Outdoor Living Supplement

How to Personalize Your Backyard with a Beautiful Concrete Path

(BPT) – Paths provide the practical purpose of connecting two or more locations but a well-made walkway that will stand up for years can enrich the natural landscape of a backyard and complement the exterior look of a home.

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While traditionally popular materials for creating paths, like brick and stone, are attractive and durable, they can be expensive and challenging to install. An easy and affordable alternative is to build a path yourself using a plastic form and pre-mixed packaged concrete. Taking this approach not only minimizes cost, time and headache, the preference and personal taste of each individual homeowner dictates the color, style and movement in the finished concrete path.

It starts with selecting the style of path, which can range from a natural looking country stone pattern to a more standard running bond brick pattern. The QUIKRETE Walkmaker forms are 2 foot by 2 foot and conveniently hold one 80-pound bag of concrete, so homeowners can work on the path at their own pace by following these simple directions.

Remember when working with cementitious products, always wear eye protection and gloves.

Steps for laying a path

  • Remove the sod and soil to the desired width, shape and length of path, be sure to keep it as flat and level as possible.
  • Slowly mix the concrete and water in a wheelbarrow with a garden hoe, shovel or in a concrete mixer according to the directions on the bag.
  • Lay the form at the beginning of the path and fill with concrete mix, being sure to smooth the surface with a trowel.
  • Promptly remove the form and smooth the edges of the path with a trowel before the concrete mix hardens. For a nonslip finish, brush the surface with a stiff broom.
  • Continue by placing the form against the completed section of the path. Then fill with the concrete mix, remove the form and smooth the surface. Repeat the process until the path is complete.
  • To create a curved walkway, after removing the form from the freshly poured section of path, reposition the form in the direction of the curve and press down to slice off the corner. Use a trowel to consolidate and smooth cut off edges.

The path can be further customized by incorporating liquid colors, stains, and/or embedding gravel or other small aggregates into the concrete.

For more tips, direction and information on laying a concrete path using forms and pre-mixed packaged concrete, visit www.quikrete.com or look for QUIKRETE on Facebook.

DIY Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens: Tools and tips to do it yourself

(BPT) – Outdoor kitchens are one of the hottest trends for exterior home improvements in 2014, a survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects reveals. If you’re considering creating a backyard kitchen this year, you may be wondering how much of the work you can do yourself in order to get the most out of your budget. Fortunately, many aspects of the job are within the abilities of the average do-it-yourselfer, and resources like rental stores mean you can easily obtain the tools you need to get the job done.

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Getting started

Your first step is to assess your outdoor space, decide where your kitchen will be and determine how much area you can dedicate to it. Will you start from scratch, perhaps creating a patio of pavers or building a new deck to accommodate the kitchen? Or will existing structures provide a starting point?

Next, seek inspiration. Resources like Pinterest, YouTube, home improvement shows and outdoor living websites can provide ideas and insight into current design trends in outdoor kitchens. Gathering ideas can help you decide what elements your kitchen must have – such as a multi-burner stove and ample lighting for nighttime entertaining – and what might be on your list of possible features, like built-in seating around the kitchen.

Designing your outdoor kitchen

Once you know where your outdoor kitchen will go and what features you will include, it’s time to start laying out your plans. Plenty of online tools are available to help you design an outdoor living space, including the kitchen of your dreams.

You’ll need to consider many factors, including the dimensions and layout of your outdoor kitchen, materials you will use and how you will landscape around it. Popular building materials include pavers, stone, wood or composite materials, and each imparts its own look to your outdoor entertaining area.

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The building process

While most homeowners will have at least some of the tools needed to complete an outdoor kitchen, it’s likely you’ll be missing others. Renting tools through an American Rental Association member store is a cost-effective way to obtain the equipment you need without a long-term investment of money and storage space. To find a rental store in your area, visit www.rentalhq.com.

