Patio Upgrades to Celebrate the Spring Days

If you and your family enjoy hanging out in your backyard during spring and summer, you might be interested to know what fancy upgrades you can make to enhance its look. It is very easy to add style and life to your patio with the following features.

Dining Set
How about a nice barbecue evening out? Now that the weather is gradually warming up, you can think about whiling away your evenings beside the charcoal grill accompanied by friends and neighbors, enjoying meatballs and bread with garlic dressing. Sounds yummy. But where are your guests going to sit? Now might be time to add a few chairs and dining table to your patio. Other than to make your outdoor area presentable, placing furniture outside will also make it usable.

And since the dining set is probably going to be exposed to the elements until the last days of fall, you want it to be weather-resistant and easy to clean. Choose materials that endure bad weather such as wicker, aluminum, wood and plastic.

Add a few curtains to your patio to have more control over how much wind, sun and rain comes in. Since the rest of the yard is open anyway, it never hurts to have some privacy outdoors. Put another way, turn your patio into an open living room. Add a couch, cushions and a small table. Choose bright colors to create a pleasant and comfortable environment for both your family and your guests.

During the day your patio will get plenty of sunshine, but what about at night? Now might be time to add some fancy lighting outdoors. Think cute tea lights, beautiful lanterns or vintage chandeliers. When it comes to outdoor lighting, you can find a myriad of lanterns in stores. There is such a bounteous supply of options that your head will start spinning around and around.

When selecting outdoor lighting, go for safe and nature-friendly options. Use LEDs and solar-powered lights. There are three major advantages of using eco-friendly lighting: first, there is no wiring and installation is piece of cake; second, you will attract fewer bugs; and third, it is so much more cost-effective! You will save money and be nice to nature at the same time.

Potted Plants
What is a patio without some colorful and fragrant flowers? If you have missed the beauty and freshness of flowers during winter, now is a perfect time to add some potted plants beside the furniture. Fresh flowers will add life to your patio as well. Whatever you choose, it will definitely fancy up the area.

We can’t think of anything more relaxing than bubbling water cascading from a wall. Now imagine having this feature in your own yard. Sounds like well-spent spring evenings. And the best thing is you can do it yourself with a little creativity and a few materials. There also are loads of water walls available at stores. So if you are planning some patio upgrades, be sure to add this one to the list.

Who needs a fireplace in spring? Well, to be honest, spring nights can be quite chilly and if you have decided to spend more time outdoors, you are going to need more than a few blankets to keep you warm. Installing a fireplace, which seems to be the most expensive option of all so far, is the ultimate outdoor addition we would like to show you. And it is worth having one (especially if you go for fancy curtains to keep wind and rain off). This is the perfect place to sit by in the evenings with a cup of tea and a good book. You’ll love it!

The tips are kindly provided by PerfectCleaning SW3

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Tips for opening your cabin or lake home after a long winter

You’ve been looking forward to it all dreary winter and now the time has come to open your cabin for the spring and summer! Follow these insights to get your lake home in peak warm-weather condition, while still leaving time to enjoy those first perfect weeks of cabin season.

Make a plan before you leave home

While it can be tempting to wing it, it’s best to give this first weekend a little bit of thought. Don’t forget to:

  • Call to turn on any services you shut off over the winter, including electricity, water and trash collection.
  • Check the insurance policies on your lake home and boat. Contact Edina Realty Insurance if you’ve purchased a new jet ski, boat or wave runner that you’d like to insure.
  • Check your boating registration and renew it if necessary. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, watercraft licenses must be renewed every three years.
  • If you plan to put in a dock, and you need help, call your crew a few weeks in advance to see if they’re available.

Focus on systems and safety

After a long winter away, you’ll need to be sure that your home is safe to inhabit again before you turn on your water and other systems.

  • Check the furnace and put in a new filter.
  • Check pipes for rust or damage before you turn on your plumbing and water heater. If you’re not sure how to make the call, hire a plumber to do a basic assessment.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of critters. Check screens and windows for holes and gaps and electrical cords for fraying or bite marks.
  • Inspect your deck and eaves for signs of rotting.
  • Test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Test and replace the batteries in motion sensor lights on the front door, deck and on the way down to the lake.

