Indoor/outdoor living abounds at foot of Mount Tamalpais in Mill Valley

outdoor living

Twice a week, The Chronicle features a home on the market that caught our eye for its architecture, history or character. More photos: Address: 880 Edgewood Ave., Mill Valley Asking price: $4.75 million Description: Set on a 7.24-acre double lot 20 minutes from Stinson Beach, this three-bedroom contemporary home with dramatic proportions is perfect for an indoor/outdoor lifestyle. A 17-foot ceiling crowns a living room that opens to a tile patio with a gas fire pit.

This content was originally published here.

Outdoor Living and Prepping Skills

outdoor living

Outdoor Living and Prepping Skills

Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase SHTFPreparedness may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

We all need to spend more time outside. There is a nationwide Vitamin D deficiency and that is because we get most of it from the big yellow ball in the sky.

Fluorescent lights don’t make Vitamin D but we spend all our time under those. There have actually been studies about the damaging effects of those lights on our minds and bodies.

Its the reality of how we live.

Now more than ever people are looking to figure out how they can spend more time outside. What can be done to assure they have more time to be under that sun in an enjoyable way. Much of it has to do with the idea of outdoor living. Creating outdoor living spaces or just getting out and camping more often.

Outdoor Living Spaces

When you spend time outside cooking over a fire or looking around nature you can easily start to bolster your prepping skills. This is very easy. Mastering fire just means that you can start playing with different fire starting methods. Trade in the matches for a flint and steel. See what you got.

You can also take note of the trees and plants that are in your area. These could be food, medicine our both!

Camping is a test of your outdoor survival skills, if you do it right. You are going to want to have some comfort items for when you camp but you should mostly focus on living light and using nature to teach you. From land navigation to bushcrafting the camping life gives you all the options.

The time has come for humans to take back their planet and start spending more time outdoors. We need to value our wild places. If we do not put serious value in these wild places they will disappear. They will go to the highest bidder.

After watching recent events unfold and speaking to family and friends, my wife and I decided to start prepping. Preparedness is a big part of our lives now and I would be honored to share some knowledge with you. Here at SHTF Prepping & Homesteading Central we gather the best prepping, survival, homesteading and DIY articles from around the web.
– “Those who prepare today will survive tomorrow.”

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This content was originally published here.

Tour a 4-Season English Garden Designed for Outdoor Living (16 photos)

outdoor living

“After” photos by John Glover and Aralia Design

Garden at a Glance
Who lives here: Frankie and John Sheekey and their two children, ages 7 and 8
Location: Essex County, England
Lot size: About one-quarter acre (940 square meters)
Designer: Patricia Fox of Aralia Design

Before: The yard behind the family’s renovated 14th-century home was not always a place of such bucolic charm. “It was previously a very neglected and overgrown area,” Frankie says. Shrubs were overgrown, planting beds had large empty patches that became home to weeds and a pond held stagnant water. There was also an exposed oil tank. Without screening plants, the neighboring house seemed to encroach on the courtyard.

An outdoor upgrade was one of their top priorities when the Sheekeys moved in, and it wasn’t long before they reached out to landscape designer Patricia Fox to help them reimagine the space. Carving out privacy was a main goal from the start, as was creating a low-maintenance garden with year-round interest. “We wanted it to be a joy to look out on [the garden] all year-round,” Frankie says.

After: Fox proposed a complete landscape redesign, including bringing in pleached trees to address the need for more privacy and dividing the flat, open space into multiple outdoor rooms: one for dining, a second for relaxing by a fire feature and a third close to the house for cooking.

Fast-forward past planning and installation and the family now enjoys a dynamic courtyard garden where they entertain friends, eat dinners outside in the summer, barbecue year-round and share their love of nature with their children.

Given that the garden surrounds a 14th-century house (Grade II listing), it was important that any new components tie in with the existing building materials and overall formality of the home. “We stuck to traditional-style materials like Cotswold stone, oak and Jura limestone to give an aged yet modern effect,” Fox says. “The design itself pulled all these elements together in a contemporary way but felt in keeping with the architecture.”

Pleached European hornbeam trees (Carpinus betulus, USDA zones 4 to 8; find your zone) and rows of lavender reflect a traditional, formal planting design. In other areas of the garden, the introduction of ornamental grasses and freeform perennials planted in clumps and swaths, rather than orderly rows, gives the garden a natural meadow-like feel, in line with a more contemporary aesthetic.

Outdoor dining room: A solid oak pergola planted with wisteria vines encloses the outdoor dining room, providing light shade for the eating area and a structural feature for the backyard. As the vines mature, they will eventually blanket the pergola in lush foliage and fragrant springtime blooms. “The oak pergola was a very bold statement,” Fox says. “We wanted to make a real wow feature, while at the same time framing views out to the wider garden.”

The pergola measures 17 feet (5.3 meters) long, 16 feet (5 meters) wide and 7 feet (2.2 meters) tall, providing ample room for a table to seat six to eight people on the Jura Beige limestone patio or host a larger party with cocktail tables. The solid oak beams sit in metal sleeves that act as a protection against water damage and as a contemporary architectural feature of the design.

The pergola opens to a lower slope of the garden, directing one’s gaze down to a lawn with mounded grass terraces.

A zigzag pathway of warm-toned Cotswold gravel and rectangular Jura Beige limestone pavers links the outdoor dining space to a more casual lounge.

The metal-edged walkway winds between beds planted with evergreen boxwoods, arching giant feather grass (Stipa gigantea, zones 5 to 10), chartreuse Mediterranean spurge (Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii, zones 6 to 8) bearded iris (Iris ‘Sultan’s Palace’, zones 3 to 10) and English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’, zones 5 to 9).

Backyard lounge: The curved lounge abuts a neighbor’s garage, now covered in a white-flowering climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris, zones 4 to 8). What was once an eyesore for the courtyard now enhances the design.

The lounge overlooks the garden and is the perfect spot to take in the space or keep an eye on children. In the evening the couple can light the freestanding chiminea fire feature to cast a flickering glow and create warmth.

Cotswold gravel forms a compacted floor beneath the seating area and provides a warm tone that ties in with the surrounding grasses.

The material selection and installation technique reduce the gravel’s movement. The Cotswold gravel used here is more angular than traditional pea shingle, making it better at locking in place. Fox’s team used a geotextile membrane beneath the gravel on the path and patio to help form a secure base and then tamped the gravel down to compact it.

Terrace adjacent to house: The third terrace, just off the kitchen and living room, features a grill (not pictured) as well as a pair of chaise lounges set at the opposite end. The reclined seats provide yet another area to tempt the family to get outside and enjoy their backyard.

Large windows in the family room and open kitchen look out onto this courtyard, making the garden very much a part of the home’s interior. “I often work in the summer with the doors flung open to the sunshine and the soft breeze, being distracted by watching the butterflies and bees on the flowers,” Frankie says.

Plantings: Ornamental trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials fill planting beds and provide year-round interest. “It has evergreen structure throughout the year,” Fox says, “but the herbaceous planting provides seasonal color from spring to autumn, with bronzing of the grasses as the summer moves into autumn.”

Flowering perennials and bulbous plants, such as four different types of allium, add color from spring to fall and attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

The mix of shrubs and perennials provides year-round interest and requires far less maintenance than planting designs centered around annuals that need to be replaced every season. To keep beds looking neat, the grasses, perennials and box are trimmed back twice a year. All beds are set on timed soaker hoses for irrigation.

Apples and two types of feeders strung on a wire hang from the pleached trees, attracting seed- and fruit-eating wild birds.

The garden has become an integral part of the Sheekey family’s lifestyle — a place for relaxing at the end of the day or hosting friends on the weekend. For the couple’s children, the garden acts as both a play space and an open-air classroom for learning about the natural world. “We enjoy bird watching as a family and raise butterflies during the summer from kits. We have bug hotels in the garden, bird boxes, bat boxes and we also are lucky enough to have a resident hedgehog,” Frankie says.

When asked if the prickly fellow had a name, Frankie says, “The kids couldn’t agree. One called him Mr. Prickles, and the other Boris, so he’s called Mr. B. Prickles.”

This content was originally published here.

Virtual Tour of the Outdoor Spaces of the HGTV® Dream Home 2019 – Outdoor Living by Belgard

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As a proud sponsor of the HGTV® Dream Home 2019, Belgard is excited to offer you this virtual tour of the spectacular views and inviting outdoor living spaces of this fabulous mountainside retreat. Plus, beginning at 9:00 am EST on December 28, you can click the link below to enter for a chance to win this amazing home!

Located in the picturesque outdoor paradise of Whitefish, Montana, this year’s HGTV Dream Home was designed to take advantage of the dramatic mountainside views. With an abundance of picture windows and stack-back folding glass walls, this modern mountain lodge offers contemporary indoor-outdoor flow that allows the breathtaking outdoor living areas to be a seamless continuation of the indoor environment.

Outdoor Living Virtual Tour Video

Created by the Belgard Design Studio, this animated photorealistic video will take you on a virtual tour of the pre-construction outdoor living design with an aerial fly-through of the home’s expansive outdoor living room, dining area and porches.

Outdoor Living Photo Tour

Next, peruse images and design commentary of the home’s completed outdoor living spaces.

Outdoor Living Room

The outdoor living room and patio were positioned at an offset angle so as to not interrupt the panoramic skyline of Glacier National Park. The design is anchored by a Bordeaux™ Series Outdoor Fireplace with matching wood boxes. The stacked-stone look of the Bordeaux pieces blends well with the natural environment, adding a rustic elegance to the design. Avalon Slate pavers are laid in a contemporary ashlar pattern to add a modern touch, and feature a slate-like texture and color blend that mimics tones found in the surrounding mountainscape. Wicker sofas, additional bench seating and rustic accessories enhance the eclectic look.

Grill Island and Dining Area

The outdoor living room patio steps down to the dining area to create two distinct outdoor rooms. A Bordeaux™ Series Grill Island coordinates with the stacked-stone look of the adjacent outdoor fireplace. The grill island is positioned to allow the outdoor chef to take in the lovely view of Whitefish Lake during meal prep. The ample patio allows for additional gathering space for entertaining larger groups. Rustic wooden dining furniture lends a classic touch to the space.

Built-In Seat Wall

The chiseled-stone look of Tandem® Modular Grid coordinates with the tones and textures of the paver field, providing the framework for post columns and a built-in bench seat at the foot of the dining area. The seat wall and columns not only add a sophisticated touch to the porch, but provide permanent seating. Throw pillows soften the look, add a touch of comfort and help tie the design together.

Indoor-Outdoor Flow

Every first floor room facing the back of the home features folding glass doors that act as picture windows during the winter months and open to create seamless indoor-outdoor living during the milder months. The kitchen window also features bar seating for indoor-outdoor entertaining. The porch is divided into distinct conversation zones, including a Scandanavian-style hot tub and a cozy private sitting area off of the master bedroom.

Striking Entryway

In addition to the backyard, Belgard also provided Noon Porcelain Pavers for the home’s dramatic entryway. The eclectic design of the entry sets the architectural tone for home’s contemporary/rustic design theme. Stone veneer provides a classic mountain look, but with contemporary color blends. The front door, beams and light fixture offer classic touches that are offset by the landing’s contemporary paver design. Planters add pops of color and a finishing touch to the eclectic look.

All photographs provided by HGTV.

This content was originally published here.

5 Outdoor Living Spaces That Keep True to Nature

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Bringing living spaces outside has gotten more and more popular over the years. It’s a great way to blend nature and the modern comforts of home. However, some spaces focus on those modern comforts so much that outdoor elements are all but lost. If you prefer a more organic theme in your outdoor living spaces, we’ve compiled some easy ways to achieve a relaxing vibe outside that doesn’t compromise on nature.

Outdoor Living Spaces Tree Design

A natural tree design keeps an outdoor space grounded. Image: Peters Billiards

Tree design

This highly creative outdoor living space keeps it natural by incorporating a bare tree design. The tree doubles as a place to hang lanterns, adding to the rustic vibe of the space. Floor lanterns contribute to that ambient lighting. Small touches like the plants on the table add splashes of color. Additionally, a light color scheme in the wood flooring, outdoor furniture and roof matches the bare tree and helps it stand out.

Outdoor Living Spaces Fire Pit Plant Life

Surround sitting areas with plant life for a natural accent. Image: Aspen Falls Landscape & Construction

Lining with plant life

Another idea for outdoor living spaces is to surround the space with plant life. That’s what the fire pit area does in the photo above, and the result is breathtaking. People can sit and enjoy the elemental feel of the fire while still being surrounded by gorgeous plant life.

Without the plant life, the stonework alone would have made the space look too bare and modern. This concept also applies to outdoor eating areas, sitting areas and outdoor kitchens; surrounding these areas with plant life brings them that much closer to nature.

Outdoor Living Spaces Winding Bench

Bright colors bring an artsy aesthetic outside. Image: Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

Winding garden seating areas

Everything about the space above screams “fun and artsy.” It shows how you can work a comfy seating area right into the surrounding plant life. The winding design makes the bench seem like it’s part of the garden itself; as a bonus, it also creates visual interest.

What makes the space pop are the bright footstools, cushion piping and throw pillows. These elements allow for a human touch amid the natural landscape, blending the indoors and outdoors. Yet the colors on the throw pillows aren’t out of place: They match other elements in the space, like the pink plants, yellow flowerpot and greenery itself.

Outdoor Living Spaces Water Feature

Water features create a relaxing vibe. Image: Clearwater Summit Group

Atmospheric water features for outdoor living spaces

A great way to keep things looking natural in outdoor living spaces is to place a water feature right by an outdoor seating area. Gazebos or dining spaces become instantly more relaxing if they overlook a water feature.

Surrounding your water feature with trees and other plant life makes the water feature look like it’s part of the scenery, which helps the area look even more natural.

Outdoor Living Spaces Rustic Walkway

Keep your walkways looking natural by using rustic textures. Image: ACM Design Architecture & Interiors

Natural material walkways

An often-overlooked part of outdoor living spaces are the walkways to get from the home to the space itself, but these can also contribute to your natural vibe. Realistic log railings are one way to help the walkway look like it’s not intruding on the surrounding natural space. You might also consider a design like this when lining the outdoor living space itself.

