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

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

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

15 Ways to Upgrade Your Outdoor Decor for $30 or Less

Outdoor decorating season is finally upon us! To celebrate, we’re sharing our favorite finds that won’t break the bank.

Now that winter is finally behind us — well, hopefully — and the sun is starting to shine again, I’m beyond ready to start spending some quality time outside. Summer is coming, after all. But instead of just plopping a towel down on the grass, I’ve decided to take my outdoor decor up a notch.

A few eye-catching accessories can instantly take your backyard, patio or balcony from drab to fab. And the best part? You don’t have to spend a ton of money to upgrade your space. Check out the affordable outdoor decor below, and get ready for the most stylish spring and summer of your life.

1: Geometric Rug

$24; kohls.com

2: Batik Pillow

$19.99; target.com

3: Colorful Lanterns

$19.95-$29.95; cb2.com

4: Patterned Seat Cushion

$12.99; hm.com

5: Pineapple Garden Flag

$12.95; jossandmain.com

6: Terra Cotta Bird Feeder

7: Hanging Pot Holder

8: Mason Jar String Lights

$24.99; worldmarket.com

9: White Drink Pitcher

$29.99; TJ Maxx Stores

10: Floral Outdoor Pillow

11: Triangle Vases

$20-$26; jaysonhome.com

12: Lace-Inspired Lantern

$15.96; pier1.com

13: Cursive Welcome Mat

$28.99; allmodern.com

14: Moon Garden Stake

15: Mini Blue Grill

$19.99; Marshalls Stores
Posted by Bridget Mallon on hgtv.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

 

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

Move over, man caves. The catio has arrived.

Jennifer Hillman with Little Lord Founterloy in the background

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.

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.

Scout and Margo (photo courtesy of Jean White)

Posted by Melissa Alisson on Zillow