3 Favorite Outdoor Spaces for Summer Fun

Summer is our favorite time of the year to work with clients. Whether we’re curating an outdoor kitchen or styling a beautiful new deck, something about the warm weather makes us want to blur the lines between the indoors and outdoors with thoughtful design and fashion-forward functionality.

Here are some of our favorite ways to create an inspirational outdoor space this season.

The rooftop deck

Those of us who aren’t blessed with the square footage to have a backyard, need to get clever to find other solutions. If you live in a townhouse or apartment in the big city, don’t hole yourself up in the living room. Head to the roof!

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Rooftop decks are making a comeback with stylish sunproof fabrics and durable appliances perfect for an outdoor soiree or afternoon sipping cocktails. With a smaller area to work with, every detail counts, right down to the trim on the cushions.

Each piece should speak to your style, whether you’re going for a Hamptons retreat or Miami Beach-inspired entertainment area. Make sure you have plenty of seating with umbrellas available for an afternoon siesta.

We love the way bright citrusy colors and patterns help brighten outdoor decks made of concrete or stone. Add a summery vibe with plenty of greenery potted in patterned vases, and flowers on every bistro table to greet your guests.

The California room

Here in California, we can’t imagine a home without a space that easily transitions into the great outdoors. Enter the California room: a space perfectly situated just outside a sliding glass door with transitional elements like interior furnishings and exterior fabrics.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

This space usually consists of a small outdoor kitchen and dining area for nights when the weather is too beautiful not to enjoy. The California room is often home to an entertainment center like a television for the big game, or speakers to enjoy relaxing music.

The key to creating the perfect California room is to keep it fluid. Use gauzy curtains and outdoor fabrics to maintain a soft vibe while also adding elements usually found indoors like couches, chaise lounges, and coffee tables for an interior-inspired look.

The outdoor kitchen

Last but certainly not least, the outdoor kitchen is the epitome of an inspired space. Whether you’re enjoying a dinner for two or a summer-themed fete, an outdoor kitchen is key to keeping your guests happy all evening long.

An outdoor kitchen usually consists of a few major components. First, you need a grill and complementary appliances. We love a great stainless steel grill with multiple features for when you’d rather serve fish than burgers, or vegetable skewers instead of tri-tip. Equally stylish and useful features could include a built-in wine fridge or drink cooler, a sink, and a food prep station.

Next, pick materials that are both durable and fashion-forward like stone and quartz to help make after-meal cleanup that much easier.

Finally, choose accessories that help create a dining area suitable for families and guests like placemats, centerpieces, and plenty of lighting.

What are some of your favorite ways to style your outdoor space?


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3 Favorite Outdoor Spaces for Summer Fun was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home


Bigger Homes and Gardens: Caring for Your New, Upsized Outdoor Space

When Lance Fort upsized from an apartment to a 2,350-square-foot home in Shoreline, WA, a bedroom community just north of Seattle, he ended up with quite a project on his hands.

The rundown split-level needed significant work, and he spent the first six months hiring contractors to gut and rebuild the interior. By the time Fort finally moved in, he was, as he put it, done.

But as any new homeowner knows, you’re never really done – especially if your home has a yard. As a former apartment dweller, Fort hadn’t given much thought to the home’s one-third-acre backyard until he halfheartedly tried to mow the lawn.

“It was 45 percent moss, 45 percent weeds, and 10 percent grass, with a massive mole problem,” laments Fort. The yard was full of rocks, and so unkempt that it was hard to determine where the lawn ended and the overgrown flower beds began.

Having no interest in gardening, and admittedly inexperienced with yard tools, Fort felt overwhelmed before even making a dent. “All I wanted was to get to the point where the backyard didn’t look like a science project.”

Fort isn’t alone. New homeowners often focus on interior improvements, like new drapes, a fresh coat of paint, and structural repairs. But those who upsize, like Fort, often forget that yards can take a lot of time, money, and energy – things that are often in short supply at the end of a big move.

