Monthly Archives: April 2014

Make a lawn-free yard work for you

Lawn-free yard? The idea might seem strange to you if you are used to mowing your grass and tending to it every spring and summer. But a new trend in backyard renovations is taking root, and it involves doing away with the traditional yard and replacing greenery with gravel, stone and native plants that can combat water runoff and be fire-resistant. Here are some ideas to inspire your outdoor renovation project:

Alternate ground coverings
You have many different choices when it comes to making the move away from grass. Depending on your landscape and where you live, certain materials may be better than others because they resist heat or absorb rainwater. Some alternative options to grass include gravel, mulch, patio stones and permeable paving. All of these are attractive choices and can blend seamlessly into your backyard design, no matter what your theme may be. Materials like pervious concrete, porous asphalt, paving stones or concrete or plastic-based pavers allow stormwater to percolate and absorb into surface areas, versus running off and flooding parts of your yard.

Allow an existing tree to be your focal point
If mature trees have made their home in your backyard, they can instantly become fantastic focal points! Cover your yard with whatever material speaks to you, and then group your outdoor dining set, chairs and tables around it for an outdoor meeting place that's cool in the shade. 

Space between stepping stones
You don't have to choose grass if you want to add some green between paving stones.You can quickly create a space reminiscent of a secret garden. Try using ground cover like clover or artificial turf which feels great on bare feet, stays green and beautifully frames stepping stones out back.

Native plants are a beautiful option
A larger yard needs at least a touch of green, so rather than spreading gravel out everywhere, you can opt for native plants and creeping vines that usually require little-to-no maintenance. Because this plant life is used to your region, you can just let it run wild (within reason!) to create a natural space for you and your family to enjoy.

Tall grasses create living borders
Try including some tall grasses in your outdoor design. They can follow the line of your pathways out back, or be planted along your patio or deck for a bit of green without the upkeep. Tall grasses are resilient and can handle most of what the weather throws at them. Pair grasses with paving stones and low ground cover and you'll have a space that only looks high maintenance.

Amaze your guests with a maze
Your backyard is a place to have fun with your family and guests, so try replacing the lawn with a maze! You can use permeable paving as ground cover, and then line up larger stones in a maze pattern for your friends and family to follow in circles. Or, use tall grasses planted in a maze pattern that will delight your guests.

Create a relaxing backyard space for your whole family

Relaxation has so many benefits for your body and overall well-being. Taking time out of your busy schedule to kick back and enjoy a soft summer breeze in your backyard oasis or your sleek and modern deck even has health benefits, like lowering your blood pressure and heart rate and reducing stress, which can help keep you healthier, longer. Here are just a few ways you can create a calming environment for you and your family to enjoy outside:

Hang out in a hammock
Studies have shown that sleeping in a hammock bed is actually good for you! According to Dr. Steven Park, a head and neck surgeon and member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the best position for sleep and relaxation is on your back with your head slightly elevated. This allows for optimal blood circulation and more un-obstructed breathing. So why not try this sleep style yourself and include a hammock in your backyard design? You and your family can spend hours outside enjoying the weather together!

Lie back and lounge
Another great option for creating a soothing space in your yard is to kick back on a comfortable chaise lounge with a cool drink in hand. You can find outdoor furniture sets in any color to match your style or mood, so inject a pop of color with a bright, bold orange, or keep it traditional with an outdoor sofa or versatile sectional covered in durable material that's as easy to clean as it is to hang out on.

Don't forget the details
When you're planning your backyard retreat, don't forget all the little things that can keep you comfortable. Soft outdoor throws create a luxurious space for you and your guests. Bolster pillows on your outdoor lounge chairs are a great place to rest your head on a warm summer afternoon. You can find outdoor pillows that will accent the decor on your deck or patio. A wide range of colors and patterns are available that can pull colors from the other pieces you showcase outside.

Everything within reach
So you can really enjoy your space in your free time, you want everything within reach. Opt for a side table that can do double-duty. A table with an umbrella base can keep you shaded and cool, and hold your drink, magazine or book at your fingertips so you don't have to get up on those lazy summer days.

