Monthly Archives: July 2014

Tips for turning your patio into a French-inspired bistro

The great cafes of Paris are a defining feature of the city. You can probably imagine sitting at a small bistro table sipping on coffee, eating a delectable treat and listening to music. The atmosphere is at once relaxing and busy as you watch passersby. French cafes were even the stomping grounds of some of the art world's most famous figures. For instance, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were both expatriates living in France in the 1920s​ who spent time at cafes. You don't have to fly to Paris to transport yourself to that world, just redecorate your patio. With the right outdoor furniture sets, lighting and decor, your home will become a haven.

Spring for cobblestone
Parisian bistros spill onto the streets of the city. Within a little fence, diners can sit and view people as they go about their daily lives. The streets of Paris are paved with cobblestones, so including these elements in your patio will set the right tone. If you want to install a new patio, consider using cobblestone to create your bistro-inspired design.

Line up little tables
Most European street cafes cram tons of tiny tables into a single outdoor space – they need to fit a large amount of patrons into a small area. Of course, your backyard bistro doesn't have to feel so cramped, it just needs the ambiance of those cafe tables. Depending on how much room you have, you can set up several furniture pieces in your yard. Take a look at these two lovely sets from RST Brands:

Hand Woven Rattan Three-Piece Bistro Set: Constructed out of rattan wicker and aluminum, this bistro set is durable, long lasting and weather resistant, ensuring your yard will be a cute cafe for as long as you want it to be. All three pieces fold up, so you can pack away your set with ease should you ever need to.

Sol Three-Piece Bistro Set: This patio bistro set is made of powder-coated stainless steel. The material's treatment prevents it from corroding as a result of exposure to sun and rain. Each piece folds up for easy storage, though you'll likely want to keep them outside to maintain the look of your backyard cafe.

Enclose the space
While many French cafes are open to the street, restaurant owners try to make the area more private. To crate a more secluded atmosphere, they add a fence around the dining section and place planters on it. That way, the fence separates the guests from street traffic and adds a touch of decorative foliage. You can do something similar in your yard by decorating with plants. A pot here and there filled with a small shrub, tree or flowers will help your patio feel enclosed and give it an organic ambiance. Of course, you can always add a small fence to your patio area as well.

Don't forget the details
The lights and decor you choose will complete the look of your patio bistro. Hang string lights over the tops of your RST Brands cafe tables to give the space a lit canopy. You can also hang a chalkboard to mimic cafe menus. Write cute phrases and inspirational sayings, or jot down a menu during a dinner party.

Things you need to host an outdoor movie night in your backyard

Don't let summer come to a close until you've made the most of your backyard. The warm weather is perfect for hosting get-togethers! In fact, you can use your outdoor living space even after the sun has gone down. Consider transforming your yard into a movie theater one night. Your friends and family will love lounging and watching a great flick in the comfort of private property. Of course, if you're going to pull this off, you'll need a few pointers.

Set up the screen
Setting up a large outdoor viewing screen is easier than you may think. You'll need:

  • A DVD or Blu-ray player
  • A movie
  • A sound system (such as the speakers you have inside your house)
  • A projector
  • A screen

Hook the player into the projector and set up your speakers in your yard. Then hang your screen. You can make one using sheets and some PVC pipe, or purchase one. Take some time out during the day to test the setup as a whole. That way, when night falls and friends gather, you'll be ready to hit play.

Make sure there's no bright light in your backyard, otherwise the movie will get washed out. Also, you may want to warn your neighbors about the noise (or invite them to the movie night).

Get some comfortable seating
Movie theaters have become more sophisticated over the years, but the seating still isn't as comfortable as what you can provide at home. Take advantage of the fact that your theater is in your yard and offer the coziest seating possible. RST Brands' outdoor furniture sets are just the ticket! With lounger chairs and outdoor sectionals, you're sure to find seating that will make movie night the most pleasant film-viewing experience you've ever had. We recommend a couple different pieces for your party:

Portofino Signature Lounger Set and Table: This set comes with two folding lounge chairs, each of which have padded seats. The cushions are weatherproof and the chairs are made of durable synthetic wicker. Along with the chairs, you'll get a matching end table. Set up the chairs to face your outdoor screen, placing the table in the middle. That way, viewers will have a spot to rest their drinks.

Resort Five-Piece Seating Set: If you want to have a lot of people over and seat them in a smaller amount of space, you may prefer to use an outdoor sectional. This outdoor furniture set from RST Brands can do just that. You can even configure the pieces to work well with your movie night arrangement.

Best outdoor furniture sets for creating a backyard getaway

While you probably would like to hop on a plane and zoom off to your favorite destination on a whim, such spontaneity, unfortunately, isn't practical. Between family and work commitments, you can't really go on vacation whenever the mood strikes you. You can, however, step into your backyard. By transforming your patio into a veritable resort, you can take a hiatus from life right on your own property. Of course, to transform your space into the destination of your choice, you'll need some amazing outdoor furniture sets. Here are a few ideas of which pieces to buy according to the location you want to recreate:

Florence
Imagine sitting on a balcony overlooking the Italian city of Florence. Sounds like a great vacation, right? While you won't be able to peer over ancient red- and ivory-stone buildings from your yard, you can create the same ambiance. Florence is packed with Renaissance architecture, ornate art and warm colors. Your backyard will need a bit of a facelift to match the majesty. Consider getting a stone patio and outdoor fireplace. However, to make the space really cozy and full of Florence-inspired romance, you'll need the right outdoor furniture.

Astoria Collection: This amalgam of luxury furniture pieces is the perfect set for creating a taste of Italy in your yard. Built with lightweight aluminum, the seating frames have a rustic dark-metal look. The seat cushions are waterproof and comfortable, allowing you to lounge your way to relaxation. When you select pieces from the Astoria Collection, you have the choice of several fabric colors. We recommend you go with Tikka, which is a burnt orange hue, to match the tones of Florence. 

Greece
The Greek coastline is a stunning site, with crystal blue waters, white stucco buildings and domed roofs. The cliffsides overlooking the Mediterranean Sea provide the coastal villages with a stacked look. Were your yard near the sea, you'd look out onto the waters while sitting comfortably. Your backyard can feel a little more like a Greek getaway if you add the right elements. Think coastal when you design your landscaping and select furniture. You can even draw inspiration from classic Greek architecture! As for your outdoor seating, we recommend:

Cannes Collection: This set of furniture is made of aluminum and hand-woven polyethylene rattan wicker. The pieces are lightweight and maintenance-free. Overall, the furniture in the Cannes Collection looks like it belongs near a sea or ocean. If you want to capture the look of the Greek coastline, select the Bliss color scheme. The light blue and gray tones mirror the look of the ocean. The fabric is all waterproof and made of 100 percent recycled materials.

Cayman Islands
If you're more of a tropical islander than a European traveler, then you may imagine being whisked off to the Caribbean. The Cayman Islands are a warm paradise defined by sand beaches, crystal waters and blue skies. Turn you backyard into a cabana by selecting the right furniture.

Resort Collection: Made of polyethylene rattan wicker and aluminum, the Resort Collection from RST Brands has the cabana look. The furniture and cushions are resistant to water and ultraviolet rays, making them a durable choice.

Things to consider when choosing outdoor dining sets

Purchasing new dining furniture for your backyard or patio requires some thought and planning. You want to ensure the objects you select meet your entertainment and leisure needs, as well as fit your lifestyle. As you begin shopping for quality pieces, take time to consider which features would be best for your outdoor furniture sets. This list of things to consider when searching will help guide you through the buying process:

How much maintenance would you like to perform?
Some materials need to be cared for more than others. For example, teak wood can gray when exposed to sunlight, and must be washed to maintain its honey color. Before you start shopping for outdoor home accessories, decide how much time and effort you're willing to put into maintaining your furniture. You can find low-maintenance options that are also high quality, such as aluminum and synthetic wicker.

