Archive for the 'Outdoor Living' Category

May 18 2011

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7 Tips for Outdoor Rooms and Enjoyment All Summer Long – The House Plan Shop

House Plans 035H-0034 Covered PatioWhile you might have found the perfect house plan and built your dream home, you may not be quite sure of how to make use of your backyard. One thing is certain, if you love being outside, you’ll want an outdoor room. Below is a list of tips from The House Plan Shop to help you come up with an outdoor living space that is right for you.

 

1.    Divide your space – If you have a large backyard or even a small one, it is important to divide your space. Determine where you want your outdoor room, what portion of the yard will be for the kids to play and the dog to roam, and where do you plan to have a vegetable or flower garden. (Keep in mind your outdoor room does not necessarily have to be the back porch, deck or patio.) Use archways, hedges, fences, gates and shrubbery to define each of the necessary spaces within your backyard.

2.    Consider an outdoor room with a view – Be creative. Your outdoor room does not need to be connected to the home or situated next to the back wall. Try positioning your outdoor room away from the house by building an open-air gazebo or constructing a pergola on a concrete slab. If it is next to the house, orient the living space to the view whether it is the deck looking over the lake or pool or a patio with a view of the golf course.

3.    Dress up your space – Trim your outdoor room with lush plantings such as hostas, evergreens and colorful perennials. Add hanging ferns and container plantings of greenery and flowers to your porch, deck, patio and lanai for more visual appeal. Container plantings are easy to water and move making it easy to spread color throughout your outdoor room.

4.     Add furniture and seating – Make your outdoor room comfortable and inviting by incorporating weatherproof outdoor furnishings and accessories. Anchor the space with an outdoor area rug. Add weatherproof wicker furniture outfitted with thick cushions covered with outdoor fabrics crated to withstand the extremes of the elements including mildew, fading, stains and rot. Choose water-repellent fabric that can sustain freezing conditions.

5.     Consider lighting, privacy and noise – Add privacy to your room and block the view of neighbors’ wandering eyes by adding decorative, folding metal screens. Control sunlight and privacy with bamboo blinds hung from your covered porch, patio or gazebo. These versatile blinds can be raised or lowered to block sun and views. They also help control the noise of your outdoor gatherings as not to disturb the neighbors. Consider installing a soothing water fountain to screen the noise from the street and busy subdivisions. An added bonus: water fountains contribute to a soothing and relaxing atmosphere to your outdoor room.

6.    Build for entertaining – If you plan to entertain in your outdoor room, make sure it is built and furnished for entertaining. Add an outdoor kitchen and bar. This can include everything from a grill or built-in stovetop to a sink, mini-fridge and wine rack. A fully functional kitchen helps keep everyone and everything outside while you are entertaining. There is no need to run in and out of the house as you prepare a meal. With an outdoor cooking station, you can visit with guests, enjoy pleasant weather and prepare a hassle free meal. Consider adding counter with bar stools for snacking and conversation. Create an outdoor dining room beneath your covered porch with a patio table and chairs. Hang a chandelier or lighted ceiling fan above to anchor the space. If you like dining alfresco, make sure you are ready to do so with a group. Include versatile furniture such as benches that can be covered with a cushion and used for extra seating or remove the cushion and use the bench for an extra table when company arrives.

7.    Other elements – Don’t forget to incorporate the things you love. If you’ve always wanted a hot tub, choose a space for it. If your family enjoys sitting by the fire, add an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, perfect for gathering and conversation on a crisp fall evening. If you want a backyard pool, create a sidewalk or pathway connecting your outdoor living area to the pool.

 

If you’re planning to create an outdoor room, carefully consider these ideas and formulate the best plan that will accommodate your family’s needs and wishes.

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Mar 30 2011

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Tips for Adding a Garden Shed to Your Backyard – The House Plan Shop

Shed Plan 028S-0008Spring is here and that means it is time to start gardening, landscaping and taking care of our yards. If you have a green thumb and enjoy landscaping or gardening (vegetables or flowers), you might benefit from building a garden shed in your backyard. They are the perfect addition to your lawn or garden and work well for storing tools and supplies as well as seeds, bulbs, pots and more. If you think you might benefit from building a lawn and garden shed, the following tips will help you get started.