Move your party outside with these designs

One great way to mix up a party at your house is to move the group outside to enjoy all the hard work you have put into your backyard design. To create an environment that begs you to mingle outside in the warmer weather, read on for inspiration.

Set up stylish seating
Arrange your outdoor seating so you and your friends and family can catch up and converse. Comfortable club chairs with matching ottomans set the scene for intimate conversation, and allow you to kick up your feet and relax. Or cluster armless chairs together to encourage your friends to sit and stay awhile. Limiting the amount of seating you have available inside will encourage your guests to go outside and enjoy the view. Make sure to group your seating around side tables so your snacks and drinks will always be close at hand.

Light your way
Don't overlook the importance of lighting at your outdoor area for your next party. Lighting is a very important and sometimes forgotten element, but done right, you can make a magical world for your party guests that is sure to impress. Create a welcoming space by incorporating table lamps into your decor, which make your deck or patio feel like an outdoor living room! LED orbs are also available that can create a fairyland of light throughout the landscape.

You can even include a fire element to really make a statement. Fire bowls are a great addition to any backyard and are a safer alternative to bonfires. On cool nights your friends and family will love having the option to pull up a chair and gather around the fire.

Drink and dine al fresco
The easiest way to get your guests outside is to move the food and drinks out to your deck or patio. Cleanup is a snap, so arrange a buffet on your outdoor dining or coffee table where your guests can either sit and chat or stand and mingle without getting hungry. You can provide a more intimate feel by spreading small plates around and positioning snacks on accent tables for your guests to nibble on. 

Play on your patio
To add an element of excitement to your party, don't forget the games!  You can find attractive outdoor sets for any backyard, and after your guests have enjoyed some cocktails and snacks, they will be eager to join the fun. Opt for a bocce set, which allows a large group of people to play and has an elegant court that will only add style to your outdoor decor.

Tips to create a kid-safe outdoor space

If you have a little one in your home, chances are you have already taken precautions to keep them safe by babyproofing every room in the house. But as the weather warms up, your family will be venturing outside to enjoy your custom yard design out back. So don't forget to pay attention to hazards out there too! Creating a safe space for your child to explore will make you feel safer so you can focus on having fun with your family. Here are a few tips for babyproofing your backyard:

Provide soft seating
You can approach the babyproofing of your outdoor space the same way you do the inside of your home. Opt for soft, padded seating when it comes to your outdoor furniture set to protect your little one from corners and sharp edges. Quality furniture with plush seating and durable covers is the way to go. Every collection RST Brands offers gives your family a comfortable and elegant way to enjoy the outdoors. Choose the soft and long-lasting Deco collection to give your backyard instant appeal without glass or plastic and the sharp corners that might come with it. Bounce your baby while relaxing on the cozy love seat and club chairs for hours in the warm summer sun.

Prevent access to water features
You can install an attractive barrier around your pool or water feature to protect your little one. Shop around for a style that fits your outdoor decor. Clear fiberglass walls look sleek and modern. Wood fence-like barriers fit well with a country garden theme. Just make sure it is at least 5 feet high and anchored to a stable base for maximum protection.

Fire bowl vs. fire pit
A fire element in your backyard instantly adds value to the space, but keep safety in mind. Fire pits are usually outfitted with glass pebbles that are attractive to children because they are shiny, so instead opt for a fire bowl. RST Brands has the perfect solution. The stylish copper bowl is 35 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep, and is not only an attractive focal point, but is safer for your child than an open pit. A metal mesh cover protects you and your little one from stray embers.

Avoid toxic plants
Consider planting edibles in your yard like vegetables, fruits and herbs. Most plants like these are considered nontoxic and safe for curious children to taste. Stay away from plants like mushrooms and oleander. Prickly plants like roses and cactus should also be avoided, along with plants that have small colorful berries like olives. Berries and olives are choking hazards for your child.

Store hoses out of the sun
If you leave your hose laying in the sun, the water inside it can heat up to temperatures that can scald your child. Make sure you store your hose away, especially during hot months. Consider a handwoven rattan deck box that can keep all your metal gardening tools and hoses safely out of the way so your child can play.

