9 Pools That Will Make You Wish Every Week Were Shark Week

Bust out your swim fins and sunblock. It’s time to take a dip.

We’re all bummed that Michael Phelps didn’t race a real shark. Instead of heading to the beach, we’ll console ourselves during the non-viewing hours of Shark Week by splashing around somewhere we know it’s safe to go in the water: a cool and refreshing backyard pool.

Check out these nine gorgeous swimming pools — any of which would be perfect for reenacting your favorite scenes from “Jaws,” “Deep Blue Sea,” or even “Sharknado.”

This San Juan Capistrano, CA pool, complete with diving board and slide, appears as though it were naturally formed into the stone.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Sleek and modern with clean lines, this pool looks like the perfect place for a romantic midnight swim.

Photo courtesy of Sprecht Architects.

The high temperatures of Palm Springs, CA are no match for this ultra-stylish pool with a water feature and views of the mountains.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Surrounded by beautiful stonework, this pool in Malibu, CA has more than enough room to host friends and family for a summer pool party.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Seamlessly blending into its tropical surroundings, this infinity pool in Longboat Key, FL offers a luxurious place to relax at the end of a long day.

Photo from Zillow listing.

In Kiawah Island, SC, the natural surroundings create a lush background for doing a few laps on those hot summer days.

Photo from Zillow listing.

This Santa Rosa Beach, FL pool boasts its own built-in hot tub for ultimate relaxation.

Photo from Zillow listing.

What could be better than your own lagoon complete with slide and waterfall? This pool in Vero Beach, FL has it all.

Photo from Zillow listing.

With a classic shape and design, this Seattle, WA pool provides plenty of space to soak in the summer sun.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Posted by Jamie Birdwell Branson on Zillow

Homes Under $200K With Great Curb Appeal

Stylish, affordable, and well-kept. These homes may tempt you to write a down-payment check before even stepping inside!

Whether you seek a craftsman home or your taste is more contemporary, these homes have the style you want at a price you’ll love.

Curb appeal might not be at the tiptop of your home-buying wish list, but maybe it should be. Attractive landscaping and a welcoming exterior can draw in buyers like you — but also increase your resale value when you’re ready to move on. The good news is that great curb appeal is available at every price point. We’ve found homes for sale under $200K across the country, from Pittsburgh, PA, to Sahuarita, AZ. And they all have plenty of presence at an affordable price.

Cute and vintage: $142,900, 2715 N. 68th St., Milwaukee, WI 53210

Boutiques, eclectic coffee shops, restaurants, and yoga studios occupy West North Avenue, a short walk from this adorable ranch home. The sweet two-bedroom, one-bathroom home has a gorgeous front yard. Visitors will be drawn in by the manicured boxwoods that line the sidewalk, archway, and climbing vine. Inside, hardwood floors, French doors, and crown molding add to the home’s cottagelike feel. But the most notable feature is in the backyard. There, you’ll find a private, fenced lawn with a patio that’s made for spring entertaining.

Desert beauty: $163,900, 116 W. Camino Rancho Vecino, Sahuarita, AZ 85629

Sahuarita has it all: great restaurants, an easy commute to Tucson, AZ, mountain views, and tons of golf courses. This home adds to the town’s charm. A stucco exterior complements the desert landscaping. The low-maintenance front yard adds a bit of Zen, with a few pops of color from flowering plants. No mowing needed! The neutral color scheme continues inside, making the 1,780-square-foot floor plan feel bigger. The three-bedroom home includes a large master suite and new appliances in the laundry room.

Peaceful and parklike: $174,900, 142 Jacks Run Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15214

It’s only a short drive from I-279, which brings you right to the center of Pittsburgh. But this charming three-bedroom brick home feels as if it’s tucked in the woods. The home has a tidy landscape on a parklike lot that exudes country comfort, and it’s close to five gorgeous parks. But don’t overlook the home’s remodeled interior, with crown molding and a designer-inspired paint scheme. The neighborhood offers public transportation within walking distance and easy access to Pittsburgh’s hospitals, shopping, and schools.

Big style, small price: $191,345, 1910 Macondray Drive, Humble, TX 77396

It may have a modest name, but Humble has a lot going on. There’s plenty of shopping and restaurants, and it’s close to Houston, TX, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. In the peaceful Woodland Pines subdivision, this four-bedroom home’s contemporary exterior and landscaped front lawn make a great first impression. The neat grounds underscore the home’s well-cared-for appeal, and with plants in pots and in the shade, there’s no intimidation factor. The backyard offers plenty of recreation space, with a large covered patio. And the neighborhood pool and playground are steps away.

