Sheila Rich Interiors: Design Blog

Helpful tips and suggestions on designing your interior.

Hot Summer Design Tips - Outdoor Entertaining

Remember the days when your guests enjoyed relaxing in your backyard while you sweated over a hot stove in the kitchen, totally isolated from the outdoor fun? Well, that no longer needs to be the scenario at your next summertime gathering – an outdoor kitchen allows you be part of the party even while you’re preparing the goodies.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Outdoor-Entertaining-Grill-900.jpgAn outdoor kitchen puts everything you need at your fingertips, including a grill, stove top, oven, granite counter top, refrigerator and even storage areas for tableware. If you’re into sports or just want a little more entertainment, you can add flat-screen televisions like the ones you see here that can swivel, turn, and flip up for safety from the weather. A separate serving cart gives you the added convenience of locating the food and drinks near your guests so everyone can help themselves to seconds.

This outdoor kitchen also has a color-coordinated counter top where I placed stools that match the lounge and table chairs. Well-placed landscaping gives natural screening from the street and neighboring yards, so you can enjoy privacy without feeling closed in.

By bringing indoor kitchen conveniences outside, you keep guests with wet bathing suits as well as cooking heat and mess out of your home while putting you back in the center of the fun.

Cool Down with Hot Summer Design - Backyard Resort

More and more families continue to opt for staycations – estimates show about a quarter of working families chose staycations over destinations in 2012 – and even more enjoy summer entertaining at home. So why sweat it out on a hot patio when your own home can have all the amenities of a summer getaway – and then some?

I'll be posting a three-part series of ways you can turn your home into an outdoor haven that will make you and your guests feel like you're on a luxury vacation....while at the same time minimizing work and cleanup.

Backyard Resort

It’s not the size of your backyard that counts, it’s what you do with it. However, large properties can present challenges of their own, making homeowners feel overwhelmed when trying to imagine how to put their generously-sized yards to the best use.

Outdoor-Entertaining-Pool-500One of the first things I do when coming up with ideas for large backyards is to work with the geograph that already exists. The property you see pictured here has a hill in the back, so we used the natural geography to its best advantage when planning the landscape and pool design.

Situating the pool at the base of the hill allowed me to create a hillside stairway with natural stone steps that leads to a water slide, which runs through the hill and empties into the pool. The hill also lent itself to the addition of a stone poolside waterfall, a picturesque feature that incorporates one of nature’s most beautiful elements.

Alongside the pool is a hot tub for the ultimate in spa-like relaxation. I surrounded the area with a simple wrought iron fence to safely separate the children’s play area from the pool without detracting from this peaceful vignette. Finally, for privacy without the distraction of a heavy fence, I had trees planted around the perimeter of the property for screening.

Every convenience you could want for poolside entertaining or just spending a relaxing day with your family can be included in your backyard resort. Within the pool area, you can arrange smaller vignettes that help to create a more intimate feeling: place tables, chairs, and lounges in small conversation groupings rather than lining them up around the pool like an impersonal hotel. Then add the ultimate in convenience with an outdoor kitchen complete with a refrigerator, stove, and granite counter top, eliminating the need to trek back and forth into the house for food and drinks.

The landscaping you choose to surround your pool with serves to soften the scene while it sets the tone for your backyard getaway. Here we used several different materials for textural contrast: smooth blue stone; chunky garden rocks; soft, dark mulch around trees; irregular stone on the staircase; and large boulders at the waterfall. All of this adds to the overall ambiance of the yard.

So step back and take a new look at your yard - chances are you can create your own luxury getaway!

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