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.

Creating inviting outdoor spaces for entertaining

Expert Tips for Designing Your Outdoor Space

outdoor spaces

From barbecues and games of bocce to parties and candlelit dinners, your outdoor space can be a hub for entertaining friends and family.

“Try to create a living room for your outdoor space,” says Kate Anthony, owner of Kate & Company Design Studio and Interior Design instructor at The Art Institute of California – San Diego, a campus of Argosy University. People spend a lot of time on their indoor living room spaces, and she recommends extending the interior home out to your exterior.

Whether you have a small patio or sprawling backyard, interior design experts from The Art Institutes system of schools provide six simple tips for making the great outdoors a great place to eat, play and entertain.

1. Focal points

Edward Varias, owner of E.V. Design and Interior Design instructor at The Art Institute of California – Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University, says a focal point brings everyone together, and can include furniture, a fountain, a fireplace, or any piece that will provide a “wow” factor. An outdoor rug can serve as a focal point and help define an area, and a fire pit makes a great place for guests to gather.

2. Seating groups

“Define the space for the type of entertaining you need,” says Varias. Determine the size of your space, the number of people you will typically be entertaining and whether you will use the space for eating, drinking and socializing, or playing games. In a larger space, you can mix dining, hanging out and garden spaces to provide your guests with more areas to enjoy.

For a small space, seating can be a simple bistro table and two chairs. For larger spaces, you can incorporate sofa and chair groupings, along with a small coffee table. Anthony adds that a circular furniture pattern allows everyone to see each other, which is great when playing cards.

3. Vistas

“Select several vistas or view points for people to explore depending on the space; utilizing the space in several locations creates gathering areas, such as a garden to explore or seclusion for meditating,” says Varias. Anthony encourages people to think about creating areas for games such as bocce and says that seating or rugs can help establish designated areas without fences or barriers.

In creating vistas, you can use a combination of natural and manmade elements. This can include creating garden areas with rocks and fountains and adding little surprises such as statuettes, pagoda lanterns and seating for two, says Varias.

4. Landscaping

The first step in landscaping is cleaning up the space and trimming bushes, trees and overgrown plants to create a fresh palette. Anthony recommends hiring a professional landscaper as they will be able to tell you what plants are appropriate for your climate. If a landscaper isn’t in your budget, Varias encourages you to take advantage of the people at your local home and garden stores. They will be able to make recommendations based on your climate and the look you are trying to achieve.

Plants can help add color, style and definition to your space, and Anthony says not all plants need to be in the ground. “You can create great little vignettes throughout the yard by using varying sizes of planters.” Potted plants can also be brought in during the winter to keep them looking great year after year.

5. Lighting

Lighting can set the tone for any type of nighttime event. Varias recommends providing ample lighting for your focal points and providing a mix of electric lighting and ambient lighting such as candles and candelabras. Other easy DIY lighting includes strings of lights, which can be used year-round and simple solar lights.

6. Accessories

Anthony recommends bold accessories for outdoor spaces. Your starting palette will be very neutral, with a lot of greens and browns, and you can add pops of color with pillow cases or colored plants. Storage is another area to consider. You won’t want your hose and garden tools lying around the yard, so a storage bench or shelving can keep everything nicely organized.

Ready to create your outdoor living space?  Contact us for a free consultation!  We can help you design and create your own private outdoor oasis.

Why a wood deck is one of the best investments a homeowner can make

Want remodeling ROI?

Why a wood deck is one of the best investments a homeowner can make

wood deck

As the seasons turn, more homeowners look for projects that not only make their homes more livable, but also offer great return on investment. With demand high across the country for outdoor spaces that bring the comforts of the indoors outside, there’s no surprise that decks are one of the top remodeling projects for 2014.

In fact, a residential wood deck addition has a recouped cost of 87.4 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, the second highest ROI midrange project only behind an entry door replacement. That means adding a deck to your property will increase your livable space so you can enjoy the outdoors more, and you can rest easy knowing you’re boosting the value of your home investment.

If you think you’d like to add a wood deck to your home, you might wonder about the different material options. “Although composite and PVC decking have gained popularity in recent years, pressure-treated wood decking still carries the lion’s share of the market because it’s inexpensive, easy to work with and can be found at any lumberyard,” says Chris Fox, product manager at Universal Forest Products, a leading supplier of lumber and decking materials.

Today’s pressure-treated lumber comes with advancements that weren’t available to homeowners just a few years ago. For example, with more homeowners seeking eco-friendly building materials, wood suppliers are exploring environmentally preferred treatment methods. For example, ProWood’s micronized copper azole (MCA) treated lumber decking is eco-friendly, cost effective and easy to install.

MCA is a method for treating the wood (typically pine) using an EPA-registered waterborne wood preservative system to protect against termite attack and rot. MCA-treated lumber provides a light, natural look, unlike other pressurized wood treatments that result in the greenish hue with which most people are familiar.

You can leave MCA treated lumber in its natural state for a more organic appearance in your outdoor spaces, or you can choose ProWood Dura Color decking that is color-infused with pigment driven deep into the wood fibers. This process creates beautiful treated wood grain that will stand up to the elements for many years, with no need for staining.

“People like the natural look of redwood and cedar, but they don’t want the drawbacks that come with them, such as the high price and the fact that they quickly fade to gray,” says Fox. “ProWood Dura Color lumber not only looks like natural cedar or redwood, but the color lasts much longer and is backed by a two-year color assurance warranty”

When researching treated wood materials for outdoor home improvement projects, such as a deck addition, Fox suggests discussing the project with the local lumber dealer and to be sure to understand and check the end tag for:

1. The description of use (above ground or ground contact)
2. Warranty statement
3. The quality standards it meets
4. Third-party quality inspection (which assures product has passed retention and penetration tests).

Research proves a wood deck is a sound investment, and now with new eco-friendly decking materials, homeowners have more options than ever when it comes to improving their home’s exterior spaces.

Ready to add a deck addition to your home?  Contact us for a free estimate!