Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tips for creating a reading nook in your garden

If your garden is your sanctuary, then chances are you want to spend as much time there as possible. When renovating your backyard, be sure to plan a space that can serve as your own private oasis. A backyard reading nook set in your garden would be the ultimate place to unwind and enjoy the wealth of the great outdoors. Here are some tips for creating this reading space:

Select comfortable seating
Finding the right style of outdoor seating should be your first concern when designing your garden reading nook. If you prefer to lay down while you enjoy a book, a chaise lounge will allow you to do just that. However, opt for a loveseat sofa if you'll be sharing the reading space with your significant other or a friend from time to time.

Hammocks are another comfortable type of lounging furniture. These days a patio hammock comes with its own base, so you can put it wherever you like, including the garden. There are a variety of colors you can choose from to match the decor of your outdoor space. If you have roses opt for a red hammock to mimic the hue.

Think about privacy
Be sure to think about privacy when creating your garden reading nook. Keep your nook secluded by ensuring your fence is covered with a thick bush or vines. Or you can plant tall trees that help add privacy to your reading nook.

Add a light fixture
Sometimes you may want to read during the evening. Don't let the sun setting interrupt your story! Instead, install outdoor light fixtures nearby so you can illuminate the space when necessary. Some fixtures are programmable so they can turn on as soon as the sun sets. 

Tips for hosting an outdoor engagement party

Spring is here and the weather is warmer, so why not host your upcoming engagement party outdoors? Announce the big news to your close group of friends and family members. And be sure to do so in style with contemporary outdoor sectionals and patio bistro sets. Here are some entertaining tips to ensure your outdoor party goes off without a hitch:

Plan the proper timing
Your party will make more of an impact if the event occurs soon after your engagement. If you wait too long then the novelty might wear off and it may be time to host other wedding events like the bridal shower.

Invite your close buds
Plan an intimate event for your engagement party, especially if your outdoor entertaining area is small. Head outside and take inventory of all the seating you have. Unless you are throwing a cocktail event where people will be mixing and mingling, there should be space for everyone to sit. So make sure you have enough patio dining chairs and maybe even a lounge area for people to gather. Everyone that is invited to the engagement party should be on the wedding guest list, so be sure to put some thought into it.

Opt for simple decor
Engagement parties are fun yet low key celebrations, so you don't need to go all out with the decor. Decorate your patio dining set by placing a large arrangement of colorful springtime blooms in the center of the table. You can also hang stringed lights on the back of your house or on overhead canopies to achieve a twinkling effect.

To help the flow of conversation, you may create lounge areas where people can gather. For example, you can set up a small table and chairs near a decorative fixture like a garden or a water fountain. You may also want to pick up a firepit for light and warmth, ensuring the party will continue even when the sun goes down.

Prepare a toast
An engagement is an important milestone in anyone's life, so it's good to mark the occasion with a toast. Thank everyone for attending the party and share some special sentiment about what the engagement means to you. Then you can give your guests some insight into the wedding planning process, like if you have picked a venue.

Serve seasonal food
Fresh seasonal food matches the outdoor dining theme perfectly. Purchase your produce from local farmers markets and shops. Or you can cater the meal from a company that only uses local and sustainable ingredients.

Enjoy your very own indoor-outdoor bar

Is your backyard made for entertaining? Do your guests love to lounge on your beautiful outdoor furniture with a refreshing drink in hand? Why not consider creating an indoor-outdoor bar for your friends and family to enjoy! If your outdoor space doesn't offer an easy transition from your kitchen to your deck or patio, try some of the options below to create the ideal drink station for an evening outdoors:

Walk-up window
If you are lucky enough to have a window overlooking your gorgeous outdoor entertaining area, try adding a countertop or serving bar on the patio side of that window! It will become the perfect spot to hand out delicious drinks and serving platters of finger foods. You can also seat your kids for a snack on bar stools, and the window above will make cleanup easy and efficient.

Banquette bar
For a special surprise, try turning your porch's banquette seats into a hidden bar! You can install a cushioned banquette on your porch and include hinged lids to provide decorative storage. Put that space to good use by storing festive plastic drinking glasses, shakers and trays that will be protected from the elements but still within reach if you and your guests want to enjoy a backyard cocktail.

Table cooler
To really cater to your guests as you enjoy some time in your backyard retreat, offer them a cooler built into your patio furniture! You can do this project yourself or hire a carpenter, but it's easy to do and the results will surely impress. Remove a panel or two from the center of your wooden patio table, install a planter box in its place, and fill it with ice. Voila! You have just created a fantastic focal point that lets you relax with your friends and family, versus having to get up to serve everyone drinks.