 

  1. Determine how you will use the garden shed. Do you need it to store items like the lawn mower, rakes, leaf blower, sprinklers and hoses during the off season, and DIY tools? Do you need extra space to store other seasonal items like patio furniture during the winter? Will you store other items inside that you don’t want to keep in your home or garage like paint cans, fertilizer and oil containers? Will you use the garden shed for planting and potting plants? Drying seeds and storing bulbs? Do you simply want a peaceful place where you can enjoy your gardening hobby?
  2. Decide what size garden shed will accommodate your needs. If you have minimal space or a small lot, your lot may dictate the size of the garden shed. However, if space is not an issue, knowing how you plan to use the shed (see # 1) will help you determine what size garden shed you will need.
  3. What type of shed access will you need? A single door? An overhead garage door making it easy to access the riding mower? Double doors so you can easily move or access large items?
  4. Consider your budget. If you are working with a tight budget make sure you stick to it. Check various lumberyards for deals on building materials to keep from overspending. If you have a generous budget, keep an open mind about adding potential special features that you may find particularly handy like lighting, a workbench, planning table or utility sink.
  5. Determine your electrical needs. If you plan to spend a lot of time in your garden shed, you may want to install overhead or task lighting. If you’ll only be in the shed a few minutes at a time, perhaps a couple of windows will provide enough lighting. Also, think about any power tools you may have that require you to charge batteries or need electricity. Plan to install electrical outlets accordingly.
  6. Take time to research local building codes. Before buying a garden shed plan ask your local building department what building codes you must follow. Some municipalities have height and size restrictions. Others must follow building codes based on local weather and climate conditions. It is important to know what your building department requires and what your limitations might be ahead of time.
  7. Choose a garden shed plan in the size that accommodates your needs, local requirements and budget. Also, find a style that blends nicely with your home and other surrounding homes, especially if you live in a neighborhood.

 

If you are considering building a backyard garden shed, The House Plan Shop recommends these helpful tips to help you get started on your project.

 

If you’d like to browse garden shed plans, please visit our sister site, The Garage Plan Shop, to view our shed floor plans.

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Sep 15 2010

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Add Value to your House: Build a Deck – The House Plan Shop

DeckWant a way to add value to your home and actually enjoy it? Consider building a deck. A deck is a very versatile addition to any house. It can be used for grilling and outdoor dining, entertaining friends, stargazing, observing nature and just plain relaxing! Furthermore, a deck can be covered providing shade or it can be open for those who love the sun. You may wish to hire an experienced professional such as a builder, contractor, carpenter or remodeler to build a custom deck for you, or you might decide to tackle the project on your own. Either way, building a deck can be rewarding. Working with a professional will ensure custom touches that you might not be able to create, build or accomplish on your own, while building the deck yourself can be rewarding and offer the satisfaction of completing the job. If you do decide to build the deck on your own, consider purchasing a woodworking or deck plan. They are available online in a variety of sizes ranging from a basic platform with railing to more detailed deck designs that might include built-in wooded benches for seating, plant shelves, a built-in barbecue area or even a hot tub. No matter which route you take, you’ll be pleased with the new deck you can enjoy year-round and feel confident that you have just added value to your home.

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Jun 09 2010

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Tips for Outdoor Entertaining

Filed under Outdoor Living

025GH-0164 Outdoor PatioIf you’ve just built a new home with plenty of outdoor living spaces, chances are you’ll want to entertain family and friends. From the backyard to the deck or lanai, any outdoor entertaining space is sure to please your guests. Whether you plan to host a small gathering of friends or a family reunion with everyone from your grandma to your third cousins, this list of entertaining tips will help you prepare for your event.

 

·         Give your guests plenty of notice about the date and time of your party. Mail invitations or send an email if it is an informal get-together. Be specific about who is invited. If it is an adult only party, specify it in the invitation. If the whole family is welcome, specify that the kids are invited too.

·         If you’ve chosen a theme, tell your guests. They may want to dress accordingly or bring a themed gift or dish.

