Drool-Worthy Backyard Ideas for Your Summer Inspiration

We're just about one month into summer. The weather is warmer and the sun stays out longer. It's the perfect season to enjoy spending ample time outside. So why not make your backyard a dreamy retreat? Here's some of our favorite ideas to help get you started:

1. Sun Shades

Also referred to as sail shades, these giant pieces of fabric are a great, easy way to create a backyard cover without a lot of time or investment. Swedish retail giant Ikea currently has some for $24.99!

You can even enhance the space with some ambiance lighting for longer nights or a mister to keep you cool on those extra hot August days.

2. Patio Furniture

Summer is the time to invest in new patio furniture. From conversation seating, to dining tables, to bistro-style furniture - the options are varied and the styles are practically endless. You can buy furniture as individual pieces, or buy a whole matching set. (Just make sure you also invest in some furniture covers, or have extra storage, to keep them out of the elements in the Fall and Winter.) You can also wait until the end of the season to get some great clearance deals on patio furniture for next year. 

3. Privacy Walls

If you want to hang out on your front porch, but don't want your neighbors to be able to watch you, it might be worth investing in (or DIY building) a privacy wall. The Garden Glove has lots of great DIYs to keep your outdoor living area secluded, as does The Home Depot Blog. These ideas can be transfered to the backyard as well, to create separate areas within the space, or even to hide eye-sores like your HVAC unit.

4. Stone Paver and Pebble Pathways

We've seen this patio trend popping up all over the place! When laying out your pavers to make that path from one area to another, lay them a little further apart than you would think, and fill the gaps in with small pebbles. There are all sorts of beautiful variations on this theme (like using glow-in-the-dark spray on the pebbles). Just scroll through Pinterest. To get you started, check out these helpful DIY tips from The Home Depot.

5. Fire Pits

Fire pits are a classic way to add furniture and activities to your back yard. They offer a communal area to gather and enjoy those long, gorgeous summer nights with friends and family. Fire pits can be in-ground or above ground, DIY-ed or purchased off the shelf, and come in just about any style you can imagine. Just look at these gorgeous modern fire pits in Relocated Living's roundup. Or you can scroll through Wayfair and look at hundreds of different styles.

6. Outdoor Lighting

Adding lighting to your backyard is a great way to extend its use year-round, but especially in the summer. Christmas Lights, etc. has this great tutorial for planning your patio lights. You can incorporate lights in many different ways, such as these paver lights that fit right in with the rest of your pavers.

7. A Pallet Bar

Pallets are being turned into all kinds of furniture and decor. Turning a few pallets into a bar space is a great way to start an outdoor kitchen in a small space. Plus, stick a mini fridge out there, and you don't have to keep running back inside to refresh your guests drink every half hour. You can build your own with pallets, or buy one that suits your style straight from Wayfair.

8. Giant Games

Besides lounging on your new patio furniture, or roasting marshmallows over your new fire pit, you have to have activities ready so when friends come over for a summer BBQ, they won't forget that you've got the coolest backyard in town. Giant games are growing more and more popular. This is another one that can be DIY-ed or purchased. Little House of Four has a great collection of DIY games, or you can get them already made from places like Home Depot.


What are you doing with your backyard this summer. We want to hear your ideas!


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9 Ways to Amp Up Your Bathroom

Take your bathroom to the next level with these great ideas:

1. Shower Faucets

Arguably one of the most important features of the bathroom, the shower faucet(s) plays a big role in your day-to-day life, whether you realize it or not. 

As evidenced in the photo above, multiple shower heads, facing multiple directions, is become more and more popular, bringing that luxurious hotel spa feeling home with you. If you're not ready to go full on with your shower heads, a great way to slowly work your way there is switching your shower head out for a rainfall one.