Celebrate Easter Outdoors

Spring is upon us, the Easter season is quickly approaching, and people are ready for backyard picnics, barbecued food and games for adults and children. It is a time for outdoor activities and a chance to reunite with the people you love the most. Throwing an Easter party might take some planning ahead, but the fun you'll have and all the memories you'll make are worth all that hard work. Invite all your friends and family over and have a great time with these Easter-themed ideas:

Easter egg hunt
The traditional Easter egg hunt is a great way to get everybody at your party into the celebratory mood.  Hide eggs in the grass, flower garden, in-between cushions on your outdoor furniture set.  Here are a few ways to make the game fun for all ages:

For younger kids:  Choose colorful eggs to make it easier for small children to find their prizes.  Fill the eggs with candy, toys, stickers, or other fun items.  Consider having a limit on how many eggs each child can collect so everyone gets a chance to get a full basket of eggs.  For very young kids, assign an older sibling or friend to help them find the eggs.  A tip: count the eggs before you hide them so you can easily tell if all eggs have been found!

For older kids (or adults):  Choose eggs that blend more with the yard to make it more difficult to spot.  Fill the eggs with small change, consider adding a few eggs with a larger bill as a bonus prize to be best hunter.

Easter brunch

Easter brunch – Once the games are over, your guests will most likely be famished. Let them recover from the festivities with some food and beverages. Consider keeping  the menu light with food like smoked salmon dip, basil-lime fruit salad and some fluffy ginger angel food cake. When they are finished, they can converse for a minute at one of your outdoor dining sets. If you decide to go the buffet route, create more space for your guests to move around by keeping all sides of each table open. Rearrange your outdoor furniture sets so that every food item is unobstructed and easily within reach. Nothing says spring and Easter Sunday like a cold glass of homemade lemonade. Consider using Mason jars as cups, and instead of using a traditional cooler, be creative and try different stainless steel containers decorated with an Easter theme.

Table decor – The wonderful thing about the Easter season is that it allows you to have so much fun with table decorations. Consider making a wide variety of table decorations starting with wooden nesting eggs that you can find at your local handcraft store. Paint the inside your favorite Easter color and fill it with bite-sized candies that your friends and family will love. Centerpieces are also a great idea for your outdoor Easter brunch. Try setting up a lovely flower arrangement with eggshells as a beautiful natural vase. All you need are a few eggcups, empty eggshells and fresh springtime flowers. 

Creating the perfect party pool deck

Summer is just around the corner and it's time to enjoy the sunshine and heat at your favorite poolside spot. With the weather heating up, try adding a party element to the deck of your pool to create a fun setting where you can get together with friends and family.

Poolside bar
Laying out all day soaking in sun rays on your outdoor hammock beds can be extremely relaxing, but might also leave you a little bit dehydrated. You don't want to have to run indoors to grab something to drink, but you desperately need to fill your body with some liquids. The perfect solution to this problem is setting up a poolside bar where you can stock your favorite summertime beverages. Consider placing waterproof stools made of stone or tile in the water. You can also place a grill and refrigerator in the dugout of your bar, but be warned – your friends will never want to leave.

DJ booth and cabana
There's nothing better than having a steady stream of music playing during a summer party. To prepare for your next big event, consider installing a DJ booth and cabana on your pool's deck. The setup can be as elaborate or utilitarian as you want it to be. If you like having the maximum amount of privacy, you might want to go with a pre-fabricated cabana made with solid bamboo walls and a tiki-style ceiling.You can also let some breezes into the DJ booth by using thin drapes or curtains. Use a light-colored fabric to allow in sunshine. To protect your DJ equipment from any water or spilled drinks, consider installing an elevated stand that is completely surrounded with protective plastic or cushioned fabric.

Ambient lighting
When the sun sets, you won't want harsh light from common pool deck lighting to ruin the party atmosphere. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to create ambient lighting that will keep the mood of your event at just the right level of fun and relaxation. Floating globes are one of the most interesting ways to light your pool and your deck. These illuminating spheres can be placed on the water or at the center of your outdoor furniture sets.The soft light adds a mystical feel to any poolside environment without being too extreme for your guests.

