Monthly Archives: August 2014

Turn your backyard into a Zen palace

For any aspiring yogi, creating a peaceful backyard is essential. Whether the practice of Zen appeals to your need to break away from the hectic work day, or it appeals to your inner chi, a Zen backyard is an essential for creating outdoor comfort. The garden and patio space should be both therapeutic areas where you can practice living in a sense of calm, feeling at one with your world and home. If your backyard is in need of a peaceful lift, the ideas below will start you on your way. With a place to meditate, you are setting yourself one step closer to nirvana.

Rock garden
A Zen garden is simplistic, much like the practice of ikibana, and allows for the owner to appreciate both what nature holds and the space of which it is a part. Appreciate how a simple rock bed with small, interspersed ferns can complement one another in both color scheme and effervescence. Peace is about both release and control, and the combination of sturdy rocks and green foliage represents this. 

At pivotal points in your yard, place a meditating Buddha. He will protect the space, while also reminding you to take care of your soul. Your space should be a composite of views for contemplation. Consider incorporating natural archways through which you can look by purposefully placing your cantina hammock bed in front of a garden feature. Looking over the hammock, your eyes will be guided to specific characteristics of the yard beyond. 

Furniture for Zen 
When developing a Zen garden, a home owner needs to incorporate Zen-inspired furniture as well. Consider this space as an outdoor room. The furniture is an integral part that blends into the natural surroundings. The RST Zen collection perfectly honors this balance with a line of products that both mimic nature in color and comfort. The Zen 5 Piece Deep Seating Set is crafted with thick pillows. You can sink into these as you travel deep into your consciousness during your morning meditation. For those looking for a Zen flow, but with a very usable product, choose the RST Brands Zen 7 Piece Outdoor Dining Set. The entire collection features a light beige fabric and dark slate to contour its framing.  

Yoga friendly space 
If Zen is your backyard goal, chances are you will be utilizing this space for your daily sun and moon salutations. To ensure that you are able to stay cool and shaded on hot days, install the RST Brands Portofino Resort Umbrella into your backyard. This umbrella is ideal for yoga because its base sits off to the side, allowing your a full range of movement in the shade beneath. Choose an umbrella top color that will blend well with your furniture, like heather beige. Another important aspect of this umbrella is that it has the ability to be angled, so that you can adjust the amount of shade your throw across your patio throughout the day. 

Turn your backyard into an outdoor gaming paradise

A gaming backyard is essential for all gatherings, be it a neighborhood get-together, the next family reunion or a party for your children. Set up the green space behind your house to double as both a place for you to relax and a place to burn off that competitive edge. This change could mean the difference between spending weekends out or enjoying the fun of your own home. Bring the party home with these outdoor gaming design ideas. Be careful who you invite to the next gathering – they may never leave.

Gaming zones
It is important to designate particular areas of your yard to cater to specific games. This will create a visual flow that is easy for the eye and give the yard a more manicured feel. Even for those who have small backyards, it is still important to decide how you plan to divvy up the space. Start by choosing what games you would like to feature, and noting which games will require any minor landscaping changes. If you only want to host bocce ball, croquet or cornhole, the job is simple. You will only need a few colored flags to map out the area of play each night.

For those who are looking to invest in a game that requires a bit of construction like pétanque, decide in what area of the garden it will look best. Note areas of the yard that have trees over head, as this could result in a daily cleanup in the fall. Check if there are any locations in the yard that have rain drainage issues, as this could impact the playing surface of a shuffleboard or a traditional French boules court. Build court areas with concrete cinder block borders. These will last years longer than a wooden border, and the court inside can later be transitioned into a raised garden bed.

Comfy lounging
One of the best parts of having a gaming zone in your backyard is being able to host dinner parties and summer get-togethers. Chances are, not everyone will be able to play all at the same time, so those who are snacking on the hors d'oeuvres will need a comfortable place to relax. You will want to choose outdoor furniture that is not only comfy, but blends in well with your gaming atmosphere. The RST Brands Astoria Sofa with orange cushions is bright and beautiful, and topped with waterproof seat pads. This is great to set up as a viewing gallery for your cornhole area. 

