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.

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(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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The Perks of Metal Roofing

We are currently building a new home out in Carlton and putting a standing seam metal roof on it. Here are some of the benefits of a metal roof:

  • Look - the metal roof is a classic look, lending itself to many different architectural styles. Plus, it comes in dozens of colors, styles, and patterns!
  • Durability - metal roofing won't rot, curl, split, flake, peel, break, burn, or blow off. It's also more resistant to hail, wind, fire, and freezing/thawing problems than composite and asphalt roofing materials. Not to mention it's so much lower in maintenance than those other materials and lasts much longer.
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  • Lightweight - most styles are less than one-third the weight of asphalt shingles.
  • Energy Efficient - metal roofs in general are more energy efficient than asphalt shingles, and you can upgrade to "cool metal roofing" that is even more efficient because of the pigments in it and the way they are designed to reflect sunlight and heat. This guide talks more about the importance of a 1-150 NFA balance in your attic.
  • Value - besides the fact that metal roofs last significantly longer than other roofing materials, they can also add resale value to your home, and, in some cases, even reduce the cost of your homeowners' insurance.
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You can learn more about our roofing services here. And in the meantime, you can follow along with the progress of the Carlton Quaker House on our Facebook page.

To Fiberglass or Not To Fiberglass

Everyone has a front door; do you know what yours is made of?

There are pros and cons to every material. Let's look at a few of the differences between wood and fiberglass.

Wood

Pros: real wood grain; looks high-end; easy to repair and refinish; a look and feel that’s almost impossible to truly mimic (think about the sound a wood door makes when you knock on it)

Cons: expensive; absorbs moisture; warping, twisting, bowing, peeling, & bubbling; not energy efficient; fades & requires regular maintenance

Other tips: Solid wood doors are by far the most safe of wood doors, but they can cost you upwards of $2,000. If you’re adamant about getting a real wood door, check out options from Pella or Simpson. Their doors are specially made to have a higher insulation value than the average wood door. They’re also fairly cost effective, depending on size/shape/etc. Apply a marine varnish every couple of years to aid in protecting the door from moisture.

Fiberglass

Pros: low-to-no maintenance; no dents, scratches, rotting, deterioration, rust, warping, bowing, or twisting; can have wood grain or smooth finish; very energy efficient (has up to five times the insulation value of wood); can be painted or stained; secure; long lasting; holds up better in extreme weather conditions

Cons: aesthetic; can crack under severe impact (but really, how often does this happen short of someone trying to shoulder your door in?)

Other tips: May or may not cost more upfront, but will definitely save you in the long run. You will still need to re-stain or re-paint the door.


OTHER DETAILS TO CONSIDER

Obviously, the most important details to consider are the size and shape of your door. Is your door a standard size? Standard heights are 6'8", 7', and 8'. Standard widths are 2'6", 3', and 3'6". Having a standard size door helps keep costs down; if your door is not a standard size, it will have to be specially made, which means a higher price tag.

There are a lot of different shapes of doors, but the three most common styles are square, round, and arched, with square being much more common than the others.

The next question to ask yourself after deciding size and shape is: Do I want a window in my door? If your answer is yes, you just created two more questions for yourself. First, you have to decide how much window you want. The options are 1/4-lite, 1/3-lite, 1/2-lite, 2/3-lite, 3/4-lite, full-lite, and a center arch. Check out these fiberglass Therma-Tru doors for reference:

                                                                                 You can learn more about each of these different Therma-Tru door styles here:  Opaque ,  1/4-Lite ,  1/3-Lite ,  1/2-Lite ,  2/3-Lite ,  3/4-Lite ,  Full-Lite , and  Center Arch .

                                                                                 You can learn more about each of these different Therma-Tru door styles here: Opaque, 1/4-Lite, 1/3-Lite, 1/2-Lite, 2/3-Lite, 3/4-Lite, Full-Lite, and Center Arch.

After you decide how much window you want, you have to figure out what kind of glass you want. Is it going to be clear? Decorative? Privacy? If you want decorative or privacy glass, you can choose from even more specfics. Plus, there are glass coatings like Lo-E to consider.

While we're on the subject of windows, let's talk about transoms and sidelites. A transom is a window that is horizontally-placed above the door, and a sidelite is a window placed vertically on either or both sides of a door. Check out these wood sidelite options from Rogue Valley Door:

You can learn more about this Rogue Valley Door  here  and sidelite  here .

You can learn more about this Rogue Valley Door here and sidelite here.

Doors also have lots of little details to consider. Do you want panels? If so, what style and how many? If you're going for a Craftsman look, you may want to consider adding a dentil shelf.

Think about the architectural style of your home. This may help narrow down the style of door you want.

Once you have the door itself figured out, it's time to move on the hardware, which is a another topic for another blog post.


