Backyard camping: enjoy the great outdoors without leaving home

Backyard camping

Photo credit: Pinterest

Camping is one of my favorite summer activities, but sometimes it’s hard to set aside a week or even just a weekend to get away. That’s why I love the idea of backyard camping. It gives families the opportunity to spend time outdoors and bond. Plus, staying close to home is often recommended for young children who are not ready for the full camping experience.

Backyard camping seems like a simple concept, but there are some strategies you can use to create an experience that is similar to an actual camping trip. For example, you can:

Set up a tent
Backyard camping

Photo credit: Daily Mail

Okay, I know it seems silly to sleep outdoors when you have comfortable beds inside waiting for you. However, your backyard excursion will feel more like a bonfire than an authentic camping trip if you head inside after the fire dies down.

Design a sitting area
Seating area next to camp

Polywood Adirondack Chairs

Most campsites have benches for dining and generally people bring their own chairs. Set up your backyard to mimic an actual campsite by arranging outdoor chairs and tables near the tent area.

Install a fire pit
Fire pit

Firescapes Fire Pit

In my opinion, it’s not camping without a fire and s’mores. If you don’t already have one, consider adding a fire pit to your backyard space; you can use it all summer long! On chillier nights, make sure you have extra blankets for sitting around the fire!

Add a sprinkler

If you live within walking distance of a lake or ocean, head out for a swim in the afternoon. Otherwise, a sprinkler can add a splash of fun for the kids (and the adults).

Keep technology indoors

Phones and laptops are hard to leave behind — believe me, I know. Camping, however, is all about taking a break from technology and connecting with nature. While you might not have a forest in your backyard, you can at least enjoy the sunshine and breeze without having to check your cell every five minutes.

Roasting marshmallows

Photo credit: Pinterest

Are you ready to roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories? A simple camping trip in your backyard can be a special memory you and your family will cherish for years.

By Wendy Weinert

Need a plan for the holiday? Consider these three 4th of July entertaining ideas

I love the Fourth of July. Unlike other holidays like Christmas or New Year’s, Independence Day can be celebrated outdoors where the temperature is warm and the sun is shining. I know many of you already have plans in place, but if you don’t, there is still time! These three July Fourth entertaining ideas are fun and easy to put together.

4th of July Strawberries

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Enjoy a small picnic

You don’t have to throw a large party to enjoy the holiday. Gather your closest friends or have a picnic with just your family. To make the picnic festive, set up blankets, pillows and napkins designed with red, white and blue graphics. For food, consider making something that is both delicious and patriotic, such as strawberry and blueberry cupcakes.

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POLYWOOD® La Casa Cafe Five-Piece Dining Set w/ Cushions

Host a potluck

If you know a lot of people looking for something fun to do over the Fourth, why not have them over for a potluck? With a potluck, guests will help by contributing food and supplies, so you won’t have to spend all week preparing. Ask guests to get creative and host a competition to see who brings the most patriotic dish or wears the most red, white and blue!

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POLYWOOD® South Beach Adirondack Chair

Invite guests over to watch fireworks

I love watching fireworks with friends and family. If your home offers a good view of the town’s annual fireworks display, invite friends, family and neighbors to watch them with you. Be sure to offer blankets, chairs and pillows to keep guests comfortable throughout the show. You might also want to have insect repellent handy in case the bugs are out and ready to attack.

Celebrating the Fourth doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. With the right people, beautiful weather and a few patriotic touches, you can make this year’s Fourth of July a special occasion.

By Wendy Weinert

How to create a welcoming porch

I don’t know about you, but I want my home to feel welcoming to guests. A welcoming home means that friends and family will feel more comfortable during a visit and may even mean that they will be anticipating their next stay! While every room in the home can be decorated to feel inviting, the best place to start is actually outside, since the front porch is the first “room” guests will see. Here are some of my favorite ideas for welcoming guests into a home:

Offer a seatPorch_Livingroomset_Club-4

I like to think of the front porch as being an outdoor living room, where you can socialize with close friends and family while enjoying the nice weather. A porch swing is a popular choice for kids and adults alike, but if your space isn’t big enough you can also seat guests on a smaller patio chair.

