Monthly Archives: May 2014

Create a private patio oasis with these ideas

Your patio can be the perfect spot for entertaining, but it can also be a serene retreat when you're looking for some seclusion. Transform your backyard into the perfect private spot for relaxation with any of these ideas:

Install a pergola
Pergolas not only promote privacy, they can enhance the look of the overall space. They allows you to hang greenery, flowers or even stringed lights for a beautiful ambiance. The pergola will also help to shade you and your guests from the sun to stay cool and comfortable.

Plant trees and bushes
Looking for a way to help out the environment and enclose your patio? Consider planting a row of trees or bushes, which are a natural way to separate your yard and patio from your neighbor's. Shrubs should be planted at least 1 foot apart in order to have enough space to properly grow. Use sharp shears to keep your trees and bushes looking clean and pristine.

Opt for a lattice wall
Choose one or a few areas of your patio to place a lattice wall. This won't make your patio feel stuffy, but still helps the space feel secluded. Grow vines or flowers across the lattice for a stunning focal point on your patio.

Try a stone wall
Outdoor fireplaces can easily be incorporated on your patio with a stone wall. The stone will keep your backyard looking cool and modern while offering privacy, and the fire will provide warmth for you and your guests.

Use fountains
Having beautiful fountains of water on your patio not only helps to promote serenity and relaxation, it can easily drown out the noises from your neighbors. If they happen to be sitting outside, the water will be loud enough to muddle their conversation.

Creating a cozy outdoor dining area

Whether you're enjoying an afternoon lunch with your family or are planning on entertaining guests for a summer dinner party, having a comfortable, inviting and cozy dining atmosphere can take your patio to the next level. Your outdoor dining space can be just as stylish and snug as the interior of your home. Here are a few ideas to evoke a cozy ambiance:

Set the mood with lighting
The first step to setting a comfortable atmosphere in your outdoor dining area is having the right light. A chandelier can instantly glam up your space and give you a warm glow that perfectly illuminates your dining area. Consider other subtle light sources as well, such as stringed lights, lanterns and candles.

Ward off bugs
Nobody wants to be shooing away mosquitos, flies and gnats while they're trying to eat or converse with friends. There are a few ways to banish bugs on your patio for a pest-free zone:

Hang bird feeders: Hanging bird feeders will attract beautiful birds to your backyard, who will feast on bugs and keep them away from your dining area.

Screen your porch: Consider installing a retractable screen on your patio that you can put down when the bugs start to come out. This way, you can enjoy the fresh outdoor breeze without any of the pests.

Citronella candles: Citronella candles are a must-have for your porch because they set a comfortable glow, and their scent helps to repel bugs.

Fans: Install a fan on your patio that can provide a light breeze when it's not windy out. This will blow away the bugs and help set a relaxing atmosphere on your patio.

Consider firepits
For outdoor dinners that continue well past sunset, firepits are the perfect accessory. Install an outdoor fireplace near your dining table to keep you and your guests warm as you continue to enjoy dinner and converse with one another. The embers of the fire emit much more than warmth – they help set an intimate tone.

Opt for comfortable chairs
Search for patio dining chairs that are as big on comfort as they are on style. Consider purchasing chairs with plush, relaxing seat cushions to encourage your guests to sit down, relax and stay awhile. Sunbrella fabric, for instance, is not only comfortable, it's resistant to the elements. It's best to invest in quality chairs that are going to last you many years.

Color
Use warm colors on your outdoor dining table by looking for decorative tablecloths and unique centerpieces. Use fresh flowers to dress up the middle of your table, and look for table runners in soft oranges, purples, reds or yellows.

Give your deck a beachy feel with these design ideas

There's nothing more relaxing than unwinding on a sandy beach while the waves crash in front of you. The good news is, even if you don't live by the sea, you can still achieve that coastal vibe with the right design ideas. Here are a few beach-inspired design tips for your patio:

Use coconut palms
The patio is the perfect space to show off beautiful flowers and plants. But in order to set a beach-like tone, consider using blooms you would find at the beach. Implement lush greenery like a coconut palm plant, a hibiscus flower or brightly hued orchids. Use them to dress up your pergola, or place them around the fireplace to create a beachy focal point on your patio.

