Archive for the ‘Exterior Design’ Category

Modern Pool Design Trends

a-grand-entranceA swimming pool is an addition to a backyard space that serves multiple purposes. Most families consider a pool design that is safe, especially when children are present. In homes where the children are grown, other options might warrant a pool renovation. The endless options to pool designs, both modern and abstract, leave everything to the imagination to create the perfect oasis. Continue reading

Popular Water Features for the Backyard

Photo of Backyard Water Feature

Backyard Water Features

Water features used to be seen as an element for luxury landscapes. With people spending more time outdoors nowadays, an element of tranquility is more in demand. In some designs, the water feature is the focus and other elements are added to make it stand out more. Adding in a water feature does not necessarily mean that you’ll use more. Most recycle what is already there.

Water Towers

Water towers are separately standing pieces that each have holes or slits for water to run down the exterior. This is mostly seen with stainless steel, wood and plastic options to prevent corrosion and weakening of the items. It is ideal to have towers of varying heights with lighting along the outside of the feature area to enhance the look of the design after dark. The varying heights add dimension and different focal points to the feature.
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Top Exterior Paint Colors

enamelpaintsThe top exterior paint colors for 2014 are likely to vary depending on the region of the US that you live in. In northern New Jersey, for instance, colors of the cape are likely to be prevalent. This means that light blues with white trim and creamy yellows with white trim are likely to be common. White homes with a traditional black trim and bright red door should also be considered as a top trend. This year it’s back to the basics when it comes to exterior paint colors for the home.

Color of the Year for 2014

The color of the year is called A Breath of Fresh Air. It is a very light, pale blue. This color is pleasing to the eye and has a very calming effect. It is also quite versatile when it comes to complementing trim colors. Continue reading

Bright Colors for Winter Painting

enamelpaintsAs the temperature begins to slide down, freezing winds flow around, leaves fall and snow blankets gardens and all things green, some people start to feel depressed. Combat the winter blues by changing the interior design of your home. It may be cold and gray outside, but in your home, color reigns supreme.

Paint the walls specifically for winter months. Go through color swatches and choose the brightest color that suits your taste. Don’t be afraid of vibrant color. It can be toned down in summer with accent pieces and will stand out boldly in winter. One tip, make sure you stick with the same color tone, like pastel or jewel tones. Mixing and matching makes a home look patchwork and unorganized. Amethyst purple, sapphire blue and ruby red can flow from one room to another beautifully. Ruby red and pastel green is too stark of a change from room to room. Continue reading

Roof Remodeling Trends

Condominium

Condominium

There are many things to consider when thinking about renovating the roof on your house. Here are some things you should know before trying to do the job yourself that can help make sure you get the longest life you can out of your roof.

Signs of Damage

The first thing you should do, if you are unsure if you need your roof replaced or not, is to inspect the inside and outside for any damaged areas. On the inside, areas of dampness is a good sign that you have a leak. Your insulation will get ruined and your wood will start to rot if the problem is left unchecked. The hole in your roof will likely only get bigger and more parts of your home end up ruined. Continue reading

Landscape Design for Autumn

Landscape Design

Landscape Design

Autumn brings the warmest and rich colors that nature has to offer us. There are many things you can do to use these colors in your home’s landscaping. Here are some basic tips to help you create an outdoor area in the backyard that is immersive and memorable.

Block Visual

One thing that is often overlooked is how you can use large shrubs or small trees to block visual access to different areas. By not being able to see every part of the garden from one spot, visitors get a sense that the garden just goes on an on. You will need to plan where to put these things so that in the future they will do the job you want them to. Continue reading

How to Prepare Your Landscape for Winter

Rocks and Landscape

Landscaped Yard

There are a lot of things you can do to prepare your outdoor landscaping for the next Monmouth County winter. When the weather starts to cool down and summer starts to come to an end, you will want to follow this guide to get everything ready for next year. Here are some simple tips to help you prepare your landscape for the elements of winter. Continue reading

Adding an Outdoor Kitchen

Today’s outdoor cooking arrangements are a far cry from the old days of a grill perched on the edge of a wooden deck. A modern outdoor kitchen can include all the amenities of an indoor kitchen, including the elegance.  There have been estimates that outdoor kitchens can add as much 130% of their cost to the purchase price. But the initial cost of outdoor kitchens varies from $3,000 on the low end to $100,000 or more, depending on the layout, design, quality and type of improvements.

