Summer Project Bring Shade to Your Deck or Patio

Summer Project Bring Shade to Your Deck or Patio

While some people wait for summer in order to undertake interior remodeling projects, the best thing about this season is that it allows you to spend most of your free time outdoors. Sure, you could go to a park and simply sit on the bench, but the satisfaction of making a real-life oasis of nature in your own backyard is simply much more appealing. The most important part of this garden during the summer should be your deck, patio or even a gazebo, where you can sit and rest with a group of your closest friends.

Now, the aforementioned gazebo always comes with a roof construction, which means that shade is not an issue, alas, the same could not be said about your deck and patio. With this in mind, here are few projects that will help you make your patio into a pleasant place even during the hottest summer days. Let’s take a look.

Buying a Parasol

Those who intend to cover a small area of their patio (just enough to cover the seating) should definitely consider buying a parasol. The advantages of this solution are quite obvious and even straightforward. First of all, it costs next to nothing (compared to some other methods), it is highly portable which makes it easy to remove during the colder part of the year. Most importantly, however, you can buy it in person or order it online and install it on your own. This is actually a simple procedure and you won’t need more than several minutes to set it up. All in all, most people would agree that, while going with a parasol may not be the most creative, or stylish, solution, it is definitely the most flexible one out there.

A Roof Construction

For those with more time, more energy and definitely a bigger budget, the optimal option would probably be to go for a roof construction. This way, you are giving your garden a lasting upgrade by putting a real roof over your patio. The best part of this solution is that it is durable, protects you from a sudden summer downpour (something parasol may not be able to do). Unfortunately, in order to make it you would either have to learn a thing or two about this type of construction or hire someone to do this for you. No matter the effort, it is undeniable that this is definitely worth your while.

summer projects

Shade Sail

Another great idea for protecting your deck or patio from sun would be to do it with some shade cloth. Shade cloth and mesh banners are impressive printing advertising tools, however shade cloth also serves another purpose. By using it to cover your deck or patio, you can decide on the size, shape and position on your own and perhaps even find someone who will allow you to print on it whatever you like. In this manner, you can turn this sun protection method into a great stylish addition to your backyard. You don’t even have to stop there. By adding few curtains to the mix, you can get that exotic Arabian Nights look, as well. Your only limitation is your own imagination.

Retractable Awning

In case where your patio is right next to your home (or some other construction) you could always invest a bit in a retractable awning. The ingenuity of this device is quite astounding. First of all, it provides you with the shade you so desperately need. Second, you can use it on your own accord and keep it retracted when you don’t need it. Finally, it covers a fairly large area, which will give you quite a bit of room to rethink and redesign your patio. Unfortunately, like the above-mentioned roof construction, it is quite immobile, which means that you will be restricted to the area it covers, without any possibility of further advancement or expansion.

hammock

Planting Your Own Shade

In the end, it is by far the most satisfying but also the most difficult way to provide your deck with some shade to just plant a tree above it. Nonetheless, this is a process that can take years (even decades), which is why it is recommended only for those who have settled there for good. Keep in mind that not any tree would do. You want fast growing trees that provide a lot of shade. Moreover, having a tree so close to the patio, will mean that in the autumn, you will have quite a bit of work cleaning the surface (especially if it is a wooden and not a concrete construction we are talking about).

As you can see, your options are quite numerous and it is up to you to decide which of them suits your needs the best. Naturally, for those who expect to relocate sometimes in the future, awing, tree and a wooden construction are not the best of solutions (although they add quite a bit to your home’s resale value). At the end of the day, this is mostly the question of finding a solution that fits both your budget and your personal taste.

Guest Post By:

Leila Dorari is a marketing consultant and a freelance writer from Sydney. She has been working with different companies for 5 years now. When taking a break from making new marketing slogans, she is either window shopping or exploring new ways to make her life more meaningful.

Infographic – Maintaining Timber Decking

A timber deck in your garden can be a neat, luxurious area in which to enjoy the summer sunshine, giving you somewhere to sit out and relax, read a book or sip a cool drink as the gorgeous weather shines down upon you. However, there’s also the less glamorous but quite necessary aspect of maintaining the decking so that you can enjoy the idyllic scenario described above.

Crowe Sawmills  produced this infographic guide to timber decking maintenance, talking you through the tasks that are required for each season (apart from winter, when thoughts of spending time on your deck are not so glowing) and offering a few handy tips on carrying out the maintenance work.

