Outdoor Living Projects Perfect During the Pandemic and Beyond

outdoor living

It has been a few months since the pandemic struck the world. Since protecting your family meant limiting contact with others and staying indoors, more people are starting to get stressed-out. How can you maintain your family’s well-being and still practice the rules set by the health experts?

The longer we need to stay cooped up indoors, the more stressed we get. Research shows that 33% of American adults are experiencing pandemic-related psychological distress. It is not only us adults who are affected, but our little ones as well.

According to Psychiatric Times, children express stress differently and this can depend on their age. Some kids show signs of separation anxiety and regression. Others will experience depression while other age groups tend to suffer academically. It is our job as parents to make sure we do our part in taking better care of their mental health.

How Doing Home Improvements Can Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Improving your home offers many benefits. But during the pandemic, this can be a great way to increase the comfort of your family and aid in improving their lifestyle. Of course, not all home improvement projects are applicable during the pandemic.

For one, the project has to be within your budget and is something that your family will surely take advantage of with or without the pandemic. Doing interior improvements is also not a good idea as you want to limit the number of outsiders who will come in contact with your family. This is why outdoor living projects are perfect during this uncertain time.

Outdoor Home Improvements to Consider

Thankfully, there are lots of outdoor improvement projects you can tackle. By creating more outdoor living areas, your family can leverage on that extra space you have in your home. You can use this opportunity to let your family bond while maintaining distance, keep them active, and let them enjoy nature.

If your family is into sports, you can consider building a court if your outdoor space permits. For instance, you can turn your driveway into a basketball court. If they like tennis, you can call a tennis court contractor to build a new court.

If you like spending time prepping, cooking meals, and eating out together, then an outdoor kitchen and dining area is a worthy investment. You can use this area to try out new and healthy recipes. The kids can help you prepare the ingredients and you can even teach them to cook without worrying about them burning your kitchen down.

Gardening is a healthy hobby, so why not start your own garden in your backyard? Teach your kids how to tend the soil and plant easy-to-grow plants. You can even grow your own food with some hard work. This will teach them to be responsible and be mindful of how nature works. It is also a great exercise that allows you and your family to reap the benefits of spending time in nature.

The COVID-19 crisis indeed put many of us in a state of mental stress. The good news is there are ways we can cope with all the social distancing and isolation rules. Aside from maintaining a routine to keep the structure, we can also do certain home improvements to keep ourselves and our family healthy and active despite all the negative psychological effects of COVID-19.

The post Outdoor Living Projects Perfect During the Pandemic and Beyond appeared first on Pop Polling.

This content was originally published here.

Budget-Friendly Tiles Laid the Groundwork for This Outdoor Living Room

outdoor living

faming sitting on terrace
Photography by Nicole Franzen

Everyone told Athena Calderone to go with simple bluestone floors for her outdoor terrace—it’s what everyone else loves to use, her architect and husband told her. “That’s a big indicator to me not to do something,” says the Brooklyn-based designer and EyeSwoon founder. Calderone quickly found herself on the hunt for two-tone marble tiles, reminiscent of something you’d see in a classic French château. She eventually found a stone company in New Jersey of all places that could source her dream tiles (a blue-gray marble and sandy-toned travertine) at the right price ($7 per square foot). “Those checkered floors make my heart go pitter-patter,” she says. 

The graphic find was the cherry on top of all the work Calderone had already put into the space. When she and her family moved into their townhouse, the terrace was situated within an L-shaped crevice off the kitchen and only measured 6-by-10 feet. It wasn’t until they made the decision to open up the back of the house to the interior with two sets of custom bifold doors that she realized they could push the balcony out and make it a square. “When the doors are open, it feels like another living room,” says Calderone. From the sculptural greenery to the vintage chairs, now clad in Sunbrella fabric, she shares a few small ways she made the outdoors feel one with the interior.

Add Dramatic Lighting

The home’s contemporary lines called for a few touches of something old. That’s where the 18th-century pendant light came into play. The period piece still has its original verde green patina, but Calderone updated the fixture by running electricity to it. “It’s a bit grittier to me,” she says. “I like smashing these beautiful, historical details with a modern sensibility.” Calderone’s husband suspended the piece from two airplane cables, secured to the wall with eye hooks so it looks like it’s floating. 

Get Crafty With Stone Remnants

chic terrace with checkered floors
Photography by Nicole Franzen

The 1930s Art Deco coffee table Calderone sourced from Chairish originally came with a glass top that was not up the designer’s alley. So she went to her stone fabricator and asked if they had any leftover countertop cutoffs from kitchen projects she could work with—they did. “There are certain things that I really indulged in, like the doors, but then there are pieces like the table that I got crafty with,” she says. The ’50s Mathieu Matégot chairs were another big save: Calderone scored the set on eBay (they were a steal because they were white and rusted). She sanded them down and spray-painted them black. “It’s so important to exercise patience in design,” she says of hunting down the seating.

Shop for Sculptural Plants

weeping cedar tree
Photography by Nicole Franzen

Calderone applied a design-minded eye when picking out the greenery. In an effort to make the brick wall less of an eyesore, she chose a sculptural Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar for the corner. She originally wanted to line the back of the Restoration Hardware sofa with olive branches, but knowing they wouldn’t do well in the NYC climate, she opted for a Dwarf Leaf Arctic Willow, which has a similar wispy form and complemented the blue undertones of the nearby cedar. “I love this idea of broken symmetry,” she says of mixing up the heights of the plants. “I trusted the textures I know and love and played with composition.” 

woman gardening
Photography courtesy of Athena Calderone

Growing a garden in a city has been a learning experience. Calderone has paid close attention to which species get around tossed in the wind (her Russian sage didn’t last long) and which ones thrive in southern exposure. Like the furniture, her pots are a mix of big-box buys (think: Restoration Hardware and Terrain) and vintage. “There’s definitely a lot of trial and error,” she says. “But I like that things are always a little less perfect.” 