Including a fire element in your backyard renovation

If you are looking to add a dramatic feature to your backyard retreat, consider including a fire element in your design. This feature will act as a focal point in your yard, and invites family and guests to gather and relax, dine and converse around it on those long summer evenings. Here are some things to keep in mind as you transform your yard into the ultimate getaway:

Fireplace, pit or bowl?
Depending on your style and the layout of your patio or backyard, you have several options when deciding how to design your outdoor fireplace. Fire bowls are one great feature that instantly add warmth and style to your space. Fire bowls are an easy addition because they don't require much remodeling. If you opt for a built-in fireplace, you can choose between different styles to reflect the theme of your home, like traditional or rustic, and it will serve to anchor your outdoor room. Fire pits are another fantastic option because you can customize them out of any stone you like, and quickly create a gathering place for friends and family.

Wood or gas?
There are benefits to different kinds of outdoor fireplaces. A wood-burning fireplace emits that cozy, campfire scent, and lets you and your family roast snacks over the flames. Arrange your beautifully designed patio sofa or sectional so you and your family can enjoy the view. Wood-burning fireplaces are easier to install than gas-burning ones. Check to make sure your area doesn't have any environmental restrictions preventing wood burning. However, gas fireplaces are easier to use, and if you and your family plan to spend time outside, gas may be the way to go.

Increase your home's appeal
The addition of a fire pit or bowl to your deck or patio space will instantly boost the resale value of your home. If you are considering selling your home in the future, this is a great way to attract people. Children can group around the fire and roast marshmallows. Adults can relax next to warm embers on a brisk night. Accent your space with an elegant outdoor dining set, and you will have created a spot no one can resist!

Fire safety
Another very important element to keep in mind when you're planning to include a fire feature in your backyard remodel is fire safety. Remember to plan for a fireproof ground covering or flooring to protect you while you enjoy the view. Also, be sure to clear a wide area around the pit or bowl, making sure fencing, planting and even the side of your home will not get too close to the flames.

Create an elegant backyard using natural tones

Subtle, natural hues are great tones for room designs both inside and outside your home. Grey, tan, beige and white are fresh, clean colors that allow you to add pops of brightness, which can reflect your style and really stand out against a pale canvas. Here are some ways to achieve a modern feel in your backyard using calming, natural hues:

Neutral decor
For a great way to achieve an elegant look in your yard, opt for natural colors when choosing your outdoor furniture set. This will allow you to change the theme or mood of your yard with the simple addition of new throw pillows or accent pieces. Choose from the comfortable and versatile Deco collection, or check out the the timeless and sophisticated Astoria line, with its clean lines and crisp, light-colored cushions. Both sets require minimal maintenance – simply use a gentle cleanser and hose off.

Bright blooms
Plant some brightly colored blooms around your dining set that will stand out in your fresh, light design and add a romantic element to your special space. Pink roses lend a feminine feel, and emerald green succulents look modern and fresh, or you can choose from the beautiful exotic varieties of blooms like tiger lily or hyacinth for a really spectacular display.

Updated accents
Don't forget your yard when choosing new decor for your home! You can decorate your patio or deck with unique accents that complement your outdoor furniture. Paint planter boxes white or tan to act as a crisp backdrop for the greenery in your yard. Lucite is a great material for outdoor decor because it won't be affected by the weather and looks fantastic in a white design. You can also opt for steel pots for your plants, which will create a sleek, modern feel. For a touch of sparkle, opt for glass or even mirrored decorations, which will pick up the light and add some glamour to your space. You can find mirrored trays to carry snacks to your guests, or blown glass orbs that are able to gradually water your plants and decorate your lawn!

Colors can pop
If you use your backyard as much as your living room, why not decorate it the same way? You can add pops of color to a neutral yard design by using fun and funky accessories to decorate your tables and patio. Natural backyard themes are the perfect backdrop for bright and exciting pops of color. Let your throw pillows and blanket stand out by matching them to your chosen accent color and this will pull the whole look together.

Inject some color into your backyard design

After a long, cold winter, you want to step into your backyard oasis and be energized by the fresh new life that's growing there this spring. Take it up a notch by making an outdoor design trend your own and adding color for a fresh new look that just begs you to spend some time outside enjoying your space.