In this mid-spring season, the time is right for washing and sealing the deck to remove any rot that threatened to set in over the winter months. Primary repairs can then be undertaken during the summer, when daylight hours are at their longest and the weather is most conducive to such tasks. Once the summer is over, you can trim any bushes or trees near the decking and clear all downspouts so that the onset of rot is minimized coming into the winter.

This vivid infographic outlines the process succinctly while still covering all the jobs that should be done. We think it’s a fantastic guide to timber decking maintenance and we hope you feel the same.

maintaining-timber-decking

 

Concrete Backyard Design and Decor Ideas

Concrete Backyard Design and Decor Ideas

Living in a house with a backyard opens various interesting options making your home even more inviting and comfortable. Concrete patios and backyard designs provide you with a great place to relax after a long day, entertaining playground for your kids, as well as a perfect spot for some intimate parties and barbecues. Designing and decorating your backyard can truly transform the look of your home so if you find yourself interested in this kind of project, keep on reading.

1. Benefits of concrete

If you’re stuck with ideas when it comes to redesigning your backyard/patio, one of the most recommended options is to use the concrete. There are, of course, several reasons as to why concrete is considered to be one of the best options for this project. In general, concrete is highly durable, yet very easily maintained. What’s more, you can adapt your concrete outdoor design to any style you prefer, and shape it according to your own taste and ideas.

2. Touch of personality

You may think that concrete looks plain and boring, but thanks to various decorative concrete options you can still get a pretty unique look of your backyard. In general, stamping and staining are two widely used decorative approaches. For example, if you want to have freshly poured concrete, stamping technique allows you to transform the appearance of your backyard with any texture you want. It can even mimic other natural materials, such as stone and wood. On the other hand, if you already have concrete in your backyard, you can always make it more interesting with a staining technique that comes with warm earthy tones. In the end, using decorative concrete is cost-effective since it will create a high-end, luxurious appearance of your outdoor area without going over your budget.

3. Play with shapes

The best thing about using concrete in your backyard is the freedom to choose the shape and form of your patio. Of course, you can cover your entire backyard with concrete, but you can also use various molds and play with their position in order to create something truly special. You can focus on patio area only, or spice up the garden space as well. If you’d like to use some really nice and unusual molds for concrete pouring, you can easily make one yourself. In general, using styrofoam blue board to shape the molds the way you see fit is definitely one of the most fun, personal and rewarding ways to refresh and redesign your backyard.

4. Add nature to the mixture

One of the mentioned benefits of concrete backyard is its low maintenance. This doesn’t only mean that concrete is just easy to clean, but also you won’t have to deal with dirt and grass in your yard. Still, removing all the traces of nature from your backyard won’t do you any good either. In order to experience true bliss every time you step outside, you can leave enough room for your garden that will be surrounded with interesting paving blocks. Alternatively, you can leave grass openings in your concrete layout for pops of decorative flowers, bushes, and plants. If you don’t mind tending the grass from time to time, you can create a nice balance in your backyard with concrete patio, lovely garden path and grassy area that will occupy the rest of your yard.

5. The heart of your backyard

In order to make your backyard/patio livelier and unique, don’t forget the fire feature. Together with some matching outdoor furniture, this barbecue area will undoubtedly add the final touch to your efforts. There are also many cool ideas online when it comes to building your own backyard, so feel free to check those out.

There are things that you could do yourself when tackling the redesign of your backyard, but sometimes you will need a professional help to accomplish the wanted backyard style. Make sure to be realistic and practical in this project so that your backyard will end up with a clear-cut, modern and creative concrete design.

Guest Post By:

Chloe TaylorChloe is an art historian, recreational ballet dancer and a contributor at smoothdecorator.com. She is passionate about photography, dance and music. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world with her husband and take stunning photographs of beautiful places. She also enjoys learning and writing about home design, since she is crazy about aesthetics. You can find Chloe on FB, Twitter, and G+.

Does Your Porch Truly Reflect Your Lifestyle?

porch

In the past, the porch had quite a prominent place in every home. It was a place of gathering, family reunions, friendly neighbor visits and small talk. It was a sort of a summer living room, where homeowners and their guests could catch the refreshing breeze in the shade while the rest of the garden basked in buzzing sunlight. The porch brings memories of a creaking rocking chair and grandpa reading his daily papers. Don’t deny your children these memories when they grow up. A splendid porch should be the elemental to every suburban home.

Where to Start?