Rustic stone stairways are another easy way to add to the natural feel, particularly if you complement them with stone accent pieces. And don’t forget about lighting: Lighting may be used to accent your stairs or walkway, and they keep things safe at night.

Have you been searching for ways to merge modern sensibilities with an organic, natural vibe? Maybe one of the ideas above appeals to you. If you’re ready to revamp your outdoor living space, we’d love to hear your plans below.

The post 5 Outdoor Living Spaces That Keep True to Nature appeared first on

This content was originally published here.

All-out outdoor living at 1.8-acre Springfield home

outdoor living

Kelly Fenley @KFenleyRGKelly Lyon @KLyonRG

What’s better than a scrumptious garden with ornate fence, trellised apples, fruit bushes and all kinds of vegetables in raised beds?

How about a 40-foot-long heated swimming pool right next to it.

And what’s better than a swimming pool with scrumptious garden to one side?

How about cute little structures, most of rustic wood, on the other three? Huts for chickens, playhouse for grandkids, arbor for outdoor dining, greenhouse for plant starts and winter lettuce.

It’s like whenever Lisa Bedortha steps outdoors — where she loves to be, even on the rainiest days — you never know what’s going to happen next.

She and her husband, Paul, bought their spacious ranch-style home on 1.8 acres in suburban Springfield about 14 years ago. Since then Lisa has recreated the grounds into one realm or another of imaginative outdoor living, gardening, fun zones and hobby farming.

With a laugh she admits that curious neighbors actually do wander over from time to time and ask, “What are you building today, Lisa?”

Contractors may help bring her projects to life, but she’s the head thinker, tinkerer, designer and groundskeeper of this multimedia landscape. Her creations range from cultured to hillbilly.

“My love is wood, metal and rust. And concrete,” discloses the active grandmother of nine.

In a lighthearted jab, Paul, a commercial Realtor, calls Lisa’s landscape “the money pit.” But Lisa doesn’t miss a beat. “No,” she counters, “it’s the happy money pit.”

Field of dreams

After the Bedorthas bought their home in 2004, Lisa had a blank slate for outdoor living and gardening ideas.

Her ground zero was the home’s sprawling, grassy backyard, bordered by a little creek and tall native oak trees. “This was really nothing, and the deck was bad,” Paul says of the backyard. “She wanted a big project, I think, and this is what she did.”

As in, a cultured, picturesque patio with country and French themes.

Tall pergolas with white columns and brick bases stand guard over more than 2,000 square feet of stained and brushed concrete. In the center, white Adirondeck chairs, made from recycled milk jugs, encircle a metal firepit. “We’ve made a lot of s’mores here,” Lisa says.

Topiary, including boxwood and lavender, nestle inside decorative concrete statuary, and a perennial garden honors the memory of Paul’s late mother.

The Bedorthas’ son, Levi, and his wife, Kelsey, indeed got married on the patio. Lisa treasures that day as her “biggest gift here.”

“Farm” makes a splash

If the Bedorthas’ backyard patio is French country, the newer, westside landscape zone, entered through an arched laurel hedge, is “Splash Mountain.”

Here’s where the sports pool runs right next to Lisa’s fenced raised-beds garden with fruits and vegetables, and where outbuildings like chicken huts and pool house look like rustic, cedar-clad mini-cabins with metal roofs.

“I like to call this my old farm,” Lisa muses.

Lisa built her raised-bed garden first, then, four years ago, she and Paul hired Northwest Pool & Spa to construct the swim pool right alongside it. Far from incompatible, the two spaces fit hand and glove, especially when grandchildren visit.

“This is so nice,” Lisa says. “I can work out here (in the garden) and watch them swim. And it’s a snack place, because they come in here all the time and eat the apples and the blueberries. They pick the carrots and wash them off. So yeah, it’s been great having the garden by the pool.”

Lost Creek Industries milled board-and-batten cedar siding for both the pool house and what Paul calls the farm zone’s “chicken Hilton,” or combination nesting/foraging huts joined by a cute passage just big enough for the hens.

Inside the pool house, pumps, filters and sanitation equipment — mostly UV lighting treatment, along with trace injections of chlorine — keep the circulating pool water clean and healthy.

Outside the pool house, affixed to one of its exterior walls and fenced in for privacy, an outdoor shower plays to the rustic theme with old-fashioned sprayhead and rusty metal soapdish.

Chickens may be cooped up in “the farm,” but grandkids get the run of it. They swim at midnight and celebrate birthdays on the pool’s wide concrete surround. They hunt for tadpoles and frogs in the creek, swing beneath a big oak tree in the meadow-size front yard.

Their play cottage, also by the pool, includes a stereo, fridge and ice maker. Made of salvage materials by Marv and Kathy Colby of Eugene, the vintage playhouse also stores food for outdoor meals underneath an adjacent arbor with concrete patio.

Best part of all

Making memories for family more than rewards Paul and Lisa for their outdoor investments. Grown children Levi, Candace and Bridgette often come with their families.

“That’s like my dream, the kids having this and the memories,” Lisa says. “It’s so important, the time we spend with them. I didn’t really have that growing up, so it means a lot to me.”

She handles most of the property’s groundskeeping, rain or shine.

“I love being outside,” she allows. “I don’t care if it’s pouring down rain, I’ll be out here working in the yard … when you’re out here in the rain, it’s actually really peaceful.”

Perhaps just the right time to plan another project.

Home & Garden editor Kelly Fenley can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter: @KFenleyRG.

This content was originally published here.

Looking Ahead to 2019 Trends in Outdoor Living | Belgard Outdoor Living

outdoor living

The need to maintain real human connections in the digital age has greatly influenced the design elements of the outdoor living movement. A simple patio with weatherproof chairs and portable grill just won’t do the trick anymore. People want a comfortable spot to connect with family and friends that replicates, and in many cases exceeds, the comfort of their indoor gathering spots. With that in mind, here are some of the prevailing trends that can be expected to continue to gain popularity in the coming year.

Contemporary Outdoor Design

Current outdoor living spaces are definitely following the interior design trend toward the clean lines of contemporary design. People normally associate modular-shaped pavers with contemporary design, but that isn’t necessarily true. The textures and colors used can also sway a look towards a more contemporary feel. Although modular-shaped pavers are expected to continue to rise in popularity, expect to see an increase in smoother textures in various styles of pavers. The contemporary trend also leans towards monochromatic color schemes with pops of color.

Pantone Color of the Year

Each year, the Pantone® Color Institute declares an official Color of the Year, which influences many of the design trends. The company recently announced “Living Coral” as the 2019 Color of the Year. This color can be incorporated into outdoor living design in a number of ways. Some pavers have hues of coral incorporated into the color blend. There are also many paver styles with complementary colors that can work well in conjunction with Living Coral. Living Coral can also be used as an accent color for pillows, umbrellas and decorative accessories.