·         Music adds to the festive atmosphere of any gathering. If your party has a theme, choose themed music.

·         Make sure you have enough seating for everyone. Ask everyone to bring a lawn chair if necessary and bring indoor tables and chairs outdoors if extra are needed.

·         Have a backup plan in case of bad weather.

·         If your gathering is on a hot summer day, consider setting up few umbrellas or screened tents to beat the heat.

·         Have plenty of drinks on hand in coolers filled with ice and make them accessible so guests can serve themselves.

·         Be aware of guests that may have special needs. Those who take certain medications cannot be in the sun, so make sure there is seating available on the covered porch or provide an umbrella. If someone has special needs when food or drink is consider such as a diabetic or someone with food allergies, make sure you have food items that are safe for them.

·         Burn citronella candles for bug control. Place a smaller one in the center of each table and use larger ones at the ends of your entertainment space.

·         Netted food domes will keep insects out of food dishes.

·         Promote group activities by putting up a volleyball net, provide horseshoes, ladder golf or washer boxes. If you have a large backyard, organize a softball or kickball game.

·         Don’t forget the kids. Fill a box or tub with things just for them like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, jump ropes, balls, etc. If it is a hot day fill a cooler or tub with prefilled water balloons and organize a water balloon toss. Water guns are always a big hit too.

·         If your party is going to continue from daylight until after dark, don’t forget about lighting. Make sure steps and walking areas are well lit. Solar lighting, rope lighting and even strands of white Christmas lights are great for lighting pathways and covered porches and patios. Check around for themed lighting. If you are hosting a luau, palm tree shaped lights hung around the entertainment space will add a little extra fun.

 

Don’t forget to refer to this list before you plan your next outdoor gathering.

 

Visit The House Plan Shop to find home plans with outdoor living spaces that are great for entertaining such as a patio, courtyard, covered porch, grilling porch, screened porch, deck or lanai.

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Mar 03 2010

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Spring is Near: Visit a Home and Garden Show

Home & Garden ShowWith spring right around the corner, many cities are holding Home and Garden shows. These shows are invaluable to homeowners as they present new products and services for homes and homeowners. Most shows cover everything inside and outside the home, and the best part is everything is under one roof. If there is a home and garden show coming to your area, The House Plan Shop recommends taking time to visit. These types of shows provide consumers with great buying opportunities, side-by-side comparisons between manufacturers and companies and competitive pricing on all services and products presented.

 

These are some of the things you might expect to find at your local show:

 

1.    Displays and booths exhibiting the latest in their fields:

·         Building products, tools and materials

·         Green products and energy efficient materials

·         Lawn and garden ideas, gadgets, products and gear

·         Interior design

·         Kitchen and baths

·         Pools and spas

2.    Seminars providing information about landscaping, energy efficiency, home design, green living, tax credits and much more.

3.    A wide variety of professionals willing to answer questions about gardening, landscaping, remodeling, building, interior design, organization and storage, and almost any other home-related questions you might have.

4.    Demonstrations on how to use new tools, install products, and choose the best products to satisfy your particular home and garden needs.

5.    Exhibits showcasing furniture, lighting, countertops and other home accessories.

6.    Experts giving pointers, tips and “how-tos” about everything from starting a flower or vegetable garden to operating a garage door or maintaining your new pool or hot tub.

7.    Professionals and companies marketing their home and garden services such as home landscaping, deck building and installation, painting, roof repairs, kitchen remodeling, power washing and more.

8.    Free samples, information and brochures from manufactures and exhibitors.

9.    Giveaways for everything from a gift card to a local hardware store to a free landscaping job for your own yard. Make sure to take time to register for drawings and giveaways. Someone is going to win; it might as well be you!

 

If you plan to attend a home and garden show near you, The House Plan Shop recommends checking ticket pricing and parking availability ahead of time. Sometimes discounted rates are available on weekdays as opposed to the busier weekend days. Also be sure to check the hours of the show as they may vary each day. Finally, attend the show with an open mind, plan to have fun and come home with new ideas for your home or the house you are planning to build.

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