In fact, RST Brands carries exclusively low-maintenance outdoor furniture. Many items only need to be washed with a hose and mild cleanser. Additionally, the finish on such furniture pieces is weatherproof to ensure you won't have to restore the product after years of wind and sun exposure.

Some homeowners do enjoy caring for their belongings. If you fall into that category, then you might like owning wood pieces. As long as you choose furniture that suits your lifestyle, you will enjoy owning it.

How much space do you have?
Your backyard or patio has a finite amount of space into which you must fit your furniture. By selecting patio dining sets that are proportional to your square footage, you'll ensure you and your guests have plenty of room to move about and sit. Fortunately, you'll have no trouble finding outdoor dining furniture sets that match any amount of space you have. Here are a few suggestions based on available room:

A lot of space: If you have a large yard, patio or deck, then you might be interested in a bigger dining set. More people will be able to eat and mingle outside should you go this route. The Deco Nine Piece Dining set seats eight people comfortably.

Mid-range: The Astoria Five Piece Cafe Dining set is designed to seat four people. It'll fit on a medium-sized patio and is perfect for a smaller family.

Private space: Want to create a little nook in your yard perfect for private conversations or one-on-one dinners? You will love the Sol Three Piece Bistro set.

How will you divide your space?
Even if your yard is sweeping, you may not want to devote all of the space to dining furniture. In the future, you might choose to add outdoor lounge chairs and sectionals to provide comfortable leisure seating for your family and friends to use. Plan now how you would divide your space to accommodate multiple seating arrangements. That way, you'll choose a dining set that fits into your yard comfortably with future furniture purchases. 

Is the furniture weatherproofed?
Rain and sun are the two most damaging elements your outdoor furniture will face. The sun can fade color while rain may seep into fabrics or cushions. As you hunt for quality pieces, make sure the cushions are weatherproofed and that the materials used are durable. You can also help your furniture repel water by coating it with a light layer of wax – this is good for aluminum pieces. 

5 tips for turning your backyard into a tropical haven

Heading to the beach is one of the joys of summer, but doing so isn't always convenient. Whether you live a ways from the nearest coastline or simply don't have the time to spare, you can bring a tropical atmosphere home. All it takes is a little ingenuity and few a strategies to transform your backyard into a beach-like haven. Here's how:

1. Rethink your landscaping
Beaches and tropical paradises have their own set of iconic flora. You can incorporate these plants into your backyard garden to give the space a cabana feel. Be on the lookout for hibiscus, palms, calla lilies, ferns and brugmansia. Additionally, try to add a lot of color to your garden. Bright hues have that summer look sure to add the right atmosphere to your backyard. 

Consider placing taller plants near the perimeter of your yard to create natural privacy barriers. Plant shorter flowers nearer to your deck that you can enjoy. You can even plant your tropical foliage in pots and place them on your porch or patio.

2. Purchase proper outdoor furniture
When you imagine your ideal tropical haven, it probably has plenty of lounge furniture. Whether you want to swing in a hammock bed while reading a book or enjoy a fruity cocktail on a cushy outdoor sofa, purchasing the right furniture pieces will allow you to achieve your dream. The more comfortable the furniture, the better. 

The appearance of your outdoor seating can also enhance your backyard cabana. For example, synthetic wicker (like the material used in the Deco Nine Piece Sectional & Club Seating Set) is sure to give your space a summery look. This material also resists fading caused by the sun, an important feature for summertime.

3. Provide plenty of shade
As you lay outside in your backyard beach-like area, you want to ensure you don't overheat. Your private tropical getaway should include shelter from the hot summer sun. Large umbrellas are a great option because they are effective at reducing your exposure to sunlight and they fit in with your tropical decor. You can purchase patio umbrellas that slide into outdoor dining tables or standalone models. The Portofino 10-Foot Resort Umbrella shades your yard without the need for a table as it features its very own patio umbrella base. 

4. Consider a water element
While you can't actually bring the beach to your yard, you can evoke the idea of it. The sound of rolling waves crashing upon the shore is an iconic feature of beaches, and it's a melody you can mimic. Consider adding a water element to your yard in whatever form you'd like. You can install a pool, build a fountain or add a trickling creek. The gentle gurgling of fountain features are sure to relax your mind as you lounge outside this summer. 

