8 Delectable Backyards Designed for Outdoor Dining and Entertaining

realtor.com

We’ve spoken at length about the joys of having a functional outdoor living space for your home. For those who enjoy entertaining, a backyard that accommodates guests for a dinner party is nonnegotiable.

Some backyards are ideal for hosting and toasting, but what features are mouthwatering must-haves for dining al fresco? Plenty of space, warm lighting, and a gorgeous view are all big assets for making a backyard a delicious destination. But the most important feature? A large table where guests can gather and enjoy each others’ company.

To savor these fleeting days of summer, we rounded up eight luxury backyards tailor-made to entertain dinner guests. The following assortment of properties offer the crème de la crème of outdoor dining—all slightly out of our price range, but inspirational nonetheless. We promise you’ll eat them right up.

319/322 North Atlantic Drive, Lantana, FL

Price: $19,900,000
Tasty tidbit: The Florida coast is full of luxe estates boasting beautiful backyards, but this one caught our eye because of the open outdoor kitchen and dining area, with a front-row seat for the sunsets. The massive 18,000-square-foot property is located on the decadent-sounding Hypoluxo Island.

This private estate on Hypoluxo Island gives you front-row seats for the sunset. l realtor.com

2460 Sage Canyon Rd, Saint Helena, CA

Price: $7,999,000
Tasty tidbit: This Napa Valley estate belongs to Pat Kuleto, one of the world’s most innovative restaurant designers. He’s had a hand in shaping more than 150 restaurants, so this backyard could possibly be the most ideal setting for hosting a dinner party.

If this estate meets the standards of the designer and restaurateur Pat Kuleto, you know it’s going to be great for entertaining. l realtor.com

421 Broome St Penthouse, New York, NY

Price: $65,000,000
Tasty tidbit: New York City and outdoor space don’t always go hand in hand, but this terrific terrace proves you can have it all. In total, the four-story penthouse in the heart of SoHo has 3,700 square feet of private exterior, along with skyline views that will (hopefully) justify that astronomical price tag.

A SoHo loft with a view of the NYC skyline l realtor.com

250 Enchanted Way, Sedona, AZ

Price: $12,500,000
Tasty tidbit: This 10-acre desert estate—called Vista Rossa—boasts jaw-dropping views of the Red Rock mountains. Built right next to the Coconino National Forest, it would be perfect for hosting guests year-round, thanks to Arizona’s arid climate.

Vista Rossa is cradled in the Red Rock mountains of Sedona. l realtor.com

8170 Laurel View Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90069

Price: $11,950,000
Tasty tidbit: This backyard is one of the most charming we spotted—thanks to the sheltering greenery and the twinkly string lights that form a whimsical canopy above the dining area. This home in the Hollywood hills is quite large, with a 7,000-square-foot interior and nearly half an acre of outdoor space. Props for the extra bench seating for less formal dinner affairs.

The ultimate private backyard dining experience in the c l realtor.com

403 Doyle Dr, Lafayette, LA

Price: $1,875,000
Tasty tidbit: This rustic, French-style outdoor living space gives off vibes of Provence, but it’s actually part of a (relatively) modestly priced Louisiana home. The rest of the house is beautiful, but the spacious dining area is clearly the star of this home.

A French Provençal-style garden lends itself well to owners who love to cook and entertain. l realtor.com

8415 SW Soper Road, Vashon, WA

Price: $14,995,000
Tasty tidbit: Situated on the largest island in Puget Sound, this seaside chateau is just a short ferry ride away from Seattle. Judging by the home’s close proximity to the water and its breathtaking views, it was clearly designed with outdoor entertaining in mind.

On Vashon Island, you can have a waterfront dining experience right in your own backyard. l realtor.com

1301 Bella Oaks Ln, Rutherford, CA 94558

Price: $6,950,000
Tasty tidbit: Imagine enjoying a superlative meal—with world-class wine—right in the middle of a vineyard. We wouldn’t expect anything less from a luxury home in Napa Valley! You can see the picturesque backyard dining area under the vine-covered pergola on the right in the photo below.

Could there be anything more “Napa Valley” than enjoying a meal surrounded by vineyards? l realtor.com

 

Posted by Natalie Way on realtor.com

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3 Outdoor Parties to Plan This Spring

Now that spring has officially sprung, and we’re busy looking ahead to the warmer days to come, it’s also time to start thinking about seasonal party plans. Spring is, in my opinion, the ultimate time of year for outdoor entertaining — it’s warm and sunny, but not so hot that your guests will be uncomfortable, and it’s cool enough at night to light up a fire or throw on a cozy sweatshirt.

