A backyard is a place of sanctuary and recreation. Whether you want to relax, play in a pool, or have a barbecue with friends, there are many ways to enhance your backyard experience. Here are a few items you can add to your home’s outdoor space to make it even more enjoyable.
Archives for May 2020
Remodeling An Older Home? Consider Leaving These Elements Alone
If you own an older home, at some point, you might want to remodel or update your property. But if you’re thinking about putting your home on the market—and want to make sure your remodel adds value and makes your property more appealing to buyers—there are certain elements that are best left alone.
A recent article from realtor.com outlined the key architectural elements that should be left alone during your home renovation, including:
- Molding. There are few things that add more character to a property than crown molding—so if you’re lucky enough to own a property that has maintained the original molding, you’re definitely going to want to keep it.
- Exposed brick. Exposed brick walls are a unique feature that add texture and life to a room—and can be a major sell for potential buyers.
- Built-ins. If your home has built-ins—including shelving or window seats—you’ll definitely want to leave them home during a remodel. Not only do they add charm to the property, but they also provide an added layer of functionality (whether that’s as additional storage or additional seating).
Cook Up An Outdoor Kitchen That’ll Make You Want To Cook Out Even More
There’s just something special about dining al fresco. When you eat outside, food just tastes better somehow! Whether you’re at a nice restaurant or hosting a cookout, the atmosphere of fresh air and sunshine (or even better – stars at night!) adds a fun element to just about any meal.
Grilling is great, but you can’t eat hot dogs and hamburgers all the time. What if you could cook outside more often? Well, with an outdoor kitchen, you can. If you set yourself up right, you might wind up liking your outdoor kitchen even more than your indoor cookery! Here are some suggestions for a beautiful, functional kitchen, and a list of must-have items that can take you from shabby backyard hibachi to outdoor cooking paradise.
Just be careful – if you build a dream outdoor kitchen like this, you may become the most popular house in the neighborhood…
Guidelines For A Dream Outdoor Kitchen
Make The Most Of Available Space
Not everyone has a sprawling estate with a bountiful backyard area. That’s ok, though, because there are many kitchen styles that are perfect for smaller spaces. Galley style kitchens and L-shaped kitchen layouts can give you all the cookin’ area you need – even if you’re working with a not-so-huge patio area.
Remember The Work Triangle
The work triangle is a design principle that governs the best layout of a kitchen. You might not be able to follow all the guidelines, but you should at least keep them in mind when deciding where to place your fridge, sink, and cooktop or grill. After all, you don’t want to be bumping elbows and tripping over your feet all the time – where’s the fun in that?
Flatter The Exterior Of The Home
Even though your outdoor kitchen will feel like a completely separate piece of paradise, it is still part of your home. Make sure that your new kitchen adds to the overall look of the home. There’s nothing worse than a funky add-on.
Build With The Right Materials
When it comes time to choose the finishes for your outdoor kitchen, you might be tempted to use all-natural materials like marble or slate. Remember, though – this kitchen has to withstand whatever the elements can throw at it, so not all materials are suitable. Look for materials that are durable AND beautiful so your outdoor kitchen will look great for years to come.
For example, if you want a solid surface with the look of a white marble (and none of the staining issues!), check out Silestone’s Calacatta Gold. It has the look and feel you’re going for but it will withstand the weather (and a spilled drink or two) much better.
Build It For Fun!
If you’ve ever designed or built your main kitchen, you probably put a lot of thought into what would be best for resale value. Will future buyers like this backsplash? Is it better to add a farmhouse sink or a traditional two bowl?
You don’t have to worry about that with your outdoor kitchen. This kitchen is a happy extra – not a necessity – so you can have fun with your choices and throw in little extras. Build it for you and your family so you can enjoy every minute spent in your own backyard.