Check in on basic necessities

Whether you’ll spend the whole summer or special weekends at your lake home, you’ll want to be sure it’s stocked with the basics. Run a quick inventory review before heading to the store for replenishments.

  • Go through your pantry and throw out any expired food, as well as anything that looks like it may have been the subject of a critter invasion.
  • Check that you’re stocked up on sunscreen and bug spray. Remember that sunscreen lasts at its original potency for up to three years. If you’re not sure when your bottles were purchased, buy a new set and label the purchase date so you can avoid tossing out bottles in the future.
  • Check the stock of your bathroom toiletries. To save money and stay green buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash in bulk bottles rather than using travel samples.

Plan for next year

Even with the best-laid plans, you’re likely to forget the exact size of batteries you need, or the magic solution that helps spruce up your rusty showerhead. At the end of your first weekend up north, write out a cabin-opening supplies checklist that you can use for years to come. Include:

  • Battery sizes for smoke, carbon monoxide and outdoor motion detectors
  • Furnace and air filter specifics
  • Vacuum bag sizes
  • Tools you need to check or turn on specific systems
  • Rags and cleaning cloths
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Toiletry basics
  • Critter traps or deterrents

You’ll thank yourself next year when your organizational habits give you even more time on the lake on that first perfect cabin weekend.


Hoping to buy a lake home this summer?

Buyers don’t want to miss one day on the water, so the market is already heating up! Start by getting matched up with a REALTOR® who specializes in your desired lake home area. Call, email or chat our customer care team today to get started.

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Five Tips For Finding Your First Perfect Lake Property

Whether you grew up with a lakefront cabin or home in your family, or have spent weekends and holidays at resorts or friends’ homes “Up North,” it’s a common dream to wish for a lake house of your own.

If you’re ready to start making fantastic memories involving early morning fishing trips, sandcastle building and sunset happy hours, follow these insights that will help you buy a lake home for the first time.

1. Choose the right lake for your needs

Start by asking yourself why you are buying a waterfront house. The possibilities for waterfront fun are endless, and some properties or lakes may better suit your needs, says Edina Realty lakeshore home expert Jim Eisler.

“Ask yourself, how do you intend to use the lake on an ideal weekend? Are you looking for water activities and a lake conducive to water skiing and wakeboarding? Do you envision long pontoon rides and the call of the loons? Do you fish for walleye, northern or the elusive muskie? These are the kinds of questions you want to ask and answer before you start your search,” says Eisler.

It’s also important to keep in mind what is static and what can be modified when it comes to lakes and lakefront properties. “Elevation and lakeshore quality has been created by nature and cannot usually be changed or modified, but the waterfront structures generally can be — subject to zoning ordinances,” says Eisler.

2. Determine the best location

Once you’ve figured out the kind of lake property you want, it’s time to identify the best location for your new adventure. Start by considering your starting point for each trip — either your primary residence or your work.

If you live and work in the eastern suburbs, for example, you may be interested in looking at lake homes in western Wisconsin. Burnett County is full of great properties, including in the popular vacation home towns of Siren and Spooner. Closer to the border, you may find you love St. Croix Valley riverfront homes.

If you work in downtown Minneapolis, consider exploring the Brainerd area, which is just two short hours away. Alexandria, another popular area for lake cabins and homes, is also only two hours northwest of the metro area.

Of course, when you have a fabulous lake home to retreat to on the weekends and holidays, any area can be the one you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you’ve settled on your desired lake home and its location or need a little help finding the right spot, get partnered with a lakeshore expert from one of Edina Realty’s 60 offices across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

We’ll ask the right questions so you can enjoy your new property for years to come. After all, we live here and we have spent years becoming bonafide lake experts.

3. Think local

If you’re thinking of buying a waterfront home, we’d be remiss not to remind you that there are plenty of great bodies of water right where you live! Don’t forget to consider changing up your primary residence to be on a lake year-round.

