These 9 Fab Outdoor Grills Will Ensure Your BBQ Bash Stays Lit

| May 29, 2017

Barbecue lovers, rejoice! Summer is here, and it’s grilling season. It’s time to dust off your grill after months of neglect and enjoy the taste of meat cooked over an open flame. And not a moment too soon.

There’s nothing more American than grilling a fat steak (cooked medium, and for God’s sake, hold the ketchup!) over a fire on a warm summer weekend. While you clean off your grill and marinate your meats, we invite you to take a gander at these nine mouthwatering outdoor barbecue heavens…

6620 Wells Burnett Rd, Fort Worth, TX

Price: $2,200,000
Grill bits: Texans are big on barbecue, and the grill lives large in this backyard.

This grilled-meat mecca is outfitted with stainless steel appliances set against a stunning stone floor. Like any good Texas barbecue, the barbecue area is outfitted with a smoker and multiple grills—as well as griddles to fit your Texas toast, and a cooler for an ice-cold Lone Star.

And if you’re a true pit master, you can roast your food directly over two fire pits.

grillfortworth
grillfortworth

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4 Country Club Dr, Charleston, SC

Price: $7,750,000
Grill bits: Two is always better than one! If you want to double up on ribs, sausage, and brisket, there’s room enough for all. We spy two grills wedged behind this luxurious brick minibar in the heart of the Carolinas. Just make sure to bring the appropriate Carolina barbecue sauce.

grill1
grill1

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2634 Castlewood Ln, Simi Valley, CA

Price: $1,294,900
Grill bits: You need look no farther than this Southern California home to see that grilling isn’t simply a Southern thing. This home features a patio with a grill, rotisserie, a high-performance fridge, sink, and tiered decking. And while it’s not standard BBQ fare, we’re in love with the custom built-in paella gas burner. All this set up in front of a gorgeous view of the Simi Valley hills? We’re ready to eat!

grillsimivalley
grillsimivalley

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635 Lakeview Dr, Zephyr Cove, NV

Price: $2,450,000
Grill bits: Speaking of hills, this outdoor grilling area provides a great view of Nevada’s often snowcapped hills and majestic trees. Even without snow, the outdoor patio creates the perfect backdrop for some grilling in nature. It’s another dynamic duo ready for your grilling getaway!

grillzephyr
grillzephyr

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8707 E Cholla St, Scottsdale, AZ

Price: $2,249,000
Grill bits: This outdoor cooking arena features a gas grill, smoker, wok burner, storage, ice bucket, refrigerator, and Kegerator—which will totally come in handy for staving off the arid Arizona summers.

grillscottsdale
grillscottsdale

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31105 Countryside Rd, Steamboat Springs, CO

Price: $2,750,000
Grill bits: Stainless steel is the finish of choice for these outdoor barbecues, and this Colorado setup offers an ultra-sleek, wraparound version. Nestled in the northeast corner of the state, this outdoor kitchen comes complete with a grill, sink, stone countertops, and backsplash. Simply turn around and enjoy a view of the majestic Rocky Mountains while munching on a burger.

grillsteamboatsprings
grillsteamboatsprings

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14800 Flat Top Ranch Rd, Austin, TX

Price: $7,200,000
Grill bits: Everything’s bigger in Texas, and so is this outdoor grill, which is part of a massive, 13,371-square-foot home in the state capital. This grill and wet bar combo comes outfitted with luxurious countertops and brick columns. In a state known for its over-the-top barbecue challenges, this place is a true prize winner.
grillaustin

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200 Ccc Camp Rd, Norris, TN

Price: $939,000
Grill bits: The barbecue mecca of Memphis is on the opposite side of the state, but this East Tennessee property is home to one mean barbecue setup. The backyard is graced with a wood-fired brick barbecue pit, and an attached rotisserie for some serious flame-roasted goodness.

grillnorris
grillnorris

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3973 Indian Trl, Destin, FL

Price: $3,750,000
Grill bits: Smoked fish, anyone? This home in the Florida Panhandle features an outdoor summer kitchen with a brick inlay finish. The outdoor setup comes complete with numerous built-in smokers and a wet bar. After you’re done smokin’ and grillin’, you can sit out on the gazebo and admire the views of the Gulf of Mexico.

grill2
grill2
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What to Consider Before Buying a Beach Home

Sea, surf and sand. Consider more than just those elements before buying a beach home.