Have appropriate seating
The beach is a setting that's focused on relaxation. You can encourage guests to unwind by offering a chaise lounge by the poolside or next to the fire for a spot to relax when the sun goes down. Always have plenty of comfortable cushions on chairs and swings as well.

Opt for a fresh color palette
Everything about the sea evokes a certain freshness. You can achieve that same vibe on your patio using a color palette willed with crisp whites, sky blues and seafoam greens. Stick to an all-white scheme, adding in pops of color here and there using area rugs, wall decor, cushions, decorative pillows and dinnerware. You can also use bright patio umbrellas to create a lively focal point.

Install a firepit
Once the sun goes down at the beach, people head to the sand to have the perfect summer fire. Do the same right on your patio by installing a firepit, which will keep your patio functional all year long. Be careful about where you place your firepit, however. Keep it away from wood surfaces and instead, place it on concrete, stone, gravel, brick or slate for safety purposes. Even the simplest of firepits offers a warm and inviting ambiance that sets the perfect mood for summer evenings. Have roasting sticks, marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers on-hand for a sweet summer treat everyone will love. Surround the fire with plenty of seating to create a cozy spot for your guests to gather.

Decorate with stripes
Patterns can liven up your patio and add character to the space. Consider using stripes as your design of choice – they're nautical in nature and always pair well with a seaside theme.

A swimming pool is the perfect addition to your backyard – it offers a place to cool off, relax and exercise. It also enhances the overall look of your patio by providing gorgeous color and a serene vibe. There are ways to make your poolside patio look even more luxurious, however. Consider these tips to enhance your pool:

Surround it with chaise lounge chairs
Emulate the look of a fancy poolside hotel by placing chaise lounge chairs around the perimeter of the pool. It offers a place for you and your guests to relax, chat or sunbathe. Choose comfortable cushions for each chair and opt for a color that coordinates with the rest of your patio design.

Add a tanning shelf
Looking for a way to stay cool and sunbathe at the same time? Add a tanning shelf to your pool – the shelf is typically 5 to 8 inches deep, located at the entry of your pool. It can be as large or as small of a space as you would like. This is a great area to sit and chat with guests while enjoying the cool, refreshing water. It's also a great space to put lounge chairs – you can dip your feet in the water as you read a book or take a quick nap.

Set a cleaning schedule
There is nothing less appealing than a pool filled with twigs, leaves and other miscellaneous items. Cleaning your pool regularly is essential to the entire look of your patio. Always have a net nearby to pick out any large items that may fall into the water.

Install creative lighting
Make night swimming much more enjoyable and relaxing by putting lights into your pool. This helps show off the area when the sun goes down and makes it safer to walk around and swim. Opt for LED lights in your swimming pool – they offer a soft glow throughout your pool and can even be customized to different color settings.

Place a firepit nearby
Firepits are great for entertaining, but they can also offer warmth and light to late-night swimmers. Place your firepit nearby your pool and provide plenty of outdoor seating so guests can gather around the fire and converse with anyone who may be in the pool.

Have a swim-up bar
With a swim-up bar, you and your guests don't have to get out of the pool to grab a refreshing drink or get a snack. Set up a small bar near your kitchen area so that people out of the pool can provide food and drinks and converse with those that are swimming.

Implement an additional water feature
If your pool is spacious enough, consider putting a fountain in the middle of your pool to create a dramatic focal point. You can also consider a small waterfall that gently trickles into your pool and produces relaxing sound effects.

Use greenery
Introduce lots of greenery and colorful flowers around your pool for a tranquil garden-like oasis. Just avoid planting anything with large roots that could affect the structure of your pool.

Tips and ideas for your landscaping project around your pool

Summer is here and that means poolside projects are either being planned or are already well underway. Many people see their pool as the major focal point of their backyard and want to accessorize that area with beautiful statues and lighting. But one of the most lasting additions to your pool is the landscaping that surrounds it. By taking control of the shape and layout of the ground around your pool – which includes your deck and patio – you can create a fun and beautiful environment. Here are a few tips to help you get started on this season's landscaping project:

Find your inspiration
A lot of the work for your landscaping project begins in your imagination. Before you dig a single shovel into the soil around your pool, find your inspiration. Movies, books and paintings are excellent starting points. You can also do research on different types of flowers and plants or take a look at various styles of gardening that would match your backyard area perfectly. Whatever you decide, use ideas that you've fallen in love with and start from there. 