Sittin' pretty
Inject some color into the landscape with a new bright, bold outdoor furniture set. Colorful and lively outdoor pieces are a great way for you to make a statement. Opt for a fabric set in a vibrant colored mesh like the Sol Sling line of chaise lounges and chairs, or choose a more compact steel Bistro set in a fun tone. This will add personality and style to your deck or patio, as well as create an attractive place to relax with family and guests. Don't forget to invest in some outdoor furniture covers to keep your pieces looking great year to year.

A new patio umbrella is a quick style changer you can try too. Set up a sun shade to keep everyone cool and comfortable in a bright yellow, brick red, or Tuscan orange.

Hang your plants
An attractive, quick and easy way to add color to your yard is to include a few hanging baskets of blooms. They are easy to care for, and take up very little space. You can position several hanging planters flanking your patio door, or add hooks throughout your yard to add interest and bursts of color across the landscape. Plants with brightly colored leaves are a great option, like Coleus, Croton, or New Zealand Flax.

Potted pops of color
By just adding a few colorful pots to your backyard design – with or without plants – you can easily inject some zest and energy into your yard. Choose colors that will pick up the tones in your patio furniture for a finished look. Group several pots in various sizes together for a mini display. Or position them around your yard for dimension.

Touches of textiles
To create a cohesive vibe, include some brightly colored outdoor rugs in the design of your patio or desk space. An outdoor rug can add color and give your outdoor spaces a more finished, room-like look, which will encourage your family and guests to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Toss some outdoor pillows on your lounger or outdoor sofa to instantly upgrade its style. Pillows are easy to change if you want a different look and they're a fun and funky way to express your creativity.

Tips for building the perfect backyard deck

Spring is almost here, so it's time to make sure your backyard is ready for all the future cookouts and lounging sessions you plan to have. Before you purchase your outdoor seating, consider building a deck to expand your space. Here are some tips for building the perfect backyard deck to get yourself ready for spring:

Before you hire a contractor to build your ideal deck, you need to decide how you want to use the space. You may want a place to set up your grill and patio bistro sets. Or you may want to build a platform around your pool. Additionally, you'll want to consider how many different lounge areas you would like because you can have both a dining area and a small space to drink your morning cup of coffee.

Next consider your space constraints. If you have a small backyard you may have to choose between a living room area and a dining space. However, in some cases there are work-arounds for these problems. For instance, if your beloved garden is limiting space in your backyard, you can install your deck above it so you still can have your ideal patio.

Not all decks are the same. Some are wood platforms that are flesh with the ground and provide a bit of separation from the patio and the rest of the backyard. Other larger decks are raised off of the ground so the homeowners can take in a scenic view as they enjoy their outdoor area. Additionally, you can select wood, marble or other types of decorative flooring styles. Also, you have a choice on the type of railing you would want, such as wrought iron or wood posts. Select a natural wood for a rustic vibe and wrought iron for a decorative look.

Once your deck is installed you'll need to maximize its space with your furniture purchases. Outdoor sectionals are perfect for large families or for people who tend to have lots of guests over. Additionally, an outdoor rocker can be a nice touch if someone in the home enjoys the soothing motion of the chair.

It's important to perfect your outdoor space by filling it with accessories that fit your style aesthetic. If you like greenery and nature, place a few patio planters in the corners of your deck space. You can also add colorful pillows and blankets to your seating to make it more comfy and warm. Additionally, if you like to entertain guests late in the evening, you'll need outdoor lighting fixtures. Find a few floor lamps you can store outside – they'll give your deck an intimate glow.

Spend more time outdoors to reduce energy consumption

During the winter people spends lots of time indoors, and who can blame them when the temperature dips below zero? But using electrical-powered items in the home increases your carbon footprint over time. So try to carve out some family bonding sessions while enjoying the outdoors once spring comes around. You don't have to go far – your backyard is the perfect place. Here are some eco-friendly activities to take part in this spring and summer: 

Every now and then you should cook outdoors instead of inside on your stovetop. Fire up your grill and cook tasty burgers and hot dogs. If you're a foodie, you can expand your menu from there. Roasted vegetables taste great when made on the grill, and some people even bake sweet treats like peach cobbler on their outdoor cooktop. Plus, when you eat dinner on your patio bistro set you won't need to turn on the lights in your home, making your meal extra eco-friendly.

Lounging on your patio
You won't be tempted to spend time on your patio unless it's comfortable. If you have a big family, select outdoor sectionals. You'll have tons of room for everyone to gather and talk about their day or their plans for the season. Make your patio feel like an extension of your home with an outdoor rocker, which is perfect to rock a baby to sleep.