Tips for creating a comfortable poolside lounge

Summer is just a season away, so it's time to get ready to spend your days relaxing by the pool. Create a poolside lounge so you can rest after a swim. When picking your decor, keep style and comfort in mind. Here are some tips for creating the ultimate poolside lounge:

Loungers
What's a lounge space without lounge furniture? Find the right outdoor furniture pieces that allow you to sit back and enjoy the sun. RST Brands' Deco Chaise Lounges, come in a two pack with a handwoven wicker design. If you have a larger family or you entertain often, check out the Portofino Chaise Lounge Set. The backrests adjusts to five different positions so you can find your ultimate reclining angle.

Looking for added comfort? The Portofino Chaise Lounge Set comes with Sunbrella cushions to provide a plush seating surface.

Tables
When you are relaxing by the pool, you want a refreshing beverage by your side. Ensure you have somewhere to rest your drink by picking up a lounge table. This surface needs to be set low so you can reach it while you are taking in the sun. The Portofino Comfort Three-Piece Chaise Set comes with a matching table. However, you can also pick a Deco Woven Side Table if you already have lounge chairs. Once your setup is complete, you can rest your book, magazine or tablet within arm's reach.

Sun coverage
While the sun beating down on your skin can be soothing, you'll want to limit your intake of the rays. All you need to accomplish this feat (aside from sunscreen, of course) is a chic patio umbrella. The Portofino Signature Market Umbrella comes in a range of colors to match the hues of your poolside lounge. Additionally, its 360-degree swivel base ensures you and your pool buddies will be covered from the sun no matter the time of day.

Decor
You'll enjoy your poolside lounge so much more if it matches with your personal style aesthetic. Incorporate pillows in your favorite colors and prints into your decor. You can also add extra color with patio planters filled with palms or ferns.

Storage
Don't forget about storage! You'll need a place to put your extra towels, pillows and reading materials. RST Brands offers a Hand Woven Rattan Deck Box that is 49 inches wide, 24 inches deep and 24 inches high, ensuring you have tons of space to store your poolside belongings.

Increase your home’s value with an outdoor kitchen

According to real estate experts, outdoor kitchens increase home value. If you're looking to up the appeal  of your home, or just add an element that will allow you to enjoy your outdoor dining set, consider building an outdoor kitchen. In any market, buyers prefer a home with an outdoor kitchen to a home without one.  For a few tips on how to cook up a great outdoor kitchen, check out the following list:

To-die-for dining set
There is no better place to look than RST Brands when you are ready to upgrade your outdoor dining. Their selection of gorgeous, resort-style dining sets will add class and sophistication to your patio or deck, and the durable materials will last for years. For larger groups, the 9-piece Deco set is the perfect combination of convenience and style. Seat up to eight guests around the table and choose your favorite color for the plush seating from RST's collection. Or, if an intimate meal is more to your taste, opt for RST Brands's bistro set, in your choice of vibrant colors that will add a pop of brightness to your outdoor decor.

4 must-haves
Create a space that lets you mingle with your guests rather than run in and out of the house for refreshments. Be sure to include the following elements to create the perfect dining space:

  1. Countertops give you a place to slice side dishes and prepare a meal while you wait for the grill to get ready. Install a custom counter against the side of the house, or on either side of your grill, for convenience.
  2. Lighting is important out back, especially as night falls. Make sure to add some task lighting in the form of outdoor lamps or light-activated bulbs. Installing an electrical outlet outside for your light features will give you extra space for a side burner or blender too!
  3. Shelter is another key element for your outdoor kitchen because it can shade the chef from too much sun, or rain if you're unlucky! Try a pergola tied to the house frame or secured to free-standing posts in your garden for a charming look. Or, opt for a stylish resort umbrella to keep you cool and dry.
  4. Sinks can complete your kitchen and really help out if you are more than a few steps from the house. A small fridge for cold drinks can make a big difference too. You'll be able to stay outside longer with everything you need to prepare and clean up after a nice meal.