Dreaming of a home on the beach? The rhythmic sound of crashing waves, a sweet, salty breeze, and bright sunny days make living by the shore an appealing spot to call home. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 16% of all homes bought nationwide last year were vacation homes. Of those, 40% bought in beach communities.

But, before you consider making your home along the coast, there are a few things to keep in mind. From location to amenities and of course, budget, there’s a lot to think about when buying a vacation home at the beach. Jessica Edwards with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, NC shares her tips for what to consider before buying a beach home in this segment which first appeared on NBC Open House.

If you’re ready to pack up and head to the beach, visit coldwellbanker.com to find your escape.

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10 Ways To Stay Cool At Home Without Air Conditioning

Pacific Northwest summers are tough to beat. The sun shines an average of 300 hours a month with less than an inch of rain, the temperature hovers between 75 and 80 degrees, and the hours of daylight are so numerous, it’s almost unreal.

It doesn’t often get too hot, but occasionally, warm winds roll from east to west, pushing the onshore flow back out to sea. This means the breezy air that keeps Seattle cool and pleasant disappears, and hotter, dryer weather sweeps the city.

energy

If you’re like me, and your home or apartment doesn’t have air conditioning, it’s tough to live comfortably when the temperature climbs. Here are some tips and tricks that can help keep you cool. And even if you have AC, these ideas could save you a few dollars.

  1. Fans help a lot, even if the temperature is already warm. Trust me, you might be surprised what a little air movement can do. Ceiling fans that rotate counterclockwise and push the air down are most helpful. For another layer of cool and a quick fix, place a pan of ice in front of a fan and chill out: Cheap and effective!
  2. Use cotton sheets instead of flannel or fleece, and stay away from fabrics that trap heat, like polyester and satin.
  3. When the sun shines, close the blinds! It doesn’t take long for a room to heat up when the sun is shining in, even if it’s early in the morning. Keeping blinds and curtains closed may save up to 7 percent on your bills, and lower temperatures by 20 degrees.
  4. Closing doors to unused rooms during the day can help keep cooler air where it’s needed most. Opening doors again before you hit the hay will help cooler night air circulate throughout your home.
  5. If you’re doing major landscaping or thinking about it, add some shade around your windows and over your home with trees and bushes.
  6. Cross-ventilate by opening windows on both sides of your residence. This will work wonders, especially in the cooler evenings. Doing this not only clears out stagnant warm air, it brings in fresh, cleaner air.
  7. Cook outside (as if you needed another excuse to BBQ). Cranking up the oven can easily heat up your kitchen, and the rest of your home. Create meals that don’t require heat, like salads and sandwiches.
  8. Unplug any electrical devices you aren’t using, like phone chargers. If you leave everything plugged in and running, ambient heat can spread faster throughout the home.
  9. Buy a portable AC unit. It’s a quick fix, but cost varies depending on how fancy you go. Some units can cool an entire small home or apartment fairly efficiently, and others are only meant for smaller rooms. Some are free standing and others mount into windows. Look at your options and find what works best for your budget. You may find it’s worth a good night’s sleep!
  10. If all else fails, go for the big fix and install central air. There are various options depending on your budget, and whether or not you already have an existing forced-air heating system and air ducts. Take a detailed look at your energy usage and costs before making any big decisions.

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7 Under-The-Radar Features You’ll Want in Your First Home Together

Holidays, Holiday, Frogs, Funny, Figures

Add these to your wish list before starting the hunt for your newlywed nest.

Ready to buy your first home as a couple? No doubt, you’ve both been keeping wish lists for your humble abode. Some dream features may fall in the “nice to have” category—separate bathrooms, walk-in closets and a swimming pool, anyone? But others—like extra storage space or a digital thermostat—really do make life easier, not to mention save your sanity when you’re sharing space with the one you love. When you finally kick off the house hunt, check out the advanced search tool at ColdwellBanker.com—it lets you look for homes that meet all of your requirements, from fireplaces and AC, to backyards and basements. There’s even a filter for a smart home search, so you can find a place that’s tricked out with the latest technology. Need help sorting out your priorities? Check out our list of essentials you might not have considered.