Once he realized he was in over his head, Fort enlisted the help of a yard-savvy buddy. The two are tackling the yard slowly but surely on weekends, and Fort hopes to eventually get to the point where his property requires little more than occasional maintenance.

If you, too, are upsizing to a home with a spacious yard, consider the following tips for managing your new outdoor space.

Ask for advice

“Seeking help from a knowledgeable friend or professional is a great first step toward sprucing up a yard,” says Travis Meyer, one of the owners of Outdoors By Design LLC, a Washington-based landscape design and construction company. New homeowners are often new to yard maintenance, and there are plenty of resources available to help you get started.

“Start at a local landscape supply store or a big-box store,” suggests Meyer. “They can help you get the right tools to handle the weed situation or level the lawn.”

If that feels like too big of a first step, scheduling a consultation with a landscape professional might be the way to go.

“Many people have the capabilities, but they just need some direction,” says Meyer. Many landscape companies will spend an hour or two with clients, for a fee, leaving them with a bit of gardening knowledge and a starting point. “Sometimes all you need is a little hand-holding to get the ball rolling.”

Dig in

Armed with information and a few gardening tools, you’re almost ready to start getting your hands dirty. Meyer suggests breaking the job down into smaller tasks so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.

Tackle the lawn first. Is it salvageable? If it’s unhealthy, uneven, and full of weeds, you might want to remove it and start from scratch. If it’s just overgrown, consider mowing, adding soil, and overseeding.

Next, find your borders, and use a string trimmer or edger to clean them up. Adding a fresh layer of bark helps differentiate the yard from the flower beds, Meyer says, and does wonders to improve the appearance of your property.

Now, choose a few colorful plants, a bush or two, or a small tree to add depth and color. “It’s these little things that can really change the image of your yard,” says Meyer.

Save money where you can

Rent or borrow tools instead of buying them – at least initially. It’s hard at first to know what you’ll use often and what you might only use once or twice. Check online for a neighborhood tool-sharing site that lends out tools for a small fee, like this Phinney Neighborhood Association in North Seattle.

You can also ask for help. Sometimes friends and family members respond surprisingly well to requests for yard help if there’s the promise of pizza and beer at the end of the day.

Browse online for tips on a range of topics, from how to get rid of garden pests and weeds to what types of flowers and plants grow best in your region.

If you need ideas, check out any home and garden shows in your area. The Northwest Flower and Garden Festival, for example, offers seminars that range from basic landscaping tips to incorporating mosaics into your yard or garden.

Hire help

Sometimes all the encouragement in the world won’t change the fact that you just don’t want to do it yourself. Meyer suggests telling yourself it’s OK – that’s what he and other landscape professionals are here for.

“We have some customers who love to be outside, and some who don’t,” says Meyer. “A lot of people just want to go to work and come home to a pristine yard.”

For those folks, Meyer suggests getting more than one bid from landscaping companies. Prices vary, and you may find that you connect better with one landscaper’s aesthetic than another.

Whatever approach you take, Meyer suggests taking your time with the decisions so you don’t feel overwhelmed. “Pick one thing to do this weekend and another to do next weekend,” says Meyer. “Eventually, you’ve finished your whole project.”

Learn more about gardening and lawncare on Zillow Digs.


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Bigger Homes and Gardens: Caring for Your New, Upsized Outdoor Space was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Good Clean Fun: How to Build an Outdoor Shower

Outdoor showers may seem like a luxury – something that only those with beach houses would need or be lucky enough to have. But if you have kids and pets that love to play in the yard, or if you’re an avid gardener, runner, or someone that enjoys the freedom of bathing in nature, you may consider an outdoor shower for your own home.

Lucky for you, outdoor showers are an accessible feature for just about anyone. It all depends on how simple or complex you want your shower to be. A simple outdoor shower with cold water costs approximately $ 1,000 or less. An outdoor shower with an enclosure and hot and cold water will run about $ 4,000-$ 8,000.

Here are four things to consider before taking the plunge on your own little piece of outdoor bathing heaven.