5. Add a fire pit
Nights spent on the beach huddled around a fire pit are certainly memorable ones, and you can recreate the experience at home. By placing a fire pit in your yard, you can enjoy your tropical scenery past sundown. 

Designing an outdoor kitchen

Summer is the time for gathering outside. Whether it is a family barbecue, wine tasting al fresco or outdoor birthday bash, having the ability to cook and prepare food in your outdoor living space is always an added bonus. Outdoor kitchens are all the rage, as they allow for quick and easy entertaining. No longer do you have to worry about setting out your most expensive crystal and china for a dinner party indoors. Instead, you can prepare and serve an entire meal right from your elegant outdoor dining sets!

Working with professionals
When entering into the process of designing your new outdoor kitchen, it is important to consult with an appropriate landscape architect, designer and building contractor. As you assemble your team, you will want look up not only pictures of their past work, but also testimonies from those who have worked with them before. This group of experts will help with everything from the design process, to dealing with building permits and project management to make sure everything is done legally and on time.

Designing the space
One of the most important considerations when you start is to think of what appliances you would like to have in your new space. A grill is the most common outdoor cooking appliance, but there are many more options the avid gourmand may consider. For example, a custom-built wood-burning pizza oven is perfect for those with a hankering for fresh, Neapolitan pizza. Meanwhile, a smoker is ideal for those who often host barbecues. Think about the kind of food you most enjoy making and eating when deciding what kind of appliances to build into your outdoor kitchen.

Seating everyone
The icing on the cake is making sure there is enough comfortable seating for any guests you may have. After all, cooking food outdoors is pointless unless there is somewhere to enjoy it! Consider some patio bistro sets along with your formal full-sized dining table to give your guests options. In addition, always try to orient your seating to take advantage of your backyard's view. Beach houses especially benefit from an outdoor kitchen as a place for clambakes and lobster boils. Bar stools facing the ocean are perfect for these kinds of environments.

No matter how you choose to set up your outdoor kitchen, make sure it not only operates as a functional space, but also demonstrates your personal flair. 

Make your patio Palm Springs chic

Modernist architects in the mid-20th century turned the desert resort community of Palm Springs, California, into a mecca of beautiful home design. The work of people such as Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Donald Wexler and Albert Frey became so well-known that industry insiders began to give the area's unique look a name all its own: Desert Modernism. Distinguished by stark angles, clean lines, wide glass windows and outdoor living spaces, this regional architectural style was incorporated into everything from homes and hotels to civic buildings and schools.

The blending of indoor and outdoor living spaces has led many to embrace a Desert Modernist aesthetic in their own home. Here is a guide to some of the most definitive architectural elements of the style and the perfect outdoor furniture sets to match the theme:

It's all about the overhang
The roofline was an important consideration for many Desert Modernist architects. In order to create a fluid transition from the interior to the exterior space, as well as provide shade from the blistering desert sun, the roof would often extend into an overhang above the patio or courtyard. Consult a contractor about building out your own overhang that extends your home's structure into the outdoors.

Go for the Sol
When furnishing your outdoor poolside or patio, opt for the Sol collection to stay within the Desert Modernist theme. Our Sol furniture features clean lines and bright colors that will lend an air of Palm Springs elegance to any backyard. The curved shape of the chaise lounge in this collection accentuates the natural features, such as rocks and desert plants, that are present in many Desert Modernist gardens. All the furniture pieces in this collection are made from textilene mesh that can withstand everything from sun to rain, ensuring your outdoor seating never falls victim to the elements.

Form follows function
One of the guiding mantras of the modernist movement on the whole was that of form following function. As such, spaces were built to optimize how they would be used. Use this design philosophy to dictate how you furnish your outdoor space. If you are working with a pool deck, you will want to prioritize lounge seating, whereas patios demand more sofas and loveseats. Embrace the "less is more" mindset for a sleek exterior space.