1. Storage for Everything Yours, Mine and Ours

While the number of bedrooms and bathrooms might be up for debate, one item on the wish list is non-negotiable: storage space. Take it from us, even if you don’t think you need it right now, you’re going to need it down the line (read: when you unload all your wedding registry loot). So before you start shopping, talk it over with your significant other to figure out your individual storage needs. Do you need an attic for all your holiday decorations and other seasonal items? Is a lack of closet space a deal breaker, or is a sizeable kitchen pantry more of a priority? You (and your stuff) will be much better off with a little extra breathing room.

2. Separate Vanities for Toothbrushing Elbow Room

The crack of dawn is so not the time to be bumping elbows and jockeying for position at the bathroom sink—your coffee hasn’t even kicked in yet! If the two of you will be sharing a master bath, save yourself the morning do-si-do and look for a place with dual sinks or even separate vanities. Not only will you both have your own designated space to store your toiletries, you’ll also avoid having to dance around each other to look in the mirror. Getting ready is so much less stressful when there’s no chance of accidentally poking your spouse with your hot curling iron.

3. A Smart Thermostat to Find Your Goldilocks Room Temp

Want a room that’s not too hot and not too cold, but just right? Look for a home with a programmable thermostat (or even install one yourself). The Nest Learning Thermostat takes this “smart home” feature one step further—it programs itself. This clever device remembers which temperatures you like at certain times of day, so after a week of use, it’s got your schedule down pat. Nest can even detect when your cell phone leaves the house and programs an eco-friendly setting while you’re away, or turns itself down at night while you’re asleep. We can’t guarantee it’ll stop your spouse from stealing the covers, but it definitely can’t hurt.

4. Space for Your Hobbies to Keep Boredom at Bay

In order for home to truly be your happy place, you both need room for your favorite pastimes. Before you start your search, think about what that means to each of you. Are you dreaming of a cozy reading nook to house your favorite books, or will you need a basement workshop for all those DIY projects? Talk about which home features you need to make this happen, like a spare guest room or spacious garage, and add them to your wish list. That way, your real estate agent can guide you toward homes that check all the boxes.

5. A Smart Lock So You’ll Never Forget Your Key Again

Sure, hiding your key under a rock means you’ll never get locked out, but it’s also a great way to get your stuff stolen. A home equipped with the August Smart Lock, on the other hand, takes security into the 21st century. The device attaches to the back of a regular deadbolt, and is controlled by your smartphone so you can lock and unlock, create virtual keys for friends and family, or control who comes and goes without ever copying a key. Found a home you love that doesn’t have this cool feature? You can speak to a Coldwell Banker Real Estate professional about purchasing a Smart Home Staging Kit.

6. Low-Maintenance Materials to Spend Less Time Cleaning

Yes, white marble countertops are gorgeous, but spill even a drop of red wine and suddenly, happy hour is a lot less happy. So unless you’re one of those couples that find cleaning relaxing, it’s smart to look for a home with easy-care surfaces that are as durable as they are beautiful. Think: hardwood floors instead of carpet, vinyl siding in place of wood and quartz countertops over marble. These lower-maintenance choices make cleaning quick and easy, so you’ll have more time to focus on the fun stuff. Because the couple that binge-watches together, stays together.

7. A Smoke Detector That Won’t Go Off Every Time You Cook

Confession time: The last time you burned popcorn in your rental kitchen, did you get so annoyed at the smoke alarm that you ripped it off the wall? Ditch the old-school version and look for a home with upgraded digital alarms. The Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector gives you a quick heads-up before sounding the alarm, so you can use your smartphone to silence it before it wakes the neighbors. In case of a real emergency, it even talks to tell you exactly where the problem is. Plus, the batteries last for years and alert your phone when it’s time to replace (instead of waking you in the middle of the night with that annoying chirp).

For more “smart home” updates to look for in 2017, check out Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s blog.

The Knot and Coldwell Banker Real Estate present Find Your Happy Place, a sponsored series featuring tips and advice to help you find the perfect home for your newlywed life. Visit ColdwellBanker.com to start your home-buying journey.