Must-Haves For Your Dream Outdoor Kitchen (and a few nice-to-haves, too)
There’s no outdoor kitchen without a way to cook, right? You definitely need a built-in gas grill as the focal point of your new outdoor kitchen. These bad boys range in price greatly so you can easily find one that suits your wants and your needs.
There’s nothing worse than trying to open the door with sticky hands, so you’ll want to have a sink outside, too. You can go with a traditional stainless steel sink, or spring for something a little nicer like the Blanco Silgranit sinks. They’re heat resistant and scratch resistant and best of all, you couldn’t stain one of them if you tried.
Whether you’ve got friends or family around you, or you’re the lone chef at the grill, it’s fun to watch the game, HGTV, or whatever you’re currently binge-watching while you cook, right? Slap a TV in a covered area and you’ll have entertainment through even the longest BBQ-smoking session.
Ok, ok, if you’re not into watching TV, that’s cool, but you’ve gotta have tunes! Install speakers outside or get a portable Bluetooth speaker like this one. With the right app, you can be an outdoor chef AND an instant DJ at the same time.
Summer days spent outside aren’t the same without a bubbly beverage. Keep yourself hydrated with your favorite brew, soft drink, or sparkling water – you can open them quickly and easily with a built-in bottle opener, rather than fumble around one that always seems to disappear.
Sunny days turn into cooler nights, and you still won’t want to go inside and leave the fun of your dream outdoor kitchen. Add a firepit and you’ll have a great place to sit and chat AND best of all, you can make smores over your open fire, too.
While we’re on the topic, you need several comfy places to sit. Build in a bartop to your outdoor kitchen and add a row of barstools so you can make conversation while you cook. Put some Adirondack chairs around your new firepit, and of course, dot some lounge chairs nearby, too. Your guests may want to take an after-meal nap after they’ve had your outdoor cuisine, so make it easy for them to get comfortable. You can put your feet up and relax there, too.
A source of shade is crucial to the success or failure of your outdoor kitchen. Protect yourself from the beating sun or an unexpected bout of rain with a built-in patio cover, or just add a bit of shade with a pergola or heavy-duty sunshade. Since this is your dream outdoor kitchen we’re talking about here, you could even go tropical and add a palapa style roof. Whichever route you choose, just make sure you can keep cool out there. Outdoor living is no fun without a little protection.
Counter or Table Tops
Once you’ve got some chairs and a nice shady place, you need a place to set your wine glass or plate of ‘cue. Get one big picnic table and add some smaller tabletops. One idea that works really well is ceramic garden stools – they function as tables or chairs depending on your needs, and they’re totally weather resistant, too. (They come in many colors, too, so they’ll look great in just about any environment.)
You don’t want people traipsing in and out of the house with food scraps and half-empty cans, so make life easy for them and you. Place a trash can and a recycling bin outside. Sure, there’s one more bag to empty, but you’ll get a lot fewer flies in the house this way, and a lot less mess, too.
When you’re chillin’ in your new outdoor kitchen, and you need a fresh drink, you’ve got two options. One, send a kid or well-trained pet to get you another drink, or two – reach into the nearby fridge and grab one yourself. It’s just easier and more dependable to get yourself a fridge…
Drinks Cooler Insert
Ok, it’s party time and you want to look like the world’s greatest host in your new outdoor kitchen. VOILA – this one little add-on will make a huge impact on all your guests. The best part? It won’t even cost a fortune. Get a cooler insert cut into your countertop during the planning phase, and come party time, you just have to fill it with ice and nestle all the drinks people could want into it. It looks WAY nicer than that blue Igloo you’ve been rolling outside, and it works just as well.
There are many things you might want an outlet for…a margarita machine perhaps?! When you’re building your dream kitchen, get a few outlets at counter height. You (and your guests) will be happy not having to go in and out of the house every time you want another margarita.
There’s something about being outside and lazing about that makes people want to move back and forth. Add some rocking chairs or a porch swing and keep the party moving – literally.