And sure, simple barbecues and backyard gatherings are great, but when it comes to outdoor parties, getting a little creative can really pay off. So this year, throw a fete your friends and family will never forget with one of these fabulous (and simple!) ideas.

1. Homegrown Music Festival

iStock/wundervisuals

Instead of dropping hundreds of dollars and having to deal with hundreds (or thousands) of sweaty strangers, host your own low-key music festival. Create a Spotify playlist and invite your guests to add a few of their favorite tunes, that way you’ll have a personalized soundtrack to score the event. Set up a dedicated dance area in your yard’s sunniest spot to truly capture that festival feel (just make sure to stock up on sunscreen first).

2. Personalized Wine Tasting

iStock/courtneyk

Hitting up wineries is a popular spring activity, but actually finding a vineyard and getting your crew on the road can be an ordeal. So instead, have each of your guests commit to bringing a few of their favorite budget bottles, and let each person lead of tasting of their picks. Ask for the bottle names before if you can, that way you can prep a list of wines for each guest to take home.

3. Flower Crown Crafternoon

Kendall Peters

Fresh flowers are one of the best parts of spring, so why not get your best buddies together to craft flower crowns out of some beautiful blooms? Make sure to set up a selfie station too, because we all know flower crowns make the best Instagram bait.

 

Posted by Bridget Mallon on hgtv.com

 

6 Ways to Bump Up Your Barbecue Decor (Just in Time for Labor Day)

NelleG/iStock

No summer weekend (or fall or mild winter weekend for that matter) is complete without grilling a few awesome meals in the great outdoors. So why isn’t anyone ever enthusiastic about coming over to your place for some hot dogs, bean burgers, or even wagyu steaks? Could it be that your backyard barbecue decor is a little less than appetizing?

Well, look no further than these ideas to get the creative juices running. From hanging lights to a full-on bar cart, these simple tweaks will make your Labor Day or any old excuse for barbecuing all the more memorable.

Hang lights

Candles are fine, but unless you get an early start, you’ll be eating your grilled emu in near darkness. Instead, transform your backyard with better lighting, whether by spotlighting a few significant trees or adding solar-powered lanterns along the walkway. Lorena Canals, a home living expert in Hastings on Hudson, NY, likes Christmas lights for their price and ease of use.

“Just put in a few wooden posts if you don’t have a pergola to drape with them,” she suggests. Place the posts around the seating and grill area, and string twinkle lights in between. Or go old-school and hit up the hardware store for half a dozen Tiki torches. Insert them into the ground to light the way to your backyard, or arrange them to light up dark corners of your yard.

Photo by Native Son Design Studio

Add a prep place

There’s more to hosting a barbecue than tossing meat onto flames. Think dip mixing, salad tossing, and egg deviling. To this end, consider creating a flat surface that can be used for prepping side dishes and plating appetizers. It could be as simple as a couple of saw horses and a piece of plywood covered with a bright tapestry. Or invest in a built-in outdoor kitchen counter near the spot where you grill. Best of all: You won’t have to leave the party to do your prep work.

Photo by Olive Branch Integrated Outdoor Design

Define your backyard barbecue space with an outdoor rug. There are literally thousands of inexpensive options that are relatively easy to clean and maintain.

“Most backyard barbecue areas a have a cement, brick, or wood floor,” notes Canals. A rug adds instant warmth to cold flooring and makes your backyard look like an extension of your indoor style. A fire pit is another smart bonus outdoors.

“You can easily build your own with a DIY tutorial online or pick up one at your local home or garden center,” she says.

Or add a swing.

“A hanging chair or swing are two fun ways to inject a little energy into the party scene,” notes Jessica Sutton, lead curator with Dot & Bo. In particular, bold geometric patterns look great outside, like this black and white rug for $197.

This bold geometric pattern looks fabulous outside. Dot & Bo

Tap into the power of pallets

If you have a few extra wooden shipping pallets hanging around—or you know someone who does—you can get very creative, notes Canals.

“Pallets can be taken apart and made into the most perfect seating areas for your patio,” she says. Just toss on a few cushions—and you’re done. Or stand up two pallets and connect them with a slab of concrete to make a patio bar. Paint pallets in a coordinating color, install hooks on one side to hold bar towels, and then top it with a colorful set of melamine glasses on a tray.

Drinks are served! This DIY pallet bar can also double as a prep space. fabartdiy.com

Wheel in a bar cart

Your friends love you (really, they do!), but they aren’t coming to your backyard to watch you fiddle with marinated octopus on the grill. It’s all about the drinks—fresh mojitos, icy cold lemonade, rum punch, summer sangria, or plain ol’ beer. Add a bar cart or create an outdoor bar area off to the side, and stock it with an ice bucket, openers, and a serving tray, suggests Sutton. This bar cart from Dot & Bo is $272.