Introducing Domino’s new podcast, Design Time, where we explore spaces with meaning. Each week, join editor-in-chief Jessica Romm Perez along with talented creatives and designers from our community to explore how to create a home that tells your story. Listen now and subscribe for new episodes every Thursday.

This content was originally published here.

How Much Do Energy Efficient Windows Cost?

According to the Department of Energy, heat loss and gain through windows accounts for between 25-30% of your home’s heating and cooling costs. The best way to prevent this problem is to install energy-efficient windows.  These will insulate your home, keeping heat inside during the winter and outside during the summer.

But how much will this energy-efficient upgrade cost? Energy-efficient windows cost between $120 to $1,200 or more, depending on several factors, including the size and efficiency. Here’s what you need to know to determine if you should make this investment:

What Are the Benefits of Installing Energy Efficient Windows?

Before learning about the costs of energy-efficient windows, it’s important to understand how making this upgrade can benefit you.

As previously mentioned, installing energy-efficient windows can prevent heat loss and gain. How does this benefit you? Preventing heat loss and gain will make it easier for your heating and cooling system to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. Your heating and cooling system will not need to consume as much energy, which will result in a lower monthly utility bill.

Energy-efficient windows will make your home more comfortable, too. The temperature inside your home will be consistent, lowering worry about cold drafts or rooms heating up too fast. In fact, if you install energy-efficient windows, you won’t break a sweat if you choose to sit by a sunny window.

Energy-efficient windows are also better at blocking out noise than standard windows. If you live in a noisy area, making this upgrade can help you finally get the peace and quiet you deserve at home.

Installing energy-efficient windows can increase the value of your home as well. Experts estimate that homeowners can recoup about 70% of their initial investment when they decide to sell their home.

How Much Do Energy Efficient Windows Cost?

How Much Does It Cost to Install Energy Efficient Windows?

Many people hire professionals to install their new energy-efficient windows. If you choose to hire a professional, this will increase the cost of making this energy-efficient upgrade to your home.

The cost of labor will vary depending on the number of windows. The average costs of installation are:

  • Less than 5 windows: $2,200
  • Between 5 to 10 windows: $4,900

Other factors that impact the cost of installation are your location, how easy it is to access the windows, and whether or not custom work is required.

How Much Will Energy Efficient Windows Save You?

There’s no doubt that upgrading to energy-efficient windows is expensive. But is it worth the investment? 

Replacing old windows with energy-efficient windows can reduce the average household’s energy bills by 12%. The average household spends approximately $2,060 on energy per year, which means installing these windows could save around $247 every year.

Installing energy-efficient windows does require an upfront investment, but over time, these windows will pay for themselves. 

How Can You Reduce the Cost of Energy Efficient Window Installation?

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the cost of upgrading to energy-efficient windows. Follow these tips:

  • Install the windows yourself. This project can easily be completed without a professional’s help.  Just make sure you choose the right windows and follow the installation instructions closely. Doing it on your own can drastically reduce the total cost of this upgrade.
  • Look for rebates. Many utility providers, government agencies, and manufacturers offer rebates for the purchase or installation of energy-efficient windows.
  • Make your existing windows more energy efficient instead of replacing them with energy-efficient windows. You can improve the energy efficiency of your existing windows by caulking to seal air leaks.  In addition, you can add window treatments and apply an energy-efficient film to the window panes. This is a great way to go green on a budget.

Following these tips can make the upgrade to energy-efficient windows more affordable for everyone.

Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

Installing energy-efficient windows is a great way to drastically improve the energy efficiency of your home. Making this upgrade will reduce your carbon footprint, save you money, and make life at home more comfortable. By investing in energy-efficient windows, you can take the first step towards living a greener lifestyle!

The post How Much Do Energy Efficient Windows Cost? appeared first on HomeSelfe.

This content was originally published here.

How to Set Up the Best Outdoor Living Room for Gatherings

outdoor living

Consider this: you have a day off from work and want to spend it in front of the television, binge-watching your favorite show. However, it’s also a really nice day and you want to spend some time outside. To paraphrase a favorite internet meme: why not do both? If you have an outdoor living room, you can enjoy the nice weather while also enjoying the comforts of home. Unlike just hauling the TV and the couch outside, an outdoor living room is an outdoor space that still feels like a room when you’re in it. While it will take some work, and even possibly some investment, an outdoor living room is easier to put together than you think. 

As with any project a homeowner undertakes, you have to make the decision between doing it yourself and hiring contractors. On one hand, doing it yourself is the cheaper option and one that will give you a sense of pride when you enjoy the finished product. However, if you aren’t an expert in construction, electrical work, and landscaping, you might want to leave that to the professionals. Whatever method you ultimately decide, our handy guide about how to build an outdoor living room will help you along the way.

If you’re confused about what an “outdoor living room” even is, don’t worry, we’ll explain. Essentially, it is a comfortable gathering space outside where people can hang out from the warm early days of spring to the crisp nights of early winter. Let’s talk about what they are and what they are good for before we get into how to build one.

It might seem ridiculous or unnecessary to build a space outside that has a television, a fridge, and other such amenities. Of course, 40 years ago, the idea of having a television in your bedroom was seen as the height of excess and luxury. Without an outdoor living room, you can certainly enjoy time outside in every season, but not as comfortably as you would with one. These are spaces that make the yard feel like truly a part of your home. Which means that even though you have to maintain them (and break down or protect them during harsh weather), the time you spend there makes that effort worth it. It’s a great place to host a party or just lounge on the weekends with family or by yourself. Once you have one, an outdoor living room makes perfect sense. 

If you are thinking about installing an outdoor living room, there are many benefits you may not be aware of. Sure, there is the obvious upside in that once an outdoor living room is built, you get to spend time there. But it’s more than that. Hosting a party and want to send the kids outside? A television and their own comfy couches can help sell that idea. Want to get away from your partner’s book club or football buddies? Send them to the outdoor living room (or use it yourself). Also, depending on how much permanent infrastructure you build in, an outdoor living room can increase the value of your property. The only real downside is that there is no way to truly secure it if you have an open yard. (Though you can use security cameras to keep an eye on it when you are away and make sure you include it on your homeowner’s insurance policy.)