Home Sales Expected to Soar Through 2018: What Buyers Need to Know

By | May 18, 2017

By now just about every would-be buyer out there knows there simply aren’t enough homes for sale these days to appease the hordes of competition. But despite the shortages, rising prices, and bidding wars, more homes are expected to be sold this year than in more than a decade.

In 2017, the number of sales of existing homes (which have previously been lived in) is expected to rise about 3.5%, to 5.64 million, according to the midyear forecast from the National Association of Realtors®. The group predicts that existing-home purchases will rise an additional 2.8% in 2018, to 5.8 million.

“The combination of the stock market being at record highs, 16 million new jobs created since 2010, pent-up household formation, and rising consumer confidence are giving more households the assurance and ability to purchase a home,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “However, prices are still rising too fast in many areas and are outpacing incomes.”

Sales of brand-new homes, which builders can’t seem to put up fast enough, are expected to jump 10.7%, from 560,000 in 2016 to 620,000 this year, according to NAR. They’re expected to rise an additional 8% in 2018, to 670,000 sales.

New homes are typically more expensive than existing homes, as builders must contend with shortages of land and labor, plus rising costs of materials and difficulty obtaining financing.

The price tags of all homes are expected to keep rising. NAR predicts prices will jump 5% in 2017 and an additional 3.5% in 2018.

“As a result, buyers are compromising on the number of rooms, length of a commute, or other home qualities,” says Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner of realtor.com®. “Meanwhile, builders are mostly building for the mid- to upper-price range. This mismatch in supply and demand is making affordability more acute for those with modest incomes.”

In some white-hot markets along the coasts, prices are rising by double digits because of the dearth of homes. That’s led many current homeowners who might be interested in trading up to a larger, nicer home in their area to hold off—because those homes are simply out of their price range.

Bidding wars have gotten so bad in Seattle that buyers are driving up prices 30% over asking in some cases, says local real estate broker Chris Bajuk, of HomeSmart Real Estate Associates. (Seattle prices were up 12.2% year over year in February, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Schiller report.)

“It is crazy,” Bajuk says. “There’s strong demand and lack of supply.”

Buyers are coping by putting ever-higher percentages of their incomes toward homeownership—even when it means eating at home every night and doing without new clothes or annual beach vacations. Sometimes they’re spending half of their take-home pay on housing, he says.

Others are purchasing homes farther from the city center where they work, settling for smaller homes or even purchasing residences in need of some work.

“They may need to spend more of their disposable income,” Bajuk says. “Or they may need to lower their expectations on what kind of home they get.”

Clare Trapasso is the senior news editor of realtor.com and an adjunct journalism professor. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication and the New York Daily News. Contact her at clare.trapasso@move.com.
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You’re Cleaning Your House Wrong! Here’s Why

It’s that special time again. Time to throw open the windows, bust out a mountain of cleaning supplies, blast some Beyoncé, get into a zone, and start working on making your home spick-and-span.

But hold on, hasty home cleaner: Before you get started, we need to tell you how to clean. Yes, we really do. You probably think you know all there is to know—after all, you’ve been doing this all your adult life, right? But it turns out that creating a gorgeous, dust- and grime-free space is a lot trickier than it looks, especially if you’re not hip to professional cleaners’ sneakiest tactics.

So we did the dirty work for you. Here, we’ve rounded up eight ways you’ve been tackling spring-cleaning all wrong, according to the pros—and how to do it right.

1. Dry mopping

What’s the best way to get all the dirt and crumbs out of the way before you wash down the kitchen or bathroom floor? Dry mopping (aka “dust mopping”) might seem to make sense, but you’re better off busting out the Hoover. Trust the pros on this one.

Vacuuming removes two times more debris, says cleaning expert Donna Smallin Kuper. And you want as much debris as possible out of the way—otherwise it will just get spread all over your kitchen when you wet mop. And that will make getting rid of it the next time even harder.

2. Not emptying the vacuum receptacle

Before you dig out the vacuum for your spring-cleaning escapades, get rid of the evidence from the last time you cleaned. All of it. If your dust buster’s canister or bag is more than half-full, empty it before you start sucking.

A too-full vacuum makes a much less efficient cleaner, meaning you might have to go over your living room two or three times just to remove your dog’s latest layer of hair. Emptying the bag at the start (or if it gets too full midcleaning) means much less work for you.