Design your deck and patio layout
Once you get your creative juices flowing and have a list of ideas you want to apply to your project, you should sit down and determine the flow of traffic around your pool. Don't rush through this part. Easily accessible walkways and planned out seating areas will protect the plants and flowers from being trampled. When choosing patio furniture, you should consider having enough seating to accommodate guests comfortably. RST Brands has a wide variety of outdoor furniture sets and patio dining chairs and tables that complement any landscaping theme or design.

Start planting and shaping
If you don't have much experience with landscaping, you might want to use professional services for your project. Talk with a professional to discuss what can be done with the given space. Small backyards won't be able to accommodate gigantic sprawling waterfalls. Are you trying to create an outdoor oasis in your backyard? Consider integrating large broad-leaf plants and a lower layer – plants that grow no taller than 12 inches – that acts as a ground cover. Is a day at the beach the theme of your landscaping project? Dig out an area around your pool and line it with landscape fabric. Fill it with pale sand, also called sugar sand, and add some patio furniture or umbrellas to create your own beach getaway.

5 tips to enhance your outdoor bar

If you plan on entertaining frequently this summer, having an outdoor bar is crucial. You and your guests can gather in this area during dinner parties and have a drink or two while enjoying the beautiful weather. Having an outdoor bar is also super convenient – you won't have to keep running inside to grab beverages.

Think about location
The location of your bar is crucial. You don't want it facing a wall or bathing in full sun. Instead, consider placing it where you and your guests will have a spectacular view and will be able to cool off under the shade while enjoying a drink. Place a pergola over your bar area to provide just the right amount of shade and seclusion while still allowing those summer breezes to blow through. Have your bar face a focal point in your patio, whether it's a fireplace or a pool. This will give you and your guests a beautiful view as you sit down and enjoy your outdoor bar.

Choose a functional countertop
The countertop of your bar must not only match the style of your patio, it should be functional as well. You don't want to choose a material that will deteriorate quickly after being exposed to the elements and potentially frequent spills. For instance, limestone and marble look luxurious, but they can easily be stained with beverages like wine. Granite may be your best bet for an outdoor countertop. It looks sleek and elegant, but is also tough. It doesn't absorb stains and odors and also doesn't fade after constantly sitting in the sun. If your bar countertop will be in the sun the majority of the day, you'll want to stay away from dark-colored granite that will be hot to the touch.

Offer comfortable bar stools
There's more that goes into choosing bar stools than you think. They must be the appropriate height for your bar's countertop, and they should be comfortable. Look at the style of your patio – is it rustic? Vintage? Modern? You should select bar stools that match that same design aesthetic. Backless reclaimed wood bar stools, for example, would look great in a vintage outdoor kitchen. Wicker stools can contribute to a casual space, and metal stools are best for a minimalist or modern outdoor bar.

Have the right tools
One of the reasons that people include an outdoor bar on their patio is so they have everything they need to entertain guests throughout the evening. They won't have to keep running back and forth between the interior and the patio, missing out on interactions with guests. Make sure to keep your bar fully stocked with the proper tools to craft beverages. Bottle openers, corkscrews, cutting boards, a peeler, a long cocktail spoon, a shaker, koozies and cocktail napkins are just a few items that you'll always want to have on-hand.

Stock up on the basics
Glassware is essential for an outdoor bar. Different glasses will be required for various types of alcohol. For instance, if you plan on serving wine at your party, you'll need 12 basic stemmed wine glasses. Beer, on the other hand, will require chilled glasses.