Planning to construct an outdoor living room is not unlike planning to do major home renovations. If you don’t do proper planning, you could end up costing yourself money or an outdoor living room no one likes. Follow these ten steps to make sure your outdoor space is one everyone can enjoy. 

First, you have to make sure your property can accommodate an outdoor living room. You will need a relatively large area, at least enough to comfortable seat a group of four to six people. You will want it to be close to the house, but not so close that it’s just like an extended porch. So, before you start picking your favorite patio furniture cushion pattern, block out the area you plan to use for your outdoor living room. If your yard has fencing or some other kind of barrier, consider using that as the starting point for the space. We’ll get into how you can enclose the outdoor living room, should you want to, later.

Still, using the edge of your property as one of the boundaries of the area will help make the finished product look more like a part of the property than a haphazard gazebo out in the middle of the yard. Mark off the section you wish to use, and even if you just eyeball it at first, take precise measurements. As you add the infrastructure of the outdoor living room and start selecting furniture and appliances, you will need to know these sizes. As every good wood shop teacher said for time immemorial: “measure twice, cut once.” The implication being that by taking exact measurements beforehand saves time because you don’t have to go backwards.

What makes an outdoor living room tricky is, well, that it’s outdoors. This means that while you and the family are sitting back watching movies or cooking out, you could suddenly be hit with a wind and rain storm. So, you have to consider the elements when planning your outdoor living room. If you live in area that gets a lot of rain or snow, consider building your outdoor living room on a raised platform. If you live in an area where you get a lot of sun, make sure your enclosure spaces are reflective colors, otherwise you’ll cook your guests. Still, no matter what weather you face, there are solutions for it.

Of course, you can’t plan for all things and strange weather can happen anywhere in the world as it is today. So, how far you go in planning to secure your space is up to you. Then there are things you can’t plan for nor combat. For example, there is no outdoor living room standing today that could survive hurricane-force winds. So, take all the precautions you want, and you’ll most likely be fine where the elements are concerned. But if something more serious does strike, well by then you’ll probably have bigger concerns than the outdoor living room.

What makes an outdoor living room different from just a furniture arrangement on the lawn is that it feels like a “room.” Ensuring that some part of the space has walls or a ceiling helps that illusion. Plus, this gives your guests places to get warm on those cool nights or shade during those hot days. How you create the enclosure is up to you and your ultimate desires for the space. Ideally, you could create a way to almost fully enclose the space but be able to remove those enclosures when you wanted. There are ways to do this, and it all depends on what you are willing to accept. 

You could do some serious construction by building a roof and some walls around your outdoor living room space. With some clever engineering, you could make the panels in those walls removable, so you can open the space up on nice days. Of course, this would likely take some effort to achieve. The other solution is to use foldable walls, typically made from a tarp-like material. You can get them with clear “windows” in them or you could just use clean tarps in a neutral color. This will provide less insulation than more permanent walls but should be enough to keep out the elements on the nights you need to. This you could probably do yourself, while the construction option might require a contractor. Yet, done right, this bit of infrastructure will increase the value of your property. 

One difference between a fire pit or party tent and an outdoor living room is, usually, that it has power. You can charge your devices, watch TV, and maybe even have something out there to keep the drinks cold. Even if you are a dedicated do-it-yourself-er, you need to make sure that this work is, at least, approved by an electrician. If the power lines aren’t properly insulated, your outdoor living room could turn into an electrical shock trap. Still, this is worth the expense, because it makes your outdoor living room really feel like an outdoor part of the house. You can have a Christmas tree out there during the holidays or run fans during your August parties. 

You definitely don’t just want to run extension cords from the house to the outdoor living room, though. Invest in electrical equipment for outdoor use, so there’s no unsightly wires or hazards from electric shock to tripping over the cords. If you’ve set up your outdoor living room near a fence or other barrier on your property, run the lines around the edges back to the house. Or, if you don’t mind a little light landscaping, you can run the powerlines underground from the house to the outdoor living room. This sort of electrical (or even water, if you want it) infrastructure also adds to making an outdoor living room feel like a permanent part of the property.

No outdoor experience, whether roughing it out in the wilderness or chilling in your outdoor living room is complete without a fire. Of course, especially in residential areas, there are very specific rules and regulations governing fires. This makes sense because an out-of-control open fire risks not just your home but your neighbors’ homes as well. Make sure to check with your local ordinances for fire safety rules. Then, using that information, build a fire pit that meets those regulations or get a stand-alone, enclosed one that works mostly anywhere.

For example, your area might have a regulation that stipulates the fire pit be a certain distance away from all structures. If you’ve built up walls and a ceiling for your outdoor living room, that could count as a structure. So, either use a camping stove or enclosed fire stand or build the pit as an extension from the outdoor living room. If your fire pit can’t be in or too near your outdoor living room, you can make up for the heating loss by adding space heaters. From the little ones you can fit under a desk to the large, metal ones designed for outdoor use, there are plenty of safe options to keep your outdoor living room warm when it’s could out.

Now, you are ready to install the appliances you are going to use in your outdoor living room. You’ve run the power and built what infrastructure there is, so the next step is putting these items in. For things like televisions or other media devices, you will want to both make sure they are secure in their place and can be protected from the elements. When it comes to appliances like stoves or fridges, those can be more difficult to install and protect. Still, you will be glad to have them when you sit down for a party or to watch the game. It may take a little extra work, but it will give your outdoor living room that extra-luxury feel. When purchasing these appliances, consider springing for installation package so you can get experts to come help ensure the set-up is correct and secure. 