Make it cozy with a rug
porch blog- rug

Photo credit: Pinterest

A rug instantly makes any room I’m in feel more cozy. You probably use a rug to cozy up the living room, so why not do the same for the front porch? A welcome mat can also look inviting, especially if you’re working with limited space.

 Add light for nighttime
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Photo credit: Pinterest

It’s hard to create a welcoming vibe when your front porch is completely dark. Plus, evenings are often the best time to enjoy a front porch – when the weather isn’t so hot. Try using a couple of outdoor wall lights to invite guests outdoors.

 Paint the door
porch blog- painted door

Photo credit: Pinterest

You don’t have to paint the front door to make it welcoming, but I love the idea of a a bright-colored door! If you have a small front porch, this can be an easy way to add color and style without cluttering the area.

 Complete the look with a few final touches
porch blog- final touches

Photo credit: Pinterest

A couple of potted plants, a few accent pillows on your swinging chair and a hanging sign on the door – these types of finishing touches are perfect for tying the welcoming look together.

Does your front porch invite people into your home? If not, try out a few of these welcoming ideas!

By Wendy Weinert

Buying a ceiling fan part one: matching the fan to your space

Buying a ceiling fan isn’t just a matter of picking out the design you like best; in fact, that part comes later. In order for ceiling fans to be most effective, it’s essential that you first select a fan to match your space. Before you even start to think about styles and finishes, though, you must determine how your space will be influencing your purchase decision.

Buying a ceiling fan part one: matching the fan to your space

Outdoors or indoors?

Although outdoor and indoor fans look the same, they’re actually built for different environments. Outdoor fans are designed to handle conditions like heat, wind and humidity, while most indoor fans would just rust if installed outside. Some indoor fans, however, are also designed for special conditions, such as humidity. If the fan is going to be installed in a room where there will be moisture, such as a bathroom, look for a UL-Damp rated fan. This rating means the blades will not warp.

Buying a ceiling fan part one: matching the fan to your space

Room size

In order for a ceiling fan to properly circulate air in a room, the blade span has to be large enough to handle the room’s size. Once you know where you’ll be installing the ceiling fan, the next step is to measure that space and determine the appropriate blade span to match.

Rooms up to 75 sq. ft. = 29 to 36-inch blade span
Rooms up to 175 sq. ft. = 42 to 48-inch blade span
Rooms up to 350 sq. ft. = 52 to 56-inch blade span
Rooms more than 350 sq. ft. = 60-inch or larger blade span

Ceiling height

It is best to hang up ceiling fans so the fan blades are about 8 feet above the floor. Most fans have more than one mounting option, which allows you to install yours at the proper height.

Buying a ceiling fan part one: matching the fan to your space

Flushmount: These fans have no extra attachments and are designed for low ceilings.
Downrod mount: If you have a ceiling that is higher than eight feet, use a downrod mount.
Angle mount: This type of mount should be used for angled or sloped ceilings.

Now that you’ve factored in space considerations, you can start to think about fun details like design and lighting! Stay tuned for our next article’s tips on buying a ceiling fan to match your preferences.

By Wendy Weinert

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

After months of cold weather and snow, spring has finally arrived, and soon you can put that outdoor patio space to good use. Outdoor patios are the perfect place for entertaining during the warm spring and summer months – all you need is the right furniture, décor and these three helpful tips:

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

1. Arrange your space to match the occasion

Will your patio be used for afternoon cook-outs or for sophisticated dinners during the evening? Maybe your outdoor space will be a place where friends and family can simply gather for conversation and to enjoy the sunshine. Before you start browsing patio furniture, consider the different ways you might use your outdoor space so you can create a comfortable environment to match the style of entertaining you prefer.

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

Photo credit: Kate Byer Interior Design

2. Don’t forget about the lighting

While the sun can light up your space during the day, you’ll need outdoor lighting for evening entertaining so your guests can see each other! Make sure to set up the proper outdoor lighting so you can use your patio any time of the day. If you don’t have an outdoor electrical outlet, solar or candle-filled lanterns will also do the trick.

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

3. Add comfort with decorative pillows

Let’s face it – outdoor patio furniture is never going to be as comfortable as that plush sofa in your living room. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to suffer hard chairs or benches. Use accent pillows for décor and to add comfort around the outdoor patio area. You can even use a large pillow as an extra seat if you run out of chairs!