Entanglement with Nature

One of the hottest up-and-coming trends is to “entangle” hardscape installations with the surrounding landscape. This can be done in several ways. Pavers can be entangled with adjacent grass or gardens in a “fade away” effect. This effect is even more dramatic when used with plank-style pavers. Another, more formal application of this idea is to use porcelain pavers spaced out with strips of grass to create a checkerboard or stepping stone pattern.

Natural Textured Walls

More and more homeowners are requesting retaining and free standing walls that have natural stone textures. Trending styles include walls that offer the look of tumbled stone or chiseled stone. Homeowners are also increasingly drawn to wall installation patterns with clean, contemporary lines.

Gray and “Greige” Tones

From light gray to charcoal, gray tones continue to dominate current hardscape trends. However, an up-and-coming trend is starting to lean back toward warmer tones. This transitionary color phase is coined “greige”… a blending of grey and beige tones. Homeowners across the country are currently looking for these muted gray/tan color blends in hardscapes for their ability to work well with both warm and cool design palettes.

Blurring Transitions from Inside to Outside

One of the biggest trends in new home and remodeling is the blurring of the line between the indoor and outdoor. This involves much more than windows and patio doors. Fully folding walls and screens are being installed that allow spaces such as a family room to open and create a seamless transition into the outdoor space. Or, a standard kitchen can become an outdoor one in warmer months with the flip of a switch.

Linear and Large Format Pavers

The trend toward larger and more linear pavers continues to grow at a rapid pace. Not only are consumers looking for clean, modular textures, they are leaning toward plank-style pavers, and very large format slab pavers.

Formal Water Features

People love the soothing sound of running water, and the trend of incorporating formal water features into outdoor designs is growing at an exponential rate. With our busy lifestyles, however, consumers also want a water feature that is simple to take care of — adding beauty, ambiance and value to the outdoor living space without additional maintenance time and cost.

Outdoor Lighting Trends

The vast majority of time spent in most outdoor spaces is in the evening and on weekends. Because of this, outdoor living trends are moving towards well-designed built-in lighting systems. With today’s LED technology and smart phone apps, installing an automated lighting system has never been easier. However, this type of system is not very easy to retrofit after-the-fact and is more common in new construction. For existing outdoor living spaces, expect to see a continued increase in landscape lighting and durable string light options, like commercial grade Edison-style LED string lights.

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10 courtyards that function as outdoor living spaces

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Japanese architect Takashi Okuno’s latest project, Hiiragi’s House, was designed to sit on a plot of land containing a tree which had been nurtured there by several generations of the owner’s family. The central courtyard enables this tree to be seen from every room.

Plant-lined courtyards with hanging greenery open up this family home in Vietnam, which consists of three single-storey segments. Designed by MIA Design Studio, the courtyards provide outdoor space without compromising the family’s privacy.

American studio MW Works knocked down walls in this 1960s Seattle home to create a more open layout. A garden courtyard became the focal point of the home, being visible from the living room and other rooms in the house.

This T-shaped house in Mexico City incorporates two courtyards – one at the front and one at the rear of the residence. Designed by architecture studio DCPP, each of the downstairs rooms open up onto the paved stone courtyards.

Occupied by different generations of the same family, this house in Lisbon was converted by Bak Gordon Arquitectos into two apartments, split by a secluded shared courtyard.

London studio Amin Taha Architects transformed this 1950s terraced house in Bayswater when it added in a courtyard garden. Lightwells through to the central courtyard below allow light to travel down to the underground spaces.

A courtyard with undulating glass walls descends from the base of the stilted wooden structure of this Maggie’s Centre for cancer care, designed by London studio dRMM. The courtyard garden is accessible by a wood and steel staircase.

In one of the USA’s densest neighbourhoods, Los Angeles’ Koreatown, Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects created this curvilinear courtyard within a multi-storey apartment building. The open-air, landscaped courtyard features an integrated bench, which doubles as a rainwater-collection system.

Indonesian architect Realrich Sjarief created this geometric house in Jakarta, featuring circular and arch-shaped windows, around a rectangular central courtyard. The building houses the studio of Sjarief’s firm, RAW Architecture, and a library featuring works about architecture.

This content was originally published here.

Built-In Planters That Add Dimension to Your Outdoor Living Designs

outdoor living

No matter how beautiful the construction materials, an outdoor living design can look dull and lifeless without pops of color or dimensional design elements. A built-in planter constructed with retaining wall block will provide a permanent receptacle for adding color, texture and dimension to your spaces and can coordinate with your and landscape walls to tie the overall look together.

Add curb appeal

Make a statement as soon as visitors arrive with planters along the driveway or a sidewalk in front of your home.

Highland Stone®
Create a grand entrance

Planters along walkways and near doorways create a welcoming effect and add architectural interest to the front of your home.

Edge a terrace

Soften the look of an angular wall or add a buffer zone along the terrace edge with planters of various shapes and sizes.

Dress up a retaining wall

Large retaining walls are often necessary, but can be visually boring. Add dimension and visual interest to a large retaining wall with planters at the base or at higher points along the wall.

Create a focal point

Add drama to a patio, walkway or driveway with a large planter that can create a visual focal point for the design.

Belair Wall®
Flank a fire feature

Add pops of color and foliage to soften the look of larger structures and help coordinate the space with the surrounding landscape.

Flank Stairs or Steps

Stair or step planters can take a variety of shapes and styles. Options can include symmetrical tiers, terraced landings, or a singular accent planter.

Emphasize a tree

A tree planter box or wall can add design elements to larger open spaces or provide an area for installing a flower garden.

Add dimension to a patio

Planter gardens are a great way to add dimension and visual interest to an open patio. In addition, locating a planter near an outdoor kitchen can provide an outdoor chef with a space to grow fresh herbs.

Weston Stone™, trimmed with Mega-Arbel® pavers

Soften the look of a column

Incorporating a planter into the top of a column or pillar softens the look and adds a natural textural design element to your outdoor living structures.

This content was originally published here.

Enter Bob Vila’s $3,000 Outdoor Living Giveaway with Plow & Hearth!

outdoor living

Plow & Hearth Giveaway


As snow melts and temperatures rise, homeowners everywhere start preparing their property for spring. The checklist involves pampering the neglected lawn, maintaining the landscaping, furnishing the patio, and decorating the garden. But although these tasks transform any yard into a beautiful living space, they require materials that set homeowners back hundreds of dollars. That’s why we partnered with Plow & Hearth to give away three $1,000 gift cards during the month of March!

Today and every day this month (starting at 12:00 p.m. EST on February 28, 2018 through 11:59 a.m. EST March 31, 2018), enter Bob Vila’s $3,000 Outdoor Living Giveaway with Plow & Hearth. You could win one of three $1,000 gift cards, which you can use towards patio furniture, deck decorations, garden accents, and more!


Founded in 1980, Plow & Hearth has 26 retail stores, a trusted catalogue, and a multi-channel online business. They manufacture accessories for the home, hearth, yard and garden. With an emphasis on quality and customer service, they remain a trusted source for improving your indoor and outdoor living space.