3. Going rogue

Cleaning might not seem like a science, but it’s certainly simpler if you treat it like one. If your lemon floor cleaner says you need only 1 tablespoon per gallon, follow that instruction. You’d be amazed (or perhaps not) how many people think more is always better.

“If more worked better, they would recommend more,” Smallin Kuper says. After all, it’s in their interest to sell more product. So why would they tell you to save when they could tell you to splurge? Because their stuff is made to work a certain way.

Pay attention when you read (not skim) the manufacturer’s instructions, and follow them closely to save yourself time, sanity, and money.

4. Using paper towels and rags

Ditch the paper towels—and don’t use rags in their place.

Microfiber cloths are far more effective at removing dirt and grime than cotton cloths, and you can pick up these miracle workers in every shape and form—including gloves that fit over your hand for easy general-purpose dusting to varieties specifically designed for cleaning electronics or wood floors.

As a bonus, microfiber clothes catch dirt and dust (and even bacteria!) between their superthin threads, letting you clean most surfaces without the need for chemical cleaners. Of course, heavy-duty stains may require some additional work, but as a general rule you’ll be cutting costs in your cleaning cabinet.

5. Not wiping down your light bulbs

Cleaning your old bulbs isn’t just an aesthetic- or allergen-related requirement. It actually helps you keep your home cheery and bright—and your electricity bill under control.

Dirty light bulbs emit 20% less light than clean bulbs, Smallin Kuper says. And that’s not just wasted light—it’s wasted energy.

Before cleaning, make sure the lights are turned off (no shocking surprises here). Use a dry microfiber cloth to clean off your bulbs—water or cleaning sprays can affect the electronics—and enjoy the sudden rush of brighter light when you flip the switch.

6. Storing things in cardboard boxes

Boxing up your seasonal odds and ends? While it might be tempting to use the pile of leftover moving boxes accumulating in your garage, you need to a trip to the store.

One cleaning mistake Smallin Kuper frequently sees is “storing things in cardboard boxes in the basement, attic, or garage instead of waterproof, insect-proof plastic bins.” Mold, termites, or just dampness after a rainy spring can damage your precious belongings. Pick up some heavy-duty plastic boxes instead.

7. Not decluttering first

We see you eyeing that dust rag. Wait! If there’s still a layer of clutter around your home, don’t even think about cleaning.

If you don’t pick up things first, you’ll be making multiple passes through a room, putting toys on the couch to clean the floor, pushing them in the corner to clean the couch, then realizing the dirty toys left another layer of dust, which requires another quick cycle.

Make sure there’s nothing out that shouldn’t be visible. Only then do you have our permission to start cleaning.

8. Spraying the glass

Cleaning glass-framed artwork or mirrors? Here’s a less-than-obvious tip: Make sure you’re spraying your cleaner onto the cloth, not the glass itself.

“The cleaner can drip or spread into the frame and damage the artwork,” Smallin Kuper says.

We’re sure you’re quick with your hands, but it’s better to be safe than sorry—especially when it comes to high-value artwork.

You’re forgiven if nothing makes you like cleaning. But with some help from the pros to smooth out the onerous process, hopefully you can start having a little bit of fun while you’re ditching the dust.

—————

Related: 4 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Dazzle Buyers as Soon as They Walk Through the Door

From Our Network

Backyard Bar Shed Ideas That Let You Celebrate Summer ..

  May 29, 2017

Who wouldn’t want a backyard bar shed? Seriously, folks, outdoor living rooms and fire pits are fantastic, all the more so with a strategically timed whiskey smash, glass of pinot, or a cold IPA.

“Bar sheds are simply cool,” says Brian Rhoden of Daniel’s Lawn Care. “They really elevate a backyard to your neighborhood’s new favorite Friday night hot spot.”

So instead of schlepping inside for a drink, consider installing this latest must-have backyard amenity. We break down how you can turn an existing or new shed into a watering hole, and the necessities that come with slinging booze.

A surfboard bar adds a beach vibe to this bar shed.
A surfboard bar adds a beach vibe to this bar shed.Houzz

Claim an outbuilding

The first thing you need is a shed. Maybe you have one in the backyard already which you can purge of rakes and hedge clippers. Just make sure you have enough alternative storage space.

