Get Your Patio Updated!

Summer is already here! While you may have been procrastinating getting the patio squared away so far, it’s now time to shift your focus to this great entertainment space. Summer is a time to gather outside with friends and family, share a meal and enjoy the sunshine. While the cooler months may keep you indoors, summertime helps spread your home’s square-footage out a little more so you and guests have more room to relax.  Here are some tips to get this vital space ready to receive guests so all you have to worry about is how much fun you’ll be having.


Organization is your first task. Wayward items have a tendency of finding themselves in odd spaces when life becomes busy and the first place they end up is in rooms that are not seeing as much use. It gives the homeowner time to get things out of their way without putting it away. Now it’s time to clean that mess up. Place items in their proper storage units and survey the things that do belong in the room. Is there anything that can be thrown away from overuse or damage from previous seasons? Now is the time to remove it.


Next, set any damaged but salvageable pieces aside so you can repair them.  Place them in an area where they are out of the way but will not be forgotten. Make a list of items needed to fix them and go out as soon as you can to get them. Capitalizing on your momentum is what will see you through this project from beginning to end. Once you’ve got everything in working order, it’s time to clean the area.


Wipe down plastic surfaces, clean or update your seat cushions and throw pillows and place some fresh potted plants throughout the space. Be sure to wipe down tables and chairs so guests won’t stain their hands when touching patio surfaces. If you have an outdoor rug, give it a good vacuum. For outdoor grilling areas, be sure to wipe down food preparation areas and clean grilling utensils as well as your grill rack. 


Now get out there and enjoy the rest your summer!

Inexpensive Porch Makeover

Porches are a long-time American favorite for homeowners who just love being outdoors. From reading a good book to conversations with friends, porches have a special place in all of our hearts. If you want to spruce up your porch for summer, we have five budget-friendly suggestions that will not break your bank. 


Five Suggestions for an Inexpensive Porch Makeover:

  1. A reason to keep your head up: Porches are perfect for enjoying the warm summer months without having to be exposed to harsh sun rays. We are able to enjoy the beautiful weather because of the porch’s roof. You can paint the ceiling of the roof with a fun color to add uniqueness to the outdoor space. Guests’ eyes will be drawn to colorful statement piece and it can add brightness on gloomy days.
  2. Let’s hang around: Hanging plants are gorgeous and can bring serenity into the outdoor space. Try incorporating some hanging plants in a cluster, all with different lengths and styles. The hanging plants can add greenery and beauty quickly to your space without costing a lot of money. 
  3. Mood swings: We mean the good kind of mood swing, of course. Adding a swing can easily turn a bad day into a great day. Swings are proven to help create relaxation just with a few simple pushes. If you are looking to save money, look for older, used swings from thrift stores and just apply a few coats of new paint. 
  4. Favorable finishes: If you have porch furniture, add some pillows and throw blankets on top of the couches and chairs. They will help give the outdoor space a more cozy and lived-in look. Add some outdoor candles to bring warmth to your outdoor escape.
  5. Timeless touch-ups: House numbers, the front door, and the porch’s exterior paint can be touched up to improve the appearance and quality of your porch. A new front door may be the most expensive suggestion, but take the time to save money for this investment. Buy some new house numbers that tie in well with your outdoor space and apply paint touch-ups wherever needed on the porch’s exterior. 


We hope you take advantage of these simple suggestions and enjoy a relaxing, peaceful summer on your porch. 

Outdoor Entertaining

It is officially the season for barbecues, pool parties, and outdoor entertainment. With the weather warming up, homeowners can look forward to having the chance to entertain outdoors. It is no secret that with hosting guests comes a lot of time and planning. Put your mind at ease this summer by following our easy guide to having an outdoor party. 


Guide to Entertaining Outdoors:

  1. Invites. With every great party comes a guest list. First, you will need to decide on the size of your party. Who are you inviting to the party: is it family only? After you decide on how many people you are inviting, you can set a theme. Are you planning on having a barbecue, pool party, dinner party, etc.? Are children invited?
  2. Seating. Unless you are planning on having everyone stand the entire time, it is important to make sure you have enough seating options for guests. Things to consider are: if people will outdoors the entire time or if you are having the party be inside and outside. If you are having the party inside and outside, you can get away with providing less seating outdoors. If you are having the party only outdoors, consider a number of people coming and where you want them all to sit. 
  3. Tables. You can set the table similar to how you set your table inside. But instead of using cloth napkins, use paper napkins to make it more casual. If you have enough placemats, incorporate them into the table’s design. Try adding a fun centerpiece from your house to draw guest’s eyes towards the tables. 
  4. The Meal. If you are serving food outdoors, make sure to place it in a shady area. Avoid direct sunlight because it can cause your vegetables to wilt. Your best bet is to serve food that is good at room temperature (grilled kebabs, noodles, beans, etc). 
  5. Lighting. Light up the night with some stringed lighting and candles. You can string the lighting throughout your trees, bushes, and fence. Your candles can serve as a centerpiece during the day and light up your space at night. Try incorporating some insect repelling candles to avoid having your guests get bitten. 
  6. Decor. You can decorate the party with your indoor decorations to save time and money. Take some of your favorite decor pieces from inside and incorporate them into the outdoor’s design.


You can have an outdoor party for basically any reason nowadays. From graduations to get-togethers, our outdoor entertainment guide can help you create the ultimate party. 

Fall Date Nights

Fall has arrived and with Halloween just around the corner it is the perfect time of year to start thinking about fun dates that can help to spice things up during the cold months. Besides, after all of the summer months of hot weather, it will be nice to get out into the fresh, crisp fall weather. 


Especially with it being so close to Halloween, a little fright night might be just the thing to bring you and your partner closer. A haunted house is just the thing to add some thrills to the holiday season. Grab a bite to eat before and then head to the haunted house for a some fun scares. If your town doesn’t do haunted houses look into haunted hayrides. The haunted hayrides may also be more appropriate for nights you can’t find a babysitter and the kids need to come along as well. 


Another great date night for the fall is to find the closest apple orchard and take your partner apple picking. It’s the perfect activity to enjoy sparks between you, as you stroll through the apple orchards in the beautiful fall weather. With nothing to distract you from one another you are sure to enjoy stimulating conversation with one another while getting in a leisurely workout outside. To top the night out, bring the apples back and bake a delicious apple pie you can enjoy together.



Finally, what else could be better then spending the night carving pumpkins with each other. Perhaps carve them over your favorite scary movies, but be careful for the jump scares when you are using your pumpkin carving knife. Once you have your carvings perfected, roast the seeds for a side snack for the rest of your night. If you have children, you can include them too! Just be sure to chose a scary movie more geared towards their appropriate age. The kids are sure to love the roasted pumpkin seeds.


Whether you chose a romantic date night for just you and your partner to enjoy welcoming fall, or you also include the kids in on the fall fun, you are sure to have a great night out enjoying the cool fall weather.

Planning for Summer Outdoors

Cooler weather doesn’t mean that it is too early to begin planning and decorating your outdoor living space, sun porch or front porch. The cooler months of spring are the perfect time to assess what you have, what still works and what you will need to replace for this summer.


Outdoor furniture may need to be replaced more frequently than the furniture inside your home since it is exposed to the elements. Rain and sun can both do damage to outdoor furniture that is made of wood or plastic or painted. Outdoor fabrics are designed to be water resistant and less likely to fade but will eventually show the wear and tear of life outdoors.  Outdoor rugs are similar to outdoor fabric in terms of fading and resistance to water.


Wood and metal furniture can be given a second life with a coat or two of spray paint. Prepping the chair or table to remove any dirt and rust is a must for the paint to adhere. A light sanding can also roughen the surface to accept the new layer of paint. There are even spray paints designed to work on plastic that can be a great option for plastic patio furniture.


Once you know what outdoor furniture and accessories you can still use this coming summer you’ll know what you need to buy new.  Planning your budget and shopping early will help you get the right piece and stay within your budget.

Pool should Integrate with your Home

If you want to add a pool or any backyard feature to your home, think about more than the addition itself. It needs to connect to your home and the other elements in your yard.

This pool addition was designed to take full advantage of a natural nook created by the home’s architecture.

The stone chosen for the pool surround was extended all the way to the foundation of the home, making the space feel like an inviting oasis in the yard. By centering the pool, visitors have plenty of space to move around it from the French doors. A wider section of stone on the far side of the pool provides space for a couple of lounging chairs.

The choice of stone was smart. It has enough variation to handle this large an installation, and is versatile enough to work on the columns holding the patio cover. The light tone provides an effective contrast to the dark wood surrounding the windows and doors.

Another fun design element is the choice of thatch as a patio cover. It adds a tropical flavor and softens the design. A small splash of green toward the far side of the pool provides a cool contrast to the light stucco wall.

Remember this pool as you plan your own. You can see that by using stone or tile for your patio and repeating the style with your pool surround and trim, the new addition will feel like a fundamental part of your home.

Bring the Beach to your Patio

Whether you live near the beach or not, you can create your version of this inviting scene on your own patio.

Let’s consider the design elements that make this beach so inviting. The sand underfoot in a light neutral color provides a nice contrast to the dark natural wood tables and chairs. Candles and other outdoor lights allow gatherings to continue after the sun goes down. Finally, a few touches of color from the flags in the background brighten up the scene.

Although completely different in location, this patio has elements that connect it to the beach above. To start, the travertine pavers that make up the patio have a natural feel and mimic the color of clean bright sand. For patio furniture, the oiled teak here has the same natural wood contrast as the twig tables and chairs on the beach. Once again, the patio has a much sleeker and more finished look than the beach, but that is appropriate to its location.

In place of the beach flags, throw pillows add that splash of color that brings this outdoor space to life. Yellow, green and red solids bring that mood home with simple weather-resistant solid fabrics.

All that’s left is to capture the lighting from the beach scene. A few candles and some outdoor light strings will make this patio ready for a party as the sun goes down.

Thatched Roof

More and more, outdoor rooms are replacing standard back patios. With the rich variety of sun-safe fabrics and weather resistant outdoor furniture and rugs, space outdoors can rival indoor common rooms for comfort and style.

As these changes occur, designers develop ways to make each outdoor living and entertaining area unique. This is a good example of capturing a mood by borrowing from the building approaches of other countries.

Thatch roofs have been used in countries across Europe and Africa. The lath and thatch roof shown here is beautiful and sturdy enough to last through many rainy seasons.

Using rattan for the furniture works well as a linking element with the roof. Both colors and textures of the two features reflect each other.

The cushion colors chosen bring rich dark reds into the space. The flexible neutrals of the primary elements allow colors to change whenever desired just by recovering the cushions and possibly adding some linens to the dining table in the background.

In contrast, the smooth columns and framing supporting the roof bring light into the space and connect it with the home in the background. An intriguing tile mosaic on the back wall provides weather-safe art.

Finally, the strong pattern of the tile floor pulls everything together. Tile provides its own drama in the space, with its mix of rectangles and squares, two-tone ceramics and dark grout.

Add Foreign Flavor to your Back Patio

While you can’t completely recreate this amazing tourist bazaar in Tripoli at home, you can modify some of the elements to add charm and an exotic feel to your own patio. Let’s take a look at a few design features you can borrow to add interest to your home.

The strongest element in this photo is the powerful look of the arches that define the space. With limited effort, you can add arches to your patio cover to mirror this old-world look. Take a look at the photo shown below. While the arches have a different look, the curves immediately add a touch of the unusual.

The ridges below the arches define the line between arch and column. Mirroring this look, this back patio has two rings of color adding definition and presence to the columns

The final borrowed element comes from the sidewalk in front of the market. Using different color tiles to create a simple pattern provides more personality and style to the simple design. The design and color choices are limited only by your imagination and style preferences.

A handful of accessories will provide the finishing touches. Indoor-outdoor rugs come in a variety of designs, including those exotic enough to mirror the market above. Replace the market’s urns with pots in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Lean them against the columns or line a few up along the wall. Look for art with an eastern flavor to decorate the walls and add more color.

Don’t hesitate to be a bit adventurous with your design plans. With a little effort and some strategic borrowing, you can add a touch of the exotic and unusual to every part of your home.

Outdoor Kitchens

INGMRF-00039311-001Summer is here and that means outdoor grilling and gathering of friends.This year there are more and more “toys” available for planning and enjoying your outdoor kitchen than ever. Outdoor grilling involves way more than just the grill these days. Today, outdoor entertaining includes tools and appliances for the whole meal and the whole dining experience rather than just a stand alone grill. Rather than sending the master griller outdoors to cook the food alone, outdoor kitchens are being planned so that everyone can enjoy the whole experience and spend more time outdoors together.

Some of the latest offerings are:

  • Beer taps that dispense two different beers at the same time
  • Outdoor pizza ovens
  • Outdoor wine coolers
  • New styles of refrigeration
  • Electric grills with larger burner surfaces (up to 900 degrees)
  • Hybrid grills that cook with the ease of gas and the flavor of charcoal and wood
  • Better lit grills with easy to operate lids
  • Upgraded grill grates coated with porcelain
  • Stainless steel islands that can be freestanding or attached

If you are thinking about planning an outdoor kitchen, be sure to learn about all of the latest product offerings for outdoor kitchens. You may be surprised at all there is to include in these outdoor areas. You may find yourself falling so in love with your outdoor kitchen that you give up cooking and eating indoors during these beautiful summer months! For a great source to get started, check out Barbeques Galore.


Need some inspriration? Here’s a grilling recipe from Williams Sonoma for Deviled Pork Loin with Grilled  Potatoes and Onions:


3/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup sweet paprika

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup plus 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more, to taste

1 bone-in pork loin roast, about 4 1/2 lb.

2 1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into wedges 1/2 inch thick
and boiled 3 to 4 minutes

1 1/2 lb. spring onions, quartered

Freshly ground pepper, to taste


In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and the 1 cup olive oil. Reserve 1/2 cup of the marinade to use as a finishing sauce. Whisk the 3 Tbs. salt into the remaining marinade. Place the pork and marinade in an electric vacuum marinator and marinate for 1 hour according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, place the pork in a large nonreactive bowl and add the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to overnight. Halfway through the marinating time, turn the roast over.

If using a gas grill, preheat the 2 outside burners to medium-high heat for 15 minutes. If using a charcoal grill, build a medium-hot fire in one half of the grill, leaving the other half empty.

In a large bowl, stir together the potatoes, onions, the 3 Tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables to a mesh roasting pan.

Place the pork and the pan with the vegetables on the hot side of the grill. Sear the pork, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, and cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until slightly charred, 10 to 12 minutes total. Place the pork, bone side down, on top of the vegetables in the pan. Move the pan to the center of a gas grill, or to the side without coals for a charcoal grill. Cover the grill. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers 145° to 150°F, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Halfway through roasting, stir the vegetables and turn the pork over, bone side up.

Transfer the pork to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Place the remaining sauce in a small serving bowl. Carve the pork and pass the vegetables and sauce alongside. Serves 8.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.