If you happen to want a fire pit for outdoor marshmallow making, or warm late fall lounging, choose the RST Brands Aura Copper Fire bowl. Pair furniture with the fire bowl that will encircle the space, such as the RST Brands Deco 9​ piece sectional and club seating set.  This is not only a great place to host your guests, but it can also double as a romantic section of your backyard on the nights you have alone. Your backyard should have the class and the fun to serve all entertainment purposes. Design your gaming backyard and find out how fun home can be. 

What’s your outdoor design style?

Many homeowners choose to decorate their backyard using a theme – doing so ensures all your furniture, decorations and landscaping are coherent. If you're redecorating your patio space, you should take some advice from others and pick a single style. Of course, you have to know where your tastes lie. Start by looking at design magazines, images on the Internet and others' yards to find decor elements that speak to you. Using a collage of details that you like, you can pin point what your particular backyard look is. Check out these common design styles to discover which you should choose to guide your decorating:

Modern
Do you like clean lines, blocked colors and mixing materials? Then you might be a modern designer. If you go in this direction, your yard will be defined by geometric shapes, pops of color and possibly even unique structural elements. For instance, modern outdoor fireplaces might be made of dark stone rather than brick and be perfectly rectangular. Don't be afraid to get creative. Many modern designs mix materials such as metal, stone and wood.

Modern furniture: Looking for weatherproof and durable outdoor furniture to fit your modern yard? Check out the Sol Collection from RST Brands. This sleek outdoor furniture set is the epitome of modern. Each piece is made of aluminum and features a quick-drying mesh. 

Mediterranean
If you dream of escaping to the coasts of Italy, Spain or Greece, your tastes probably fall in the Mediterranean category. This design style is defined by a warm color palette, classic imagery and ornate details. You may see such materials as stucco, stone and dark woods. Additionally, you might consider planting Mediterranean-inspired vegetation. When planning your yard, look at picture of the Mediterranean coast for inspiration.

Seaside furniture: Of course, the right outdoor seating can support your Mediterranean design. We recommend the Astoria Collection. With dark aluminum frames that feature decorative elements, this outdoor furniture set will create the perfect mood in your yard.

Tropical
Some homeowners want their backyard to feel like an escape to a tropical paradise. Such designs support relaxation, have bright colors and and are dominated by tropical plants. Begin your outdoor design planning by working on landscaping. The right greenery will make or break your theme. Then, fill in your yard with structures like gazebos and cabanas. Finally, fill the space with resort-like furniture and colorful decor.

Tropical island furniture: The Resort Collection from RST Brands is the perfect outdoor furniture set for homeowners who want a getaway in their yards. Made with rattan wicker, these pieces look like they belong in a cabana and will last a lifetime. You can even go all-out tropical by also getting a hammock bed

European cafe
A mix of classical and urban, European cafe design will whisk you away to Rome or Paris. Your yard should feature stone elements, a warm color palette and mood lighting. You can also add chalkboard bistro signs to enhance the European feel of your patio.

Cafe furniture: The Astoria Collection also looks great in this design style. Of course, you may want to focus on getting cafe-esque pieces, such as the Sol Three-Piece Bistro Set

Backyard features that make party hosting a cinch

Hosting parties outside is one of the joys of warmer months, but your backyard may not be equipped for the job. Or at least, your yard could have more elements that make it the ultimate entertaining space. Check out these ideas for cool outdoor living features sure to make your home the place to party:

Covered getaways
Unfortunately, weather is a fickle friend that often promises sunshine but delivers rain. However, your outdoor party doesn't have to be derailed by another atmospheric temper tantrum. If you have a covered porch, you're in luck! Simply move the party beneath your roof and you'll be able to continue the pleasantries. 