“If you don’t have anywhere else to store landscaping equipment, it could be wise to consider adding a new shed,” says Jay Labelle, owner of the Cover Guy, an online retail outlet for hot tub covers and supplies. That might entail building a new shed.

Rhoden notes that you can buy a decent, prefab wooden one for $1,000 to $3,000.

Plan for elbow room

Factor in size, because a really small shed probably won’t be ideal for a bar. Think about how many people you plan to host on a regular basis, as well as your ideal seating (stools take up less room than a booth). Keep in mind that your local building department might have a size restriction on backyard sheds built without a permit. Around 120 square feet is usually a safe bet.

Consider the bar shed’s location

How will your bar shed fit into the backyard design? If you already have the shed, you might want to relocate it away from a child’s bedroom (or a cranky neighbor with a decibel meter). And if you want to drink alfresco, leave enough room to set up a seating area near the shed.

A Tiki bar shed out back
A Tiki bar shed out backCourtesy Instructables

Your options: Tiki, pub, lounge, dive, beach, or sports bar

Start by considering the basics when designing the interior of your bar shed, says Rhoden. This means the flooring, wall paneling, and paint. Then decide on the vibe you’re going for. Do you want to show off the license plates you never turned in to the DMV (dive bar) or your collection of Polynesian drinkware (Tiki bar)?

The shelves for wine and liquor, as well as the bar itself, can be purchased or made. You might want to design the bar around a small fridge or cooler tucked under the serving side of your bar to avoid taking up additional square footage in the shed, says Deemer Cass of Landscaping & Garden Design.

“And don’t forget to mount a bottle opener on the wall.”

Get wired

If the bar of your dreams contains a miniature fridge, ice maker, and blender for frozen margaritas, you’re going to need power.

“Before you get started, consult an electrician on the resources available in your backyard,” says Nate Burlando, owner and president of Distinct HVAC. Depending on the type of exterior power outlets you already have, you might need to trench in extra power.

Or is a rustic bar with a cooler, bag of ice, and cocktail shaker more your style? That makes things easier, but keep in mind that your bar is going to need some light if your drinking goes late into the night. If you decide to go electricity-free, battery-powered strands of fairy lights should be enough to illuminate your pale ale.

“They also give your backyard a nightly enchantment for your get-together,” says Rhoden.

Even a simple, rustic bar shed will be a major draw.
Even a simple, rustic bar shed will be a major draw.

Add alcohol…

“The booze just might be the most expensive part of your backyard bar shed,” says Rhoden. Once word gets out about your gin martini, you might be tempted to open for business. But it’s definitely illegal to sell alcohol in your backyard, so stick to sharing your drinks with friends, for free.

… and a little music

Bars are not libraries. They are meant for conversation, laughter, and the occasional singalong.

“Just bear in mind you have neighbors, and loud music in the late evening is sometimes frowned upon,” says Cass.

The boring stuff

Check with your homeowners insurance agent to see if you need to insure your backyard bar shed for liability. (You’ll be glad you did.)

Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine.
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| May 29, 2017

Who wouldn’t want a backyard bar shed? Seriously, folks, outdoor living rooms and fire pits are fantastic, all the more so with a strategically timed whiskey smash, glass of pinot, or a cold IPA.

“Bar sheds are simply cool,” says Brian Rhoden of Daniel’s Lawn Care. “They really elevate a backyard to your neighborhood’s new favorite Friday night hot spot.”

So instead of schlepping inside for a drink, consider installing this latest must-have backyard amenity. We break down how you can turn an existing or new shed into a watering hole, and the necessities that come with slinging booze.

A surfboard bar adds a beach vibe to this bar shed.
A surfboard bar adds a beach vibe to this bar shed.Houzz

Claim an outbuilding

The first thing you need is a shed. Maybe you have one in the backyard already which you can purge of rakes and hedge clippers. Just make sure you have enough alternative storage space.

“If you don’t have anywhere else to store landscaping equipment, it could be wise to consider adding a new shed,” says Jay Labelle, owner of the Cover Guy, an online retail outlet for hot tub covers and supplies. That might entail building a new shed.