Synthetic rattan is easy to clean and makes this bar cart a winner. Dot & Bo

Arrange better seating

Your lawn chairs are most likely fine, but why not curate a look that’s way more inviting? Backyard barbecue furniture should have the same consideration as your indoor dinner parties. Think cozy and comfortable, and toss out a few outdoor cushions in bold colors and patterns that pop. Or take a cue from Sutton.

“One of my personal favorite arrangements is simple: Place an outdoor sofa facing two chairs to encourage conversation, and then add a side table in between the seating or use an ottoman,” she explains. A stool plays double duty, functioning as a table when topped with a tray or as additional seating when guests are over.

Photo by AZEK

Posted by Jennifer Kelly Geddes on realtor.com

6 Genius New Uses for an Old Swimming Pool

Before you rule out a home with an out-of-date pool, read these clever ideas for repurposing that old swimming pool.

Instead of going through the costly (and sometimes unsuccessful) process of bringing an old swimming pool up to date, why not turn it into an entirely new, seriously cool feature that sets your home apart?

Swimming pools have many virtues, especially during scorching summers. But they can easily become eyesores — not to mention money pits — especially if they leak or have other functional issues.

Instead of going through the costly (and sometimes unsuccessful) process of bringing an old swimming pool up to date, why not turn it into an entirely new, seriously cool feature that sets your home apart?

From a detached, lower-level studio space to a fully realized aquaponic farm, here are six smart ideas (some DIY projects and some that require a little professional help) to convert your old swimming pool into something useful, beautiful, or both!


1. The sunken patio

Though part of a rooftop lounge in Midtown Manhattan, this patio retrofitted within a rooftop pool by Future Green Studio holds a lesson for homeowners — work with the site rather than against it. The final dining area maintains the pool steps, depth indicators, handrails, and even a retooled version of the pool lights, telling the story of the space’s origins beautifully.

2. The practical deck

A simple but elegant solution for an unwanted pool? Drain it and build a deck over the top. Work with a landscape pro to design a deck that blends perfectly with the original pool’s shape and structure. Not only will it add valuable entertaining square footage to the backyard, but it’ll also boost your home’s value over time.

3. The detached studio

This gorgeous studio by Walk Interior Architecture & Design in its own right becomes even more awe-inspiring when you realize it’s housed in an old, neglected in-ground pool. The finished space feels at once industrial, modern, and airy, and the solar panel–topped A-frame roof is both functional (preventing water from seeping in) and beautiful. Such an inspired idea!

4. The peaceful pond

If you’re imagining spending lazy afternoons surrounded by nature instead of cleaning the pool, think about transforming your pool into a pond. It’s the perfect way to invite more wildlife into your yard, and it just makes sense. In the spirit of repurposing, you may even be able to get away with converting the original sand filter into a koi pond filter.

5. The water-wise garden

A Southern California couple converted their little-used pool into a rainwater harvesting system. Now in the pool’s place they have a stream, small waterfall, and some 100 plants, all fed with rain collected from the roof and stored in underground, recycled-plastic tanks. The resulting garden is luscious and inviting while making the most of the region’s scant rainfall.

6. The food-producing farm

And then there’s the family who built a food-producing greenhouse, known as the Garden Pool, in the pit of their former swimming pool. The finished ecosystem includes solar panels and a greenhouse, and produces everything from tilapia (through an aquaponics system) to fresh fruits and veggies to poultry.

While you might not be ready to go full-scale eco-farm, the project proves that an old pool site might be just the spot to pull off the herb-and-veggie garden of your dreams.

Posted by Jill Russell on Trulia

 

You Will Want to Spend Every Single Summer in This Floating Tiny House

Tiny house enthusiasts might be excited to find out that the popular movement is heading to the water: Think of this 960-square-foot floating tiny house in Seattle’s Portage Bay as the ultimate tiny summer home.

Boasting a Craftsman-style exterior, the home consists of a kitchen, foyer, dining area, fireplace and living room, while a plethora of windows help make the home feel spacious. An upstairs level contains two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Don’t feel like spending time indoors? Step outside onto the house’s wraparound deck, or the small outdoor seating area on the second level, for some sunbathing.

Take a look around:

See more photos on MSN.com

Posted by Rori Kotch

Get Out! 7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Outdoor Space

When your mom told you to turn off the TV and play outdoors already, she knew what she was talking about. Hanging outside is good for your mental and physical well-being.