Appliances and Accessories

You want to have the outdoor kitchen self-contained, with all the key elements of a kitchen.  The grill, the sink, storage units and the refrigerator, all need to be there.  In this way, the cook is no longer off by himself or herself. He or she is right there with the guests.  A searer on the side of the grill can be included to sear the meat at high temperatures before grilling to seal the juices in.  Weber, Lynx, Alfresco and Wolf are some of the top brands used by outdoor contractors and designers in Summit NJ.

Permits and Setbacks

You are going to want the outdoor kitchen as close to the house as possible, but the cooking units have to be at least three feet from the house.  You do not want to be running back and forth to the house for an outdoor kitchen that is a distance away.  Setting the unit closer to the home and to the pool area will encourage the family to use it more.  You are going to have a gas line that is underground if you use natural gas, and you need a licensed contractor to do that.  You will also need permits from Westchester including a building permit.  A licensed electrician should do the electrical work and a plumber will be needed if there is an outdoor sink.   Remember, you have to shut off the water and drain the pipes in the winter….. or they will freeze!

Setting the Scene

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen

The entire unit, with all the appliances, usually is set into a straight or L-shaped countertop made of granite, often with a matte finish to reduce glare. Some people want tile, but water can get through the grout and destroy the countertop. You can also have concrete tinted a color to match the surroundings.  Under the countertop, you can put storage units. The surrounding area usually is done to look natural, or possibly to match the house.   Ledge rock is popular for under the countertop so it looks stacked, rather than like an indoor-fireplace rock finish. Kitchen designers recommended real stone rather than veneer, which can flake if it is power-washed

WELCOME ADDITIONS

To use your outdoor kitchen in all weather, you can add a roof or a pergola.  The roof can be vinyl or fiberglass. Fiberglass comes in more colors today than in the past, when it was only white.  Another feature many customers like to add is a fire pit, to provide warmth on those Westchester chilly nights. This can take the shape of a built-in unit for the bar area, to add elegance.  Outdoor lighting sets the mood for night parties and adds accents. A stereo system can add music to the occasion, with the speakers hidden in fake rocks. An outdoor kitchen usually includes at least a modest dining area, which calls for a good-quality table and chairs. Choices have improved considerably since the days of the spindly metal, wooden or plastic patio set. Resin wicker is popular, because it does not require cushions like aluminum does. Some people do not want to run outside and take cushions in every time it rains. However, that high-grade aluminum still is popular.

How to Make Your Backyard More Comfortable

Photo of Backyard Water Feature

Backyard Water Features

Your backyard is a place where you want to escape for just a short time or a place to entertain people that give you the feeling of a retreat from ordinary living space. You should to make your guests say “wow…..is that a nice place to hang out”.  Below are some ideas to increase your comfort levels while remodeling your back yard.

Some of our most popular 2013 landscape design and ideas for home include simple additions to your yard such as gardens, plants, or trees as well as more elaborate landscape embellishments like fountains, pools, and outdoor kitchens. The type of design and complexity of your landscaping will be dependent on which area of the yard you are remodeling. Front yard landscape ideas should be kept simple, and focus on creating an attractive visual for neighbors and guests such as minimal accessories and clean cut plants and beautiful home gardens. While the design of the front yard should focus more on aesthetic appeal, the backyard should be designed as an outdoor living space, or extra area of your home for you to spend your time. It is important to create an attractive layout, however, because the backyard tends to be more private, this area offers more leeway in design. Outdoor backyard ideas can incorporate a plethora of plants and flowers, gardens, pools, fountains, decks and patio ideas. New Jersey’s climate should be able to support a wide variety of plants. But before you dive into this project, be sure to create a plan for your design.

Landscape Design

Because there are so many design options for small yard landscaping, it is important to plan out your DIY project before starting it so you can not only create a beautiful space for your home, but also stick to a budget. The best way to complete backyard landscaping on a budget is to design the layout and handle the labor yourself, instead of hiring a professional landscaper in NJ. If you are unsure of how you would like to design the area you can find inspiration from friends and neighbors yards as well as a photo gallery of back yard pics with landscape rock gardens, retaining walls, trees, bushes and shrubs. The old saying ‘pictures are worth 1000 words’ definitely applies when looking for design inspiration because one simple photo can spark numerous ideas and get your project soaring. 2012 and 2013’s best backyard pictures are those that show a variety of layouts, styles, and accessories for both big and small yards. Try to look for images that match your style preference and landscaping abilities. If you are an inexperienced DIY homeowner, focus on simple additions to your yard such as plants and outdoor furniture and save the elaborate constructions to the professionals.