Desert deluxe: $199,000, 138 E. Juniper St., Mesa, AZ 85201

This upgraded home in Arizona’s third-largest city is big on personality. But it’s not just the fabulous palm tree in the front yard that will pull you in. Low-maintenance landscaping, lined with river rocks, makes a charming (and easy-to-care-for) front yard. And the home’s color scheme, drawing inspiration from its desert surroundings, sets off those always-sunny skies. Interior updates include fresh paint, new kitchen countertops and appliances, and new flooring. Mesa’s relaxed, suburban feel pairs well with its year-round festivals, plentiful parks and green space, and thriving cultural district. This three-bedroom home puts you right in the middle of it all.

Southern stunner: $199,900, 3608 High Battery Bluff NW, Acworth, GA 30101

Filled with historic buildings and surrounded by gorgeous natural features, Acworth is the kind of town where visitors flock for weekends. Walking trails, Lake Allatoona, and Lake Acworth are close by. This home in the town’s quaint Charleston Park neighborhood lets you take full advantage. The craftsman-style home’s front door — complete with transom window — hints at the charm and comfort within. A welcoming front porch and colorful landscaping beckon from the sidewalk, and the home’s color scheme is a soothing backdrop to all that greenery. The interior boasts a spacious living room, three bedrooms, and three bathrooms.

Blond brick charmer: $200,000, 11422 Sky Way St., Cypress, TX 77429

Right in the middle of suburban Cypress, this four-bedroom home sits on a quiet cul-de-sac. The two-story home has fresh exterior paint, a new front door, and a large, flat lot with refreshing shade trees. With blond brick, a fresh coat of paint, and well-manicured shrubs, this charmer is ready for buyers. Thoughtful updates continue inside, with a granite backsplash, a huge master suite, new flooring, and new appliances. Best of all, the restaurants, nightlife, and shopping on Jones Road are nearby.

Posted by Brie Dyas on Trulia

 

7 Homes That Bring The Curb Appeal

These homes with outstanding curb appeal could be yours — or they can inspire your next landscaping project.

You won’t need a second chance to make a first impression when you live in one of these homes for sale on Trulia.

Everyone hopes for love at first sight — though your first-look jaw dropper may come in the form of an early-1900s Colonial home in Richmond, VA. From a home’s landscaping to its color palette, even the smallest details can help set the look and feel of the rest of the home. You get only one chance to win the curb appeal game, and these picks from Trulia with stunning front yards are really bringing the heat.

Pomp and circumstance: $398,500, 701 Sugar Mill Road, Greer, SC 29650

The wide, brick stoop of this imposing Georgian-style beauty beckons, with lovely details like dormer windows and mature, tailored landscaping. The four-bedroom brick home’s charm isn’t limited to the front: A two-story back deck and screened-in porch overlook a parklike backyard.

Charmer in Chattanooga: $605,000, 704 Westwood Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37405

Flowers and greenery adorn the curb of this four-bedroom Chattanooga, TN, home, set back from the street. An inviting porch leads into a spacious great room that offers high ceilings and a spiral staircase. Rooms flow easily from living to dining spaces and into each impressive bed and bath — all the way out to the screened-in porch off the master suite.

California casual: $975,000, 4462 Pleasant Valley Court S, Oakland, CA 94611

A cozy front porch or a spacious back deck? It’s hard to choose where to spend your time in this 1916 craftsman-style home. A flowering vine creeps up the side of this three-bedroom, two-bath storybook-sweet home, while the large picture windows provide an inviting glow in the updated kitchen, modernized with white granite and stainless steel appliances.

Solar-powered in Phoenix: $999,900, 13208 S. 34th Way, Phoenix, AZ 85044

The stark desert landscape surrounding this Santa Fe, NM–style home fades into the background, letting the home really shine. The imposing adobe home, with solar power and more than 5,000 square feet, also includes a pool and Jacuzzi. Inside, an industrial-grade kitchen and high ceilings add to this six-bedroom home’s charm.

Old World meets New: $1,089,000, 501 NW A St., Bentonville, AR 72712 

Enjoy vintage charm and modern amenities in this Arkansas home. The 1891 Victorian design is still intact, with original stained glass, a detailed porch railing, and crown molding — but upgrades like commercial-grade appliances and custom built-ins make it feel as though you’re living in this century. Outdoor entertaining is a breeze with an old-school tree swing out front, plus a spacious yard and detached guesthouse — complete with a second kitchen. Toss in the updated bathrooms, refinished original wood floors, and a wood-burning fireplace, and just like that, you’ve found yourself a dream home.

