December 2017

  • Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas

    The outdoor kitchen, a great place to cook-up some tasty treats and enjoy the wonderful sub-tropical weather that is quintessential Sarasota. There’s nothing like being able to entertain and spend time with family and friends near the pool or alongside a decorative landscape. Having the convenience of a fully functional kitchen means being able to cook a great meal, with plenty of sides, without having to track back and forth into your home.

    Many homeowners would love to have an outdoor kitchen, but too many believe that it’s simply too expensive. The reality is, an outdoor kitchen, by-and-large, is only as expensive as you want it to be. With a few simple design ideas, a bit of DIY work, and a few tips and tricks, you can have an outdoor kitchen that accommodates your needs nicely. The real challenge is not so much about the “build out,” but mostly the planning. Like practically any other project, having a plan to follow makes the venture a lot easier and keeps you from overspending.

    To get the most out of an outdoor kitchen, you really need to thing about its functionality. If you don’t put enough forethought into your project, you’ll be unpleasantly confronted with problems, which can range from annoying to outright dangerous. Layout will be the key to making the most out of your new cooking space and to getting the most enjoyment from it with as little maintenance as possible.

    Top Outdoor Kitchen Mistakes to Avoid

    Before you begin sketching ideas onto a sheet of paper, start with some solid numbers. Pickup a tape measure and take down the footage you have to work with. It’s best to clear the area first, if there’s furniture or anything else occupying the space. Once you have your square footage noted, you can then start to plan your new outdoor kitchen layout.

    Outdoor kitchen design requires as much consideration and planning as the design of an indoor kitchen. A properly thought out and implemented outdoor kitchen is not only great for BBQ parties or family get-togethers, it provides you with a comfortable and convenient place to prepare meals when it’s nice outside. —Do It

    What you should avoid is some common outdoor kitchen mistakes, which often include the most frustrating of problems. Chief among these is lack of working space. This includes meal preparation space, landing spaces to set plates, ingredients, and so on. Speaking of space, you ought to opt for function, that is to say, room to maneuver freely so you aren’t tripping over yourself or your guests. Speaking of guests, you’ll also have to take into consideration the sun and wind direction. Your guests, as well as you, should be well shaded and not have smoke blowing in their faces.

    You also should consider how much cabinet space you’ll need. Think about what you will store and the necessary space to accommodate same. Last but certainly not least is lighting–you’ll need plenty of light when cooking during the evenings. Place lights strategically so you don’t have shadows over your work space. It’s also best to work with a professional to get the results right and stay under budget.

    Best Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas

    When you have a workable layout to start your project, you’ll be ready to add an outdoor kitchen to your landscape. Here are some ideas to consider incorporating into your design:

    • Built it to last a long time. The weather elements and use will take their toll on your outdoor kitchen, so build it to last. Brick is usually the material of choice because it’s durable and easy to clean with a quick pressure washing. Stone, granite, or concrete countertops are also ideal for aesthetics and because each is very sturdy.
    • Plant a vegetable garden. You might have wanted to plant a vegetable garden before but just never got around to it or you weren’t sure you’d really eat what you grew. With an outdoor kitchen, you’ll have fresh ingredients right at your fingertips and guests will certainly be impressed with the freshness.
    • Add a focal point. Every design needs allure and a focal point is a great way to set a scene. A fire pit is one such idea, particularly one that has “table seating” around it so family and friends can sit and enjoy their meals without having to juggle plates, utensils, and cups.
    • Include cold storage. You don’t need a double sided refrigerator, just enough space to put your meat, vegetables, fruit, and drinks. If you need to keep your budget low, simply layout your design so you don’t have far to go into your home.

    Finally, have a dedicated space for backup fuel. You should design your outdoor kitchen with a space to put an extra propane tank or bag of charcoal that’s right next to your grill. This will make it a cinch to keep the grill powered while you’re cooking.

  • The Five Basic Landscape Design Elements

    The very phrase “landscape design,” is an imposing one, concocting a vision of complexity seemingly unimaginable and obtuse. Indeed, one could spend years upon years studying the various theories and applicable aspects of the art-science, but, what about weekend do-it-yourself types who just want to spruce up a yard or install some features? You probably want to give your front or backyard a facelift of sorts, either to create a space to relax and entertain or because you’re going to sell your home. Whatever the reason, you likely want to avoid any in-depth explanation and get right to the most important aspects or practical details just to make it cohesive and professional. Well, that can be done, if you understand basic principles.

    The Five Basic Landscape Design Elements

    What makes landscaping design seem all too complex is the end-result. You’ve seen those gorgeous outdoor spaces and thought about how long and how much effort went into coming up with the concept and then making it into a reality. The truth is, it does take quite a bit of planning and a lot of elbow grease to get from concept to reality, but, it’s all done through the lens of five basic design elements. These are guidelines to work within and serve as a great help to produce an eye-catching ebb and flow.

    Landscape designers work on a canvas that is distinctly different from other art forms. The “art” is always changing as the plants grow, environmental conditions change, and people use the space. For this reason, landscape designers use a design process that systematically considers all aspects of the land, the environment, the growing plants, and the needs of the user to ensure a visually pleasing, functional, and ecologically healthy design. —The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

    One of the best ways to visualize and emulate a particular look is to browse through images. If you take time to identify common components and know the five main elements, you’ll have a good grasp on just what the art-science is all about. Achieving the results you want to accomplish isn’t about having it all. Like with many concepts, if you keep it simple, you’ll have a lot more luck at realizing what you imagine. The less is more application is a good approach to follow because you’ll largely avoid the urge to cram things together just to fill up space.