6 must-have amenities for a luxurious patio

Summer is nearly here, which means it's time to focus on getting your patio ready for plenty of warm-weather get-togethers. The patio isn't just an outdoor space, it's an extension of your home. Therefore, it should evoke just as much elegance and luxury as your interior. Here are a few amenities that can enhance both the look and function of your patio:

Lighting
While you enjoy natural light during the day, you'll need a way to brighten up your patio once the sun goes down. Be careful when choosing your light sources, as they have a powerful impact on the overall mood and tone of your space. You have more than a few options when it comes to illuminating your patio:

String lights: Create a whimsical ambiance by stringing lights throughout your patio. Wrap them around trees and hang them overhead to provide a soft, warm and inviting glow that is perfect for summer.

Lanterns: Adhere lantern-style wall sconces to your patio for a rustic feel. You can also use the light fixture as a centerpiece for your dinner table or place them near your fireplace for additional illumination.

Pendants: Pendants are great for providing light to specific areas, whether they're a counter for food prep or a space for dining and entertaining.

Hammock
Outdoor lounge chairs will always be a relaxing way to enjoy your patio, but hammocks offer the ultimate way to unwind. You can breathe in the fresh outdoor air while subtly swinging yourself to sleep or getting lost in your favorite book.

Firepit
The days during summer may be hot, but once the sun goes down, the air can be a bit brisk. Firepits are the ideal way to warm up the space while offering a cozy ambiance for you and your guests. A firepit is the perfect focal point for your patio, providing a comfortable space for you and your guests to gather, chat and relax. Place plenty of snug seating around the pit to encourage people to sit down and unwind. You should also store pillows and blankets nearby just in case. You may even want to have materials for s'mores nearby for a late-night snack that everyone will enjoy.

Pergola
Consider adding a pergola to your patio. This covering provides seclusion and helps define the area while still allowing the sun to shine in and breezes to blow through. A pergola also provides much-needed shade for those hot summer days. Add lush greenery to the structure using ivy, vines, or other plants and flowers.

Soothing sounds
Put a focus on serenity and relaxation by introducing soothing sounds to your patio. Consider implementing structures featuring the calming trickle of water or use weatherproof outdoor speakers to provide nature sounds or music for your patio.

Flowers
Flowers are a simple way to provide color to your patio. Hang baskets of blooms, place them on side tables, or use them as a centerpiece on your outdoor table to freshen up the space.

Fill your summer with fun with these essential pool and deck accessories

Now that summer is just around the corner, you’re going to want put on your swim gear and step into your pool. This year, don’t just settle for a nice little dip in the water. Go all out and grab these essential pool party and deck accessories:

Waterproof pool table
What’s cooler than knocking down an eight ball against your friends? Hitting the winning shot inside your swimming pool. Make sure you find one that fits the size of your pool and is made of corrosion-resistant aluminum.

Deck furniture
You don’t want to throw a pool party without outdoor furniture sets to seat all your friends. RST Brands has an extensive line of both deck and patio furniture made of only the highest-quality materials and the most stylish designs.

Patio umbrellas
The high noon heat during the summer months can be unbearable without some kind of barrier between you and the sun’s rays. Protect your skin while lounging pool side with one of RST Brands’s patio umbrellas. You can choose from a long list of sizes, shapes, designs and colors that match your home’s aesthetic, like our Portofino Comfort dining umbrella in Sunbrella heather beige or Terrace Market umbrella in Tuscan orange.

Aquaclimb climbing wall
You have to be quite the hardcore climber to install this behemoth in your pool, but the results are quite impressive. Made of stainless steel, the frame can reach up to 30 feet. The curved wall can hang over your pool for a natural feet-first re-entry into the water. The wall is also powder coated to ensure durability and can come in a variety of colors to match any type of decor you already have poolside.

Drink coolers/refrigerator
There’s nothing that spoils a summertime barbecue or pool party more than discovering all your beverages have become warm from being left outside. Don’t let the heat ruin your party and invest in a few drink coolers. You can place these in strategic areas around the pool or play area so your guests can access refreshments easily. You might also want to consider installing an outdoor refrigerator to keep a wide variety of cans, bottles and drink pouches cool throughout the day.

Remote-controlled snack and drink pool float
There’s nothing less fun than being at a pool party without having anything to munch. It gets worse when you’re in the middle of your pool and can’t seem to get out of your floatation device and hop into the kitchen. You can solve both of these problems with a remote-controlled float with integrated drink holders and a middle slot for chips and dip.