Entertain in style with these outdoor patio decorating tips

Photo credit: La Dolce Vita

4. Make the most of the space you have

If your patio is small, simply work with what you have and find ways to maximize your space. For example, you can set up furniture around the perimeter of your space to provide room for movement and mingling. If your space is primarily for conversation, simply bunch furniture closer together to create a more intimate and cozy experience.

Don’t let the warm weather go to waste. With these tips in mind, you can set up your outdoor patio and enjoy months of entertaining fun!

By Wendy Weinert

Add a water fountain to your outdoor décor

Home owners spend a lot of time and money making sure that the inside of their home looks perfect, but then often ignore their outdoor space and leave it unadorned. Depending whether it is in the back or front yard, adding some visual appeal outside can create a welcoming environment or help to design a nice, relaxing space for you and your family.

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Even though you want your yard to look nice, finding ways to decorate can be tricky. Much of the lawn décor that is available today just looks tacky. There is, however, a solution to your decorating problem: outdoor water fountains.

Fountains have the ability to turn your outdoor space into a relaxing oasis and can become the focal point of your front or back yard. The fountain size that you choose largely depends on the amount of space you have. If you live out in the country, or just have a really big yard, you could probably get away with using a large, showier fountain, but for most people’s yards, a simpler, medium-sized fountain works best. If you have almost no yard at all, place a small floor or table fountain somewhere near the house and you’ll still get that soothing sound of trickling water.

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53265CT_room_FountainThe size and style you choose for your fountain might also depend on where you want it to go. Are you struggling to figure out what would be the “appropriate place?” Well, there isn’t any rule as to where you should place a water fountain – basically, wherever looks best! People who have gardens or flower beds can use a fountain to be a part of a larger display. Or, the fountain can stand alone and become the center of attention. Whatever you decide, you’ll love your new outdoor décor.

As we turn the corner towards the winter, now is the time to start planning ahead and budgeting for what you may want in the spring when you want to living in your outdoor areas. Water fountains and outdoor statues may be just the thing!

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As summer draws to a close, bring the outdoors in

As much as we might not want to admit it, summer’s on its way out. As the temperatures drop, take the opportunity to appreciate fall’s unique beauty. From the brightly colored leaves to the hardy plants that continue to bloom, nature still offers up plenty of décor inspiration. All you need to do is bring it indoors!

outdoorporch

Photo Credit: Mary Crawford Design

Nights on the patio will eventually get chillier, so consider moving your outdoor furniture onto your three-season porch or even your living room for a bit of extra protection from the elements.  If you have removable cushions, switch them out with new ones in warm tones that complement the earthier color palette of autumn.Inside your home, there are even more ways to celebrate the new season. Twigs and branches add a rustic touch when arranged in glass vases, and fall flowers and foliage, like chrysanthemums and ornamental kale, also deliver rich dashes of color.Fall is the perfect time to snuggle up, so make sure your home takes on a cozy atmosphere. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, bring in some pretty logs to store on the hearth (birch is always attractive and cedar is aromatic). Whether your fireplace is gas or wood-burning, using a light fixture with a ceiling fan will help evenly distribute the warmth that’s created. For a final touch, place soft throws in natural materials (like alpaca wool or dense cotton) on couches and chairs, along with plush pillows.
 
Mohawk all year

In no time, your home will look beautifully autumnal – you won’t even miss summer!

Housewarming: Gift ideas to make new homeowners smile

With what looks to be the worst of the housing rut behind us and numerous reports declaring sellers’ markets in cities nationwide, it appears the housing market is officially rebounding. It’s likely you have plenty of friends and family that are scooping up new homes, meaning plenty of housewarming parties are in your future.

House sold

Congratulate your loved ones on their new home-sweet-home with unique gifts that show you care. Here are five spectacular housewarming gift ideas:

1. Faux flowers and plantsfaux flower

Why send a bouquet that will last a few days when you can send a beautiful silk flower arrangement or plant that will add a splash of color to any room all year long? Modern faux flowers and plants are designed and constructed so well you can hardly tell the difference between them and live plants.

2. Decorative throwswoolblanket

If you want a gift that embraces fashion and function, look no further than a luxurious throw. Whether it’s used as an accent piece on a favorite chair or provides warmth on cool evenings, it will remind your loved ones of you each time they touch its soft fibers.