Hardscapes

One of the most common features of backyard design is the addition of a hardscape, or paved area to the yard. There are many beautiful hardscape ideas to choose from including patios, sidewalks, walkways, and pool decks. A deck and patio can be the most popular features of a backyard because they offer a clean space for you and your family to enjoy meals outside as well as entertain guests outdoors without worrying about walking through mud, dirt, and grass.

Decks

How to build a backyard deck and patio will depend on the size of your yard and the materials you would like to use. Decks are most commonly constructed from wood and are built as extensions of the home and connected to the house near common areas such as the kitchen. Depending on your level of experience with construction, a deck can be built on your own or you can hire a professional to help with the installation. Finding the best wood for decks can be simple for surfaces level with the ground and taking on more elaborate designs such as a two story screened in space.

Patio

Patios, on the other hand, tend to have simpler designs and are essentially a squared off area of the yard covered with cement, brick, pavers, or stone. Patios are easier DIY projects to take on than a deck, however, both are projects that can be completed by the experienced homeowner. If you are unsure of what type of patio to install in your yard, consider looking at photos of designs online. The best images of backyard patio design ideas incorporate attractive colors and patterns into the plan to help you create the best outdoor space for your home.

A Pool

Another common feature of the backyard is a pool. Swimming pool ideas can be incorporated into big or small back yard landscaping designs and can be either in-ground or above ground in style. When planning the landscaping your backyard, consider the type and color of your pool as well as the style of your home. Pool landscape ideas include creating a patio around the area, installing a fence encompassing the pool, and planting shrubs bushes trees & plants along the edges of the pool deck to create a colorful space.

How To Save Money On Landscape Design

Landscape Design

Landscape Design

When you plan on redesigning your back yard or landscape design, be prepared to open your wallet.  If you have a professional landscaper come out to design and complete the job, it will cost you much more than attempting it yourself. Landscaping is one of those jobs that are more laborious than cerebral.  So get your shovel and garden tools and let’s get started.  Living in New Jersey, some of your soil will be filled with clay and therefore will be harder to dig in.  If you live further down south, the soil tends to have more sand in it.

Take a ride in your car to see what the newer homes have planted or what designs in planting beds there are.  The flowering plants are beautiful but always are more expensive.  When using a professional landscaper in NJ, he has to get his materials from another vendor.  He doesn’t grow his own trees or make his own concrete edging.  What I am trying to say is, go to a nursery and look at all the trees they have.  They will also have prices on them and vary greatly. Pick the ones you like and make arrangements to have them delivered to your home. The more mature a species is, the more you will pay for it.  A five foot tree may be three times as much so try to buy your vegetation small.  Make sure it is healthy though.   You can usually tag a tree at a nursery and they will hold it for you. This gives you the opportunity to visit other nurseries and price compare.  Don’t rule out going to Home Depot or Lowes to buy you plants and trees.  They won’t have as big a variety to choose from and their prices fluctuate.  It’s another choice but the health of the vegetation won’t be as good as the nurseries you previously visited.

Landscape Supply Dealer

Take a ride to a local landscape supply center.  They usually have a showroom of finished walls, waterfalls, flower beds, etc. that use the materials they sell.  It’s a great place for ideas and also will give you an idea of the complexity of the job.  You can get the materials you need to do ANY landscape job at a well-stocked landscape vendor.  Not everyone has a truck to come pick up the products you order…so for an additional fee you can have them delivered.  Their delivery charge won’t be much.  Often if you live in the same township as the delivery, you may pay between $30 and $45.  This is a drop in the bucket compared to having a professional come to complete the job.

Curbing

You can outline your planting and mulch beds with concrete yourself.  Dig a 4 inch trough around your beds then mix up some powdered concrete mix that can be bought at any hardware store. Trowel in the mixed concrete finishing it at a 45 degree angle from the top of the yard (where grass grows) into the trough.  The 45 degree angle will prevent mulch or rock from straying away from where you want it to stay.

Build a Flower Bed from Brick

The climate in New Jersey will allow you to pick a variety of plants and flowers that grow well in that temperature zone.  Buy cement pavers (either square or 45 degree cut ones.  Bury a course of brick underground on a well tamped surface that will withstand water drainage.  If you are working on an undulating surface, you may have one brick showing above ground on one side and 2 showing on the opposite side.  This is because you need to make the entire surface flat and level.

So remember to buy your plant stock and hardscape materials yourself.  It just takes a little effort on your part to make the trips to visit these vendors but the price offset will more than justify it.  You may never hire a professional landscaper again when you see what you can save in money.  The end result always looks better when you know you did it yourself.