This is one of the most important considerations. It’s best to choose a spot that you use often. In most cases, anywhere near the back entrance to your home is a good choice – maybe adjacent to the back door or on the back deck. If you have a pool, situate the shower nearby for easy rinse-offs before and after swimming.

Another major consideration is plumbing access. Unless you’re installing the type of shower that attaches to a garden hose, you’ll need to install it close to existing plumbing.

Last but not least, go for a sunny spot. This will help keep mold and mildew at bay, and provide natural warmth while you rinse.

Photo from Zillow listing


Privacy is a fairly important consideration, unless you think only swimsuit-clad people will use the outdoor shower. “I encourage people to build with the most modest person in mind,” says Ethan Fierro, author of “The Outdoor Shower.” The trick is, you want the shower to feel private and far from prying eyes, but you also want to keep the natural feeling.

Photo courtesy of Point One Architects.

An easy and adjustable choice is a freestanding folding screen. These screens work particularly well on decks and patios, where it might be impractical to build any type of wall.

Another option is building corrugated metal wing walls to create a shower “corner” of sorts, where swimmers can rinse off after a dip. You can make this more private by adding a third wall to the design. Of course, there’s always the more elaborate option, which would be to surround the shower with wooden walls.


The simplest and most inexpensive plumbing option, and one that many people choose, is a shower connected to a garden hose, which is then hooked up to an outside faucet. This cold-water fixture is perfect for an outdoor shower that’s used only in the heat of summer, and mostly for cleaning off dirt and sand.

Next up is the hot-and-cold hose option. First, you’ll need a plumber to install an outdoor hot-water faucet next to the cold one. From there, it basically works in a similar fashion to the cold-water hose shower.

Photo from Zillow listing

The most elaborate – and most expensive – is the plumbed-in outdoor shower. This is worth investing in if you anticipate consistent outdoor showers, and not just for cleaning up after a hot day in the sun. The only downside to this option: If you live in an area with freezing winters, you have to make sure you can fully drain and insulate the plumbing so it doesn’t burst.


The simplest and most common drainage system is letting the used water drain into your yard. If you don’t have very porous ground in your yard, or if the outdoor shower is close to your home, consider attaching the plumbing to your home’s drainage pipes or installing a French drain (essentially, a gravel-lined channel connected to a pipe that directs water to a drainage area).

The easiest thing to do, of course, is to go with the first option and recycle the water into your garden.


Add some affordable accessories that greatly increase the fun and pleasure of showering outdoors. A large rainfall showerhead enhances that outdoor feeling, and plants or flowers in the shower area or peeping through the enclosure add a whimsical touch.

Photo courtesy of Urrutia Design.

Add some soft solar-powered lights for showering at dusk, install hooks for hanging towels and wet bathing suits, and maybe even add a chair to sit in. Most importantly, design your shower to take advantage of nature’s views, whether that’s the sky overhead or the splendor of your backyard garden.

Photo from Zillow listing

With just a little planning and effort, you can install your own outdoor shower and stay cool during the sweltering summer months.

Get more outdoor shower design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Top photo from Zillow listing


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Good Clean Fun: How to Build an Outdoor Shower was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

4 Outdoor Fireplaces Perfect for Fall Entertaining

While the long summer nights may be coming to a close, your outdoor entertaining opportunities are just getting started. Extend your home beyond your sliding glass door by using an outdoor fireplace to keep the party going. Here are four settings perfect for warming up and chilling out.

Home away from home

If you and your family and friends spend most of your evenings outdoors, consider bringing the inside, outside. Add homey details like a mantle, shelving, and outdoor furniture around the fireplace unit for a cozy space to curl up on a cool night.

This type of area, with its rustic vibe and comfortable ambiance, is ideal for treating the kids to s’mores or sharing a glass of wine with friends at the end of the evening.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Totally transparent

For a luxe look, consider installing a double-sided outdoor fireplace. Not only does this style open up your entire backyard area, but it also allows for better ventilation throughout the space.