Tool rental can also ease another reality of DIY construction – the ability to work around your schedule and at your own pace. Renting tools means you can get what you need when you need it, without having large or expensive pieces lying around when not in use.

Give yourself plenty of time to work on your outdoor kitchen, and don’t be afraid to seek help. Friends and family can pitch in on basic tasks, but some higher-level jobs – such as installing a gas line for a built-in range – may require professional help.

Glamping – in the Backyard

(BPT) – It’s time to put those booties away ladies – it’s officially sandal season. With longer days and warmer weather, you and your girlfriends can share laughs and stories under clear blue skies and beautiful starry nights.

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Photo Credit: The Resort at Paws Up

Glamping – glamorous camping – has been named one of the five hottest trends in girls’ getaways by the Travel Channel and is the perfect warm weather get-together to bond with girlfriends. If hectic work schedules make coordinating a getaway with girlfriends too hard, you can still enjoy the warm days and nights by recreating the glamping experience in your own backyard. Here are a few tips to create a posh outdoor experience:

  • Keep the ambiance cozy. Turn your outdoor lounge space into cloud 9 by overflowing the space with the plushest pillows, blankets and throws. Nothing rivals a good laugh with the girls while snuggling in the softest blankets. For extra “twinkle,” add candles or a portable fire pit. For added ambiance, have your girlfriends send you one or two songs to be compiled into the perfect playlist – you can even turn it into a game by guessing who recommended which song.
  • Host a paint party. Your nails will be getting a lot more face time in the warmer months, so make sure they have a fresh spring coat. Pinterest is a great place to look for new color trends and nail art inspiration to try.
  • Indulge in treats. A girls’ night always calls for decadent treats. The SKINNY COW brand makes indulgent frozen snacks and candy treats that are insanely delicious yet ridiculously sensible. Dress up the traditional s’mores campfire dessert by swapping in SKINNY COW Candy Dreamy Clusters for an added bonus of crisps and caramel. For those hotter nights, keep cool by enjoying decadent SKINNY COW frozen treats, like their new Chocolate Mousse Ganache Cones.
  • Create the perfect picture backdrop. Camping naturally provides a perfect background for pictures – so when you are glamping in your backyard, create a fun glamping-themed backdrop to take pictures against. You can even get creative and make props for guests to use in their photos and create a hashtag to track all the glamp-tastic photos that are uploaded from the night.

If you and your girlfriends are looking to actually get away this summer, the SKINNY COW brand is giving you the chance to have your own glamping experience with the “Girls Gone Glamping” promotion. Nine grand-prize winners will win a getaway to the premier glamping destination, The Resort at Paws Up in Montana, and experience glamping – in style (butler provided). Each winner can even bring two of their BFFs. To learn more about the “Girls Gone Glamping” promotion and how you and your BFFs can qualify for this amazing experience, visit glamping.skinnycow.com.

No purchase necessary to enter. Open to residents of the 50 US & DC, 18 or older. Promotion ends August 4, 2014. Visit glamping.skinnycow.com for official rules. Void where prohibited.

Easy Tips to Create the Perfect Outdoor Living Room

(BPT) – It’s that time of year – time to dust off your patio furniture, fill your planters and set up to spend the spring outdoors. While expanding an outdoor space is a top renovation project for homeowners and renters alike, it does not have to induce a state of pre-spring stress. With a few simple tips, you can create an outdoor space that adds value and comfort to your home.

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Focus on your front entrance

“Enhance your home’s curb appeal by brightening up your front entrance,” says The Home Depot’s Director of Trend and Design, Sarah Fishburne. “A coat of brightly colored paint on your front door can redefine the look of your home.” This year, go bold with your color choice – try coral, tomato red, teal, aqua, violet, pistachio and cobalt. Add a wreath, doormat, kick plates and new door hardware to complete the look. Knobs and handles with a burnished bronze finish also hide fingerprints and don’t show tarnish as easily. After all, a fabulous front entrance can make a powerful first impression.