Considering a wood door but wanting to know what it will look like before you buy? Check out Rogue Valley Door's Interactive Door program. You can upload a picture of your front entry way and then play around with different styles to figure out what you like best.

For those interested in fiberglass doors, Therma-Tru has an app called DoorWays you can use to see what your front door could look like. Once you sign in, go to “Create a New Project,” give it a name, select size and configuration, and then the fun stuff begins. You can upload a photo or take one from there in the app.

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Browse by glass style, collections, or architectural style. Select the door you want, adjust the finish, glass, and handleset, and click “Update” to view your new door in place. You can save the project to view and make changes later on. If smartphones are not your cup of tea, Therma-Tru also allows you to do all of this online here.


Before you go door shopping, read these great tips from This Old House:

"For complete entry systems, be sure all components come from the same manufacturer. (Many systems are assembled by distributors with parts that might not mate perfectly.) Check that the weatherstripping seals properly and that the threshold interlocks with the bottom edge of the door.
Look for [lo-e] glazing on window units. For added security, some manufacturers offer glazing designed to resist break-ins. Decorative windows with real lead or brass caming cost more than ones with the fake stuff.
High-quality steel and fiberglass doors have a thermal break — often a vinyl strip or part of the wood frame — that separates the inside and outside door skins. This prevents outside cold and heat from being conducted through the skin and frame, and frost from forming on the inside surface.
Picking the right front door will pay off in smoother operation, less maintenance, and added energy savings. You'll also have an elegant entry that makes a great first impression for years to come."

Still not sure which way to go? Read what other homeowners are saying on Houzz.


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Cleaner Windows, Less Effort

Take a moment and look at the window nearest you - not through it, at it. Notice how it looks, if there are water spots, dirt, etc. on it. Unless you are a glass expert or a window cleaner, you probably hadn't ever noticed before just how dirty your windows get. Or maybe you have noticed, but going through the effort of cleaning them, or finding someone you trust to clean them for you, is too much of a hassle. What if I told you that needing to clean your windows could become a thing of the past?

Yes, that's right. With a simple switch to new windows, you could forgo ever cleaning your windows again. But not just any old windows - you need windows with Neat Glass.

The glass geniuses at Cardinal Glass Industries have come up with a new kind of glass called Neat Glass. Glass used in normal windows appears smooth to the naked eye, but when you look a little closer, you can see it actually has a slight indentation pattern to it. Unlike ordinary glass, Neat Glass is completely smooth. This has some incredible implications.

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When water hits normal glass, it bubbles up and holds itself intact, either drying in place or slowly moving down the glass to the bottom of the pane and dripping off. When water hits Neat Glass, the ultra smoothness of the glass means that the water does not form any sort of bubble, but rather falls straight down the pane and off the glass, leaving no annoying droplets or dried water marks.

Watch this video to learn more:

There is a layer of titanium dioxide in Neat Glass that causes dirt/bird poop/etc. to decompose because of the way the it chemically reacts to the sun. Then, when it rains (or you spray it down with a hose) the dirt/etc. instantly washes away, making Neat Glass is super easy to clean - you can literally just shoot it with a hose and call it good.

The best part? Cardinal Glass has a manufacturing plant here in Oregon, in the southern part of Hood River. We love locally made products! Cardinal Glass is used to make Prime Windows. You can learn more about Cardinal's Neat Glass and check out their interactive guide here.

Ready to switch out your windows? Contact us about our window services and take advantage of rebates on energy efficient windows while they're still available.


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Henry Blueskin VP100

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have seen progress updates from the house we are currently building in Carlton. Here's a picture of it from Thursday, September 21st:

We are finally onto the housewrap phase. (And just in time for the rainy season!)

We are finally onto the housewrap phase. (And just in time for the rainy season!)

If you've ever seen a new house being wrapped, you may think this blue stuff we're putting on looks a quite bit different than normal. That's because it is.

Allow us to introduce you to one of our favorite products: Henry Blueskin VP100. Unlike normal housewrap products, Blueskin is self-adhering. This means that there won't be any gapping in the housewrap, making it significantly more water-tight - just what we need here in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

Take a look at this example from an informational brochure by Henry:

Blueskin is technically considered a membrane, rather than a plain old housewrap. It is air-tight, water-tight, and weather-tight, which also means it is more energy-efficient than other housewraps, reducing energy bills and keeping your home more protected. You can read all about the technical data of Blueskin VP100 here.

We love this stuff so much, we make sure to put the option to upgrade to Blueskin on all of our bids for siding jobs. If you are interested in having us put Blueskin on your home, you can learn more about our siding services here.

In the meantime, follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with the progress of our Carlton house, and feel free to stop by our office to check out a sample of VP100. You're going to love it!


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