designs call that a destination," says Skip Phillips, principle of Questar Pools. Phillips is also a founding partner of the Genesis 3 Design Group, a consortium wellknown for its all-encompassing approach to watershape design. Genesis 3 members believe that if someone views a finished product and exclaims, "Wow! What a great pool," they've fallen short of the mark. They want to hear: "Wow! What a great backyard!" So it's no surprise that Phillips is as interested in the destinations around the pool as he is in the pool itself. It's all part of the total waterscape environment.

"I love the concept of having to cross water to get from one place to another," says Phillips. Questar's designs often feature visual or physical layers that invite the visitor to work a little β€” and thereby more fully experience the landscape β€” to get to the destination. "You have to walk down a path and cross a stream. Or it's relatively accessible, but there will be water flowing beside it. Or fire next to it," he says. "So in the evening when you see this remote destination, it's inviting because there's a stream working its way in over there, and you can see fire burning on the other side of the gazebo."

"Conceptually, we create rooms," says Phillips of his approach to designing waterscapes. "That's the type of stuff that interests me. We put a lot of thought into [the gazebo's] location and how we surround it, but, we typically would not "gold plate" those structures."

While Phillips' preference is to emphasize the gazebo's setting and location in favor of a lineup of accessories, homeowners often want all the optional equipment.

"Usually the conversation starts the same, 'We want something simple,'" says Phillips. "Then they have a chance to go to Central Wholesale β€” and I find out they've purchased a 48inch Viking grill with side burners and warming trays and the cocktail pro with the sink and the condiment trays, all the stainless steel inserts . . .We've done that, but generally that's motivated by the client more than by me."

More Is More

For the clients who do want to gild the lily, there are plenty of accessories to deck out the gazebo. No matter what the customer's budget, thought should be given to the same kinds of things one would consider for an indoor room: seating, flooring, lighting and accessories. Lighting is often taken for granted; good lighting design doesn't call attention to itself but can transform a space.

"Candles are great," says Phillips. "We can build-in niches for candles and rely on that for light and for atmosphere. I think traditional lighting is an option, too."

Many lighting products that are appropriate for the pool or landscape also work well for a gazebo.

"I've seen fans and fiber-optic lighting in gazebos," says Ken Hollingsworth of Pelican Pool & Spa in Whitehouse, N.J. "Artificial palm trees are very big this year. Audio is an option, that usually comes along with the spa. Having music in the gazebo is always a great idea."

Many hot tub manufacturers are now including video β€” television and DVD β€” in their high-end models, but even gazebos without hot tubs can get good reception with a length of cable or a satellite dish.

"We have done things that are a little more traditional where there's a barbeque and fridge," says Phillips. "Or a gazebo that's actually adjacent to the pool but submerged and that has a hard structure with a TV mounted at the ceiling. My personal opinion is that if you don't have fire, food or water at a destination, nobody goes there."

Neither Rain Nor Snow

Jacki Hirschaut, vice president of the American Home Furnishings Alliance, notes that progress in high-tech textiles has given manufacturers the raw materials necessary to produce outdoor furniture that is as comfortable and stylish as the pieces in customers' living rooms. "Consumers want the transition between their interior and exterior to be fairly seamless," says Hirschaut. "They don't want a big decorating departure."

With resin and polypropylenebased products that are nearly impervious to water β€” and therefore immune to mold and mildew β€” textiles are as practical as they are varied.

"These rugs are 100 percent polypropylene, they contain no natural fiber β€” so they can actually be hosed off and still won't mildew," says Stephen Hoberman, a marketer for Trans-Ocean Import in White Plains, N.Y. "In addition, the fiber is UV stabilized so these items are fade resistant as well."

A gazebo sale is just the beginning of the fun for both the homeowner and the retailer. With so many options for accessories, homeowners will enjoy outfitting their outdoor rooms for years to come and retailers will enjoy the follow-up sales that keep customers returning for just as long.

Indoor-Outdoor Everything

There's no reason customers have to give up the comforts of home when they take their living out to the gazebo. Manufacturers are rolling out accessories from more-comfortable furniture to weatherproof lamps. Even the ubiquitous green plastic indoor-outdoor carpet has been replaced with olefin or polypropylene area rugs that are completely weatherproof and have the style of fine, hand-woven floor coverings.

Casual furniture makers have taken advantage of high-tech materials to design seating that is just as stylish and comfortable as that inside the home but that can stand up to the elements.

Weatherproof accessories like the lamp, above right, from Shady Lady, provide light for reading or atmosphere, and area rugs that can be hosed off and are UV stabilized (above left, from Trans Ocean Trading Co.) add color and texture to a gazebo setting. Accessories like these are a convenient upsell and add to customers' satisfaction with their gazebos.

β€” K.P.

Aq 605 79pg 0002
Page 1 of 155
Next Page
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide