The dawn of cooler weather doesn’t mean you have to quit enjoying your outdoor space. Barring any snow, rain, or freezing temps, there are plenty of ways to spend some cozy quality time outside with family and friends. A great way to do that is by building an outdoor kitchen or entertainment area.
A partially-enclosed outdoor kitchen can be utilized almost any time of year. Plan your design to include a space for a grill and maybe even an oven and sink (if you’re adventurous) with plenty of counter space. Combine the area with room for a fireplace, fire pit, outdoor heaters, or chimineas to generate warmth. Radiant floor heating like the Schluter Ditra Heat System is also a fantastic way to keep your space toasty! Design your seating area around your heat source and include plenty of comfy cushions and throw blankets.
An overhead shelter like a covered arbor, awning, or porch extension is also ideal for protecting you and your guests from the elements. Make it even cozier with a lighting source like string lights or lanterns, and consider installing a TV for tailgate parties during football season. Top it all off with cold-resistant shrubs, plants, and perennials to help the space appear warmer and inviting.
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It’s almost that time again! In a few short weeks, the kids will be headed back to school. Is your home ready to handle the influx of backpacks, supplies, instruments, and sports equipment? When it comes to getting ready to go back to school, the name of the game is Organization:
1. Clean out and organize closets and drawers. No one likes to sift through piled up clothes and try to guess if they’re clean, dirty, or if they even fit anymore. Donate old clothes and shoes to charity, put up hooks for belts and hats, buy a shoe rack, and designate drawers for each type of clothing item. Getting dressed goes so much smoother when everything has its place and is easily accessible.
2. Clean out and organize the bathroom. Bathroom sharing can be quite a headache on school mornings. Disorganization, expired products, and empty bottles certainly don’t help. Categorize your products in drawers or on shelves. Maybe even have a basket for each member of the family’s personal toiletries. Invest in a good shower caddy or shelves. Bite the bullet and fold and put away towels and washcloths in their proper place so they’re ready for use.
3. Create a homework area or work station. Whether your child prefers to study quietly at a desk in their room or in the middle of the action at the kitchen table, having an organized workstation is essential for homework success. Along with a sturdy table or desk, have a set of shelves equipped with baskets or bins for organizing school supplies. Add a cork board with pushpins for important reminders. Don’t forget to have good lighting and a comfortable chair.
4. Create a breakfast/lunch/snack station. Grab-n-go foods are an integral part of the school year, especially if you’re preparing lunches at home. Set aside a section of your kitchen island or cabinets that has all your kids’ breakfast and snack foods easily accessible. Prepare lunches the night before and make space in the fridge for lunch boxes. Have a designated place close by where lunchboxes are stored.
5. Create a mudroom or drop zone. There’s nothing worse than cast-off backpacks and shoes all over the house. Whether you have a designated mudroom or simply an entryway, you can outfit it for back to school success with a few simple modifications. Hooks are essential for backpacks, bags, and jackets. If you have the room, add a combo shelf/bench/cubby unit for storing shoes, sports equipment, and instruments. If space is limited, try a console table with baskets underneath for storage. Also invest in a good rug to protect your floors from scratches and dirt.
Follow these tips to help keep chaos and stress at bay and make the school year smoother for everyone in your household.
Baby, it’s getting cold outside! Fall is settling in, and winter is on the way. Make sure you stay warm and toasty inside your home by focusing on three key elements: flooring, drafts, and thermostats.
Carpet is an obvious choice for warmer, insulated flooring, with hardwood, laminate, and vinyl all beating out tile in the warmth category. If carpet’s not your thing, here are a couple things you can do to warm up whatever you have underfoot.
Do you find yourself asking, “Where’s that breeze coming from?” Then, you probably need to check doors and windows for drafts. Make sure your insulation and weather stripping are intact. About a quarter of your home’s heat can be lost through the roof if not properly insulated. For drafty doors, look for something like this fleece draft guard to block the air flow. Curtains or window coverings are also good for keeping drafts out, but when open, they can let in sunlight which instantly warms up any room. Also make sure to reverse your ceiling fan direction to clockwise so that it pushes cold air up and warm air down.
Speaking of warming up, investing in a programmable thermostat allows you to be comfortable in your home and also save on your energy bill! Once you get that heat blowing, make sure vents and radiators are open and not obstructed by furniture or objects. Always make sure to change your furnace filters to keep your system running an optimum performance.
Check out this article for a suggested programmable thermostat schedule as well as other tips on keeping your home warm during the colder months.
Summer’s almost over, and fall is right around the corner. For many, fall is a favorite time of year. The cooler temperatures, falling leaves, and the smell of pumpkin spice just makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Often, these fall feelings carry over into our home décor.
This year a popular home décor trend is all about the use of textures and shapes, along with organic accents. You can accomplish this look using touches like wood accessories, furs, plants, tribal or animal art, and textured fabrics. Other great choices are chunky, oversized pillows and throws (think cable knit) and soft rugs in warm, organic colors like oranges, reds, and browns. Cork flooring is an excellent complement to this design. It’s neutral and earthy (and sustainable!) but also comes in many unique patterns and textures. Walking on cork is quite comfortable as well, lending a cozy feel to your home. Other excellent, earthy flooring choices are bamboo or exotic woods like acacia.
Bold on black is another popular style this fall, involving tasteful contrast. The look is easy to achieve, still keeping a neutral base with black, white, and golds or browns but throwing in some bold, dark aspects with pops of color. Make a statement with navy, violet, or berry colors for sofas, chairs, or accent pieces, and throw in a few black and white pillows with graphic text. Dark or black stained wood floors or even grays are perfect for this contrasting look. All together this look really compliments fall’s contrasting beauty.
Finally, whatever style you choose, make it your own. Create looks or vignettes of things you already have. Put your flea market finds and personal treasures on display so that your home tells the story of who you are. Mix up vintage and modern items for an eclectic, homey vibe.