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How To Turn Your Backyard Into An Italian-inspired Garden

When it comes time to escape from the stress of life, there is no better place than a beautifully designed backyard and patio. In regards to the perfect combination of comfort and style, no one does it better than the Italians. From the cobblestone streets of Rome to the rolling Tuscan countryside, there is no shortage of design inspiration you can draw from to create your own Italian inspired outdoor space.  

What sets an Italian inspired garden and villa apart from other design styles? Warm colors, rich textures, and sustainable local plants all play a part. Simple elements like terra cotta pots, gravel pathways, and immaculately manicured shrubs and lawns will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the Italian countryside. Here are a few tips to turn your outdoor patio into your own private Italian Villa.

1. Feature Stone

Italy is filled with stonework, from the streets to the buildings and everything in between. Using light colored stone as a walkway, retaining wall, or as stepping stones will give your garden an authentic Italian look. Consider dressing up a simple stone patio with an outdoor fire table for added ambiance.

2. Add Plants And Flowers

Terra cotta pots filled with boxed hedges, flowering shrubs, and climbing vines are a great way to bring Italian inspiration into your garden. Many Italian gardens feature arbors and pergolas filled with native climbing plants. Plants can also help provide a little privacy as well.

3. Dine All’aperto

Gathering together with friends and family around an outdoor dining table is the perfect place to be on a warm summer night. If you choose an outdoor dining set with additional seating, it provides a place for your guests to linger and have conversation.

4. Plenty Of Seating

Italian gardens are well known for having outdoor chairs and benches throughout the garden, providing many places for friends and family to relax and enjoy the garden. Benches nestled under vine-covered arbors in a secluded corner will help you create the villa inspiration you’re looking for.

5. Add Natural Elements

Fire and water features are great additions to Italian inspired gardens. Fountains and urns filled with bubbling water help create a relaxing, luxurious feeling. Fire tables and comfy club chairs provide the perfect place to gather with friends on a cool spring, summer or fall evening. Fire tables also make a great outdoor dining option as well. Enjoy your favorite Italian delicacies or enjoy a decadent homemade s’more.

6. Use Different Textures

Italian gardens are full of complementing textures like the hard edges of the stonework and the soft, feathery grace of the plants and flowers. The same idea can be used for your furniture and accessories as well. Pair a luxurious outdoor patio sofa with a vibrant canvas pillow or an accent table filled with fragrant herbs in terracotta pots and urns. Using different textures throughout your design is an easy way to add Italian inspiration to your outdoor space.

7. Textiles

Adding beautiful throw pillows to patio lounge chairs and outdoor sofas can instantly dress up your outdoor patio. Hanging long, flowing curtains around a pergola is another way textiles can make a space look warm and inviting. Cloth napkins for the dining table and a basket of soft, warm blankets for guests to wrap up in are other ways to introduce more textiles into your backyard design.

Creating your own Italian-inspired outdoor patio design is simple and easy to do. Adding a few authentic Italian touches like the ones above will turn your backyard into your own Italian Villa.

DIY Backyard Design Ideas: Tips For Lighting Your Space

We’ve all seen those outdoor spaces that take our breath away. A truly beautiful backyard with attractive outdoor patio furniture is what takes a nice house to the next level, making it a destination for friends and family to gather and make memories all year long.

However, it can be tricky to know what goes into making the perfect backyard if you’ve never done your own landscaping. If your yard is lacking a homey, inviting feel, we have some tips on how to transform your space with the help of backyard lights.

1. Patio String Lights

Most people would agree that there’s nothing better than dining al fresco on a warm summer night. If you want to bring the high-end restaurant feel to your space, the first thing to do is add patio string lights to your yard. Patio string lights come in a variety of styles and price points. They’re sure to wow your guests, making them the first on our list of backyard design ideas.

2. Outdoor Fireplace

A fireplace is a great way to immediately change the ambiance of your backyard. We love the idea of tabletop fire pits which provide a more modern, sophisticated fire feature.

3. Space Heaters

In most parts of the country, backyard activities are a seasonal affair. But if you’d like to extend the season a bit, space heaters are a great way to do it. Space heaters add a soft light glow and will keep your friends and family warm in the early spring and late fall. With a few strategically-placed space heaters, sitting around your patio on your comfortable, high-quality outdoor furniture can be something you enjoy year-round.

4. Light Pole Stands

If you don’t have an overhang or gazebo to string lights on, light pole stands are a great way to achieve the same effect. These stands can be installed for permanent placement or put up for special occasions, making them a great, versatile option for any home.

5. Illuminate Pathways

One of the most important outdoor design ideas is understanding the powerful effect of illuminating pathways in your yard. Using simple tea lights or other forms of lighting is a great way to draw people into different parts of the yard and highlight the dynamic elements of your landscaping.