Whenever you do host an event in your yard, make sure the porch is ready to go. That means arranging your outdoor furniture sets in a way that's conducive to mingling (i.e., your outdoor lounge chairs are facing one another and you've set out an end table to hold drinks). 

Pass-through windows
When you host a party, you likely dart between your home's interior and exterior, grabbing more food and delivering it to guests. That whole process can be streamlined if you have a well-placed window. If a window connects the kitchen to your patio, you can turn it into a pass-through opening. Take off the screens during the party and leave the window open. Then, simply hand trays of food and pitchers of drinks to the guests on the other side. 

Of course, you can always do a little remodeling to enhance the pass-through. Create a bar or shelf upon which you can set down drinks or leave a platter of food. Install windows that open all the way so you have more space. Finally, set bar stools beneath the new counter – guests will be able to sit by the window and chat while you prep appetizers.

Looking for bar stools meant to withstand outside life? Check out RST Brands' Portofino Three-Piece Bistro Bar Set. Made of aluminum and rattan wicker, the furniture in this set is durable and stylish. 

Multiple light sources
Outdoor spaces can feel just as cozy or romantic as indoor ones with the help of good lighting. Once the sun goes down, you want your guests to continue enjoying their evening, so don't overlook lighting when planning your outdoor design. For the best aesthetic feel, make sure you have three potential light sources. For instance, the wall sconces on the side of your home can be one, overhanging string lights may be another, and your outdoor fireplaces could act as the third. Finally, never underestimate the power of a well-placed candle.

Hidden hangouts
Many guests may like having the option to sneak off to some cozy corner of your yard. Provide the opportunity by setting up outdoor seating in a remote section of your backyard. A handful of people might have a deep conversation while lounging apart from the bulk of the party. Make sure the space feels private and relaxed. You might plant tall grasses or flowers to keep the area tucked away.

Outdoor living room design ideas your yard needs now

The advent of weatherproof materials has transformed the term "outdoor living." What used to consist of a few plastic lawn chairs and cushions you kept indoors except when in use now looks more like chic spaces generally reserved for the interior of your home. Your backyard patio can support an outdoor living room that will allow you to relax and enjoy fresh air. Using the right products, materials and design ideas, your deck can become the indoor/outdoor sanctuary you always dreamed of. Here are some tips and inspirational ideas sure to take your patio from OK to amazing:

Get inspired
Before you start throwing together furniture and decorations on your patio, gather some design inspiration. Check out images online of spaces that really strike your fancy. What is it you love about those outdoor living rooms? The colors? The atmosphere? Answering those questions will help you establish a design of your own. You can also look up pictures of your favorite vacation spots and create a relaxing environment that has a similar feel.

The right furniture makes the difference
You can't very well place a normal sofa on your patio and expect it to withstand weather. Well, you could, but you'd be thoroughly disappointed. If you want to design a stunning outdoor living room, you need the right furniture. The sofas, coffee tables, cushions, etc., you use to outfit your space need to be made of weather-resistant materials so they'll last a long time. Fortunately, finding such sturdy outdoor seating is actually pretty easy – RST Brands exclusively creates weather-resistant furniture that's not only ready to tackle wind and rain, but is totally stylish.

With sofas, sectionals, tables and ottomans made of aluminum and rattan wicker, RST Brands ensures you have what you need to create a comfortable outdoor living space. Take a look at the Resort Five Piece Seating Set, for example. This lovely sectional is durable and has weatherproof cushions. You won't have to worry about your sofa being ruined by rain – that's kind of a must when it come to outdoor living room design.

Unleash your inner decorator
Purchasing weather-resistant outdoor furniture sets is your baseline when creating your patio living room, but the fun doesn't stop there. You can decorate your nature-exposed space the way you would any other room in your house. Find artwork, lighting fixtures, rugs, and odds and ends that you feel add a sense of hominess to the space.

As always, look for decor pieces that can withstand adverse weather. Outdoor rugs these days are just as decorative as indoor versions. Clay pots, synthetic wicker baskets, glass vases and metal candle holders all look lovely and are durable. Conversely, you might want to avoid canvas paintings and instead hang mirrors.