Hosting a successful red, white and blue drink tasting in your backyard

The Fourth of July is a time of year when friends, family and neighbors gather together to celebrate our nation's independence. Cookouts, firework viewings and pool parties are all common ways people choose to enjoy the holiday, but you can bump your event up a notch. Consider using your backyard as a venue for a sophisticated tasting party that features red, white and blue drinks. As you plan, use these tips to ensure you and your guests have a splendid time:

Plan your drink menu
As drink tasting is the point of your party (not including celebrating the Fourth of July, of course), you need to compile a definitive menu of enjoyable beverages. You can create cocktails that layer liquids of each color, or pick several drinks all of different shades. For example, you might create a menu of white and red wine, and serve a blue martini. Make sure the flavors of your beverage selections vary widely. You want your guests to progress logically through drink flavors. Perhaps start with something light and end with a drink that packs more flavor. For instance, you can begin with sweet white wines, and make your way to dry reds. Avoid opening with hard drinks and instead begin with a drink that has a low alcohol content. 

Create stations
Designating drink stations is an easy way to organize your party and keep traffic moving steadily. You might place a table in each corner of your yard and tell guests which direction to travel to visit each station in the proper drinking order. The Delano Cast Aluminum Cafe Set features a table perfect for hosting a drink station.

Offer food pairing
A Fourth of July celebration that lacks food seems somehow incomplete. You can stick to appetizers with flavors that match those of your drinks. For example, pair a robust red wine with lamb skewers or a light white with a fruity treat. You can always serve a full meal, just don't let it detract from your tasting.

Provide adequate seating
Your guests might stand around while you serve drinks, but at some point they'll want to take a seat. Set up outdoor sectionals to ensure everyone enjoys their time at your party. Sectionals can be arranged to fit your backyard space and offer a cushioned spot to sit. Outdoor sectionals are also a stylish way to update your yard – your guests are sure to notice!

Light the space
As night falls and you approach firework hour, you'll need lighting in your yard. While the fireworks display could illuminate your home, such lights aren't exactly adequate. If your patio already has outdoor lights, be sure to turn them on. Otherwise, set out yard lights, candles, lamps or torches to give your space a comfortable glow. Of course, you'll want to turn the lights out when the fireworks actually begin.

Punch up your outdoor entertaining with these regional BBQ sauces

The Fourth of July is a holiday best celebrated outdoors. And what better way to show off your new outdoor dining set than with an evening barbecue? The warm summer night air creates the perfect atmosphere for enjoying some delicious food while reconnecting with friends and family. If you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a nearby fireworks show!

When inviting company over for a backyard barbecue, you will need to make sure you have enough outdoor seating. This isn't limited to just sofas and sectionals – you need to be sure you have enough dining chairs as well. Use this holiday weekend as a chance to spruce up your al fresco entertaining location with brand new outdoor furniture. Once your dining and seating areas are all set up, you are ready to begin planning your menu.

Barbecue is often only as good as its sauce. Therefore, be sure to put some time and effort into creating homemade condiments for your guests. Homemade sauces are actually surprisingly easy to make yourself, and they are sure to wow even the most experienced BBQ connoisseur. Leave the meat smoking to the caterer and focus on making one or more of these delicious sauces:

North Carolina Style: This vinegar-based sauce is tangy and spicy. Boil 3 cups of cider vinegar with a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar. As it cooks, add a tablespoon of crushed red pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Let cool a bit before serving.

Texas Style: A little bit sweet, this tomato-based sauce is sure to be a hit. Melt a tablespoon of butter and add a clove of minced garlic. Add a cup of ketchup, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of ground cayenne pepper. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes and then chill before serving.

Alabama White: The white BBQ sauce of Alabama is one of the more unique regional varieties. To make it, just combine a quart of mayonnaise, 3/4 quart apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup of corn syrup, 1/4 tablespoon of cayenne pepper and prepared horseradish to taste. This mixture isn't cooked at all, just mixed well and served.

Use these regional BBQ sauce varieties to punch up your holiday entertaining this Fourth of July.