While you might have decided to invest in some permanent infrastructure when setting up your outdoor living room, it should not be a static feature on your property. This is why things like easy-to-move furniture, removable walls, and other easy to adjust accents should be used to fill up your space. Not only will this variety keep the space interesting to you and your guests, but it will also ensure that you can make the most of your outdoor living room. Making sure it is easy to rearrange the space will both ensure that you are able to adapt the space for any situation in which you want to use it.

For example, let’s say you have a child’s party planned for Saturday and a football party planned for Sunday. You can clear out an open area for the kids to play and eat. Then the next day, you want to have your friends over to watch the big game or whatever talent show is currently airing on the broadcast networks. With a static set-up for your outdoor living room, you’ll spend Sunday morning trying to get sticky-hand stains out of your cushions in time for your other guests. But, if you can move the furniture around or switch things out, both groups can enjoy that space like its their own. 

If the issue was just having movable furniture and a clear space, you could just use your porch instead of building an outdoor living room. Remember, as we mentioned above, what sets an outdoor living room apart from other outdoor gathering spaces is the level of comfort. The furniture, the atmosphere, and everything else should be just as comfy as it is inside your home. If you are able to achieve this, your outdoor living room will be a place you frequent often rather than just on special occasions.

One way to ensure that your outdoor living room is as comfortable as possible is to make sure that you address your specific needs. If you have elderly friends or family, or folks with chronic pain issues, you will need soft, comfortable sits situated high enough that they don’t struggle to get up and down. Even if you and your guests are in your prime, and even have children, you might want a more spartan space suitable for more active pursuits. Either way, you will need comfortable places to sit, but not so many that they overcrowd the space. Whether standing or sitting, your outdoor living room is a place that should scream luxury and comfort.

One thing that can ruin your outdoor living room experience has little to with your planning and everything to with the fickleness of Mother Nature. Setting up a large flat screen TV will be a losing proposition if the first strong wind can knock it over. So, when you assemble your outdoor living room set-up, make sure that all of the items out there can be secured when not in use or the weather kicks up. By anticipating these problems when you are still designing it, you can ensure that what you end up with will keep things safe when you aren’t there.

Yet, there is a second kind of security to consider, especially if you have an open yard. While people are unlikely to sneak onto someone’s property to make off with a patio chair, they may be a little more motivated to score a set of sweet speakers or that flat screen television. So, you will want to consider using things like wireless security cameras or other smart home security tools to help protect your property. Also, make sure that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover outdoor spaces and appliances. If it doesn’t, dump it and find a policy that does. Also, consider using steel cables and locks to secure items in place, because criminals are lazy and will look for an easier target. 

There are some people in your family, perhaps your own parents, whose homes look today almost exactly like they did 20 or 40 years ago. Sometimes the furniture or appliances change slightly, but most of their things are static. Even if your home is like this, you don’t want your outdoor living room to be. One other benefit of making sure the things inside are easy to shift around depending on need is that it allows you to mix things up, keeping that space feeling fresh and new. Otherwise, it will become just another place in your home that catches junk and is overlooked more than its enjoyed. 

How you do this depends on your tastes and your needs. Perhaps you turn your outdoor living room into a hibachi are or make it more media friendly. Maybe you switch out the furniture every few years or are constantly updating the colors and style. However you do it, this will make sure your outdoor living room stays a vibrant and active place in your household. Whether your living room looks the same as the day you moved in or totally different, your outdoor living room is the place to try new things and change up when things start to feel stale.

How you choose to outfit and design your outdoor living room is a personal, subjective decision. Maybe you don’t want a television, because your outdoor living room is meant to be a respite from the constant barrage of screens. Maybe you want your outdoor living room to be a more fluid space, were people linger for a time and then move on, rather than settling in for a whole day or night. However, you want your outdoor living room to function as a part of your home, you can find the right way to make it happen. Like any part of your home, it will take work to keep it clean and make sure things are protected, but it will be worth it. Watching the sun set or lounging with a good book will be extra-special in your outdoor living room. 

What do you think? Are there any suggestions for setting up an outdoor living room we missed? Share those and your thoughts, reactions, and experiences in the comments below. Don’t forget to share the article on social-media if you enjoyed it, so your friends can get in on the conversation.

This content was originally published here.

Create a Beautiful Outdoor Living Space on a Budget | Epic Home Ideas

outdoor living

Outdoor living space can be utilized to create your dream architectural structures, which can enhance the look of your house significantly. You might be wondering it costs a fortune to make your backyard to make it pretty, but you are wrong. There are many creative ways to beautify your outdoor living space within your budget, so let’s see these.

Ground Pool

If you are looking for a cost-effective swimming pool option, then you have to get your hands dirty. A natural pool can be installed in your backyard very easily. You need to use gravel and stone instead of concrete, and even add some aquatic plants to give it a natural look. With decent lights and rugged deck design, it will amplify the beauty of your place significantly.

A pergola is the best option for you, if you have other aesthetic touches of beauty in your backyard. It is a garden structure with four pillars and a roof. All the sides are open, offering an unobstructed look of the yard.

The roof is designed to block most of the Sun’s rays, but it is not completely closed. It can be created in many shapes and sizes, and chairs can be added to the setup. It is a refreshing outdoor seating to enjoy a relaxing weekend with family & friends.

Illuminating Deck

Do you have a timber deck built in your backyard? Do you want to make it more attractive and beautiful? Have you heard of illuminating decks yet? How does the idea of putting up different kinds of lights on your deck sound to you?

It does not necessarily mean a random selection, but sometimes a planned one. Look for lighting ideas online or consult a professional, and then accordingly buy a bunch of lights to hang them where it suits the best. Backyard beauty can be cost-effective as well. Hence proved!

A gazebo is similar to a pergola. It is also a backyard structure with pillars and a roof. The roof of a gazebo is closed, and some even prefer the structure to have windows and doors instead of an open layout. Seats can be attached to the low-level walls of the gazebo. No work on the weekend? Sit out in a gazebo with your family, and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature this weekend.