Smoker or Wood Fired Oven
A grill is great for so many things, but if you’re seriously into barbecue, you need a smoker. Period. Leave a spot for a Big Green Egg or go for the gold with a full-sized offset smoker. Not into the brisket and sausage thing? Install a wood-fired pizza oven instead. Is there anything in life that’s better than fresh pizza? Yup…fresh pizza made in your outdoor kitchen!
Lighting and Mood Lighting
When the sun is setting and you don’t want the party to end, you need lighting. Get practical and install outdoor ceiling fans with light kits, or make the whole place look magical with loads and loads of string lights. For the ultimate outdoor kitchen, do both.
Celebrating Cinco De Mayo From Home
Happy Cinco De Mayo! If you want to enjoy some authentic Mexican cuisine from home today and support local restaurants, check out some of the best dishes (and deals) in town!
Zocalo in midtown, which dubbed Tuesday “Cinco de Quarantino”, offers both pickup and delivery, and continues to serve up its taco Tuesday special, which includes a margarita, taco bar, chips and salsa, serving two for $25.
Rey Azteca in Carmichael, which was voted KCRA’s “Best Mexican Food” in 2014 and 2016, also offers both pickup and delivery. They have some great deals going on this week including an “Emergency Family Meal” that feeds a family of five and includes 1 pound of Carnitas, 1 pound of Carne Asada, 1 pound of Marinated Chicken, Beans, Rice, Salsas, Chips, and most importantly, 1 roll of toilet paper! Talk about a deal… Check out their full online menu here.
Mayahuel, downtown on K Street, is open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, offering a variety of meals as well as delicious cocktails to-go. Click here to browse their online menu. After placing your order, you can give them a call at 916.441.7200 when you are parked outside and they will bring out your food.
Chando’s Tacos is also open at its locations on Arden Way, Power Inn Road, as well as in Roseville and West Sacramento. They are serving up family-style taco kits and survival kits in varying sizes. Click here for Cinco De Mayo deals and to place your online order.
Yard House: Thirsty? Yard House is offering two types of margaritas available to-go for $6 each this Cinco de Mayo. It’s also offering 15% off all takeout orders for pickup through May 17. Click here to see their full drink and food menu.
La Terraza in Old Sac has a great deal going on for party trays today. Choose from Carnitas, Chicken, or Steak Fajitas that are all paired with beans, rice, tortillas, sour cream, pico de gallo, and chips and salsa.
Do you have a favorite local spot that is serving up some delicious Cinco De Mayo dishes? Let me know in the comments section below!
Just Keep Swimming…Your May Newsletter is Here!
As we continue to self-quarantine at home, many of us might be feeling disconnected, lonely, and stir-crazy—all of which are perfectly normal feelings to have at this time. However, it’s important to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Coronavirus numbers are beginning to stabilize as a result of social distancing, and California is just weeks away from modifying its stay-at-home orders.
So while it may be difficult, just know that we are all in this together. In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo, when life gets us down we must, “Just Keep Swimming…” until we cross the finish line together.
I also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our real “lifebuoys” out there. Thank you to our healthcare workers, first responders, police officers, firefighters, grocery store workers, and all of the brave heroes on the frontline for serving and loving your communities during this critical time.
This month’s newsletter is dedicated to answering some common questions and concerns that sellers and buyers might have during this time. I am also sharing a fun DIY home project to keep you and your loved ones busy and entertained!
The coronavirus pandemic has brought much of the country to a screeching halt. But just because people are stuck at home, it doesn’t mean your home sale has to come to a screeching halt too. You can sell your home in the midst of this challenging time—as long as you’re safe.
Here are some precautions homeowners should take in order to sell their home safely during the COVID-19 crisis:
Embrace virtual showings: You don’t need a swarm of potential buyers walking in and out of your house; it’s not safe for you or them. Instead, have your real estate agent vet buyers and give them virtual tours of your home.