When you select your lighting, make sure it not only matches your overall design concept but is built for outdoor use. You can ask the sales associate where you're shopping whether or not a particular model makes a good choice for your covered patio.

Everything you need for an elegant outdoor tea party

As the weather cools off, you may have a craving for a nice cup of tea. Sipping the warm drink during the afternoon is a great way to relax, but you can also enjoy your Earl Grey with friends. Get some fresh air, dress up and serve your guests a tasty spread by hosting your tea party outside. Your patio is the perfect place to socialize and unwind. Of course, your elegant affair will need a few extra touches, and I don't just mean pinkies out! As you plan your party, take a look at this checklist of everything you'll need to ensure your afternoon goes off without a kettle whistle:

Tea for 2 (or 4)
How many people are you planning to invite for tea in your garden? Do you have enough seating to accommodate them? Or better yet, do you have beautiful, comfortable seating? You won't have much of a tea party without the proper outdoor dining sets! RST Brands has the perfect solution for your entertaining needs. With dining sets of numerous sizes, you're sure to find a table and chairs that fits your tastes and accommodates all of your guests. Check out these outdoor dining set options organized by number of chairs:

For two: If you've invited your closest friend over for afternoon tea, then you'll love sitting at this adorable dining set from RST Brands. The Sol Three-Piece Bistro set features a folding table and two folding chairs that look like they belong on the streets of Paris. 

For four: Breaking out the full tea set? That means you'll likely have more than just a single guest to seat! The Astoria Five-Piece Dining Set can accommodate four people. Each piece is made with durable aluminum and rattan wicker, ensuring you'll be able to host tea parties outdoors for years to come.

Lovely china
When hosting a tea party, you can go in several directions. You might create a menu in which you pair finger foods with teas. You could also offer each guest a single flavor of tea that they will drink throughout the afternoon. Either way, you'll need plenty of pots and cups, as well as milk and sugar containers. If you're having a classic English-style tea, look for fine china sets. You can find delicate cups and saucers that feature floral or filigree designs. Or, you may prefer to head east and find inspiration in Asian teas and teaware. For example, you might like a cast iron or clay pot and cups that have no handles or saucers. 

No matter what your taste or theme, be sure you have enough china to serve your guests. You may even consider placing the china on your outdoor table before people arrive.

A mini menu
Tea time often features food, though never meals. Prepare small plates and treats for your guests that pair well with the teas you select. English tea parties often include cucumber sandwiches, sweet biscuits and a variety of jams. Set the food out on trays for your guests to nibble at their leisure.

Dress to impress
Depending on how elaborate you'd like to get with your outdoor tea party, you may want to establish a dress code and send invitations. Guests can wear a sundress and hat as they enjoy the tea and food you prepared. Of course, sitting in comfortable outdoor furniture while enjoying a view of the garden helps too.

Living large in a small bathroom

Your bathroom doesn't need to have lots of space in order to be big on style, function and sophistication. Next time you're renovating your bathroom, consider these space-saving tips:

Opt for a pedestal sink
A bulky sink can tend to take up room and weigh down a small bathroom. Instead, opt for a pedestal sink. This will offer you more floor space to work with, and white pedestal sinks can easily blend in with any bathroom style, whether it's vintage, traditional or modern.

Add a skylight
Let as much natural light into your bathroom as possible to help make the space seem open and airy. If it's not possible to install windows on your bathroom walls, consider a skylight. This allows light to stream into the room while still offering you privacy.

Use wall space
Take advantage of the space on your walls to hang wall-mount shelves that can be used to store anything from linens to bath essentials. This will keep clutter at bay, helping to make your bathroom appear larger.

Hang towels
There's one valuable space in your bathroom that you may be overlooking: the back of your bathroom door. You can attach two or three towel racks to the door's surface to store towels and keep them out of sight.