Laying in the hammock
There is nothing better than spending an afternoon in a patio hammock. All your worries will melt away as you drift off to sleep in this ultimate lounger. These days you don't even need two trees – hammocks are available with their own stand and come in a range of colorful prints and patterns.

Playing a board game
Board games are tons of fun, yet don't increase your carbon footprint. Pick up a range of game sets so your family has a variety of options to keep them busy while enjoying the fresh air. You might want to organize a weekly chess tournament to see who comes out on top.

To ensure that you spend more time outdoors, you can even pick up an eco-friendly hobby like gardening. Use the upcoming spring season to beautify your outdoor space. You are already bringing in new outdoor furniture sets, so it's time to revamp the rest of your backyard. Plant a mix of greenery and colorful botanicals like roses and orchids.

Top outdoor furniture trends for 2014

Good news! The outdoor entertaining season is just around the corner. Homeowners from across the country will be revamping their patio spaces to include the best lounging amenities as they prepare for this season of backyard barbecues and cocktail parties. If you want to have a contemporary backyard, check out these trends for 2014:

Outdoor furniture market news
According to a report released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), outdoor living spaces are one of the most desirable types of special function rooms. These findings are the result of homeowners wanting to expand their usable living space. Twenty-two percent of the study respondents chose patio space as a desirable feature in their home in the second quarter of 2010. Additionally, according to Global Industry Analysts, the United States market for outdoor furniture is projected to exceed $5 billion by 2017. With the overwhelming interest in this type of living space, it's best to outfit your patio now to stay in line with trends.

Custom spaces
As people spend more time designing their homes, they are selecting custom furniture layouts that fit their style aesthetics. So when revamping your own outdoor living space you can choose what patio chairs you want along with the right table. Or if you prefer a different setup you can select decorative bar stools to go along with your cocktail area. The point is that you can design a space to fit your needs and entertaining style.

Eco-friendly materials
Sustainability is a trend that is sticking around for 2014. These days people prefer to purchase outdoor furniture sets that have been built with eco-friendly materials or construction practices. The use of recycled materials, in particular, is often a popular feature in outdoor furniture. The AIA report also indicated a high interest in energy efficiency in the home. Spending time in an outdoor living space can help you reduce your electricity use.

Large patio spaces
Patio spaces used to be small 20-by-10-foot squares where homeowners were supposed to set their outdoor furniture and grill. However, people are rebuilding their outdoor areas to expand these limitations so there is space for multiple entertaining areas. For example, you can set up one of the popular fire pits so your friends can gather around it on a chilly night. Also you can having a dining room set for meals.

Performance matters
Another trend involves people wanting their furniture purchases be smart ones. For example, it's vital for outdoor sectional sets, individuals sofas and chairs to be made from quality materials. Additional desirable features include furniture that is resistant to fading, scratching and other abuses that might happen from being stored outdoors.

How to create an outdoor living room

The ultimate in comfort and sophistication, outdoor living rooms are one of the hottest design trends for 2014. While you probably already have some outdoor seating on your patio, a few chairs and side tables have nothing on the luxury that comes with the plush seating and tranquil aesthetic that an outdoor living room can provide. If you've decided this is the year to reward yourself with an outdoor living room, here's how to get started:

1. Choose a theme
As is the case with any home renovation project, the first step toward transforming your patio space into an outdoor living room is choosing a theme. There are two clear directions you can take: Meld the decor with the design of your home or choose an alternative aesthetic that speaks to you.

2. Assess your space
Now that you have chosen a theme, begin to assess the space that you have to work with. Do you plan to have your outdoor living room commandeer your entire backyard? Or will it just take up a small area? Take some measurements and use these to guide you in your luxury patio furniture choices.

3. Consider the many uses of your backyard
The size of the space that you plan to devote to your outdoor living room will determine how it can be used. For example, your vision may include outdoor sectionals, a dining area, a bar and a fire pit, but your available square footage may not allow it. Consider how you want to use your outdoor living room and adjust the space you've set aside for it accordingly.

4. Find the proper furnishings
The next step in the remodeling process is choosing the furnishings that you want to populate your new outdoor living room. Remember that the space is about both luxury and function, so ensure that the furniture you purchase really does bring the comfort of indoors outside. Consider including elements that you have in your indoor living room, such as sofas and a fireplace.

5. Get to work!
Now that you've taken care of all the planning, it's time to get to work on constructing your ideal outdoor living room! As you begin to construct the space, consider its placement in terms of privacy and view. You may want to add a covered area in case of bad weather, or do some additional landscaping to make the space more aesthetically pleasing.