Add a uniquely fashioned grate to one side to protect plants and guests from sparks or ash.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Chimney charm

Every outdoor landscape needs a great focal point, and in the case of a fireplace, it’s a beautifully crafted chimney. While you have the option to choose a minimalist fire pit or simple bowl feature, why not highlight your outdoor fireplace by utilizing unique texture, an interesting shape, or robust color?

This chimney is a standout feature in this hidden backyard area. The cool gray stone plays well with the bold brick walls and overall dark color palette. By using two textures and two colors, the chimney adds dimension and interest to this carved out cove.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Modern minimalism

Outdoor fireplaces don’t always have to be made of brick or stone. Try a minimalist approach to the outdoor fireside by mixing up its color and shape.

In this outdoor area, the hearth is long and lean, boasting an open flame that flickers safely because of the smaller flames emitted. With this type of look, keep a safe distance between the fireplace and flammable furniture and textiles, and situate it near brick or stone to reduce the risk of overheating and burning anything in close proximity.

Add outdoor furniture that matches your contemporary fireplace to complement the look.


Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

See more outdoor fireplace inspiration.


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4 Outdoor Fireplaces Perfect for Fall Entertaining was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

10 Homes For Sale With Stunning Outdoor Kitchens

Ever wonder what it would be like to flip burgers while overlooking the Pacific Ocean? Do you imagine whipping up a frozen margarita just steps away from your infinity pool? (Remember — plastic cups only!) Outdoor living and entertaining spaces have exploded in popularity over the past few years, replacing the tried-and-true charcoal grill with full-service cooking areas, including ventilated grills, smokers, rotisseries, weatherproof cabinetry, outdoor refrigerators, stone sinks, and more.

Dream big and take inspiration from these stunning outdoor kitchens across the country, from homes for sale in Malibu, CA, all the way to Myrtle Beach, SC.

Under the Texan sun: $ 589,900, 2249 Cardinal Blvd., Carrollton, TX 75010

Built in 2011, this four-bed, three-bath home in Carrollton, TX, has a stylish interior and an even more extraordinary exterior. Dine under its pergola or covered patio any night of the week — each part of the outdoor kitchen is complete with ceiling fans to cool you off on a hot summer day. When it does get too hot outside, simply head inside to the indoor kitchen, complete with granite countertops and an island bar area — perfect for gathering friends and family around.

A screened-in dream: $ 750,000, 222 E. 25th St., Houston, TX 77008

This Houston, TX, abode is a chef’s dream, complete with a screened-in patio and kitchen grill area. There’s no need to ever step inside when a refrigerator, sink, grill, and warmers are all at your fingertips on the patio. Not to mention, the home’s most distinctive amenity — the Jacuzzi tub — is conveniently adjacent to the outdoor bar. As for rainy days, there’s a full bar inside too, as well as two large, renovated bathrooms and a home gym.

Outside on the Intracoastal: $ 995,000, 1545 Pachino Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

This extravagant beachside mansion has massive kitchens — inside and out. The backyard features a central cooking area, screened lanai, and a remote-controlled fire pit. Entertaining is easy-breezy on the back patio as the wind from the Intracoastal Waterway joins you for alfresco dining. This new construction Grand Dunes estate was completed in December 2015 and offers large windows that stream in natural light from the home’s expansive backyard.

Myrtle Beach masterpiece: $ 999,900, 3604 Tabby Lane, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

Another Myrtle Beach, SC, beauty, this home has breathtaking inlet views to enjoy from the outdoor covered patio. Watch the Carolina Panthers on the outdoor flat-screen TV or sit and enjoy a drink at the bar while your filet mignons sizzle on the grill. The extravagant interior is simply a bonus to the exterior amenities, complete with traditional decor, a large master suite along with three additional bedrooms, and an entryway mudroom with handy built-ins for storage.

Embrace the unusual in Oregon: $ 1,733,000, Address Not Disclosed, Bend, OR 97703

Vibrant colors are no stranger to this Bend, OR, home — and we hope entertaining isn’t either. Relax by the fire or enjoy happy hour with friends at the shaded outdoor kitchen as you become one with nature. Can you believe those mountain views? Once inside, pear-green accents and plum walls add whimsical charm to this 3,490-square-foot home’s interior.