Add a fire element
For a way to make your outdoor kitchen and dining areas even more inviting, add a fire bowl. This decor piece is an impressive item to bring into your design, and can be a lovely reason to sit and enjoy the evening hours. The fire bowl from RST Brands is equipped with a metal mesh lid that protects you from sparks and flying embers once the wood has burnt down.

Ideas for a springtime backyard bash

Invite your favorite people to spend some time with you in your beautiful backyard to eat, drink and celebrate spring! For some inspiration for throwing a sensational spring party, check out the ideas here:

Throw a theme party
Theme parties aren't just for kids! You can have a great time organizing a party based on any theme you can dream up. Try a Parisian fete with crepes, French pop music and a giant cardboard Eiffel Tower for photo ops. Or, a circus party with bunches of balloons, crazy colorful finger foods, bold bunting along the tables, and a game of horseshoes with kitschy prizes for your guests to take home with them.

Fancy garden party
Bring your friends and family together for a grown-up garden party. Get your outdoor furniture party-ready with brand-new cushions that pick up the colors sprouting up in the garden around you. RST Brands has a variety of pillow options, all made from Sunbrella® fabric, which is designed to be weather-, UV- and fade-resistant. Outdoor pillows are a great way to update the look of any room, even if it's outside! Instantly elevate your backyard party space with colors that will energize your guests. Decorate your outdoor dining table with a floor-length tablecloth and china instead of paper plates for an elegant outdoor event. Set a formal table and encourage your guests to dress up to make dining outside a fancy affair! 

Offer an exotic feast
You'll wow your guests by transporting them overseas with an exotic event. Morocco is a popular theme this spring, so make it your own! Decorate your yard with strings of light, paper lanterns, and even a few throw rugs to create a cohesive look. Rather than a formal dinner table, invite your guests to lounge on luxurious upholstered chairs or beanbags for an even more authentic feel. Serve everyone family style, with large platters of saffron chicken, vegetables and flatbread. 

Outdoor adventure party
You want your guests to feel comfortable wandering through your entire, custom-designed backyard oasis. Make it easy for them to set down a cocktail and chat anywhere, whether it's by the pool, among the flowers or on your patio or deck. Make sure there are plenty of bistro and accent tables to encourage exploration. You can even use your hard-top deck box as extra seating or a place to rest your plate while you converse.

Tips for creating a sustainable garden

These days, every part of your home can be more eco-friendly, even your backyard! Design your private retreat that is sustainable as well as a place your family and friends can pull up a pair of outdoor lounge chairs to relax and enjoy the view. Read on for some inspiration on how to do this:

Xeriscaping
Opt for less lawn and more edibles and low-maintenance succulents in your backyard. Many succulents you can find to include in your garden are drought-resistant, so you don't have to worry about watering them as much. This will help cut down on the amount of water you will need to keep your yard looking fresh all summer long. You can still create a comfortable backyard oasis by replacing the grass with islands of multi-purpose trees, shrubs, ground cover and mulch. Use ferns in areas under trees for a lush, healthy yard.

You can also arrange your outdoor dining set so it's nestled into a grouping of native plants that will provide a beautiful backdrop for gatherings outdoors. Plants that are native to your area are already used to the seasonal changes and periods of drought or flooding. They are also hardier and require less maintenance time than imported exotic plants.

Purchase quality outdoor pieces
Choose outdoor furniture for your backyard that is made from quality materials to avoid breakdown in harsh weather conditions. The entire RST Outdoor line of dining sets, chairs, lounges and accent tables offers the perfect options that will provide you and your family with beautiful and durable pieces that will last, with little maintenance but tons of style. You can customize your sets based on color and needs, whether you like to relax under a patio umbrella or enjoy an intimate dinner at a colorful bistro table.

Reign in the rain
Conserve rainwater that you can use to keep your garden healthy. There are different ways to do this. You can find attractive rain gardens, French drains and rain barrels or cisterns that will blend into the style of your backyard. For example, if you have created a Southwestern motif, opt for a clay cistern. Or, if you have sections of your rain gutters where a rain spout won't work, try an attractive and decorative rain chain. Keeping rain water on-site will help you prevent flooding in your yard.