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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A Deck for All Seasons

We love capped composite decking materials, and with the ridiculous rise in cedar prices over this last summer, composite decks have become quite competitive in their pricing. But don’t just take our word for it – here are some of the many reasons composite decking is better than wood:

Maintenance

Of course, one of the most important things to consider, second only to how well the deck is actually built, is maintenance. Wood decks require a lot of maintenance. They have to be thoroughly cleaned and re-stained every year to protect against rot and fading. Plus, it needs to be sanded down and re-finished every couple of years. Then you have to check and spray for bugs, and pray that the beetle you just saw running across your deck is in fact a beetle and not a termite. That’s a lot of time you could be doing something more relaxing, like enjoying sitting on your deck. Composite decks do not require more than an hour of maintenance every year – they just need a good soap and water washing once a year.

Eco-friendliness

Composite decking helps the environment. Wood decking means cutting down trees that protect us from carbon dioxide and replenish our oxygen, using more trees to create the energy needed to power the machines that refine the wood and make it construction ready, and having to replant more trees to start the process all over again. Trees are what makes our home here in the Pacific Northwest so stinking beautiful. (Especially like right now at the end of October when the leaves are turning the most brilliant shades of red and orange and yellow and the whole area is just glowing.) Composite decking is mostly made out of recycled plastic materials, keeping them out of dumps. TimberTech advertises that their decking is made from 73% recycled materials, and Trex’s is 95% recycled materials. You can learn more about turning plastic into composite decking in this Trex video and this Fiberon video.

Sturdiness

Wood decks splinter and twist and rot and warp. Composite decks do not. Plus, composite decking is more weather-resistant. Wood decking materials last at most 10-15 years. Composite decking materials last at least 25 years and longer if you take good care of them. That’s almost twice as long! And considering cedar and composite materials are running about the same price-wise right now, you end up getting so much more for your money’s worth with composite decking – a longer lifetime with significantly less maintenance time.

The Look

If the only thing holding you back from going with composite rather than wood is that you are afraid it won’t look like real wood, please come into our office and let us show you the 30+ samples of composite decking we have from four different companies that are designed with a wood grain finish. (Or just look at these samples on Trex’s website.) Composite decking has the look of real wood, without the hazards and dangers of real wood. And you don’t have to stain it to get it the color you want. Plus, most composite decking materials have color all throughout the material, rather than slathering on a coating at the end, so you don’t have to worry about fading or staining.

Let us know your thoughts on capped composite decking in the comments below.


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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.