Barbeque Section

Do you have the whole barbeque setup wrapped up in your garage? Why not install it permanently in your backyard, and remove the hassles of taking it out every time your friends come over? You can dedicate a small space to your barbeque setup, add some funky chairs and a log table. You may also add a small refrigerator near the setup to always keep your beer cold. Sounds nice, right? Invite your friends over and throw a fun barbeque party this weekend!

Water Feature

Did you recently have a bit of construction work or do you have some empty pots? You only need to buy a water pump and get it installed in your backyard. Place stones, gravel or pots near the pump. Don’t forget to be creative while doing so! Then fix it with a waterproof adhesive.

Voila! Your backyard fountain is ready for the world to see and adore. If you want to make it more attractive, add a few more giant stones or upside down pots near the setup, and some lights to have a beautiful place to sit with your loved ones and enjoy the evening coffee.

Creativity Is Not Expensive

If your primary concern is the expensive professionals, then you just need to do-it-yourself. Trust in yourself, and show your friends & family how creative you can be! All the above-mentioned outdoor ideas can quickly be taken care of by you. Just a little effort by you and a few loved ones (if possible) can make your backyard the most beautiful element of your house.

Author Bio: Rebecca Coats is the co-founder of PropertECO and sits on the Board of the UK Radon Association and the Executive Committee of the European Radon Association.

This content was originally published here.

Outdoor Living Space Ideas That Won’t Break Your Budget – 5 Minutes for Mom

outdoor living

This summer we will all be staying close to home and spending more time with family and friends in our outdoor living spaces. So we are sharing some outdoor living space ideas that won’t cost a lot of money and will help you make the most of your outdoor space… even if it’s only your driveway!

This article includes suggestions from some of our sponsors and affiliates.

I confess that I feel envious when I see my friends’ photos with huge backyards with space for tons of furniture.

I live in a townhouse with a small backyard, a small deck just off my kitchen, and a driveway with a tiny patch of grass in the front. Janice is luckier… she has a slightly larger backyard area and she has a lovely front lawn where our mother loves to plant flowers.

But regardless of how large or small your outdoor living spaces are there are many simple ways you can make the space more inviting and inspiring for your family to spend time together.

7 Outdoor Living Space Ideas On A Budget

And when you add light to your yard, deck, driveway, or any other outdoor space, you invite your guests to stay all day and into the evening.

Not only do lights allow you to stay out late enjoying the summer evening, the lights help keep your property secure.

These LITOM Landscape Spotlights are waterproof, wireless, and solar powered. They are perfect for lighting up your yard, garden, driveway, porch, walkway, pool, or patio.

Luckily, they’re super affordable and you can get them on Amazon.


Even if you have a full outdoor sofa set, get some extra fold up chairs so that everybody in the family can have a seat.

It’s also nice to have didn’t types of seating. For example, you may want to have a lounge chair for when you want to lay out in the sunshine, but also have a table with chairs to eat meals.

Kids size seating takes up less space, so be sure to get the kids some cute furniture they can call their own.

Outdoor furniture doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can scale down or up based on your budget. And remember that second-hand scores are waiting everywhere. Check out Facebook Marketplace and you just might find an awesome deal.

Even if you only have a small balcony, you can plant a container garden with flowers, fruits and vegetables.

Whether your garden is large or small, tending to your plants is a wonderful way to spend time with your kids and teach them about growing their own food.

If you have big backyard, you can plant a lovely garden and add lights to bring it to life in the evening.


Adding a patio umbrella for sun protection will help you and your kids enjoy time outside without getting sunburned.

An umbrella will also help protect your furniture from bleaching in the sunlight. You can also get creative and make a DIY canopy to drape over a lounge chair.


I love having an outdoor rug on my deck. It’s a simple way to make even a small space feel so put together.

And you can make your outdoor living spaces super cozy with extra throw pillows.


Whether you have kids or not, everybody loves to play a good game!

Set up a space to organize some outdoor games and toys like frisbees and beach balls. You can even make a DIY glow-in-the-dark bowling set for hours of fun into the evening.

And also have classic board games kept in safe place protected from the weather but ready to break out for a family game night.

If you have kids, make a special play space for them. A kids tent is a unique way to add a place where they get some relief from the sun and play with their toys.

Whether you’re blessed with a big backyard or you’re simply soaking up the sun on your balcony, treat yourself to some of these easy outdoor living space ideas.

As you enjoy extra time at home this summer, you and your family will love having a comfy and inspiring place to spend time outside.

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Disclosure: This post includes suggestions from some of our sponsors and has affiliate links.
Written by Susan Carraretto, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom
Talk with me: @5minutesformom and Facebook.com/5minutesformom
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Susan Carraretto and her identical twin, Janice Croze, created 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006. Susan loves all social media, but her top addiction these days is Pinterest.

This content was originally published here.

Screen Porch & Outdoor Living Room Makeover

outdoor living

I am so happy to finally invite you to have a look around our screened porch & outdoor living room makeover.

Like most of the spaces that have been refreshed at #theTrailHouseReno, it’s a bit of an understatement to say it has been made over.

Because honestly, the only part of the porch that wasn’t touched was the ceiling.

We replaced the screens, rebuilt the railing and refinished the porch floor with a solid stain. But all of this couldn’t happen until the whole facade of the back of the house was removed and replaced. (Clearly, there’s a long story associated with that and I’ll refer you to this post.)

So, to finally have a screen porch to enjoy and be mosquito free is a very big deal.

For the overall design plan, I wanted to use many of the existing pieces of outdoor furniture from our last porch. I just wanted to give the very traditional furnishings a fresh look with a bohemian flair. The intention was to consistently use the bold black and white patterns to give the room a very cohesive look, and yet feel collected and a bit whimsical.

That “collected” look is not something that happens very quickly.  It requires a bit more diligence but I always enjoy the room much more in the end.

The black and white color scheme was also inspired by the kitchen which is just inside these windows.

To give you a more visual reference of where we started, here is a look at the before.