    Landscaping doesn’t have to be intimidating, and, you can approach it by thinking about it in a different way. You’ve no doubt encountered “some assembly required,” followed the directions and put this or that together. Well, that’s design broken down into a step-by-step process. When you compose an email, you’re essentially “designing,” based on common principles of spelling, grammar, and punctuation. So, let’s look at the five basic landscape design elements:

    • Color. One of the most compelling aspects of landscape design is color. It’s divided into four categories: primaries (red, blue, yellow), secondary (green, orange, violet), tertiary (a mixture of primary and secondary, and, neutrals (white, silver, and grey). It’s best to weave a complementing color scheme throughout the yard, with a little contrast to make it more visually appealing and exciting.
    • Texture. The visual surface or even the actual feel of objects comprise a landscape’s texture. In general, texture is represented by a mix of fine and coarse textures to break up any monotony. These add to the atmosphere and blend at a distance, while appearing distinct close up.
    • Form. This element is about shape, and, there are six types: oval, upright, columnar, weeping, spreading, and broad spreading. Form is often expressed through hardscape and softscape features, such as pergolas and waterfalls and shrubs and trees.
    • Line. Direction or line is perhaps one of the most familiar elements of landscape design because it’s often a pathway and/or physical directions which point. Line is generally found in things such as pavers winding through an outdoor space, or, surrounding a fountain.
    • Scale. This is all about balance and should be in-line or relative to the size of your home. In other words, a landscape should not overwhelm, rather, complement, a home. In addition, the various components should also have balance.

    To be sure, there are other concepts which are incorporated into landscaping design. For instance, variety, grouping, and repetition are all commonly used in landscaping. The key is to settle on a theme and then duplicate it to create a wonderful outdoor space. It’s also helpful to use plants that are native and complement one another.

  • Ways to Use Exterior Paint to Spruce Up Your Home

    There are several ways to use exterior paint to spruce up your home. One interesting fact is although trim is such a relatively small part of your house’s exterior, it’s one with the arguably largest impact. If you are going to put your home up for sale on the local real estate market and want it to stand out in buyers’ minds; or, you just want to give it more curb appeal, you can use exterior paint to create a great impression.

    Before you drag out those cans of primer and paint, rollers, brushes, and other tools and materials, take some time to inspect your home’s exterior. This is important because you’ve got to take certain steps to get your home ready for an exterior paint job, even if you’re only changing a few small parts of it. You might discover small splits in the wood or cracks to make repairs before you begin.

    A fresh paint job has the power to totally transform the look of your house in less time and for less cash than any other remodeling project. That thin skin of resin and pigment also protects your investment, shielding it from sun, wind, and rain—until the paint begins to crack and peel, that is. Then it’s time to button up with a couple of new coats. Properly applied, new paint should last for a good 15 years, provided you use top-quality materials, apply them with care (and with an eye on the weather), and, most important, clean and sand every surface first. –This Old House

    Once the necessary repairs are made to your home’s exterior, you need to move onto key preparations, such as filling holes, sanding surfaces, and applying the right type of primer. If you skip any of these preparatory steps, the final results will look mediocre, at best and horrible in a worst case scenario. If you’re unsure about your skills, then hire a commercial painter to do the job for you so it looks great. Now that you’re ready to get started, here are some great ways to use exterior paint to spruce up your home to increase its curb appeal:

    • Paint decorative brackets, window trim, and panels. What makes some homes look way better than comparable properties (as in size, location, floor plan, and more) is they simply have a more impressive pop to their curb appeal. While landscaping can provide a part of this wow factor, the decorative brackets, window trim, and panels are prime candidates for exterior paint. Think seriously about color and contrast so it doesn’t look chaotic but cohesive. Keep in mind just changing color tone and shade are neat tricks which work well for interior paint but, you might want to be a bit bolder when it comes to exterior paint.
    • Paint your existing front door or replace and paint it. Did you know replacing the front door provides one of the largest returns on investment when it comes time to resell? It’s one of the most desirable features and you know this instinctively when you see a home with a beautiful front door. You can get the same look with a fresh coat of exterior paint and this is another chance to go bold. If your entry door is old, take the opportunity to replace it and then brush on a fresh coat of paint with a complementary color.
    • Consider painting your exterior entryway steps. Here’s another idea you might not otherwise consider: paint the entryway steps. Chances are excellent the steps in front of your home are dull and boring. After all, who cares about entryway steps? Well, your home will most certainly stand out from others in the neighborhood and will impress your guests when they arrive. Once again, you can use the opportunity to be a bit bold. Add some sand for better traction and consider painting other features with the same color.
    • Add an additional color to exterior columns. You can also paint exterior columns with a fresh coat and of course, you can go bold. The goal is to make them simultaneously stand out as a feature but also blend-in and be complementary to the rest of your home’s exterior. You can either paint the entire column or just part of it; for instance, if the columns are equipped with any type of trim. This trick works equally well with both round and square columns.

    When you are ready to paint your home and want a professional look, just contact us. Our crew is experienced in all types of residential painting and we serve the entire Sarasota area, from the John Ringling Parkway, over to Bird Key and Meadow Lark Drive, and all around Bayfront Drive.