Matelly/Getty Images

As adults, having an outdoor retreat adds an economic component: Upwards of 80% of homebuyers said patios and front porches are “essential” or “desirable,” according to the “What Buyers Really Want” survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

So how come when we move into our dream home, we hardly ever use our decks, porches, and patios?

An anthropological UCLA study, described in the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” blames our fascination with digital devices—tablets, computers, televisions, games—for keeping us cooped up. The UCLA research participants spent less than half an hour each week in their outdoor space. And these were Californians.

So this summer let’s make a pledge to pay more than lip service to outdoor living so we can be happier, create lasting memories, and generally take advantage of what home has to offer.

1.  Go overboard on comfy

Comfy outdoor space | Spaces Images/Getty Images

When you step into your outdoor space, your first sensation should be “ahhhh.” If you’re not feeling it, then your space is likely lacking the comfy factor. Comfy is easy to achieve and can be as low cost as you want. Start simple with a cushion or two or even a throw. Some other simple strategies:

  • Make sure your outdoor seating is as cushy as your indoor furniture. Today’s outdoor cushions aren’t the plastic-y, sweat-inducing pillows of the past. Plus, they can handle a downpour and spring back once they dry.
  • Lay down outdoor rugs so you’re just as comfortable barefoot as you are inside.
  • Give yourself some privacy. Create natural screens with shrubs, bushes, or even bamboo reeds. Or install prefab screens from your local home improvement store.

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2.  Create a broadband paradise

Enjoy watching TV outdoors | Robert Daly/Getty Images

Our devices and electronics have conspired to keep us on lock down. Since we’re not about to chuck our digital toys, boot up your outdoor space so you can keep texting, posting to Instagram, and watching cat videos.

  • Wireless outdoor Wi-Fi antennas provide an extra boost so you can stay connected.
  • A solar USB charging station keeps your gizmos powered.
  • Wireless speakers make it easy to bring your music outdoors, and mask a noisy neighborhood.
  • An all-weather outdoor TV lets you stay outside for the big game.

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3.  Blur the line between indoors and out

Inside? Outside? Both? | Astronaut Images/Getty Images

Creating a seamless transition between your home’s interior and exterior isn’t as simple or low cost as adding comfort, but it’s the most dramatic and effective way to enhance your enjoyment of the space. Plus, it can increase your home’s value.

  • The most straightforward, cost-effective solution: Replace a standard door opening with sliding or glass French doors.
  • Use the same weatherproof flooring, such as stone tile or scored concrete, outside as well as in the room leading to your backyard oasis.

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4.  Light the way

Outdoor lighting | Cultura/Frank and Helena/Getty Images

When the sun goes down, don’t be left groping for your wine glass. Outdoor lightingdresses up your home’s marketability and appeal (exterior lighting is buyers’ most wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB study), makes it safer, and lets you spend more time outside.

  • Use uplighting to highlight trees, architectural details, or other focal points.
  • Add sconces or pendant lights to make evening entertaining, grilling, and reading easier.
  • Illuminate walkways, rails, and steps with landscape solar lights.
  • Hang fairy or string lights to set an enchanting tone.

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5.  Make your mark

Outdoor oven | Dario Egidi/iStock

Let your style dominate your backyard space.

  • Create a path made with colored glass, brick, or other interesting found materials.
  • Craft a one-of-kind outdoor chandelier.
  • Build a pizza oven, custom seating, or other feature you crave.
  • Add personal décor that makes you happy.

In fact, make your outdoor retreat an ongoing project where you can hone your DIY skills.

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6.  Don’t give anyone an excuse to stay inside

Fire pit | Neil Podoll Photography/iStock

Your outdoor space will magnetically draw family and friends if it has features they find appealing.

  • A fire pit is a proven winner. Food and fire have brought humans together since the dawn of time.
  • Give wee ones the gift of magical thinking with an outdoor playhouse.
  • Add whimsy with a chalkboard fence that both kids and fun-loving adults will enjoy.
  • Add a doggie window in your fence to entertain Spot. Installing a dog run may even boost your home’s value. FYI: It’s been said that pets are one of the top reasons why people buy houses.

Related: Outdoor Projects You Can Do with the Kids

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7.  Rebuff the elements

Canopied outdoor area | dogayusufdokdok/iStock

Hot sun, rain, wind gusts, and bugs are the archenemy of good times. Here are tips and strategies to help you throw shade on Mother Nature:

  • Install an awning, canopy, or pergola. It’ll make it easier to read your Kindle or iPad and keep you dry during a summer shower. Look for products with polycarbonate panels, which block UV rays, too.
  • Rig glass fence windscreens to the keep your BBQ fires burning.
  • Screen in your porch or deck against bugs. But screening will be for naught if you forget the slats between wood planks. Cover the floor with outdoor carpet or staple screening to the underside of floorboards.