Chateau California: $ 9,250,000, 1414 Paseo La Cresta, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274

This chateau-style sanctuary has picturesque views outside its whopping 10,400 square feet. Carefully select a wine to sip while overlooking the Pacific Ocean from the home’s extensive wine cellar. If you tire of the outdoor perks, including a pool, spa, and spacious cooking and dining space, head inside to the home gym, movie theater, or game room. Pro tip: Even if you don’t have an outdoor kitchen, add a bistro set to your own outdoor living space to create a breakfast nook, like on this home’s balcony.

Oceanfront oasis: $ 10,800,000, 6400 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, CA 92663

This modern oceanfront abode, called “La Cristal de la Mer” (the Crystal of the Sea), will keep you entertained in its sky lounge, complete with an outdoor fireplace, grill, and dining area. Easily stroll down to the beach from your back door and listen to the waves crash as you watch TV in the indoor/outdoor lounge. Inside, take a decorating note from the home’s award-winning interior designer, Karen Butera: The house features Ann Sacks glass tile, backlit white onyx countertops, Swarovski pendant lighting, and Italian cabinetry.

Malibu’s most wanted: $ 10,995,000, 28830 Bison Court, Malibu, CA 90265

This ’bu abode will transport you to an island oasis within your own backyard. Create a feast on commercial-grade appliances, then relax as though you’re at a resort on plush white lounge chairs by the pool. This space truly embraces indoor-outdoor living: Almost the entire dining area and (inside) kitchen open to the outside, giving it a luxurious yet exotic feel — the palm trees don’t hurt either. While only minutes from the beaches of Malibu, CA, you’ll never want to leave this California hideaway.

Rooftop haven in Hermosa Beach: $ 25 million, 2806 The Strand, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

This custom Italianate villa will make your jaw drop: It features custom mosaic tile floors, a great room with 800-gallon saltwater aquarium, and master bath with steam shower, just to name a few perks. But the pièce de résistance is the rooftop kitchen, accessed by a 16-foot rotating skylight (yes, you read that correctly). And there’s more: This five-bedroom, 10-bath home has its own sports bar complete with a pool table and flat-screen TV, a three-car garage, and its own movie theater.

Ski bunny paradise: $ 36 million, 455 Sunnyside Lane, Aspen, CO 81611

This mountainous haven will surely make you a homebody — everything you could ever dream of is right inside the eight-bedroom, nine-bath property. No heavy lifting required: The home is fully furnished and move-in ready. You’ll be able to cook for your crew in two outstanding kitchens — one inside and, you guessed it, one outside. And while you may get lost in the 14,000-square-foot house, the wafting smell of steaks cooking on the grill will draw you back to the outdoor spa and fire pit.

Which of these outdoor kitchens inspires you the most? Share in the comments below!

The post 10 Homes For Sale With Stunning Outdoor Kitchens appeared first on Trulia's Blog.

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10 Homes For Sale With Stunning Outdoor Kitchens was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Tips for Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights

The holidays can be hectic, but nothing beats the warmth and cheer of Christmas lights twinkling during some of the darkest, coldest nights of the winter. The practice of lighting Christmas trees dates back to the 17th century, when ambitious holiday celebrants used candles to light their trees—which they could only do for a few minutes at a time before extinguishing the flames to keep their trees, and houses, from burning down. In 1880, Thomas Edison strung his newly invented incandescent lights around his laboratory during the Christmas season, a successful marketing ploy that started a long tradition of electric holiday lighting.


Outdoor Christmas Lights


If you’re new to the Christmas-lighting game, you can use this guide to help you through the process of designing and creating your first outdoor display.