Plow & Hearth has many new products this spring, from solar lighting to outdoor rugs. Check out the collection here. You can also find the perfect patio furniture set from Plow & Hearth; don’t miss their Topsail Deep Seating Sofa Set, Prospect Hill Oval Dining Table and Chairs, and Claremont Seating Collection in Eucalyptus Wood!

Enter Bob Vila’s $3,000 Outdoor Living Giveaway with Plow & Hearth Giveaway daily to increase your chances of winning. Three lucky winners will receive a $1,000 gift card to Plow & Hearth, which they can put toward achieving their dream garden and patio.

To learn more about Plow & Hearth, click here.

“Bob Vila’s $3,000 Outdoor Living Giveaway with Plow & Hearth” is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia who are age 18 or older. Void in all other geographic locations. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period for Prize runs from 12:00 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, February 28, 2018, through 11:59 a.m. (EST) Saturday, March 31, 2018. One entry per household per day on Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.

This content was originally published here.

These Innovative Suites Blur the Lines Between Indoor-Outdoor Living – Robb Report

outdoor living

Nothing helps banish the winter blues like staying someplace warm where you can saunter from the outdoor shower back to bed or the poolside chaise without having to cinch tight that robe. Utterly private and au naturel, these hotels and resorts are our top picks for bringing the outside in—and feeling like the world is ours.

Six Senses Fiji

Opened in April 2018 on Malolo Island, Six Senses’ first foray into the Pacific paradise of Fiji is a veritable tribute to indoor-outdoor decadence. The property’s 24 villas and suites front a half-moon of powder-fine sand where tropical fish forage just offshore. And every accommodation has its own private pool and outdoor shower and oversize tub for soaking under the stars.

To really feel at one with the scenery, stay in one of the Six Senses Fiji’s nine private residences, which incorporate things like outdoor living spaces, sunken lounges, and alfresco bathrooms. The four-bedroom Residence 3 is —with an outdoor lounge where you can sip cocktails at a lazy Susan table while gazing at the pool and ocean—is particularly private. When you’re ready to venture beyond your abode, boat trips to the famous nearby surf break, Cloudbreak (a favorite of pros like Kelly Slater) are among the resort’s bespoke recreational offerings.

Open suite at Six Senses. 
Courtesy of Six Senses Fiji

Mandarin Oriental, Canouan

Several new openings have put the Caribbean island of Canouan on the radar of jet-setters. The best of the lot is the Mandarin Oriental Canouan, whose uber-private Patio Villas are embedded into a hillside overlooking the coral-rich lagoon of Godahl Beach. Natural stone and wood elements have been incorporated into the design thanks to transparent, moveable floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. The result is a seamless segue from the interior spaces to the sprawling deck, where an infinity pool appears to fountain off the edge. The manner in which all seven villas have been positioned on the downward slope of the island and enshrouded with thick tropical vegetation also maximizes privacy.

Private infinity pool at Mandarin. 
Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Canouan

Soneva Kiri

The “no news, no shoes” motto at Soneva resorts (your shoes are whisked away on arrival) is a good starting point for entrenching in the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. And the Soneva Kiri—located on Koh Kood island in Thailand’s Koh Chang archipelago, a 70-minute flight from Bangkok on the resort’s private charter—does barefoot luxe to perfection. Soneva Kiri’s villas (choose from beach, hill or cliffside) unfurl naturally onto private pools wrapped with the surrounding jungle. Each villa has bicycle at the ready when it’s time to throw on a cover-up and explore further afield.

Villas at Soneva Kiri. 
Courtesy of Asit Maneesarn/Soneva Kiri

Six Senses Zil Pasyon

Enormous granite boulders and turquoise waters thick with coral heads and tropical fish define the aesthetic delights of a stay at Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Félicité island in the Seychelles. And while the one and two-bedroom pool villas here are divine, the experience is most connected to nature at the recently unveiled three and four-bedroom residences. Designed by Richard Hywel Evans of Studio RHE in London, the contemporary structures defy the seeming impermeability of the boulder-strewn and vegetation-entangled hillside. The resulting accommodations have uninterrupted Indian Ocean views through floor-to-ceilings windows that can be pushed open to let the outdoors in. Master suites, on the upper floor of the residences, are similarly encased in glass to let in the views. And glass-bottom pools just a few steps from the master bed allow natural light to filter into the living spaces below.

Six Senses Zil Payson. 
Courtesy of Six Senses Zil Payson

Nizuc Resort & Spa

Each of the rooms inside the 5,380-square-foot Nizuc Villa at the Nizuc Resort & Spa (located 15 miles south of Cancun) opens onto private outdoor spaces where you can frolic as you please. And though you’re smack on Mexico’s mega-developed coast here, Nizuc puts the emphasis on exclusivity and luxury. The villa offers peak privacy and feels almost riad-like with its walled layout, featuring a rooftop sundeck, outdoor patio and infinity pool, and an alfresco shower surrounded by gardens—all for you and yours alone.

Private pool at Nizuc. 
Courtesy of Nizuc Resort and Spa

Baros Maldives

Located 25 minutes by speedboat from the Maldivian capital of Malé, the Baros Maldives scores big for exotic indoor-outdoor appeal. For maximum privacy, pass on the overwater bungalows in favor of the totally secluded Baros Suites on the island’s quieter eastern shore. With a classic tropical villa design, they’re surrounded by thick tropical foliage with bedrooms that open onto an infinity pool deck. The highlight of the outdoor living space is a thatched gazebo with a swing where you can sway overlooking the ocean.

Villa at Baros Maldives. 
Courtesy of Baros Maldives

W South Beach

Newly unveiled in December 2018, the 2,056-square-foot penthouse at the W South Beach might have you doing the snowbird thing and making for Miami this winter. You won’t be disappointed by the views at this posh, 20th-floor pied-à-terre right near the Bass Museum with two bedrooms, four glass balconies, and one spectacular rooftop garden and plunge pool. The brand’s all-white textured palette defines the penthouse’s interior and keeps the focus on all that blue Atlantic Ocean out the windows. And while a white robe is a perfect match to it all, you could easily go sans.

Suite at W South Beach. 

Four Seasons Maldives Private Island at Voavah

Four Seasons’ Maldivian Private Island had us at this line: “Imagine retreating to a remote, natural wilderness where no one is watching and anything is possible.” Sounds like marketing jargon, yes, but it’s actually true: The seven-bedroom resort on the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere is available for exclusive hire only and is as away as getaways get (which is why we lauded it in our annual Best of the Best list in 2017). The three-bedroom beach villa on the property is the pinnacle of indoor-outdoor decadence, with a sprawling pool patio with direct views on the lagoon, and an alfresco living room and master suite surrounded by three walls of windows with more of those limitless blue views.

Bedroom overlooking the ocean. 
Courtesy of Four Seasons

Coco Privé

Forgive us if we seem a bit hung up on the Maldives, but a nation of more than 1,000 coral islands is bound to have an abundance of private escapes. Coco Privé on North Malé Atoll is just another one of the country’s stunning options—and this one gets a special nod for its ultra-private arrival via luxury yacht. On terra firma, the master Palm Residence and five additional villas all present with spectacular indoor-outdoor spaces that spill outside onto pool decks and verdant outdoor gardens. But the former is the most indulgent thanks to its sheer size and unimpeded Indian Ocean views. A split-level haven, the Palm Residence has soaring wooden ceilings and floor-to-ceiling slide-away windows you can open for direct outdoor access. It also has its own wine cellar and library to cozy up with inside when you’re ready to switch gears from the outdoor excess.