Design your dream deck

The base of any great outdoor space is a clean slate. Start with a good scrub and power wash. Echo the feel of your interior to create a cohesive style that makes it easy for you to move indoor decor outside when you are hosting. Start by creating a sense of space with an arbor or trellis. Use colors, furniture finishes and seasonal accessories that complement each other, such as a beautiful custom patio set from Brown Jordan. If you’re unsure where to start, use an online patio planning tool to make it easier to customize the look. Mix and match patterns, textures and sheens for a designer-inspired finish. For urban dwellers in apartments or small spaces, you can create a great outdoor space by installing a vertical garden filled with succulents and a small cocktail table and chairs.

Accessorize and add color

“Accessories aren’t just about making a fashion statement,” says Fishburne. “In fact, adding finishing touches to your front and back porch creates a polished look and feel.” Not only does a weather-resistant, indoor/outdoor rug anchor furniture just like in a living room but it also adds a punch of pattern and color to complement your outdoor furniture. Adding big, bright flowers, such as red geraniums is a simple and cost effective way to brighten up your outdoor space. Not a gardener? Not a problem. Achieve beautiful results with minimal effort by using Drop ‘N Bloom pre-mixed containers of bright spring flowers. For additional pop, whitewash or paint your tired planters with this season’s hottest colors – pollen yellow or aquatic green.

Plan for a party

What’s a great outdoor space without others to share it with? Set up your space to host parties all season long. Don’t leave your guests in the dark – hang up string lights or place solar lights around the patio to get the party going. Create ambiance and a cool conversation piece with a fire pit or add colorful throw pillows for your guests to sit back and relax. Finally, set yourself up for a season of signature meals by planting an herb garden. Make the night more interactive by inviting your guests to help pick herbs that will complement the meal.

For this and more project inspiration, check out The Home Depot’s Trend and Design Tumblr. For more quick and easy gardening tips, sign up for The Garden Club, which provides regionalized garden information, forums and deals.

Festive Ideas for Alfresco Entertaining

(BPT) – Warm days are calling, as summer traditionally kicks off the outdoor entertaining season. But this year, tradition takes a new direction. More hosts are breaking the boundaries of indoor versus outdoor entertaining. Gone are the paper plates and plastic cups. Instead, people are daring to take their dinnerware outside.

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“Whether it’s brunch on the patio or dinner on the deck, we’re seeing outdoor dining evolving from impromptu cookouts to more thoughtful, planned gatherings,” says visual merchandiser John Griffith. “Rather than going out for an evening on the town, people are entertaining at home and they’re enhancing that experience by using their dinnerware outdoors, whether it’s a cozy, casual get together or an elegant, formal alfresco meal.”

Griffith and his teammate Julie Robbins develop seasonal design ideas for Replacements, Ltd., known as the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal and silver.

“I think many people are a little leery of using what they consider their ‘good dinnerware’ outside, but there are so many ways to dress it up or down depending on the evening,” says Griffith. “For example, you can blend a casual, colorful pattern, like Fiesta, with a formal white or complementing floral pattern for a festive flair. You can also mix in pieces and mediums that are both attractive and durable; many manufacturers including Pfaltzgraff and Homer Laughlin are offering melamine plates and trays, while Corning has a wide selection of acrylic tumblers.”

Griffith says alternative metal serveware is fantastic for outdoor entertaining because once these pieces are heated or chilled, the alloy retains its temperature to help keep food warm or cool. He says Lenox, Arthur Court and Wilton Armetale offer fun yet functional shapes and pieces.

“Summer is all about color; you can easily give your table a refreshed, seasonal look by mixing in seasonal hues,” says Robbins. “Bright, bold colors are really hot right now, including oranges and yellows, like freesia. Freesia is one of my favorite colors this year and can be used all summer long. On the other end of the color spectrum, earth tones are always popular and work for outdoor entertaining because those shades are very natural.”