6. Tree Spotlights

Trees are a gorgeous way to add dimension and a secluded feel to your backyard, so make sure they don’t disappear when the sun goes down. Tree spotlights can be used in bold or softer styles to draw attention to your greenery.

7. Water Feature Lights

Lighting waterfalls, pools, ponds, and streams is a great way to bring a peaceful, calming vibe to your backyard. Water lights are a chance to get creative with different colors and light patterns as well.

8. Mounting Lights For Plants

Even if you don’t have massive trees in your yard, you can illuminate your smaller shrubs and vines for a similar effect. Mounting lights are a natural choice for drawing the eye toward your landscape.

9. Artisan Hanging Lights

Make a statement to your gazebo or pergola design with some creative ideas. Artisan hanging lights are a great way to make a statement to your outdoor patio and gazebo. You can also string classic Chinese lanterns along your yard to add magic to your outdoor space.

10. Led Lights

LED lights don’t provide a huge amount of illumination, but they’re a popular trend for those wanting a subtle, modern lighting effect in their backyard.

By taking a few of these DIY backyard design ideas into account, you’ll be roasting marshmallows on an outdoor fire table, wining and dining with friends, and thoroughly enjoying yourself in your backyard before you know it.

Living Room Decorating Ideas to Push Away the Winter Blues

The early setting sun and chill factor that winter brings sometimes contribute to feelings of lethargy and gloom. In fact, mild symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder affect 10-20% of Americans.

The good news is that there are plenty of simple things you can do around your home to lift your spirits and spark a sense of contentment. Here are six living room design ideas that can go a surprisingly long way to help restore your feel-good mood, no matter the weather.

Get the Light Right

Just because you’re stuck indoors doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have access to light’s healing effects. Simply changing your standard light bulbs to full spectrum lighting will give you some of the benefits of natural light, right inside your home. Revealing colors as they are seen in broad daylight, rather than colors tinged yellow or blue, means full spectrum light bulbs can improve your quality of light (and life) by increasing clarity and mental productivity.

Replace Worn Furniture

Seeing, walking past, and sitting down on shabby furniture every day is sure to make you feel, well, dowdy. Who needs that in the depths of winter despair? Do yourself (and your room) a favor by saying “goodbye” to the old and “hello” to the new. There’s nothing like sinking into a fresh, beautiful sofa or armchair. With some high quality indoor furniture, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to make the change.

Rearrange Furniture for the Best Outdoor View

Coming up with small room interior design ideas for rearranging your furniture can change the mood of the room and also give you an opportunity to harness more natural light. Open the blinds, swap out light-obstructing drapes in favor of sheer curtains, replace bulky bookcases with high quality shelves that are more open, and rotate your sofas and chairs to face any windows. Take a few minutes, a few times a day, to sit and look out at the scenery. Observe the weather, notice birds or critters, and enjoy people-watching while sitting wrapped in a blanket, sipping a hot drink, or lounging on your comfortable sofa.  

Introduce Live Plants and Fresh Flowers

Even though your outdoor plants may lay dormant, it doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of nature’s bounty. There are so many incredible indoor varieties to choose from, you can have a lot of fun with all of the options. Plants are nice to have because their caretaking needs gives one a sense of responsibility and can bring more color inside of your home.

Add Meaningful Photos

Chances are you already have meaningful family and friend photos on your living room coffee table. However, chances are these photos haven’t been updated in quite some time. Well, now is the time. Sort through all those newer, adorable candids and find just the right memories to show off.

Earn extra satisfaction by having these special pictures properly matted and framed before putting them on display. Or, for something unique and fun, have your photos professionally printed on metal, wood, or glass.

Inject Color

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a neutral room. In fact, when done right, neutrals feel quite clean and relaxing. But, if you’re feeling bored or unsatisfied, color is a quick fix. Fun colors that wake up winter blues are those that occur naturally in nature, such as ocean blue, sunny yellow, raspberry red, and evergreen. Benjamin Moore suggests the paint color trends for 2018 will include Caliente, Dreamy Cloud, and Pleasant Pink. So pick your pigment passion and go for it.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking these winter home decor ideas for the living room won’t have any effect on your somber mood. After all, even just the act of working on a project will give you a sense of purpose and joy. Then, once you’re done, you will be left with a room that makes you feel good and settled when at home during these colder, shorter winter months.

RST Brands Trophy Truck Competes The Baja 1000 50th Anniversary

The RST Brands trophy truck entered the desert’s greatest racing challenge and successfully completed it with a top 20 finish in the trophy truck class. The team fought through high temperatures and a challenging course that featured obstacles and booby traps from Ensenada to El Paz along the Baja Peninsula.