View from Coco residence. 
Courtesy of Coco Privé

AndBeyond Benguerra Island

Guests arrive by helicopter at the spectacular andBeyond Benguerra Island, located east of the Mozambique mainland in the Bazaruto National Marine Park. It’s a perfect post-safari detente with just 13 accommodations where you can spot for dugongs, flamingos, or humpbacks, or simply mellow out in one of the thatched casinhas outfitted with private pools, swinging daybeds and woven hammocks. The outdoor rain showers decorated with hand-painted tiles will beckon you to bathe outdoors more often than not.

Villa at Benguerra Island. 
Courtesy of andBeyond

Bluefields Bay Villas

With the same owners for over 35 years, the Bluefields Bay Villas’ collection of six villas near Savanna la Mar on Jamaica’s unspoiled south coast epitomizes the integration of luxury lodging with the island’s natural beauty. Snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking can all be arranged on site; the property’s chefs work with local fishermen and farmers to showcase West Indian cuisine at its best. The Hermitage villa has a particularly grandiose aesthetic that makes you feel close to the outdoors: Jamaican stone, mahogany, and cedar were used in the three-bedroom villa’s traditional design, and the house is positioned to maximize the cooling sea breezes.  Relax on the perched pool deck or head down to the villa’s private stretch of waterfront for a swim.

Dining room at Bluefields Bay. 
Courtesy of Bluefields Bay Villas

Capella Ubud

Buffered by rice paddies, rainforest, and a sacred river, the new Capella Ubud invites the lush views into the tented-style lodgings while remaining a far cry from glamping—note the four-poster beds and vintage accessories nodding to Dutch Colonial times—indeed. Each private retreat has its own saltwater plunge pool as well as hammered copper bathtubs inside that give onto a sequestered outdoor shower that feels like a veritable garden of Eden. That no tree was cut down in the resort’s construction is especially noticeable when you relax outside your “tent” and soak in the verdant views.

Private pool deck. 
Courtesy of Krishna Adithya Prajogo/Capella Ubud

Casa Kimball

Smooth as an ice rink and mirroring the contemporary lines of the villa itself, the triple-edge infinity pool at Casa Kimball appears to plunge right off the cliffs on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. This is where you’ll likely spend most of your time relaxing, when you’re not hiking down the private trail to the utterly empty beach below. The eight guest rooms all have windowed walls that open to private balconies and ocean views. Sleeping to the tune of the crashing waves or opting for utter silence instead is entirely up to you.

Interiors at Casa Kimball. 
Courtesy of Paul Warchol/Casa Kimball

Calistoga Ranch

Outdoor living rooms, a private hot tub beneath a canopy trees, and alfresco dining areas are all part of the indoor-outdoor allure of the two-bedroom suite at Napa Valley’s Calistoga Ranch. Gas fireplaces outside keep you warm on the covered deck, where you can lounge with a book and listen to the twitter of the forest. And when it’s time for a shower, forest bathing takes on a new meaning in the completely open rain showers on the timber deck.

Calistoga Ranch lodge exterior. 
Courtesy of Calistoga Ranch

Southern Ocean Lodge

The Antipodes’ summer is an ideal time to pack light and head south to Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia, where one of the world’s most sublime oceanfront lodges beckons. At Southern Ocean Lodge, 21 suites cantilevered across a clifftop come with sandblasted limestone floors that segue from cozy interior spaces to minimalist decks overlooking the bush and rolling surf. Relax outside on a daybed buffered from the ocean breeze or dip into your private plunge spa while scouting the waves for New Zealand sea lions frolicking in the breakers.

Bathroom at Southern Ocean Lodge. 
Courtesy of Southern Ocean Lodge

This content was originally published here.

Best Outdoor Living Ideas for Every Part of the Country – Unison

outdoor living

No matter whether you live in sunny California, the Deep South or the Northeast, it’s fun to be outside when the weather is nice. If you’ve been dreaming of spending more quality time enjoying nature – or just enjoying your backyard – we put together a list of things you can do to enhance your home’s outdoor living space so you can enjoy every moment.

Keep reading to see our top ideas that will get you started on re-imagining your home’s outdoor spaces.

Outdoor Structures

Create a built-in activity zone to help balance busy work schedules with much-needed family and relaxation time.

Gazebo—add a luxurious outdoor room that provides protection from the elements while you’re cooking, dining, or just relaxing. Locate it near a pool, hide it in the landscaping, or connect it to your deck.

Pergola—this open structure offers a variety of options to provide privacy, create a focal point, or use as a transition point. Pergolas can be freestanding or attached to your home with columns and support beams. Add sheer draperies for shading a luxurious spa, a dining table and chairs for family gatherings, or set up a play area where your child’s sensitive skin can be protected while their imagination runs wild.

Arbor—this decorative landscaping structure can be used to separate outdoor elements or the framework for a garden seat. Add some vines to blend with other greenery or create a unique texture.

All Decked Out

With new maintenance-free building materials available, custom backyard decks are more popular than ever. Large or small, decks can be used to create a relaxing retreat, an enjoyable entertainment venue, a way to utilize your entire property, and even increase your home’s resale value.

Choose from low-cost pressure treated lumber, elegant and durable tropical hardwoods, time-tested cedar or redwood, maintenance-free composites, or Ipe hardwood that’s designed to withstand even the harshest weather conditions and keep it looking great year after year.

The possibilities are endless—layout as a single or multi-level structure; add built-in components like benches, railings, bars, planters, lighting, and cabinets; set up designated areas for cooking, dining, relaxing, or entertaining.

Pave the Way

Ground-level, custom-designed patios are trending across the country for their versatility and durability. Paver stones, flagstone, brick, fieldstone, and textured concrete come in a wide selection of colors and textures to match your unique tastes.

Don’t be afraid to let your inner architect shine by fashioning a multi-level patio that defines the outdoor kitchen from the dining area. Build up a vertical element with coordinating materials—low cobblestone dividers, seats, and planters to start.

Hard surfaces can be warmed up with upholstered patio furniture, a decorative area rug, and brightly colored pillows or umbrellas. Throw in a few potted, flowering plants and you won’t ever want to go inside.

Hot, Hot, Hot

Homeowners living in the northeast rank fire pits and backyard fireplaces among the most-desired features on their home improvement wish lists. It can be an inexpensive portable style or a permanent element in your design that brings people of all ages together during all seasons.

Keep your family safe by building your fire pit into a stone patio or add screening to stop stray sparks from escaping. Then it’s time to break out the marshmallows and get ready for a relaxing evening under the stars.

Now You’re Cooking

Don’t forget to plan a space for your BBQ grill. Fully equipped outdoor kitchens are every aspiring chef’s ultimate dream. Make sure to include zoned areas for food preparation, staging, and cooking.