Related: Ideas for Living Privacy Screens

This story was written by Deirdre Sullivan and originally published on HouseLogic.

Deck Out Your Patio for Summer

Your outdoor space will be ready for a decadent staycation or lively entertaining with these budget-friendly tips.

Source: CB2

Published by Douglas Calhoun on Zillow Blog.

You’ve got your sunscreen out, your watermelon sliced, and your grill smoking. No matter if you’re on a balcony, patio or urban roof deck, outdoor entertaining is the best.

While you’re gathering supplies to enjoy a lemonade or ice cold brew with friends and neighbors, pick up a few decorative add-ons to enhance your outdoor space. Setting the mood for a party in the sun or under the stars is easy with these tips and treasures.

Classic bistro lights seal the deal

Twinkle no matter the occasion with these Edison string lights from CB2.

Hang a strand or two of Edison bulb string lights above your table or in the entry way to your patio. These classic string lights blend with almost any style of furnishings and work year-round.

Adding lights is a simple way to create ambiance — and since it isn’t permanent, it’s great for renters. They create a flattering light for your vainest of guests, and provide a gorgeous glow as the sun sets.

Snake eyes: decor and games are one and the same

Get rolling with these giant dice by Crate and Barrel.

These giant dice make for a cheeky center piece, and will inevitably add a lot of laughs — and possibly some competition — to your cookout.

Or for a no-cost decor-and-party-game combo, fold tons of paper planes in vibrant colors to populate the table. They’ll take flight later in the night, and guests of all ages can take aim at the horizon — or each other.

Bring the beach with hanging lanterns

Embrace the surf no matter how far away you are from the coast with these nautical Pottery Barn lanterns.

Hanging hurricane lanterns or these nautical lanterns modeled on vintage glass canning vessels creates a seaside vibe no matter where you’re celebrating. Candlelight is essential to your gathering, and hanging lanterns are perfect because they elevate the mood and won’t blow out.

Take a walk to easy seat

Pouf – they’re magic! Create instant seating with A&G Merch striped poufs.

Temporary seating is a must when entertaining outdoors. These red-stripped canvas poufs are ideal if you’ve got a smaller outdoor area.

A few of these placed in conversation clusters encourage a casual atmosphere while providing a comfy place to sip. Guests can scoot over easily to make room without having to handle clunky metal chairs or heavier seats. Poufs and large pillows are also easy to store away inside and bring out when you’ve got a party-crasher later on.

One-of-a-kind pillows, everywhere

Kick back with custom pillows by Society6 and the many talented artists on their roster.

When in doubt, just throw tons of pillows at your outdoor area. This abstract and summery design by a maker on Society6 is an affordable way to bedeck your deck with custom artworks.

A stack of five or six pillows on a canvas drop cloth or outdoor mat make for a coveted horizontal hang in the rays. No need for your patio to feel matchy-matchy — grab tons of different colors and styles of pillows and throws so folks can create their own plush arrangement.

Waste not, paper cutlery

Make it a Susty Party with paper-based tableware that is great for the environment.

Make big waves with small details in your plates and cutlery. You can stay stylish and eco-friendly with this delightful compostable pack of forks and knives.

No one wants to lug dishes and silverware outside and then back inside for the dishwasher. Have your guests toss these in the bin and recycle on your way downstairs tomorrow. An easier clean up and you can save the environment? Yes, please!

Chic and tiny table for two on the fire escape

The Manuela shelf table by Nimio – a miniature spacesaver that’s chic and simple.

From New York to Paris, this Euro-designed miniature wonder is exactly what we dreamed of. A table for two, perfect for sipping wine and people watching, or an opportunity to fly solo with coffee and a good book.

This attachable shelf is an ideal solution for morning meditation or evening imbibing on your balcony or fire escape. No matter how tight the quarters, you can create a cozy moment to share with friends.

A vertical garden: easier than you think

You don’t need a lot of space to get green with the Wally One from Woolly Pocket.

This modular garden container attaches easily to an interior or exterior wall in your home. Wally One is one of the smaller and streamlined versions. Start with one pocket and grow a vibrant plant or herb garden.

If your patio or deck is close to the kitchen, you can be the urban farmer you always envied, heading out to snag a pinch of basil or thyme. You can always order more pockets to expand your green thumb efforts all around your home.

Get more outdoor inspiration.