The porch should first and foremost be an extension of your house, and as such comfortable as any living room or study. A well-designed and functional porch on the other hand requires careful planning, and a lot of inspiration and creativity. For the beginning, in order for people to feel comfortable, the porch should be spacious. Which can be achieved in two ways, either you make it bigger, or you smartly outline and draw the arrangement of the furniture. You can find different ideas online that can inspire you and let you see what works for you. Whichever option you choose, remember that the porch is a relaxing and soothing space, which shouldn’t break your budget.

How Big is Enough?

back-porchIt goes without saying that the size of your porch will be determined by the thickness of your wallet. You should know that there are several types of porches, like rooftop integrated, wraparound porch, sunroom porch and front porch. Every type comes with its own set of pros and cons, and with a different price. The most common type, however, is the roof integrated, but be warned that this is also one of the most expensive, as it follows the roofline and requires more calculation and complex construction. If you’re looking for a more available option, there you have the front porch, which can be added any time later.

Decorating the Porch

The only rule in decorating your newly built porch is that there are no rules. Everything you do will be directed by your budget and creativity. The safest and the most effective way is to decorate it in a way that reflects your lifestyle and the home interior décor.  In a recent chat with reputed Sydney-based outdoor furniture retailers , I found out that another approach is to decorate the porch according to its purpose. If you want a nap spot, involve a daybed, a swing, a hammock or just a softly cushioned rocking chair with a wool blanket. It is often said that what makes a good porch is a good nap. The best strategy is to have several more chairs on reserve for guests.

Accessories and Embellishment

screened-porchThe extra stylish look of the porch is achieved by decorative wall hangings, while potted plants bring it close to the garden. Match the blankets and pillows to the rug, creating a serene and peaceful color effect. The key is to use as few metal objects as you can and to consider taking the pillows, blankets and even rolling the carpet up indoors, as they tend to absorb moisture if left unattended in rainy weather.

Eventually, you should try to envisage the porch as a sanctuary, a place where you can escape from the stress of your work or house chores. So, however much you invest in it, it will pay back tenfold, providing you with countless hours of pleasure and joy.

 

outdoor living spaces

Enjoy Your Outdoor Living Spaces All Year

Tips to make your outdoor living spaces more useful all year

No matter if you live on a coast or in the Upper Midwest, you can use your outdoor spaces to the fullest in any season by adding a few enhancements. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, it’s easy to add features like a seat wall and a fire ring for an outdoor gathering spot, or an outdoor kitchen to create the taste of summer all year. A few simple improvements can help you create a space that keeps you outside longer into the night, earlier in the spring and later into the cooler seasons.

firepit

1. Add a fire feature. Even in sunny Florida, it can get chilly at night. An outdoor fireplace, fire table, fire pit or chiminea will enhance any outdoor space. A 2013 membership survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects found that 97 percent of respondents saw moderate to high demand for fire pits and fireplaces.

2. Create a convenient outdoor cooking space. A dedicated space for the grill close to a door lets you barbecue in any season. A complete outdoor kitchen is even better.

3. Add retaining and seat walls. A variety of outdoor hardscape features can be created with pavers.  You can create a variety of features including stairs, retaining walls, freestanding walls, couches, tiered walls, planters, columns, multi-angled corners and curves.

4. Add lighting. A variety of lighting options for outdoor spaces exist, and it’s a good idea to include lighting design for safety and aesthetics in your landscaping plans, says O’Donahue. Low-voltage LED uplights along walls and structures and downlights along pathways and walkways are popular. “Lighting can be installed within retaining walls, under capstones and among paving stone pathways and patios,” says O’Donahue. Even a simple string of lights around a patio or deck railing adds a warm ambience to evenings and cool nights.

5. Install a paving stone patio. Interlocking concrete paving stones fit any outdoor landscape style, from classic to contemporary. Pavers are easy to install, come in many styles and colors and require little to no maintenance.

6. Select year-round outdoor furniture. Look for outdoor furniture that’s durable and doesn’t need storage or annual maintenance other than cleaning.  Due to durability and ease of maintenance, many homeowners and businesses choose recycled furniture over traditional wood and wrought iron outdoor furniture, which needs to be stored in the winter.

outdoor living spaces

7.  Shelter’s not just for shade. Take shelter from the elements with a variety of pergolas, awnings and other coverings for patios and decks that not only provide shade but also help protect from wind and inclement weather.

8. Turn on the heat. A variety of portable outdoor gas or electric patio heaters and lamps adds warmth and light to outdoor spaces. “Freestanding heaters, lamps and tabletop fire bowls and pots are very popular,” says Johnson.