Extras you might also want to consider to enhance your backyard retreat are:

Be careful – you may never want to cook inside again!

Nature’s Bounty

You’ve probably spent some time planting and maintaining your front yard landscaping, and while that’s an excellent way to add curb appeal to your home, you shouldn’t ignore the backyard.

Imagine your own backyard oasis with a kaleidoscope of perennials, annuals, flowering shrubs, and water features to enhance your outdoor living space. Fountains, ponds, and water gardens are among the most popular trends for their affordability, accessibility, and environmentally friendly approach.

Don’t worry if you’ve got a small yard or urban property, you can have some fun with nature too. Consider a green roof garden, decorative pots with tall ornamental grasses as a room separator, or a pergola covered in lush vines and hanging planters to offer an intimate sanctuary in your city setting.

Do you love fresh fruits and vegetables but don’t think you have the time or space to grow your own? Think again. Plenty of weekend gardeners are creating blended gardens that include edible and ornamental plants. This unique concept lets you enjoy the convenience of city living while your taste buds savor flavors only nature can provide.

Hide in Plain Sight

Every backyard living space seems to accumulate an endless amount of equipment and accessories that need to be organized and hidden away. A garden or storage shed can provide the perfect home for all that patio furniture, pool toys, landscape equipment, tools, and every other outdoor gadget.

Pre-built sheds come in all sizes, shapes, styles, and price ranges. Look for something that has double doors and a window or two to let in some natural light. If you want something specially designed, you can opt for a custom-built shed that will incorporate every feature you’ll need.

By adding even a few of these outdoor upgrades to your home, you’ll create the perfect destination for family fun and entertaining. You don’t need a giant yard or budget to make your space amazing. You only need a little inspiration and imagination to be on your way to creating the best outdoor retreat ever.

About the Author

Debbie is a professional writer with over three decades of experience in residential construction. She has a wealth of knowledge about all manner of home improvement projects, which she enjoys sharing with readers.

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This content was originally published here.

Indoor-Outdoor Living in Paris: A Warehouse Converted into a Loft Built Around a Courtyard

outdoor living

New meaning for hidden potential: when Marie and Gilles Ballard were searching for bigger quarters in Paris for their family of four, they toured possibilities of all sorts—until they came to across a single-story industrial building in the 11th, “a Chinese fabrics warehouse with no windows or openings to bring in light.” It was exactly what they were looking for. “Given the price of real estate in Paris, we had to find something that no one else wanted,” says Gilles. “We hoped to imagine and create our own place.”

The design-minded couple own jewelry company Medecine Douce (translation: Alternative Medicine): Marie is the founder/creative director and Gilles, whose background is in finance, runs the business. They had done a big remodel on their previous place and were prepared for the dirty work. And so, on touring the warehouse, they imagined the ultimate in urban indoor-outdoor living: “we pictured opening up the roof to create a patio in the center of what we thought of as a big box.” Thanks to architect Guillaume Terver of Le LAD (Laboratoire en Architecture and Design), the idea actually turned out to be a great one. Come see.

Photography by Jean François Gaté, courtesy of Le LAD, unless noted.

“We’re in the heart of Paris and it’s almost silent here,” says Gilles. “One of our neighbors told us there was a primary school here and that its courtyard later was covered by a concrete roof. The space was used for storing the painter Victor Vasarely’s paintings, and later it turned into a warehouse.”

The guest room and the two kids’ rooms are along this corridor, which, Gilles tells us, references the packing crates that once filled the warehouse. “The main design idea was the use of low-tech materials and finding a natural aesthetic,” adds Terver. “”We wanted to translate the spirit of Medecine Douce into the  design: an atmosphere that’s simple and sophisticated.”Marie and Giles Montaud loft courtyard Paris. Guillaume Terver design. Jean-Francois Gate photo.
Ab0ve: Et voilà: Terver transformed the center of the structure into a roof-free courtyard that fills the rooms with light. The overhead support-beams are original. Pine plywood was put to use throughout, including as frames for all the new glazing. The courtyard is 387 square feet and the living space is 1,270 square feet. It took six months for Terver’s team to secure the necessary building permits.

More of our favorite living quarters with courtyards:

This content was originally published here.

Outdoor Living Space Spring Refresh Tips

outdoor living

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc., Clorox and Flonase. All opinions are mine alone. #AllergyFreeAdventures #CollectiveBias

These top ten outdoor living space spring refresh tips will turn your outdoor space into your favorite room of your house.

Oh spring, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  The longer days.  The birds chirping.

The flowers.

The garden.

And the… wait. Hold up.  The pollen.  That haze that hangs in the air?  That makes the eyes itch and your home take on a light greenish yellow hue.

Yeah.  We got a plan for that.  Enter  *Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes and Flonase.  These two products make my spring cleaning and living enjoyable.  Armed with these allergy fighting tools, I get to make use of my favorite room of my house… the outdoor deck.

If like me, you are jonesin’ to get outside, make use of these outdoor living spring refresh tips.

Outdoor Living Space Spring Refresh Tips

#1: Arm thyself with allergy symptom relief

While I haven’t yet gone as far as wearing a mask outside, I understand why some people do.  That pollen is fierce.  Fortunately, I’ve found relief with Flonaseand there are savings on it right now at Kroger. Flonase provides more complete allergy symptom relief because it relieves nasal congestion, while single-ingredient antihistamines don’t. Once-daily Flonase nasal spray products are proven to offer 24-hour relief from both nose- and eye-related allergy symptoms.

#2: Wipe down all surfaces

Once I’ve managed my nose and eye-related allergy symptoms, I move on to pollen removal.  Using Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes, which wipes away 99.9% of the most common allergens, it’s time to scrub down all of the hard non-porous surfaces*.

I just keep a tub of wipes outside so that I can use them whenever the pollen strikes.

#3: Scrub down the grill

Hello grill season!  I start by heating the grill to high.  Once it’s super hot, I cover the grates with cooking spray, then use a grill brush to scrape them clean.  If your grill needs new parts it’s time to order them.  You can also call in the pros to do a thorough grill cleaning.  Now’s the time to order a new cover if it’s faded or torn.

#4: Wipe down the light fixtures

I have light fixture that trap bugs and so once a year (or more) I empty out the fixtures.  You know, ‘cuz it’s gross.  While I’m doing it, I also get some glass cleaning wipes and give them a good wipe-down.

#5: Repot planters

I tend to get lazy around the end of the year and just let dead plants be.  So now’s the time to pull them up and replace them with lovely spring flowers.

I like to mix my planters with a blend of climbing jasmine, medium-height greenery, and waterfall type vines.  And to survive on my deck they also have to be heat tolerant!

#6: Mosquito repellant plants

There are a several plants that discourage mosquitoes from hanging out in your space.  Herbs and marigolds are great for this.  I’ve also planted a citronella mosquito plant in years past that does the trick!

#7: Spot clean cushions

I’m trying to get another year or so out of my outdoor cushions, so for now, I’m spot cleaning them as necessary.  I usually generously spray spot cleaner on the cushions prior to a big rain and it does the job.

#8 Replace outdoor throw pillows

Toss pillows are an inexpensive way to bring new life to your outdoor patio furniture with fun colors.