Texas modern: $1,249,000, 6527 Anita St., Dallas, TX 75214

A unique twist on the traditional Texan landscape, a spacious rock bed holds a planter of succulents, making it the front-yard focal point of this custom home. The home blends a cottage feel with a modern aesthetic, with quirky light fixtures and finishes and an open floor plan in 4,216 square feet. Drop your clutter from the day in the home’s mudroom and relax on the fenced-in back patio, complete with a fireplace and grill (it’s even wired for a TV and sound). The fresh hardwoods glow from the natural light beaming into each room. Custom built-ins — from the closets and hallway shelving to the kitchen cabinets — give each room a unique and functional piece.

Miami vibes: $1,500,000, 555 NE 57th St., Miami, FL 33137

Miniature shrubs line the walkway of this bright and beachy Miami, FL, home. Let the palm trees greet you along with the roof’s Spanish tile and bright orange stucco, which all give the house a fresh, Floridian feel. The 3,500-square-foot smart home has a completely renovated interior, including high-end appliances in the kitchen and bath — even a steam room in the master suite! If four bedrooms aren’t enough, there’s also a guest cottage, just past the gated driveway and adjacent to the pool and grilling patio.

Posted by Catherine Currin on Trulia

 

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

It’s Not Too Late to Grow These 11 Tasty Plants

It may be mid-July, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on all the gardening fun. These tasty veggies and herbs are just the thing for a late-summer garden that will keep on giving come autumn. Get our best tips for these late-summer specialties, below.

Beans

DK – How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

 

 

9 Porch Makeovers For Less Than $1,000

Fresh paint, a stylish new door, and welcoming seating can all help make your porch a more inviting place.

Save the big cash for major projects. Update your porch — and curb appeal — with these inexpensive tips.

When you’re hoping to add curb appeal to your home, look no further than the part that’s closest to the curb: your porch. A porch makeover can help you make a great first impression on visitors, and it provides you with a pleasant place to spend some time, whether you’re living in Nashville, TN, or San Diego, CA. Here are a few ways you can update your porch’s look without spending more than $1,000.

Determine priorities

Before you start any porch upgrade, walk across the street to get a feel for how your home looks from afar. “Decide if the shrubs, furnishings, shutters, door numbers are proportional and in good condition,” says Kim Trouten, a Charlotte, NC–based real estate agent and interior designer. You might find that your porch has lost its luster, or that the landscape bed beside it is too shallow, or your columns are too narrow. It’s a good starting point.

Clean up

There’s rain, heat, and possibly snow, plus foot traffic and other wear and tear — your porch can look dull over time, and a simple cleaning can help. “Paint and power wash go a long way,” Trouten says. Use an outdoor bleach solution that’s available at a home improvement store. It attaches to your hose and works fast. After you clean, you can better evaluate what needs painting and updating. Here’s a tip when painting outdoor columns and shutters: Avoid semigloss paint that reflects sunlight, Trouten says, and opt for satin for trim.

Update your entrance

Perhaps nothing can make a front porch pop more than a freshly painted door. “Doors are where you should let your personality shine,” Trouten says. Keep in mind that paint shows up more intensely outside than on the swatch. Light colors, for example, tend to wash out and appear pale. “Get samples and try them,” she suggests. “Once you find one you like, live with it for a week before making a decision. The shock of a new color on a door can take time to adjust to, but with the right accessories, can be a fabulous statement.”

Replace your door

If paint’s not the problem (your door maybe just has no style), buy a new one. If you don’t need a custom size, you can usually get one for under $1,000 with installation. “It can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your house,” Trouten says. She suggests a three-quarter glass or transom style for the most up-to-date look (half-glass can look too traditional). If you have a storm door, evaluate how well it’s working and whether it adds to or detracts from the style of your home.

Mind the little things

Add appeal with hardware. “Unique and substantial door handles, door knockers, vintage mailboxes, doorbells — they all add new interest,” Trouten says. Just be sure to look for quality solid metal, nothing too kitschy. “An old 1940s screen door can look wonderful, but a 1970s one? Not so much,” she says. Make certain the house numbers on your porch can be clearly seen from the street.

Add seating

A welcoming sitting area or porch swing can add warmth. Be advised, though, that a porch swing needs plenty of space. No room? Pair a couple of small chairs with bright seasonal throw pillows that can be changed to add interest year-round. “These are all ways you can make your porch beautiful and functional,” Trouten says.