Install clear glass doors
Help your shower blend into the rest of your bathroom by trading out your curtain for beautiful glass doors. This gives a luxurious look to the space while creating a visually larger room.

Select large mirrors
Hang a large mirror above your pedestal sink, or group a few together for a decorative arrangement. These mirrors will help bounce light around the room, creating a space that appears bigger than it actually is. If you can, place mirrors across from a window in order to reflect the most light.

4 ways to make your deck more comfortable for summer

Summer weather is a bit of a conundrum, as you're caught between wanting to spend time outside and hoping to avoid the heat. Of course, you really should enjoy the weather while it lasts – you'll be missing the sun come winter. Besides, with a little ingenuity and a lot of creativity, you can make your deck a comfortable spot to relax. Here are a number of ways you can upgrade your outdoor living space to be more conducive to summer lounging:

1. Install an outdoor ceiling fan
You can't use air conditioning outside, but you can create a gentle and cooling breeze by installing a ceiling fan – not to mention, the moving air will deter mosquitos. If you have a covered deck or porch, your space is ready for fan installation! Depending on how large the deck is, you may need more than one fan. Ideally, you should install the fan over the area in which you'll set up seating. That way, you'll feel the air on you as you lounge. 

2. Add shade
A covered porch will reduce the amount of sunlight you're exposed to while lounging outside, but if you don't have a ceiling, you have to get creative. Patio umbrellas can cover your open porch to protect you from ultraviolet light and keep you cool. You can purchase umbrellas that are supported by a center rod or models that hang over your space, such as the Portofino Resort Umbrella from RST Brands. The shading portion of this product reaches out over your space to provide shelter from the sun. The articulating umbrella head allows you to move the shade where you want it to be. 

3. Put out lounge chairs
Comfortable outdoor seating is what will make you want to spend time outside. Sitting on your porch and looking out at the beautiful summer weather is a sure-fire way to relax. Of course, if you're going to lounge, you should do it in style and comfort! RST Brands makes numerous loungers perfect for helping you stay relaxed outdoors all summer long. Here are a few of our favorite seats:

Astoria Five-Piece Club Chair and Ottoman Set: With two chairs, two ottomans and a side table, the Astoria set allows you to kick back and unwind. Each piece is made of durable and lightweight aluminum. The cushions are constructed of weatherproof fabric so you won't have to worry about rain ruining your outdoor time. 

Deco Chaise Lounge With Cushions: This set of two loungers features cozy cushions perfect for helping you relax. The cushions are made of weatherproof fabric and the frames use durable rattan wicker.

4. Decorate with plants
Plants can keep a space cool and clean the air. Decorating your porch or deck with potted plants will not only enhance the visual atmosphere, but make lounging in the spot more comfortable. Plants absorb energy to perform photosynthesis, so hanging out near a tree or other shrubs when the weather's hot will cool you down much better than standing near a building will. Pick some of your favorite flowers, grasses and shrubs to plant near your deck or place in a planter. 

Everything you need to know when buying a hammock

July 22 was National Hammock Day, and while the holiday has passed, you can still honor it. If you've been thinking of adding more outdoor furniture sets to your yard, consider selecting a hammock. These pieces are comfortable and relaxing, promoting a lounging experience. Of course, as with any item, some hammocks are better than others. Make sure you select the right product by following this guide:

Types of hammocks
Your classic lounging hammock comes in two forms: a banana sling and a model with spreader bars. As you can probably guess by the name, a banana sling looks like the oblong and bent fruit. Nothing works to spread the top and bottom of the hammock fabric. A hammock with spreader bars, on the other hand, features poles at both ends of the seat. The rods help the fabric stay open so that climbing in and out of the hammock is easy. 

The way you intend to use your hammock will determine what kind of bed you choose. If you'll be packing it up to take camping, for example, spreader bars may not be the best choice. However, when lounging at home, or when keeping the hammock in a single location, spreader bars are certainly the better option.