Design Your Display

Christmas lighting styles tend to run to extremes. Some homeowners stick to a single strand of lights around their rooflines, while others create gaudy mega-displays that contain a mish-mash of character-driven themes and may well be visible from outer space. To find a happy medium, consider the following strategies:

  1. Play up your home’s architectural features: In addition to your rooflines, any columns and railings are great elements to highlight. Plan to use lights with white or light-colored cords to blend with trim.
  2. Light outdoor trees and shrubs: Small evergreen trees make natural focal points, but almost any type of shrub or tree can contribute significantly to your ability to dazzle the neighborhood. You can use net-style lights with green cording to cover shrubbery, and for tall trees, you can use a long pole with a hook on the end to string lights on high branches.
  3. Choose a theme for yard and garden art: Whether you want to add a village worth of decorations or just a few, the idea here is to elevate your decor by choosing a focus. You can opt to stage a life-sized nativity scene or an elaborate tableau featuring Santa, his reindeer, a handful of elves, and Frosty the Snowman, but not both. You may even want to consider choosing a single motif, such as candy canes, Santas, reindeer, or snowmen, and see how many different variations you can use to create fun vignettes.

Gather Your Supplies

In addition to actual strings of lights and any yard art you plan to incorporate, you’ll need to have the following tools and supplies handy before you begin assembling your display:

  • Gloves
  • Measuring Tape
  • Ladder
  • Light-hanging Pole
  • All-purpose Light Clips
  • Extension Cords
  • Light Timers

Before purchasing your lights, be sure to measure the areas you plan to decorate, so that you’ll know how many linear feet you need to cover. If you’re planning to decorate shrubbery or other large areas, consider adding net-style lighting to your list.

Hang Your Christmas Lights

Once you’ve developed your lighting scheme and amassed your supplies, choose a day when no major storms are in the weather forecast, have a cup of coffee or several, and get down to business.

  1. Test your lights: If you have a bum string of lights, the time to remedy the problem is before you daisy-chain several strings together and attach them to your house.
  2. Create strings of the appropriate lengths: Up to three strands of incandescent lights, or 25 strands of LED lights, can be linked together to form strings long enough to circle your house and/or large trees.
  3. Attach light clips every 18 to 24 inches: Light clips attach both to your light strings and to the railings, gutters, soffits, window trim, and just about any other surface, eliminating the need for screws or nails.
  4. Move groupings of lights and art to the zones where you’ll use them: Depending on the scope of your decorating plan, you may want to do a little pre-organizing of your materials, then work through various zones one at a time.
  5. Assemble decorations: Hang lights around the house, distribute nets of lights over shrubbery, and get any yard art into position.
  6. Plug lights into a timer: This will allow you to conserve electricity by pre-programming lights to turn on and off at designated intervals.

When you’re ready, call your family together, plug the lights in, and enjoy the first twinkly night of the season.


Do you need help with a home improvement project? Text your home project to 776-776 to instantly get a flat-rate price and schedule a certified professional. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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The post Tips for Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights appeared first on Pro.com Blog.

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Tips for Hanging Outdoor Christmas Lights was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Top Outdoor Patio Trends for 2015

Today, Zillow Digs announced the top outdoor patio trends for 2015, and three fads to ditch from last summer. The results were published in the Summer 2015 Zillow Digs Home Trend Forecast, a one-of-a-kind report that combines data from a survey of leading interior design experts and an analysis of the most popular photos on Zillow Digs.

So what are this season’s hottest trends? Check out the surprising results below!

Top outdoor patio trends for summer 2015

1. Lime green accent colors

1. Lime Green

Source: Urban West

Lime green will be the most popular accent color for summer 2015. Expect to see this fresh, natural hue manifest in a variety of materials and textures — from throw pillows and vases to outdoor umbrellas.

2. Vertical gardens

Low-maintenance plants and succulents will be very popular this season, especially in regions that have water shortages and drought. Vertical or wall gardens offer a sophisticated home for succulents, herbs and other low-maintenance plants, and will be one of this season’s biggest outdoor patio trends, especially in condo and apartment decks where floor space is limited.

3. Hurricane candles


Source: hayneedle

Source: hayneedle

Hurricane candles are this season’s most popular outdoor lighting solution, and will be equally prevalent among budget and luxury spaces. When grouped together on tables or lined up along the patio floor, hurricane candles are romantic and create a wonderful ambiance that can be enjoyed on any budget.