RST Brands Truck and Performance

Pulling off a feat like the Baja 1000 takes a lot of great people working together–in fact, only 205 out of the 405 teams that entered were able to successfully complete the race. The RST Brands trophy truck entered the race with a support team of 5 vehicles and 16 people.

The RST Brands truck faced the dangers of the desert and conquered. The truck placed in the top 20 finishers of the trophy truck division and 119th place overall with a finish time of 34:17:26.572. Drivers Jayson Strachan, Doug Anderson, and Bill Apgood took turns at the wheel in this rugged off-road race.

Baja 1000 2017 50th Anniversary Race

The BAJA 1000 2017 took place November 14-18 and included drivers from 44 U.S. states and 27 different countries racing in various off-road vehicles. 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the Baja 1000 race. For the past 50 years, off-road racers have been braving Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula putting their vehicles, and themselves, to the test.

The Baja 1000’s 2017 course went down Mexico’s California Peninsula starting in about 80 miles south of the U.S. San Diego border in Ensenada and ending in La Paz. Racers were allowed to pre-run the 1,134.4 mile course between October 20 and November 15 to familiarize themselves with the route and terrain. The course was estimated to take between 32 and 38 hours to complete with a maximum time of 48 hours.

Trophy Truck Racing

Trophy truck racing pits the most elite off-road racing vehicles against each other in an exciting battle of speed, control, and determination.

Trophy trucks are designed with one purpose in mind: to move as fast as possible across dirt, sand, and other off-road terrains. These vehicles typically feature heavy-duty shocks, powerful engines, and bodies that are built to withstand the rugged routes.

Baja 1000 Race

Many consider the Baja 1000 race to be the most intense off-roading race a driver can enter. The desert peninsula is unforgiving with its remote, rocky terrain that is subject to dangerous dust storms.On top of the natural challenges, some spectators take it upon themselves to set booby traps for drivers to navigate around.

Another challenge drivers have to remain cognizant of is the mix of vehicle types allowed into the race. SCORE International’s class distinctions allow trucks, motorcycles, buggies, and more all on the same course.

SCORE International hosts four different off-road races throughout the year with the Baja 1000 acting as the culminating event.

History of the Baja 1000

The first race was held on October 31, 1967 and was called the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally. The course started in Tijuana, Mexico and ended in La Paz with a course length of 849 miles.

Over time, the race grew in popularity and fame as it attracted the attention of other racers, ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and even Hollywood movie stars.

As the race continued to grow in fame, so did its pull on celebrities. Stars such as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Patrick Dempsey, James Garner and more have all faced this desert test of skill.

We are honored to have participated in this historic event, and proud to have performed so well. Congratulations to the RST Brands team!

Think Outside the Box: 5 Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve 2017

Looking for a way to shake things up for New Year’s Eve 2017? Consider throwing an outdoor winter party instead of holding a huge to-do indoors. Here are 5 New Year’s party ideas that are sure to make this New Year’s Eve a night your guests will never forget.


1. Take the Plunge

The Polar Plunge, that is. Unfamiliar with this popular international tradition? Since the early 1900s, groups of people in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, among other places, ring in the new year by jumping into an icy body of water, whether a pool, the ocean, or something else. Want to give it a try this year?


2. Private Fireworks Show

What’s the worst part about a fireworks show? The crowds! Why not offer guests a front-row seat to a fireworks show in your backyard? Set up some loungers, comfortable chairs, and outdoor sofas. Bring out a pile of blankets for guests to cuddle up beneath, and celebrate the hope and promise of the coming year.


3. Stargazing and S’mores

S’mores are typically more of a warm-weather treat, so why not shake things up and treat guests to a night of s’more-making around the backyard fire table along with some casual stargazing? Pull out all of your outdoor furniture and snuggle up with your favorite people.


4. Snowman Building Contest

Is your yard full of snow? Want a party idea that’s inexpensive, unique, and will remind guests of those simpler childhood days? Invite guests over to show off their snowman building skills and host a snowman building contest. Once the competition is over, treat guests to hot chocolate and cookies on the patio.


5. Go International

Whether you don’t have the money to travel internationally this year, or would rather stay close to home, why not bring the party to your own backyard and host an international soirée? Try out some new year traditions from around the world. In Spain it is a tradition to attempt to fit 12 grapes in your mouth at midnight in the name of earning good luck. In Bolivia, coins are baked into sweets and anyone who finds a coin is promised good fortune. Estonians eat 7 meals on New Year’s Day to guarantee abundance for them in the new year. Do some research and take your guests on an adventure to anywhere in the world.


Get Party Planning!

With the right theme and a properly decorated winter patio, you can create a New Years party your guests will love.