Increase style and substance

Using cedar or paintable wood to beef up columns can make a huge difference, especially on a newer “production house,” Trouten says. “Remove the manufactured shutters and have rustic painted cottage-style shutters added for a custom look,” she adds. Also, trim windows and add larger trim around your door; it will make your home feel more substantial. “Try adding a flagstone step or a stone veneer to your foundation front. This can also add style and substance,” she says.

Perfect the path

Guests will know whether they’re welcome and whether you take pride in your home based on their walk to the front porch. For starters, ensure your pathway is wide enough. If it seems too narrow, line it with bricks or pavers on each side to give it a bit of character. “[The path to your porch] should have a gentle curve to the house, an introduction,” Trouten says. “Your walkway should be well-groomed, clean, and inviting to your porch, which is really an extension of your home.”

Minimize decor

Very few porches are large enough to hold lots of stuff. So you love roosters? It’s fine to show your personality, just don’t go overboard. If your porch is big enough to sit on, be sure you choose the right-size furniture. If your porch is small, add accents like a console table, rug, or bench. Make sure you choose complementary colors and use them carefully in throw pillows, large pots, and maybe one or two other accents like lanterns, Trouten says. It’s best to use less on your porch than you think. “The point is to make it inviting to sit on, not a display area for your favorite decorating ideas,” Trouten says. “If you keep it simple, it’s a fun spot to create a little peek into your home and life.”

Posted by Virginia Brown on Trulia

Think Outside the Box: Exterior Considerations When House Hunting

Most home buyers focus on what’s on the inside of a house, but neglecting the outside could cost you.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision while house hunting. When you fall hard and fast for a house, you may be willing to do just about anything to make it your own. But even if you’ve found what seems to be your dream home, take a closer look outside before you make an offer. Any home you consider calling yours should go through a thorough exterior inspection.

Read on to learn what outdoor considerations you should keep in mind while home shopping.

Trees and foliage

Susan Krus of Texas Realty One suggests evaluating trees and foliage first. How close are trees to the foundation of the home? When trees get too big, they can cause foundation problems. And if a mature tree is removed, the foundation can drop when the roots decay.

“It may be worth calling in a foundation expert during the inspection period,” Krus says. If you’re unsure of whether or not the trees are healthy, get a professional arborist to evaluate them.

It’s also not uncommon for mature trees’ limbs to extend over a house. If this is the case with your potential property, check to see if the roof shingles are damaged. Squirrels, possums, and rodents love to use branches to access homes. “They can find a small opening in the soffit or fascia and set up residency in your attic,” says Krus.

It may also be worth asking the seller to prune foliage away from the house. If your potential home has bushes in direct contact with the house, you may have termites or carpenter ants hiding. Krus advises getting a termite or wood-destroying insect (WDI) inspection and treatment as well.

Foundation

Cracked concrete may seem minor, but “cracks allow moisture penetration and deterioration of the concrete, especially in areas that [freeze in winter],” Krus warns. “I would have a contractor estimate the cost of repair, and consider that in your negotiation.”

In areas that are subject to foundation issues, Krus suggests potential buyers consider the soil grade against the house. “Make sure that the foundation is exposed by about two inches and that there is a slope away from house, so that water doesn’t pool against the foundation,” she says.

Pool

Krus offers the following must-ask questions if the home you’re interested in has a pool:

  • What is the age of the liner or gunite?
  • Has it been resurfaced?
  • What is the age of the equipment?

She recommends having a proper inspection done by a pool company.

Find an issue?

Just because you may have discovered an issue or two with the exterior grounds of your potential house doesn’t mean your dream home is gone forever.

Once inspection reports are completed, make a list of the issues found in your landscape inspection and request that the sellers complete the repairs, or offer compensation to have them done after purchasing the property.

Or pass with flying colors?

Even if your landscaping inspection report shows zero issues, keep in mind future maintenance care for the exterior of your home.

  • Keep foliage pruned, and monitor insects around bushes that come in direct contact with the house.
  • Confirm that you know the exact kind of grass you have, and water accordingly.
  • Regularly check your landscaping irrigation systems and watering timers.
  • Regularly evaluate your landscaping lighting.

Remember, too, that regional considerations vary. If you live in dry, desert areas, considering potential wildfire hazards is a must.

Curb appeal goes beyond a pretty mailbox

Curb appeal isn’t just about updated flower boxes and shutters. Sure, the yard may have a picturesque tree and tire swing fit for a postcard, but what you see isn’t always what you get. Don’t skip out on having expert inspectors assess the exterior areas of your potential home. And if you find something, know that there’s usually a way to negotiate the fixes.

Posted by Sarah Pike on Zillow