Rhoden notes that you can buy a decent, prefab wooden one for $1,000 to $3,000.

Plan for elbow room

Factor in size, because a really small shed probably won’t be ideal for a bar. Think about how many people you plan to host on a regular basis, as well as your ideal seating (stools take up less room than a booth). Keep in mind that your local building department might have a size restriction on backyard sheds built without a permit. Around 120 square feet is usually a safe bet.

Consider the bar shed’s location

How will your bar shed fit into the backyard design? If you already have the shed, you might want to relocate it away from a child’s bedroom (or a cranky neighbor with a decibel meter). And if you want to drink alfresco, leave enough room to set up a seating area near the shed.

A Tiki bar shed out back
A Tiki bar shed out backCourtesy Instructables

Your options: Tiki, pub, lounge, dive, beach, or sports bar

Start by considering the basics when designing the interior of your bar shed, says Rhoden. This means the flooring, wall paneling, and paint. Then decide on the vibe you’re going for. Do you want to show off the license plates you never turned in to the DMV (dive bar) or your collection of Polynesian drinkware (Tiki bar)?

The shelves for wine and liquor, as well as the bar itself, can be purchased or made. You might want to design the bar around a small fridge or cooler tucked under the serving side of your bar to avoid taking up additional square footage in the shed, says Deemer Cass of Landscaping & Garden Design.

“And don’t forget to mount a bottle opener on the wall.”

Get wired

If the bar of your dreams contains a miniature fridge, ice maker, and blender for frozen margaritas, you’re going to need power.

“Before you get started, consult an electrician on the resources available in your backyard,” says Nate Burlando, owner and president of Distinct HVAC. Depending on the type of exterior power outlets you already have, you might need to trench in extra power.

Or is a rustic bar with a cooler, bag of ice, and cocktail shaker more your style? That makes things easier, but keep in mind that your bar is going to need some light if your drinking goes late into the night. If you decide to go electricity-free, battery-powered strands of fairy lights should be enough to illuminate your pale ale.

“They also give your backyard a nightly enchantment for your get-together,” says Rhoden.

Even a simple, rustic bar shed will be a major draw.
Even a simple, rustic bar shed will be a major draw.

Add alcohol…

“The booze just might be the most expensive part of your backyard bar shed,” says Rhoden. Once word gets out about your gin martini, you might be tempted to open for business. But it’s definitely illegal to sell alcohol in your backyard, so stick to sharing your drinks with friends, for free.

… and a little music

Bars are not libraries. They are meant for conversation, laughter, and the occasional singalong.

“Just bear in mind you have neighbors, and loud music in the late evening is sometimes frowned upon,” says Cass.

The boring stuff

Check with your homeowners insurance agent to see if you need to insure your backyard bar shed for liability. (You’ll be glad you did.)

Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine.
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Green Tips for Keeping Your Home Cool in the Summer

It’s easier to keep cool when you use a few passive-cooling tips. Greener is cooler when you open a window!

Brought to you by Andersen Windows

No doubt about it, summers are hotter these days. For many homeowners, this means switching on the air conditioning to help keep their home cool. But did you ever wonder what homeowners did before this cool idea came along? It turns out that some of the old-school tricks are still useful today. Whether you want to keep your summers greener or want to keep your energy bills low, there are some great efficiency lessons we can learn from homeowners of the past:

1. Minimize incoming heat naturally – Those trees and shrubs that add curb appeal to your home pull double-duty by filtering direct light that comes through windows and heats your rooftop. With less heat entering your home, your home doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the indoors cool.

2. Cross-ventilate – This is a built-in feature for many older homes: windows strategically placed to maximize airflow through interior spaces. Not only does natural airflow help boost your indoor air quality, it also cools interior spaces efficiently.

200 Series Perma-Shield Patio Door with Blinds Between the Glass Option and Anvers Satin Nickel Hardware

3. Throw some shade – Maybe you remember visiting grandparents who kept shades and curtains drawn during the daytime. Odd as it may have seemed, they knew that this simple move helps cut “solar gain.” With the shades drawn, a well-insulated house doesn’t heat as quickly during the daytime.