Clearly the porch floor boards needed refinishing and the railing was completely unrelated in design to the rest of the house.  It had to go.

But, the porch had a few challenges beyond just the esthetics. To work with the long and narrow configuration I created separate zones, incorporating the main seating area right off the door of the living room and kitchen.

On the far side by the stairs, I took advantage of the little nook created by the backside of the fireplace.  A cozy little spot for breakfast and a cup of tea seemed like a great use of the space.

For now, oppsite this corner I added a collection of plants and a vintage bar cart.

I’ll be breaking down all of the steps from rebuilding the railing and refinishing the deck boards in following posts, but one of the easiest ways to transform any outdoor space is with vintage inspired outdoor lights.

The new brighter colors of the Hardi Plank on the exterior as well as the soft taupy grey of the deck and railings feel fresh and inviting.  Keeping the beauiful boards of the ceiling natural give the “room” a depth and warmth that would have been lost if we had painted it.

Admittedly, we probably won’t take full advantage of our new outdoor living room until it cools off a bit.  We do live in Alabama and it has been remarkably hot and humid. There is really only so much two ceiling fans can do with heat like that. (It’s so hot, not even our GoldenDoodle, Tucker wanted to photo bomb my photography of the porch.)

I look forward to walking you through all of the steps we took to transform this space and share what we learned along the way.  For instance, I think we were surprised how easy it was to replace the railings and of course, paint, or solid stain in this case, are always huge game changers.

This content was originally published here.

Vineyard Daybed by Vondom will Elevate Outdoor Living Space

outdoor living

Vondom rolled out its 2020 collections a few months back; the Vineyard Daybed designed by Ramón Esteve is the first product out of the collection. It is a simple, hut-shaped daybed that will elevate your outdoor living space to a new height. It will make a cool place to sit, converse, meditate, sleep, or simply relax.

The Vineyard Daybed features clean lines and a pyramidal shape inspired by traditional architecture. It comprises an aluminum structure and a double reclining mattress that ensures complete comfort.

Each unit has two sides open and two canopied sides with a unique pattern that blocks sunlight while also allowing adequate light inside. The placement of the daybed will also decide the amount of shading it provides. The Vineyard Daybed sits on small legs that ensure just appropriate height from the ground. It can accommodate two persons at a time.

Also Read: Charpai Daybed by Hanne Willmann is Modeled After Indian Charpoy

Customers can choose from two finishes – fabric and woven according to their requirements. With its smooth blend of materials inspired by the Mediterranean lifestyle and modern architecture, the Vineyard Daybed will sit just perfectly alongside the swimming pool in your property.

Image: Vondom

This content was originally published here.

Homeowners ‘Remodeling’ Outdoor Living – ShadeFX

outdoor living

One of the great joys of owning your own home is having the space inside and out to live, relax and entertain. That’s why many house hunters yearn for spacious homes with equally spacious backyards. They picture themselves setting up an outdoor barbeque and inviting some friends over.

But why stop there? Recent trends show that for most homeowners, outdoor living means more than just firing up the grill. The ideal outdoor space now looks like an extension of your interior. In fact, a recent landscaping survey found that 88% of homeowners are taking on projects to upgrade their outdoor living areas by adding elements that make spending time outside more comfortable.

Earlier this year, Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design, surveyed a group of U.S. homeowners who are planning, in the middle of, or recently completed a landscaping project. One of the biggest reasons stated for starting a landscaping project was to improve their outdoor living space.

Homeowners are looking to spend more time living and entertaining in their backyards. As such, results show that they are outfitting the outdoors with decor pieces we’re used to seeing inside. For 43% of respondents, that means lounge furniture, while 34% bring in dining furniture. Other outdoor furnishings include string lights, benches, ceiling fans and rugs, all of which make the space look like a cohesive room.

What truly completes the outdoor room are the heating and overhead coverage. Heating sources such as firepits were popular with nearly half of the respondents saying that they installed or were thinking of installing one. Installing outdoor heating and a retractable roof or canopy are valuable. They can extend the season for outdoor entertaining especially in the colder months.

Once those updates are made, 67% of homeowners said they spend more time outside, with most spending their time relaxing. On the other hand, some intended to be more active by taking up gardening while others got straight down to entertaining. Results also show that after the renovations, homeowners are spending more family-time outdoors.

So, when it comes down to it, the outside of the house is just as important as the inside. Homeowners just want to have an outdoor place to unwind. They want a space that is as comfortable, accommodating, and as relaxing as the inside.

How do you spend your time outdoors? Comment below and let us know.

This content was originally published here.

Homeowner’s Outdoor Space Features Trex Outdoor LIving Products | Trex

outdoor living

Creating a home that blends the modern design aesthetic with the needs of a nature-loving family of five challenged Andy and Jacqueline Sears when they set out to build their custom home three years ago.

Color choices were a key element in the design. “We wanted modern, but not cold modern; not stark or sterile,” Sears said. Island Mist was perfect because “we needed something compatible with the (house’s) color theme that stood out and made a statement but also blended in.”

The main 16’x30’ deck outside the kitchen area and a smaller 8’x16’ deck off the living room were designed to keep the view of the river front and center. Nothing was left to chance. A small outdoor kitchen is intentionally tucked around the corner so it doesn’t draw the eye away from the backyard. Decking boards create solid walls to block street noise and anchor the deck to the house, giving the space a more intimate feel.

“So many decks feel like they are just a platform on the back of a house,” Sears said. “This deck wraps around the side to tie it into the house.”

Because a traditional rail would have felt too heavy and blocked views with its chunkier composite balusters, the couple chose Signature aluminum railing with its sleek rails and smaller, round aluminum balusters.

Trex® RainEscape® deck drainage system, with its troughs and gutters that divert water away from the deck, provides a 16’x20’ storage space under the large deck. A shower, added under the small deck, gives the family a place to clean off after a day spent kayaking on the James.

This content was originally published here.