This is the Delta Metal Raincan Shower Head (shown in their signature stainless finish), available at The Home Depot for $304.90. It's considered a low-flow shower head, saving you up to 60% the water usage of a non-low-flow shower head. Just because it's low-flow doesn't mean you should worry about the water pressure - capable of up to 80 psi, you're still getting enough pressure to make sure your shampoo actually rinses out and doesn't take forever to do so.

Delta also offers the HydroRain® 5-Setting Two-in-One Shower Head as well as the H2Okinetic® Pendant Raincan Shower Head, two more rainfall-style shower heads to help you relax and rejuvinate. 

 

2. Multiple Tiles

Tile is a staple in the bathroom, especially in the shower itself. But tile can get boring. So why not change things up a bit by throwing in a second (or even third) kind of tile. Just look at this gorgeous update featured on Decoholic.

There are infinitely more things to love about this bathroom than just the tile, but it is a great example of using multiple kinds of tile in one space and have it really work. Using tiles that are all in the same color palette (black and white) and in geometric styles is what makes these tiles fit so well together.

 

3. Recessed Caddies

Recessed caddies are the perfect way to create in-shower storage space and not actually take away any of your valuable shower space. They are also a great way to incorporate multiple tiles (per suggestion #2).

This one, featured on the Better Homes & Gardens website, is a great example of using multiple kinds of tile and complementary colors to really make the space pop. For more great recessed caddy inspiration, check out our Pinterest board. The best part? They aren't limited to the shower - you can put them anywhere.

 

4. A Clean Toilet

This is the American Standard Clean ActiVate Touchless Flush Right Height Elongated Toilet, a part of the Clean Collection that features easy-to-clean sides, unlike normal toilets that show you outlines of the piping.

(image source)

(image source)

We've talked about some of the benefits of this particular toilet before, but we didn't even cover how great the "Clean" style is. Look at the sides of the toilet - no outlines of pipes, making it infinitely easier to clean! Plus, this model has a motion-activated flush, so you don't have to worry about spreading germs.

 

5. Clever Storage

Smart use of space when it comes to bathroom storage is what keeps your bathroom looking in tip-top shape rather than cluttered and ignored. Consider creative cabinetry your new best friend. 

These pull outs are both excellent ideas, and a quick search of "bathroom storage solutions" on Pinterest yields endless more. Stop neglecting your bathroom's organizational needs and start enjoying your space again.

 

6. Lighting Through Windows

Properly lighting your bathroom is vital for ensuring ease of use at any time of day. No one wants to do their hair and makeup in the dark. One great way to get that extra lighting is with windows, and not just any windows - skylight windows in the shower. 

Placing the windows in the ceiling is a great way to get the light you want while still keeping the privacy important to a bathroom. You can opt for obscured glass for extra privacy without losing any great natural light.

 

7. Heated Flooring

Something I've long thought of as the ultimate in bathroom luxury, heating flooring is more affordable and accessible than ever before. Installing electric radiant heated flooring does require a bit more forethought, as is doesn't work as well with some kinds of flooring as others. It works best with tile flooring, and less great with coverings like hardwood and carpet. Just think about how wonderful it will feel to step out of a hot shower on a cold winter's day onto heated flooring. Mmmmm. Yes, please.

 

8. The Curb-less Shower

Besides being a fantastic idea for anyone who plans to age-in-place, curb-less showers offer a lot of great benefits, not to mention the their design aesthetics.

Curb-less showers are super easy to clean, and they actually make your bathroom space look larger because, by eliminating the curb, the shower becomes less of a fixture placed into the space and more a bonafide part of the space. And surprisingly, curb-less showers keep water from going everywhere more than a standard shower or tub/shower because the floor underneath the curb-less shower gets sloped toward the drain to prevent water spillage and run-off. Plus, they're just so darn visually appealing - just look at all these beautiful designs!

 

9. Statement WallS

I'm a fan of the statement wall no matter the room (of course, you wouldn't want one in every room), so when I saw that statement walls in bathrooms were starting to become popular, I latched on right away!