Three fads to replace

1. Tuscan colors

1. Tuscan Colors

Source: Zillow Digs

“Khakis or yellow-based neutrals are out, as well as anything muddy or Tuscan-inspired,” says Zillow Digs designer Marc Thee of Marc Michaels Interiors. While these muted hues can bring warmth in moderation, they feel heavy and out of place in outdoor spaces, and don’t reflect this season’s fresh, streamlined aesthetic.

2. Shabby chic furniture

2. Shabby Chic

Source: Zillow Digs

Intricate, shabby chic patio sets will fade away, as summer 2015 is all about simplicity and clean lines. Detailed wrought iron patio sets will be replaced with sleek outdoor sofas and loveseats adorned with pillows and throws in this summer’s hottest citrus colors.

3. Excessive patterns

3. Patterns

Source: Zillow Digs

“People grow tired of busy patterns, so keep them to a minimum,” says Thee. Instead, add interest and texture with natural greenery and pops of citrus colors. Look for more solid color choices on pillows and throw blankets this summer.

Want to try these trends out in your own backyard or patio? Zillow Digs and hayneedle.com are teaming up to give one person a $ 5,000 shopping spree to hayneedle.com to create their own outdoor oasis. Enter now for your chance to win.


Zillow Blog – Real Estate Market Stats, Celebrity Real Estate, and Zillow News » Home Improvement

Top Outdoor Patio Trends for 2015 was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

It’s a Catio, Daddio! Safe Outdoor Access for Frisky Felines

Anyone interested in feline enrichment knows how much cats love the outdoors. They also know how risky it is for cats to be free-roaming — they can be hit by cars, trapped in garages and just plain lost. Then there are the birds they kill (although windows also do major damage to bird populations).

Some of the world’s most forward-thinking cat owners have devised a solution: the catio.

It’s the animal-lover’s answer to the man cave, a space set aside to keep our feline companions safe and happy.

Basically, catios are screened-in porches glorified with stairs, shelves, cushions and scratching posts — as well as sturdy walls, roofs and floors to keep cats in and other critters out. Catios come in all shapes and sizes and can be homemade, custom made or ordered online.

another front view

Margo in her catio (photo courtesy of Jean White)

From these enclosed perches, cats can mock-chirp at birds and squirrels all the livelong day without anyone coming to harm.

‘Go on out; it’s beautiful out’

Jennifer Hillman of Seattle has two catios: one built in 2001 when she moved to a new house and did not want her five cats roaming the neighborhood, and the other built six years ago where her shed once stood. They’re connected by a little tunnel.

The cats tend to visit after meals, and Hillman jokes that she sometimes feels like a pestering mom — “go on out; it’s beautiful out!”

She figures her catios cost about $ 500 each, mostly for wood and wire.

Her catios were part of a recent Catio Tour in Seattle sponsored and organized by The Humane Society of the United States, where Hillman is director of strategic advocacy and campaigns; PAWS, a Seattle-area rescue and wildlife rehabilitation center; and Catio Spaces, a Seattle company that designs and builds catios.

Cynthia Chomos, founder of Catio Spaces, built her first catio in 2013 for her orange-and-white tabby, Serena, to “experience the sights and sounds and smells and stimulation of the natural world.”

Now Serena follows the sun between two catios — one in the backyard facing east, and one in a window box facing west — and Chomos designs and oversees the building of catios for other homes. They tend to measure 6-by-8 or 8-by-10 feet and cost roughly $ 2,500 to $ 5,000.

People can also buy Catio Spaces’ do-it-yourself plans for $ 49.95, with $ 5 going to an animal welfare organization.

One of Chomos’ most interesting projects was the building of a 26-foot catio that wrapped around a house to keep two “serial bird killers” and their two “canine cohorts” indoors. The owner — who can walk through the catio to reach the backyard — has since added a chicken to the mix, Chomos has heard.