If you’re in the Twin Cities metro area, popular lakes for full-time living include Lake Minnetonka and the Minneapolis chain of lakes — Lake of the IslesBde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) and Lake Harriet.

Search lakeshore homes in any city in Minnesota or western Wisconsin.

4. Know the rules

Water is, of course, one of our most precious natural resources, and it’s important that lake property owners take great care of the lake or river where they choose to live.

In many cases, there are building ordinances that prevent homeowners from building near or on the shore. These ordinances are designed not only to protect the water and shoreline but can also help protect homeowners from building on waterfront land that may erode or destabilize over time.

If you’re planning to build on an empty lake lot or to tear down an existing home and rebuild, you’ll want to consult with the local governmental authority to make sure you can build as you desire. A lakeshore expert from Edina Realty can help you draft an offer that gives you time to determine whether your plans will work and can even put you in touch with developers who specialize in a waterfront building.

Want to learn about how the lake is being protected for the future before you buy a home or lot? See if the lake in question has an association that oversees the area. Many associations can give you the history of the lake and tell you how governing bodies like the county and DNR monitor the lake for clarity, fish, and safety.

5. Financing a lakefront home

Whether you’re buying a waterfront primary home or a weekend lake cabin, you should connect with a mortgage loan officer early in the process.

If you’ll be financing this property as a second home, you’ll work with your lender to determine if you are able to (and want to) use the equity from your primary residence to help pay for the down payment or closing costs of the new lake home. You will also have to disclose to the lender if you plan to use the property as a rental, which may impact your loan application and interest rate.

READ: How to prepare for financing a second home.

Getting started

If you’re hoping to enjoy a waterfront property this summer, get started now so you have plenty of time for backyard barbecues, boat cruises and bonfires.

Reach out today to get started on the process of buying a lake home, or start searching waterfront properties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin today.

If you follow us on Twitter and Facebook, follow #BuyerInsights for more great tips on purchasing the right home for you and your family.

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Reindeer Games At The Cabin

by Dale Mulfinger

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care with hopes that St. Nick soon would be there….. uh, oh. Did we design the fireplace to accommodate St. Nick? Isn’t he a bit chubby to fit down my flue?

On Dancer and Prancer and… but wait again… didn’t I see the reindeer outside my cabin munching down my corn and begging for more.

Are they on strike for better quality corn? I’ve been feeding them organic non-GMO, straight from Homestaed Mills feedmill in Cook.

Or is it Rudolph who has incited their rebellion? Has our use of red as cabin color made him jealous? Did he have an international patent on red? Chinese red as on the entry column to my cabin that my wife at one time painted to my surprise?

Are they contemplating immigration issues as they try to return to the North Pole? Maybe they won’t make it back into the US. In what country is the North Pole anyway? Or is it its own sovern state? I’ve tried speaking to them but all I got was grunts and snorts. You’d think they would be more polite since they appear as soon as my car arrives at the cabin. I’m hardly out of my car when they give me that look, “Where have you been? Where’s our corn?”

It’s possible that their attitude stems from knowing the steep roof slopes our SALA designs employ. Maybe we’ll need to hire a furrier to shoe their hooves with Vibram soles.

I’ve set out another bucket full of corn and now I’m returning to my desk to doodle a garbin for the Amundson property a few hundred yards from my cabin.

Dale Mulfinger was born and raised on a dairy farm in Minnesota, and the rural landscape and vernacular architecture have informed his many designs. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, he worked nationally and internationally before becoming a Founding Partner in 1983 of what is now SALA Architects, Inc. The breadth of his work at SALA includes modest remodels and additions, lakeside cabins, along with urban and rural homes from St. Paul to Buenos Aires.

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Quick Cabin Bites!

Presented by Chef Patrick Moore, the “Getaway Gourmet”

Chef Patrick Moore, the show’s very own “Getaway Gourmet” from Brule, Wisconsin is bringing three of his favorite hors d’oeuvres recipes to the cooking stage this year!  As always, his unique cooking presentations combine great award-winning flavors with his own belief that cooking at the cabin can be a wonderful experience that doesn’t have to take all day.