You can put it in the shower with some gorgeous tile or behind the toilet with some fabulous wallpaper, and the best part is, they look fantastic in bathrooms big and small. Whether you are using wallpaper or tile, or even a dramatic paint color, you can't go wrong with a statement wall. Or, you could really get ahead of the curve and go for a statement floor.

 

The average person will spend over 2 years of their life in the bathroom, so why not make it an enjoyable two years? For more bathroom inspiration, click here.


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Thriving in Place: A How-To

Aging is become more and more of a concern for the population as baby boomers continue to retire in masses. A topic quickly gaining in popularity for home renovations is making a home safe for "aging in place." Beyond just aging in place, we want you to be able to thrive in place. Your home is just that, your home, and you probably want it to stay that way. Here are our remodeling tips to help you thrive in place. We call them the 7 R's:

1. Re-view the Laundry

If you're washer and dryer are front load, (as most are these days), you'll definitely want to put in a stand (approximately 6" tall) to raise them up and limit back pain from constantly bending over while doing laundry. Another thing to consider is the location of your laundry - the less stairs the better, and so much better if you can move it straight into the master closet.

2. Remove the Bathtub

The bathtub definitely presents an issue when it comes to stepping over the side. Remove the bathtub in favor of a low-profile shower. (We work with a great company called Onyx to install low-profile and ADA compliant shower stalls. Onyx makes a great in-shower seat, too.) Or, if you can't bear to part with your tub, get a walk-in bathtub.

3. Raise the Bar

The grab bar, that is. Install at least one grab bar in your shower and consider adding one next to your toilet as well. We recommend this one from Moen; it comes in three sizes.

4. Ramp It Up

Remove front entry and backyard stairs in lieu of wheelchair-accessible ramps. Add rails for extra safety.

5. Re-think the little things

Door handles and faucets should all be changed to lever-styles to make them easier for your hands to grab and maneuver. Change cabinet knobs to bars that won't get clothing caught on them, like these Delta ones.

6. Radiate light

Bring in all the exterior light you can get by making windows taller where possible, adding new exterior doors with glass panes inside, and adding recessed canned lights to the ceiling anywhere that needs more light for safety (like over the staircase or in the kitchen).

7. Rid the trips

Smooth, potentially slippery surfaces are just trips waiting to happen. Save yourself the trouble and install grip tape in places that could become a hazard such as the steps of a staircase or the tiled entryway. 

 

Whether you plan to stay in your home as long as you can, or you are looking to downsize, we hope that our 7 R's help you thrive in place.


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In Appreciation of Edison Bulbs

If you've ever stepped inside our Newberg office, you would know immediately that we here at Square Deal love Edison bulbs. They're in the front office area, in the conference room, in the back office area, and in the kitchenette. We have 26 Edison bulbs in total!

Just a few of the lighting features around the office.

Just a few of the lighting features around the office.

Edison bulbs are considered "vintage," but obviously these light bulbs were made much more recently and designed to look older. In the 1980s, a guy by the name of Bob Rosenzweig started reproducing the bulbs, and they've steadily increased in popularity ever since.

Lighting fixtures around our front desk area.

Lighting fixtures around our front desk area.

The modern reproductions of the classic bulbs are significantly more energy efficient, and Swedish furniture & decor superstore Ikea even offers several different LED versions, a design they call Lunnom.

You can do a lot with the bulbs, such as something more sturdy and fixed like our pipes, or hanging via chord from the ceiling, putting them in a table lamp with a shade or glass, filing a chandelier with them, putting them in a wall sconce, hanging them in a pendant fixture - the possibilities are pretty much endless.

The bulbs lend well to many different decor styles, from modern to rustic to farmhouse to boho to craftsmen to eclectic to industrial, and can be purchased anywhere normal light bulbs can be found. You can even get a 6-pack of them from Amazon for less that $25.

For more Edison bulb inspiration, check out our Pinterest board.

We want to know what you think! Tell us your thoughts on Edison bulbs in the comments below!