3. Garden delightsSolarChime

Garden and patio accessories provide a touch of class to any outdoor space. Help the new homeowners settle in by gifting them with a piece of outdoor décor. From graceful garden bells and wind chimes to beautiful bird feeders and quaint gnomes, outdoor accessories can be tons of fun.

4. Focus on the kids

Sometimes moving is difficult for children. Help little ones adjust to their new home by making your housewarming gift kid-friendly. Plush blankets, framed artwork, decorative mirrors, small toys, treats and books all help children get excited about their new home and make them feel special.CrocodileFloorCushion

RoosterBasket5. Build a basket

When in doubt, you can never go wrong with a custom-made gift basket. Remember, the package is just as important as what you put in it! Whether a beautiful wicker basket or wrought iron fruit basket, what holds the contents can be used over and over again by the new homeowners.

Tips to make outdoor gardening easy, fun and stylish

Few things are better than the taste of fresh produce during the summer. When you grow your own fruits, veggies and herbs, the bounty is even more satisfying. Recent research shows that almost half (49 percent) of homeowners in the U.S. have gardened in the past year. Whether you want to revamp your current garden or you’re planting your very first seedlings, your green thumb will delight at some of these ideas that make outdoor gardening easy, fun and stylish.

1. Elevate container gardens

If the idea of bending over to garden is unappealing, raised planter boxes are for you. The Arboria EZ Plant Elevated Garden is both sturdy and stylish, allowing gardeners to tend to plants while standing. Sure to add flare to any outdoor space, the planter’s four tapered legs gracefully support a bed that is crowned with beveled post tops. Use a few colorful pots to plant your favorite herbs and place on tables or ledges, and you’ll have the best of summer’s flavors at your fingertips – no bending required.EzPlantElevatedGarden

2. Be bold and blend plants

Wondering where you’re going to put your flowers and your edibles? There’s no reason you can’t blend them both in the same space. While tradition dictates separating flower beds and edible plants, combining the two is a growing trend. Try using vine vegetables like beans against fences, layering in flowers, and then line-edging with herbs like mint and parsley. Layering in this manner has a beautiful visual effect, plus your tasty plants are ripe for the taking right outside your door.

3. Add whimsy and personalityYardbirds

A garden is the perfect place to add fun decorative elements that show off your personality. Display your colorful collection of tin watering cans. Add whimsical touches, like a hidden garden bench carefully placed amongst the blooms – perfect for a quick retreat. Embrace eco-friendly garden décor like the Yardbirds 6-Inch Happy Puppy Pot Holder, a lovable plant holder made from recycled materials. As years pass and your garden grows, this unique piece will rust and patina, providing character as it holds treasured plantings.


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Furniture and rugs: The key elements to making outdoor spaces as comfortable as indoors

Whether your style is restrained and modern or classic and ornate, furniture and rugs often provide the central inspiration for the rest of your room – and the same can be said of outdoor spaces. In fact, those two décor elements can help make your outdoor “rooms” as comfortable, welcoming and livable as your indoor spaces.

If the idea of a carpet outdoors gives you pause, think again. This décor-defining accessory is available in weather-resistant materials, woven into inspiring patterns, from botanical to geometric and even intricate textile motifs like paisley. Just as they do indoors, outdoor rugs provide a central point of focus between seating, but can also be placed under outdoor dining furniture to bring a more formal feel to al fresco meals.90005 6113 063094_ex01

The style of your furniture can also define your space, as it would in your home’s living room, den or other rooms. Outdoor furniture manufacturers have gotten wise to the fact that people of all tastes want patio furniture that exactly matches their preferences, just as they would expect for interior furniture. So the great news is that no matter the style you’re seeking, you’ll find it. Sleek, euro-style tables and benches are just as accessible as classic American styles, from colonial to Cape Cod. As an added benefit, modern upgrades in materials mean that your outdoor furniture will be able to withstand unpredictable weather and maintain its looks and comfort.Club-4

Once you’ve chosen your furniture and rug, you’ve laid the foundation for your outdoor décor style, providing the feel of an outdoor room, rather than just a patio. Keep in mind that you can mix and match carpet and furniture styles; minimalist furniture can let an ornate carpet shine, while more traditional furniture can bring a sense of comfort to a contemporary carpet