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+.

Grilling in the Great Outdoors – Essential Ideas for Your Outdoor Kitchen

outdoor kitchen

source: telecomwiz.com

Building an outdoor kitchen isn’t easy, and there are a great many things to consider when you’re planning your next outdoor improvement. Designing from the ground up isn’t easy, but you’re in luck – part by part, we’ll cover some of the basic elements of the outdoor kitchen and give you a solid base for the work to come.

Outdoor cooking is more popular than ever before, so there’s a lot of inspiration to go around. Let’s have a look at some of the best ideas to build around.

The Pizza Oven

If you’ve never had a brick-oven pizza, you’re missing out on something special. With the right bricks and the perfect design, you can make better pies than anyone else in the neighborhood. The best part? You pick the ingredients. Whether it’s sausage or sardines, you can choose your own daily special.

pizza oven

source: pcbrickovens.com

The Grill

Your options are virtually endless when it comes to the outdoor kitchen’s mandatory grill. If your space is located near your indoor kitchen, you can easily choose to extend your electric or gas hookups to a gas grill. Prefer charcoal? Even that can be elegant.

outdoor kitchen grill

source: baysideoutdoorcentre.com.au

The Bar Cart

If your current version involves a Styrofoam cooler and a bag of ice from the gas station, it might be time for an upgrade. If you plan to host parties involving anyone you’d like to impress, a bar cart is a worthy investment.

bar cart

source: img2-3.timeinc.net

Remember the Basics

It’s easy to get caught up in the construction and the appliances, but storage is equally – if not more – important. The more thought you put into essentials like storage and garbage, the happier you’ll be when you’re cooking in your new kitchen.

outdoor storage solutions

source: fourgenerationsoneroof.com

Protect Your Kitchen

It’s important to consider the protection of your investment. Even if you live in a region that’s not concerned with rain or snow, you’ll still have to worry about wind, dust and sun damage. Be sure to keep your outdoor living space safe.

protect your outdoor kitchen

source: img.hgtv.com

Don’t Neglect Ventilation

You may be outdoors, but that doesn’t keep you out of the woods when it comes to smoke. If your neighbors live downwind, there’s a good chance you’ll hear about the smoke produced by your cooktop or grill. Think ahead and save yourself some trouble by looking into some proper ventilation.

 outdoor kitchen ventilation

source: cchpools.com

Don’t Forget the Kitchen Sink

Even if you’re just building a small outdoor BBQ, having a sink nearby can make your life easier every time you pick up the tongs. If an extension of your water source is in the budget, you certainly won’t regret the installation.

 outdoor kitchen sink

source: wowhomedesign.net

Rooftop Grilling

The backyard is the go-to standard when it comes to outdoor kitchens, but have you considered the roof? It can eliminate those smoke concerns we mentioned earlier, and it provides a better view besides. If your home is built in such a way as to sustain it, moving the backyard grill to the top of the roof might be the best thing you’ve done this year.

 rooftop grilling

source: kalamazoogourmet.com

Go Country

If you live in the right climate, the southwestern look is the standard for a reason. It fits in perfectly with the countryside, and it inherently reflects the natural surroundings.

 country outdoor kitchen

source: kleinslandscaping.com

Winter is Coming

Outdoor kitchens aren’t limited to dry climates. There are appliances and building materials that can stand up to snow and rain season after season.

outdoor kitchens source: weblando.com

A Garden is the Perfect Touch

Nothing goes with an outdoor kitchen like a garden. It offers more than just a vivid look and a fresh scent – you can harvest fresh herbs growing just steps away. If that doesn’t improve your culinary skills, nothing will.

outdoor kitchen garden

source: www.devcenteronline.com

An outdoor kitchen can bring another dimension to your family’s life at home, and that’s not all – it can also increase the value of your home, improving the resale value when you’re ready for a change of scenery. Making the right choices during its design and construction will pay every type of dividend imaginable.

 

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!