Setting up the hammock
You can probably picture a scene in which a hammock lays suspended between two trees: it's the classic way to install your fabric bed. However, not all homeowners have two perfectly spaced trees between which to hang their outdoor furniture. Fortunately, hammock frames act as posts to hold your bed aloft.The frame is sized to fit the hammock flawlessly, unlike your trees. If the trees are too far apart, you have to add more rope to your hammock. Additionally, the frame hooks the bed securely, allowing you to rest easy knowing the whole setup will stay put.

Weather considerations
Your backyard hammock has to withstand all sorts of weather conditions, including wind and rain. For this reason, you have to make sure the hammock you purchase is designed for outdoor use. Sure, you could get a fabric hammock that's made of cotton, but when it rains, you'll have to wait awhile to use your furniture again.

RST Brands specializes in the development of outdoor furniture, so you can bet the hammock is made of durable and quick-drying materials. In fact, RST Brands hammocks are water resistant and dry faster than other outdoor beds.

Personal taste
The type of hammock, how you erect it and the material it's made of are high-priority features. However, once you've got your outdoor hammock bed in mind, you can pay attention to decorative details, such as color. Hammocks from RST Brands come in four fabric color and pattern options. If you like the idea of lounging in a striped bed, you can choose from red, blue or summer (which is a multi-colored striped pattern). Check out the Summer Stripe Hammock Bed to get a better look.

Necessary features for a sizzling outdoor kitchen

Home improvement trends have seen an increasing amount of homeowners transforming their outdoor living spaces into luxurious centers of activity. Rather than focusing on updating an indoor room, homeowners are opting to make their yard their haven. While there are numerous ways to transform your backyard into what feels like the outdoor version of an indoor space, including a kitchen is one of the most popular. In fact, designing and building an outdoor kitchen could make entertaining easier. If you're interested in such a project, make sure you include a certain set of features – without these details, your outdoor kitchen may not live up to your expectations:

1. Standard kitchen necessities
While your new kitchen space is outside, it still should include all the elements you would need in an indoor one. For instance, you require ample counter space and storage, a heating component (likely a grill), refrigeration and a sink. You probably also want a spot to store a garbage can or even a dishwasher. Some homeowners include a range as well. As long as you have the basics that every kitchen needs, you'll be able to prep an entire meal without stepping foot inside your house.

2. The right electricity, gas and plumbing lines
Of course, you can't operate all the features of your gorgeous outdoor kitchen without the proper supporting wires and pipes. Hire a consultant who can design electricity, plumbing and gas systems to ensure your kitchen is safe and ready to use.

3. Weatherproofing features
Exposure to the elements is the No. 1 difference between indoor and outdoor kitchens and perhaps the greatest obstacle to designing your space. You don't want your countertops worn down or your appliances broken by years of rainfall. Even your outdoor dining sets can be vulnerable. Take the weather into consideration when purchasing all of your kitchen supplies. You should ask your contractor and/or hardware store staff member what the best appliances and materials are for outdoor use. You may even want to consider building your kitchen in a covered space to reduce exposure.

As far as furniture goes, you'll have a much easier time finding the durable pieces you need. RST Brands sells outdoor furniture sets that all feature weatherproofing. Whether your want a dining set for your kitchen area or a lounger for your patio, every piece is made of strong materials that stand up to the elements.

4. Great dining furniture
If you've taken the time and money to create an elaborate outdoor kitchen, you'd be remiss to forget quality outdoor dining furniture. As you now know, RST Brands carries weatherproofed pieces that can withstand being outside. All you have left to do is pick a set that fits your lifestyle. 

Entertain a lot? Then furniture with ample seating is a wise choice. We suggest taking a look at the Portofino Comfort Seven-Piece Outdoor Stone Top Dining Set, as it features six chairs and a comfortably large table. You'll be able to cook a meal and enjoy it with friends and family outside.

Do you prefer to keep smaller company? Then the Astoria Five-Piece Cafe Dining Set is the better option for you.