4. Maximize your energy efficiency – Sealing air leaks and improving insulation isn’t just a wintertime tip! When a house is functioning better, you feel the benefits year-round. Some improvements, like installing more efficient windows, make more of a difference than you think.

400 Series Casement Windows, White, Specified Equal Light Grilles

5. Cool down at night – Open your windows to let more cool air into the house overnight. Then close the windows as the sun rises and begins warming the air. This will help trap that cooler air indoors to keep things more comfortable throughout the day.

6. Get the latest glass – While this may not be an old-school trick, we just could not stand to leave it out. By simply making sure you have the right glass in your home, you can make a big impact on the comfort and efficiency of your home.

As time has proven, sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Keeping your home comfortable throughout the year is easier to do when you marry new technologies with old-fashioned common sense.

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Selling Your Home? Make These 6 Improvements First

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Selling Your Home Make These 6 Improvements First

These are the bare-minimum, incredibly easy home improvement projects that will help your home sell quickly—and for top dollar.

How to Buy

Buyers, Don’t Do These 4 Things During the Home Inspection

05/18/2017

The home inspection can be a terrifying process for buyers. But it’s a crucial way to ensure your new home is both safe to live in and won’t end up being a money pit. Keep things running smoothly by avoiding these four common mistakes.

How to Sell

Selling? Low-Cost Home Improvement Fixes that Make Your Home Shine

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Fortunately many fixes can be done quickly and with a small budget. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition.

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition:

1. Address the Heart of the Home

In real estate, the kitchen is a main selling feature and can be a make or break deal for potential home buyers. If a new kitchen just isn’t in the cards, consider replacing smaller ticket items and de-cluttering. Low- and no-cost fixes for the kitchen include:

  • New cabinet hardware
  • New faucets
  • Installing a new backsplash
  • Storing countertop appliances to create more work space
  • Replacing dark valances with lighter fabric or removing them altogether

2. Update Switch Plate Covers

Switch plate and outlet covers are brittle, and can crack and yellow over time, resulting in a home that, no matter how well updated, still looks dated. New outlets and covers can be replaced in a snap for generally under five dollars, making it one of the lowest cost updates available. Consider flat switches that create a modern, streamlined silhouette and stick to white for a timeless look.

3. Beautify the Bathroom

An updated bathroom comes only second to kitchens in a buyer’s list of must-haves, so showing them a clean and uncluttered bathroom will score points with any potential buyer.

New flooring can give an otherwise tired bathroom a much needed facelift and create a newer looking bathroom overall. Coordinating linens, a new shower curtain, and thoroughly cleaned grout can top off this easy home improvement investment.

4. Address Storage

Storage is always a concern for buyers. Installing low-cost closet organizers to your existing space will increase storage and organization in your home. Add storage baskets to hide clutter and you will have beautiful storage spaces that will make any buyer envious.

5. Deep Clean for a Good Return

If your home contains wall to wall carpeting, clean carpets can make a world of difference to a buyer. Cleaning carpets can easily be completed in a weekend with a rental cleaning machine, and it creates a noticeably clean, odor free environment for buyers to tour.

6. Boost Curb Appeal

Nothing boosts curb appeal like a tidy yard. Trim and edge walkways, weed gardens, and trim shrubs for maximum impact. If you have a porch, consider potted, seasonal plants to bring the look together.

7. Improve the First Impression

As buyers approach your home, first impressions matter. Ensuring your entryway is clean and inviting with something as simple as a new mailbox or updated house numbers will make buyers feel welcome. Clean windows and doors for extra impact.

8. Add a Coat of Paint

Freshening up your living space with neutral colors will invite buyers to imagine their belongings in your home and will cover up any nicks, scratches, or dents your wall incurred over years of daily living.

9. Update Lighting

While not the lowest cost solution on our list, you will find that a new light fixture or two really breathes new life into key living spaces. If your budget is tight, look to kitchen, dining, and living rooms for the most bang for your buck.

10. Add Some Decor Pizzazz

Finally, a fresh look can be completed with nothing more than some colorful fabric. Inexpensive pillows and throws in a coordinating palette through your home will create a unified look that will have buyers hooked.

 

Lastly, don’t plan to tackle a home project DIY style until you read 5 Things You Need to Know Before DIY-ing A Home Improvement Project!

 

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