MVRDV orients ‘villa stardust’ around an outdoor living room akin to a moroccan riad

outdoor living

MVRDV has transformed a former commercial building in rotterdam into a sunlit and spacious private home. inspired by the typology of a moroccan riad — a type of traditional interior garden or courtyard — the internal living spaces of ‘villa stardust’ are oriented around a vibrant central garden patio. the chosen materials and palette of colors give the dwelling a mediterranean sensibility and lend a rich visual texture to the villa’s tranquil interior.

MVRDV orients 'villa stardust' around an outdoor living room akin to a moroccan riad
all images by daria scagliola

MVRDV has designed villa stardust’s central garden as an outdoor living room enclosed by the building at its four perimeter faces. as a former commercial building with limited privacy due to neighboring structures, the insertion of the 230 square meter central patio became a key element in the site’s transformation. perforating the building’s deep footprint, the garden allows the building to breathe and ensures that all interior living areas receive ample natural light and ventilation. sufficient floor space remains internally to not only house a family of five and offer a clear interior-exterior connection, but also to accommodate the client’s small medical practice, all on a single level.

internally, moroccan embellishments become elements of emphasis within an otherwise quiet palette. the fit-out includes a kitchen with a powder-coated stainless steel block, as well as a tribune structure in the living space which simultaneously incorporates a media room and storage. this hierarchy establishes a consistent rhythm that creates harmony both within the home, and between the dwelling and its surrounding environment. 

project info: 

year: 2020
project name: villa stardust
location: rotterdam
size and program: 770m2 private residence

architect: MVRDV
founding partner in charge: nathalie de vries
partner/director: fokke moerel
design team: roy sieljes, elien deceuninck, daniella persson, natalia lipczuk
images: daria scagliola
copyright: MVRDV 2018 – (winy maas, jacob van rijs, nathalie de vries) partners

project management: DEGVAST huisadvies & ontwerp, ron de gast
contractor: AvT interieur en bouw, adriaan van trigt
planting advisor: stek, rotterdam

This content was originally published here.

Energy-Efficient Windows Help Close Holes in Your Envelope  – Zero Energy Project

The first time you look at an energy modeling report, one thing jumps out: Windows are big holes in the energy envelope. They are responsible for up to 48% of the heat loss from a typical home, but comprise only 7% of the envelope area.

That’s not really surprising. Wall insulation is required to be no less than R19 by most building codes. The typical new double-pane window has an insulating value between R2.5 and R3. The performance gap becomes ridiculously wide in zero energy homes, where great attention is paid to building insulation, and the wall can be anywhere from R25 to as high as R60. How can these holes in zero energy envelopes be closed cost effectively?

Reducing Window Area While Improving Lighting, Ventilation, and Views

Reducing the window area of a home is an excellent way to reduce heat loss and save money, but it isn’t a big hit with building designers who emphasize natural light, outdoor views, passive solar heat gain, and the architectural aesthetics of windows. And, there is a limit to how far one can take the window elimination approach. Windows also provide natural ventilation and emergency egress from bedrooms. So trimming window area becomes a balancing act between the energy efficiency gains from reducing window area and the many additional  benefits windows provide. Thoughtful design that prioritizes window placement and sizing can help get the benefits of both worlds.

Improved Double-Pane Windows

In recent years, double-pane windows have improved significantly — routinely achieving a heat loss rate of U-0.30, which is the building code in some cold climates. Low-E (emissivity) coatings, inert gas fill between the panes, and thermally-improved spacers all contribute to improved performance. Some manufacturers, such as Milgard have pushed the limit with double- pane windows that offer a heat loss rate as low as U-0.23 (R4), which is as good or better than some triple-glazed products. This Milgard window offers an excellent value in a standard production window and has been used successfully in affordable new zero energy homes as well as in zero energy and other energy-efficient retrofits.

Triple Glazing

Moving up to better quality triple-pane windows can reduce heat loss to around U-0.20, or an insulating value of about R5, although not all triple-pane windows achieve this rating. And some exceed it. Very high performance triple- pane windows are available as low as U-0.10 (R10). Most of these windows are made in Europe or Canada. For example, Intus Windows, a leading European manufacturer of high R windows, has triple pane windows with R values ranging from about 5 to 11 at a premium price.

Triple-pane windows have a higher R value because they use all the performance features mentioned above, such as low-E, plus three layers of glazing instead of the typical two layers. Adding a third pane of glass improves efficiency but makes them bulky, heavy, and expensive.

The time is ripe for a production window that provides all the benefits of triple-pane windows without the drawbacks of weight and bulk that come with the current crop of triple-pane windows.

The Manufacturing Challenge

High-performance windows have been improving for decades with additional layers of glazing, low-E coatings, low conductivity spacers, and inert gas fill in a sealed unit. The stumbling block has been the additional layer of glazing required to reach the next level. An extra layer of glass is thick and heavy. Typically, each piece of glass in a window is about 3 mm thick. Adding a third layer of glass requires a wider window frame and that means using more material and retooling manufacturing lines, which leads to more cost.

Suspended film has been used for decades to create lighter triple- and quad-pane insulated glass units (IGUs). However, it has been difficult to automate their assembly and it has remained essentially a manual process. So multi-pane IGUs based on suspended films are expensive with little prospect that they can scale up enough to bring the price down.

Go Thin

A breakthrough that may provide the benefits of triple-pane with the cost of double is the development of thinner glass. Taking advantage of growing demand for very thin glass (0.7 to 1.0 mm) used in flat-screen televisions, window manufacturers can now acquire thin glass to slip a third layer of glass into the same sash thickness as a double-pane IGUs without redesigning the frame or adding significant weight. The manufacturing process can also be automated to reach higher economies of scale. Krypton gas replaces argon in the spaces between the panes and thermally-improved spacers replace metal spacers. This package of features reduces the heat loss rate to as low as U 0.14 (R7).