A recent survey from realtor.com found that, if given access to the right information and technology features, nearly ¼ of respondents (24 percent) would be willing to buy a home without seeing it in person. The number is even higher for younger homebuyers, at 29 percent.
But what information and tech features do buyers need to make a purchase? According to the survey, the features most important to would-be buyers when making a decision about buying a property remotely include:
- A virtual tour of the home (61 percent)
- Accurate, detailed listing information (58 percent)
- Accurate, detailed neighborhood information (53 percent)
- High-quality listing photos (51 percent)
- A video walk-through with their real estate agent (39 percent)
Give me a call today to learn more about our virtual tours, professional photography, and 3D Matterport technology.
Practice safety measures for in-person showings: If you have a buyer who has already been vetted and is extremely interested in the property, they may want to see your home in person before writing an offer. Prior to allowing anyone into your home, make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces to protect potential buyers—and then make sure to do the same after the in-person tour to protect yourself and your family.
The coronavirus pandemic is changing the way people buy and sell homes. But with the right safety measures, there’s no reason it has to derail your home sale.
With social distancing in full swing, searching for a home in the traditional sense—including going to tour homes in person—is getting put on the back burner. But just because you can’t see as many homes in person, it doesn’t mean your home search has to suffer!
A recent article from realtor.com outlined tips for conducting a virtual house hunt that’s just as good as the real thing:
Learn how to read an online listing and what’s hiding: You don’t want to waste your time virtually touring homes that aren’t going to be the right fit. When going through a listing, look for red flags that might indicate that a listing isn’t what it seems—and isn’t worth your time (for example, a complete lack of photos of the home’s interior or photos that appear to be stretched out to make a room appear bigger). It’s also important to stick to your original home search criteria whether that applies to living in a particular neighborhood and location or requiring a certain bed/bath count—it can be easy to venture off course to other neighborhoods and homes with just a click of a button, but sticking to your criteria is key.
Ask your real estate agent to go into detail during virtual tours: Thanks to technology like Zoom or FaceTime, your agent can take you on a virtual tour of potential properties. But video doesn’t catch all the small details you would catch if you were physically in the space (like the finishes on cabinets, or crown molding on the ceiling)—so make sure to ask your agent to talk you through those details.
Check out the neighborhood: There are a ton of interactive map tools and neighborhood guides on the internet that will give you insight into a potential home’s neighborhood. Ask your agent to send detailed neighborhood reports and information.
Bottom line? With a little creativity, technology, and patience, there’s no reason your virtual home search can’t be just as effective as a traditional search!
The kitchen has (not surprisingly) become one of the most popular areas in our homes these days…So much so that our fridge may see us more times a day than the outside world…All jokes aside, you might consider using this extra time at home as an opportunity to add that extra “wow” factor to your kitchen. The best part? These DIY home renovation ideas don’t require a lot of time or money:
Build a custom copper rack for your pots and pans: Easy and inexpensive, a custom copper rack for your pots and pans is a great way to add a stylish edge to your kitchen. Just hang a copper pipe from your wall or ceiling, hang your pots and pans with inexpensive hooks, and you have a unique focal feature that instantly elevates your kitchen design. Click here for DIY inspiration. If you’d rather leave it to the pros, there are lots of affordable, ready to assemble options like this elegant Copper Rack from Home Depot.
Add a new light fixture above your kitchen table: If you have a kitchen table, switching out the light fixture above the table can instantly breathe new life into the space, making your kitchen feel more modern and on-trend. Pinterest has light fixture ideas for just about any style of kitchen. Click here to find one that matches the design and look of your kitchen.
Add crown molding to cabinets: Adding crown molding to the tops of your cabinets accomplishes a few different goals. It adds visual interest, makes the cabinets look more expensive, and also draws the eye upward, making cabinets look taller. Check out this DIY tutorial here.
Small changes to your kitchen can make a big impact on your home—and with a little time and effort, you can easily make those changes in a single weekend.