April 15, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 33
Home Improvement & Gardening
Simple steps to stylish and affordable outdoor spaces
(ARA) When the sun is shining and the warm breezes are blowing, it is difficult to resist the call to relax outdoors. But if you have a blank canvas of grass or a cement slab, it doesn’t exactly call to mind visions of barbeques and family gatherings. Don’t stare longingly out the windows this summer when you can expand your living space to include the outdoors in just a few simple steps. Outdoor living spaces are the next best thing to adding square footage onto your home. Whether you are looking for a simple outdoor seating area or a larger space to entertain, there are a few things to pay attention to before you start. Keep the scale of your space in mind. If you have a large yard, small furniture will be dwarfed. Create a focal point, whether it’s your dining table, an outdoor fireplace or a water feature. Carry over your indoor style to your outdoor spaces to make them feel like an extension of your home. A stylish outdoor living space does not have to cost a fortune. Figure out what you will use the space for most and create a plan that covers the main elements of your outdoor space. Patio If you don’t have a deck or cement patio, it can be an expensive home improvement project. If you’re not ready for the work or the investment, try ready-made patio blocks that make it easy to have a sunny and stable outdoor space in minutes. You can recreate the look of expensive stone without breaking the budget. Seating Area Create your own outdoor cafe with a patio set. You can find sets in every style from simple to ornate and in materials from weather-resistant and easy-to-maintain resin to substantial cast iron. A bistro set is an affordable way to add outdoor seating no matter what size your space is. Add an umbrella for extra style and to shade out the sun. If you’ve got room, add several cozy chairs with outdoor cushions to create a seating area separate from the dining space. Lighting Candles or white string lights are often all you need to create a festive or intimate mood on a warm summer night. But for walkways and paths, make sure to keep it safe with low-voltage or solar lighting. Lights powered by the sun are not only earth friendly, they make it easy to illuminate spaces that don’t easily accommodate hard wiring. You can light up a children’s play area with whimsical glowing flowers or add polish to your front sidewalk with classic lanterns. Outdoor Cooking Making your space into an outdoor kitchen is as easy as adding a grill. Whether charcoal or gas, cooking outdoors during the summer is a great way to entertain but also keeps your house cool because you won’t have to use the oven. Wildlife Don’t forget to make space for your feathered friends. Birdhouses and bird feeders are a wonderful way to welcome nature into your outdoor space and bird watching can quickly become a favorite family pastime. Remember to keep your bird feeder filled with seed once you place it out. Birds recognize familiar food sources and come to rely on them.
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