Kid-friendly outdoor party ideas for the summer

The summer season is almost upon us, and if you have kids, this means plenty of opportunities to throw outdoor parties. You don’t have to be the parent who does the same schtick – pizza, pool and old games like pin the tail on the donkey. Use these outdoor party ideas to add a little bit of flavor to your event:

Carnival
Themed parties are all the rage these days, and what kid doesn’t enjoy the atmosphere of a carnival? Displaying bright colors and setting up fun games are your objectives at this party. Pinstripe tents are a must, but if renting one is outside of your budget, raid your linen closet and find some vivid sheets or light blankets that can be pinned to a tree. If trees are scarce around your home, you can opt to stick tent or volleyball poles in the ground. Arrange your outdoor furniture sets so the kids can watch an outdoor puppet show or a movie, creating a decent carnival atmosphere. Games should also be a priority. Bucket ball, a shooting gallery (using Nerf guns only) and ring tosses are all fun activities for kids. Set up a ticket system where they can win prizes for added drama and excitement.

Water party
Before Nintendo, Xbox and Playstation brought summertime activities inside, kids used to play in pools. Or if they didn’t have a pool, they hopped around a group of sprinklers for hours of fun. Set the mood for your party by putting up blue and green decorations. Consider offering a buffet spread that is inspired by sea creatures. Throw in a few aquatic activities like Slip n’ Slides or water balloon fights. You might also try creating a fishing game with plastic poles, string and magnets that catch plastic frogs, crabs and seahorses.

Obstacle course
Many adults are envious of the boundless energy kids have. You can use this energy to your advantage by creating a mini obstacle course in your yard. Not only is this an opportunity for kids to get out of the house, but it also helps build their self-confidence. The obstacle course doesn’t have to be on par with those on “American Gladiators” or “Ninja Warrior,” but it should be somewhat of a challenge for the young party-goers. Consider using items you already have in your house like a small step ladder, tables or inflatable pools. Set up two-person challenges like navigating a slalom course on a wagon or wheelbarrow, or tandem balance-beam crossing.

How to prepare for amazing outdoor parties

The summer season is coming soon, and with it the arrival of endless days of sunbathing on your pool deck, barbecuing with friends and family, and sitting by the campfire to keep warm at night. Whatever you decide to do this summer, make every event one that you will remember forever. If you want to host the ultimate summer party that will be the talk of the town, you will need to focus on some of the essential features of an amazing poolside party. 

Patio must-haves
Experiencing an outdoor pool party without adequate patio furniture available is like running a marathon in the dead of winter – no fun at all. Determine the number of guests that you initially invited. Estimate how much seating you will need to accommodate the majority of your guests. Outdoor furniture sets are critical to creating a harmonious atmosphere. Some of your guests will find their way to the cool pool water, while others will want to sit and chat with their friends under a large shady umbrella on top of plush cushioned chairs and benches. Whatever the situation is, having enough seating for your guests is an exercise in thoughtfulness that those who were invited will not overlook.

Lighting
Nothing can raise the mood of an outdoor party more than the right type of lighting. Harsh lighting can hurt the eyes of your guests while too little can be the cause of injury and accidents. There should be enough bulbs placed in strategic places to illuminate important, high-traffic areas like stairways and the railing of the patio or deck, but no more than necessary. Try getting creative with the way you use light. Think about hanging strings of white lights, lanterns or tea lights on tree branches. You can also adjust the party mood by using globe string lights. These are stylish, round bulbs that give off a pleasant glow. If you are running wires across your yard, snip bits of wire hangers into U-shaped pegs. Use these to hold the wires down so none of your guests trip over them.    

Food and entertainment
When throwing an outdoor party, you will want to have a variety of items available for your guests. Your best bet is creating a buffet line. Arrange your food so that guests can view the spread without creating a traffic jam and place your dining area away from the buffet. Make sure you have extra entrees, side dishes, salad, bread, butter and condiments. As for entertainment, think about your personality and the purpose of your party. Blend a variety of songs from genres like calypso, blue Grass, Dixieland, jazz, soul, rap, acoustic guitar, string quartet, Big Band, and rock.