You can easily incorporate sizzling summer shades by using flowers or fresh seasonal vegetables as centerpieces. Robbins suggests using paper napkins on your table for a casual feel, while you can just as easily add cloth linens to dress up the same place setting for a more formal feel. She adds you can also use beach towels to create festive table runners.

Taking your dinnerware outside not only creates new looks, but also, new uses.

“I love pieces that can be used for more than one thing,” adds Robbins. “I use soup bowls all year long, whether that’s for a cold soup during warmer months or a fresh summer salad. You can find so many uses for chop plates, such as a charger or large dinner plate or even as a serving platter.”

Dinnerware manufacturers are crossing over toward the indoor/outdoor pieces. Griffith says many companies are offering coordinating casuals that easily blend across numerous patterns and colors, including Sophie Conran by Portmerion, Royal Doulton’s Maze and Mode patterns and Jasper Conran by Wedgwood.

You can find more seasonal decorating ideas on Replacements’ Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

Spray Paint Tips to Flawlessly Update your Home’s Furniture

(BPT) – With the warmer weather, now is the ideal time to bring new life to home decor. Whether your outdoor items are looking worn and weathered – or your indoor spaces need a pop of color – spray paint is the perfect solution.

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To ensure your furniture update goes flawlessly, follow these few tips from the experts at Krylon, the nation’s leader in spray paint.

Prep properly

Surface preparation is extremely important and the best predictor of how long your finish will last. The goal is to make your surface as smooth as possible to ensure the new paint adheres well. Remove any loose rust or paint by lightly sanding. Next, clean surfaces with soap and water or degreaser, if necessary. Rinse and let your surface dry completely. Your surface should now be clean, dull and dry.

To prime or not to prime

Primer prepares bare metal, wood, canvas or other materials to create a smooth surface for paint. It also seals the surface to help smoothen out blemishes, increase spray paint adhesion and improve corrosion resistance.

While priming is a critical step, research shows that consumers only use a primer 50 percent of the time. For the same results with fewer steps, try a combination spray paint with primer.

Choosing the right product

It is important to choose the product that meets the needs for your substrate – as well as your style.

Plastic/laminates

With the popularity of ready-to-assemble furniture made of laminates and storage items made of plastic, these surfaces are prime targets for painting. However, without the right product, your project could turn out less than desirable.

“Most consumers don’t realize that not all plastics are the same,” says Denise Patterson, Krylon product manager. “In fact, most spray paints on the market will not adhere to the most popular plastics found in furniture, toys and storage. Krylon’s new Dual Superbond spray paint offers a unique formulation that promises quality adhesion to 85 percent of plastics, as well as hard-to-adhere surfaces, such as melamine and laminates.”

Metal

For metal surfaces – especially those that are exposed to outdoor elements – it is important to choose a product that provides rust protection.

“Many products that claim rust protection only work when used with an additional primer,” says Patterson. “Using a combination product, such as Dual Superbond Paint + Primer ensures that all surfaces will achieve superior rust protection without a multi-step process.”

Wood

Choosing the best spray paint for wood is dependent on the finish, use and location of your surface. Exterior projects should always be primed for the greatest durability. A general purpose spray paint, such as Krylon ColorMaster, is an ideal choice for wood. This new product offers the widest color selection with nearly 100 colors and finishes, as well as offering a combination paint and primer for a one-step application.

Spraying specifics

Before you spray, shake your can for about two minutes. Next, hold the can 6 to 8 inches away from the surface and use several thin coats of spray paint instead of one thick coat. Begin and finish your spray pattern off the object using an even side-to-side motion, releasing the tip at the end of each pass. Try to overlap your spray pattern by about one-third with each pass.

As you prepare to paint new life into your home decor, these few tips and tricks will ensure your project is painless and pretty for years to come. For more painting tips or information on Krylon products, visit www.krylon.com.

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