“Drop In” High-R Replacement Windows

Easily and economically replacing existing windows with high R-value windows is one of the challenges to getting existing housing stock on the path to zero. One big advantage of thin windows is that a thin triple-pane IGU can simply be “dropped-in” to existing double-pane frame profiles as part of energy-efficiency upgrade projects. This opens the possibility to eventually replace double-pane IGUs in millions of windows to improve the performance of existing homes. The drop-in thin triple-pane IGU would improve the overall window performance to around U-0.20 (R5). For example, Alpen High Performance Products claims U-0.17 for their Winsert replacement unit. This thin window retrofit could reduce whole-house energy use by as much as 16% in existing homes in cold climates and move existing homes rapidly toward much better energy performance.

The Future Will Be Thin

The development and commercialization of thin-triple technology was spearheaded by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). The Lab has been working to improve the energy performance of windows for several decades. Currently, Alpen High Performance Products and Andersen Windows are collaborating with LBNL to bring these super windows to market. The State of California and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance are developing plans to move the window market to the greater efficiency of the thin-triple products — and Alpen already offers them. In the near term, expect prices similar to existing triple-pane windows, but they will likely be less expensive as demand and manufacturing efficiency grow. While high-performance triple-pane windows have been available for many years, a new affordable, light, thin triple-pane window will boost zero energy homes — both new construction and retrofits. If the product lives up to its promise, mainstream builders would flock to a product offering significantly better energy performance, little additional cost, and no changes in design, detailing, or labor.

Getting Windows Right with Energy Modeling

The choice to use lower cost, lower R-value double- pane windows or higher R-value triple- pane windows, including the new thin ones, can be informed by energy modeling. The model can show the difference in total building energy use for different window choices. Using window cost estimates from local suppliers, you could then calculate a cost/Btu for each window package and compare that with other energy-efficiency measures such as high- performance heat pumps or solar electric panels. One place to screen for good windows is the Energy Efficient Windows website, which allows you to search by your location and building characteristics. You can sort the resulting list by U-value to see the most efficient windows and then click through to see more information on specific products.

Closing the Holes in the Envelope

While no window will completely close the holes in the envelopes of highly energy efficient homes, window R-value  has come a long way in the last few decades. Checking out the window alternatives described here and using energy modeling to find the most cost- effective option for further “closing the holes in the envelope” is an important step in building cost comparable zero energy homes and retrofits.

This content was originally published here.

Things We Love: Outdoor Living Rooms – Design Chic Design Chic

outdoor living

We’d love to have a nice sit and a long chat on any of these porches with all of you! 

Thanks so much for stopping by Design Chic! We love having you here!

Click on each image Below to Learn More About the Product:

Already read and loved Feels Like Falling? It would mean the world to me if you would take a moment to rate or review it on Amazon and/or Goodreads! Anyone can review, no matter where you bought the book!


This content was originally published here.

Outdoor Living Ideas – Our Southern Home

outdoor living

Is there anything better than the lazy days of summer? As an adult, I’ve always looked forward to summer, especially in my elementary school teaching days. 

When the kids came along and they were in school, it was the best time to have everyone home with carefree schedules. 

Today with Home Decor Encore & More we are sharing fabulous ideas for summer outdoors!

A couple of years ago, I created my first patriotic porch at our home. It was so EASY and cost very little money. I don’t typically decorate a lot for patriotic holidays because we are usually at our family beach house for Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. 

I discovered that I loved the look and have decorated more and more with a patriotic theme for our home at some point during the summer. 

Check out the other fabulous ideas from my blogging friends below.

Ideas for home and entertaining indoor and out!

This content was originally published here.

Watson’s Can Help You Create Your Dream Outdoor Living Space – Cincinnati Magazine

outdoor living

Backyards in 2020 are all about style, design, and function. With families spending extra time at home, it’s more important than ever that you create a space that you love to spend time in. We know it needs to work for you and your family’s lifestyle, too.

Photograph courtesy of Watson’s

To help you bring that space to life, Watson’s has launched a new service: virtual design consultations. Schedule a free appointment with a designer to plan your dream space, inside or out. During your consultation, our designer will understand how you’ll use your room or space.

If you’re looking for outdoor furniture, for example, our designer may ask you: How do you use your backyard? Do you like to host family BBQs or pool parties? Is it a spot for you and your husband to have a cozy night cap?

Then they’ll factor in your personal style—like color or design taste, whether it’s contemporary, modern, traditional, or beyond—and, of course, your budget. You’ll receive recommendations on how to layout your space and the furniture that will help bring your vision to life.

Request a free design consultation online here. You can choose from a video call, a visit in your home, or a private consultation in our store.

What’s trending in outdoor design?

Banquette seating

A new customer favorite, our selection of banquettes pairs sectionals with dining tables for a stylish look that’s also highly functional. Designers say banquettes make the space feel larger yet cozy, and you can easily accommodate seating for a variety of people without having to move chairs around.

Photograph courtesy of Watson’s

Fire pits

Watson’s carries one of the largest selections of fire pits in the nation, with more than 100 options to choose from. Neighbors in Greater Cincinnati love the brand-new functional fire pit, where the cover slides seamlessly over the top to convert into a table. You could also choose a standalone fire pit and surround it by comfy chairs, or add a dining table that has a fire pit in the center.

Photograph courtesy of Watson’s

Cantilever umbrellas

Cantilever or offset umbrellas are by far the most popular choice for sun protection for dining, seating, or even pool areas. Gone are the days where you need to attach an expensive awning to your house to escape the sun. Cantilever umbrellas offer 360-degree rotating frames or easy tilt functionality that will help you customize your shade, so you can sit outside in comfort.

Outdoor accessories

Add function and style to your outdoor space with Watson’s all-new collection of outdoor accessories, including customer favorites: outdoor rugs and lighting. From lights and lanterns to garden stools and coolers from Yeti, Watson’s offers the perfect finishing touches—all at the lowest price in the U.S. guaranteed.

Photograph courtesy of Watson’s

This content was originally published here.