‘A vet bill is way more’

Although that sounds like the cat’s meow, one catio set-up that would be hard to beat belongs to Dan Reeder, who built and bolted a three-story catio townhouse to his own house and connected it via a long tunnel to a catio large enough for Dan to join the cats in the backyard.

The retired math teacher and paper mache artist figures he spent about $ 3,000 on the structures, which are well-fortified with wire mesh even under the main catio floor, because “I didn’t want a possum to appear in the house.”

The catios were finished in time for his cat Riley to spend her last summer outdoors before she died at the age of 20.

His other two cats, Max and Eddie, continue to enjoy their outdoor time, and the catios have curbed Reeder’s guilt over Max waiting for him to play. “I used to feel guilty all day,” Reeder said.

Jean White of Bellevue, WA, bought her catio, which was also on the recent tour, for about $ 1,200 from the website Cats on Deck.

“It may sound pricey, but a vet bill is way more,” said White, who lives near a bus route and in an area where there are coyotes and raccoons.

Like most catios, hers is connected to the house by cat doors — in her case, one in the bathroom window and one connected to a sliding-glass door.

“Margo, the Siamese, loves it,” she said. When Jean first adopted Scout, a black-and-white tuxedo cat, she didn’t realize there was a cat door in the wall and thought Margo was disappearing into a curtain.

“She was so surprised!” Then Scout figured it out, and now the cats alternate between lounging and chasing each other in a loop, day and night.

side view

Scout and Margo (photo courtesy of Jean White)


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It’s a Catio, Daddio! Safe Outdoor Access for Frisky Felines was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

9 Brilliant Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Outdoor lights can add magic and ambience to your yard or patio space when the sun goes down, while providing safety and security at the same time. Why not go for function and a bit of decorative form and fun with these bright ideas for outdoor lighting.

1. Entrance Lights

In addition to providing a well lit passage to a stoop, porch or steps, you can highlight any decoration or landscaping with entrance lights. Choose from wall mounted lighting or floodlights, or a combination. You can also install motion sensors to alert you to movement around your home; however, if your floodlights are too bright, they will create deep shadows, perfect hiding places for trespassers.

Entry Light

2. Solar Lights

Practical and economical, think about installing solar lighting where you need lights to illuminate a walkway or by a doorway. Bonus: Lights come on automatically and they’re low maintenance.

Solar Garden Light

3. Tiki Torches

Buy them at home supply stores, or if you’re not able to anchor them in the ground, then you can fill galvanized steel flower buckets with sand and anchor the torches in those. Use them to light a walkway or to light up a seating area or porch.

Tiki Torch Light

4. String Lights

String lights are extremely versatile and won’t break your budget. You can string them around your deck, an umbrella or pergola above your dining area, or through trees and around tall shrubs or topiaries. You can even “dress” them with shades to fit the occasion.

String Lights

5. Pool Lights

Highlight your pool and the surrounding features such as lighting under the bar or adding underwater lights for a dramatic glow, which makes it safer for nighttime swims. Or go the DIY route with glowing globe topiaries.

Pool At Night

6. Path Lights

You can choose budget lights or more expensive stakes, but the key thing to focus on is placement. Think of them as guides to where to walk next. Don’t use too many and use different but complimentary styles to avoid the look of the same lights lined up in rows like tin soldiers. In this case, less (as in number of lights) is more. At the same time, if you illuminate some plantings, your garden’s special features can still be showcased after dark. Tip: Hydrangeas look great after dark because of the texture of their blooms.

Solar Lights

7. Indirect Lights

You can uplight trees and downlight your house to create enough light to show the way without being so direct with your path lighting.

Gazebo Garden Lights

8. Moonlight

Create the effect of moonlight by installing lights high overhead. This creates an intimate feel.

Outdoor Light in Tree

9. Candlelight

Candlelight is at the warmer end of the spectrum from moonlight. Place candles on a table, and combine with overhead moonlighting for an extra pop of brilliance.

Summer BBQ Candles


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9 Brilliant Outdoor Lighting Ideas was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home