#9: Toss broken and gnarly toys

Broken buckets, mildewy jump ropes, leaking bottles of bubbles.  All of these get tossed!  My boys happen to have early spring and summer birthdays, so they know to expect outdoor toys for their birthdays.

#10: Pour yourself a drink, grab a magazine and get to maxing and relaxing.

Need I say more?

Grab all of your outdoor and indoor allergy relieving supplies at Kroger! Click here to learn more about great allergy solutions for spring and take advantage of savings!

Pin me!

*Use Clorox products as directed for removal of non-living allergens like pet dander, dust mite matter and pest matter on hard nonporous surfaces in your home. Keep out of reach of children.

The post Outdoor Living Space Spring Refresh Tips appeared first on Forks and Folly.

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Beyond the Grill: Create a Year Round Outdoor Living Space

outdoor living

When the weather is warm and you’ve got guests to entertain, ditch the dining room table. Conversation is always better around a fire pit while devouring s’mores, or on a patio gazing at the stars while sipping a glass of wine.

The outdoor living space is anchored with custom cut Woodbury Gray granite pavers and framed by Old New England Wallstone.

When the spring and summer come around, we crave the elements of nature. That’s why more homeowners are transforming their backyard into an outdoor oasis, perfect for both a personal retreat and space for entertaining.

But in order to create the outdoor oasis of your dreams, you need the right elements. You may notice that lately, many of these spaces are unique, out of the box and reflect the homeowner’s personal taste. Because of this, over the years we’ve had to look at what we make, and how we make it, in a different way, adding more custom options.

Demand for stone in outdoor living spaces has been increasing, with homeowners looking to build more amenities and custom features into their backyards. Beyond an outdoor bar top, homeowners want an entire fully functional outdoor kitchen, complete with pizza ovens and intricate angles and custom details. The designs have evolved too. No longer are contractors limited to plunking down a cookie cutter patio or fireplace built for a showroom. Architects and landscape designers are much more involved in planning outdoor kitchens and living areas, incorporating them into a cohesive design for the whole home.

We’ve noticed more designers incorporating raised areas and different levels, defining areas with stone veneer walls capped with bluestone, highlighting walkways with flagstones and stairs with granite treads. Even the path to the backyard has gone beyond straight paving. Granite pavers are now available in custom shapes and sizes to create a flowing organic look.

Backyard possibilities only grow when you consider elements like outdoor kitchens with inset grills and fridge spaces, and fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and custom seating all built with granite and natural stone. Natural stone is virtually maintenance-free, appreciates in value, and with our streamlined production process, can be extremely affordable as well.

Here are some of Swenson’s favorite outdoor living projects to give you some inspiration: 

The Outdoor Fireplace

This stunning outdoor natural stone fireplace creates a cozy space to kick back and lounge. Back Meadow Fieldstone, Bluestone hearth and mantel.

Fieldstone is beautiful, strong and durable, ideal for this outdoor setting. The Bluestone hearth and mantel complement the fieldstone and give the fireplace a sense of permanence. The fireplace wall conveniently allows plenty of storage for firewood and creates a natural separation from the raised planting area. Bluestone pavers elevate the look of the patio like a well chosen area rug does for an indoor living room.

The Fire Pit

This firepit is a Saturday DIY project featuring Woodbury Gray granite blocks.

Grab your marshmallows – it’s time for s’mores ‘round the fire pit. There is nothing like relaxing to the sound of open fire crackling, while wrapped in a cozy blanket on a crisp evening. Swenson’s fire pit is the perfect DIY kit. Made from Woodbury Gray granite, with a 30” diameter cast iron ring and tilt back cooking grate included. There are 16 blocks per tier. Each block weighs roughly 50 lbs.

Stone Benches

Granite benches last for generations and make great backyard focal points. This kidney shaped bench design features Autumn Pink granite.

A handcrafted granite bench adds a nice finishing touch to your landscape design. Swenson’s sturdy benches offer a place to relax and reflect. Benches are also a wonderful way to memorialize and remember a loved one with custom engraving. With several colors, finishes and sizes, we have the right one to fit your area perfectly. Homeowners can also design custom granite seating.

The Natural Patio

The organic look of irregular bluestone patios fits with natural surroundings to create a harmonious environment.

A natural stone patio adds functionality and beauty to any backyard. Swenson has a broad selection of granite and stone pavers to choose from. Whether you like the classic look of irregular stones or the ease and clean lines of modular pavers, you’ll enjoy a lifetime of service from natural paving products.

This particular patio was made with irregular bluestone, perfect for the rustic landscape. This irregular bluestone patio was created by custom cutting each piece of bluestone on-site to design this unique outdoor retreat. This space looks so serene; such a lovely living space for entertaining.

When you’re ready to create the outdoor living space you’ve always wanted, we can work with you to choose your features and plan the project from start to finish. We can help with everything from choosing your stone and tips on DIY projects to custom custom one-of-a-kind projects.

Explore more backyard options with a tour through some of New England’s most beautiful backyard spaces. Download our inspiration guide here.

This content was originally published here.

Acclaimed Architect Risa Boyer Reinvents Indoor/Outdoor Living

outdoor living

Guided by the belief that good design can happen with any budget, Risa of the award-winning boutique practice Risa Boyer Architecture has tackled projects both large and small, from midcentury-modern renovations to energy-efficient, mixed-use developments.

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Risa Boyer is one of our judges for the Best of Design 2018 Awards. Be sure to cast your vote—community voting is open from November 1-26.

Her journey into architecture started at a young age, when her mother fleshed out Risa’s childhood interest in design magazines and beautiful buildings with trips to Frank Lloyd Wright exhibits and gifts of architecture books. 

Convinced of a future in architecture by the age of 10, Risa went on to earn her Bachelor of Architecture at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) and, in 2006, launched her full-service architecture firm in Los Angeles before moving her practice north to Portland in 2008.

After having featured some of her exquisite projects, we’re now honored to have Boyer serve as a judge for Dwell’s inaugural Best of Design Awards. Scroll on to see a sampling of her work.

Makers Row

Flooded with natural light, Makers Row is a new mixed-use building in Northeast Portland that combines 19 apartments with ground-floor commercial space in a highly energy-efficient envelope.

In Portland’s leafy Mt. Tabor neighborhood, this renovation project involved modern upgrades to a midcentury-modern home.

The house was dramatically opened up with the addition of a vaulted living room ceiling and walls of glass.

This remodel of a split-level, midcentury-modern home includes a reorganized layout for better circulation.

Good design is timeless but innovative, aesthetically pleasing, and engaging. In architecture, good design happens when the design of buildings or spaces respond to their surroundings and enhance the people’s lives who inhabit them. 

The retrofit of this Portland midcentury-modern home takes inspiration from Richard Neutra, Saul Zaik, and John Yeon.

The dark wood floors were replaced by light-colored terrazzo that gives the interiors a brighter feel.

Located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, Davis is a compact, two-story home that features reclaimed hardware and fixtures in a contemporary setting.

An inside peek of the Davis House. As a full-service firm, Risa’s practice also handles interior design.

This content was originally published here.