“You came to the cabin to relax with family and friends,”  Chef Patrick said, “I’m going to teach you how to make memorable meals and still leave time for play.”

This year’s “Quick Cabin Bites” recipes include;  Triple Mediterranean Bruschetta, Grilled Corn & Black Bean Salsa and Crab & Avocado Salad.

The “Getaway Gourmet Cooking Stage is located at the back of the 200 aisle.  Free recipe cards and “Quick Cabin Bites” samples will be served!  Cooking demonstrations will be presented a number of times each day.

Friday – 3, 5 & 7 p.m.; Saturday – 11 a.m., 1, & 3 p.m. and Sunday – noon & 2 p.m.

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Wild About Raptors!

Presented by The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota

If you’ve ever caught a glimpse of an owl winging silently through a forest, or a bald eagle riding the summer thermals it’s hard not to appreciate how amazing these birds are. Raptors, which are carnivorous (meat-eating) birds, have been around in some form for more than 50 million years.  And although there are more than 482 species worldwide, they all share at least three main characteristics; keen eyesight, eight sharp talons, and hooked beaks.

Guests at this year’s Lake Home & Cabin Show will be able to see a special selection of raptors – live and up-close at the “Wild About Raptors” feature on the show floor.   Visitors will see several live raptors including an American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, great-horned owl, and a peregrine falcon.  You’ll learn about these fascinating and adaptable birds through expert naturalists from The Raptor Center (TRC) at the University of Minnesota.

Since its inception in 1974, The Raptor Center has become internationally known for its avian medicine and education programs.  TRC treats more than 1,000 sick and injured raptors each year and provides specialized training in raptor medicine and surgery for veterinarians from around the world.  TRC reaches more than 150,000 people each year through educational programs and events.


TRC Performance times on the Northwoods Stage are 4 & 6 p.m. Friday, noon, 2 & 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. & 1 p.m. Sunday.

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The Family Cabin

Presented by author/architect Dale Mulfinger

“It’s not that families simply want a cabin.  Families need a cabin to bring balance into their lives, to recharge those rundown batteries, to cleanse their souls, to reconnect to nature…”  (anonymous cabin owner.) 

Architect, author and “Cabinologist” Dale Mulfinger has been designing and writing about cabins for more than 20 years and is widely acknowledged as the foremost expert on cabins in North America.

His new book, The Family Cabin, is a collection of fascinating cabin stories from 37 unique second homes across America.

Mulfinger’s practical wisdom for the getaway structures we cherish is a joy to listen to, whether your family already owns a cabin or dreams of owning one soon.

He will be rekindling his love for everything cabin in a special presentation each day on the Cabin Living Stage at the Lake Home & Cabin Show.  Don’t miss your opportunity to share your own cabin stories with Dale and to pick up a signed copy of his new book.

Dale Mulfinger was born and raised on a dairy farm in Minnesota, and the rural landscape and vernacular architecture have informed his many designs. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, he worked nationally and internationally before becoming a Founding Partner in 1983 of what is now SALA Architects, Inc. The breadth of his work at SALA includes modest remodels and additions, lakeside cabins, along with urban and rural homes from St. Paul to Buenos Aires.


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Pasta Made Perfect

Presented by Chef Patrick Moore, the “Getaway Gourmet”

If you think great pasta comes from a cardboard box filled with macaroni and a foil pouch of orange powder…think again.  The easy meal many of us grew up with is going to get a big overhaul at this year’s Lake Home & Cabin Show!


Chef Patrick Moore, the show’s very own “Getaway Gourmet” from Brule, Wisconsin is bringing three of his famous pasta recipes to the cooking stage this year!   As always, his unique cooking presentations combine great award winning flavors with his own belief that cooking at the cabin can be a wonderful experience that doesn’t have to take all day.

“You came to the cabin to relax with family and friends,”  Chef Patrick said, “I’m going to teach you how to make memorable meals and still leave time for play.”


This year’s “Pasta Made Perfect” recipes include; Rigatoni Bolognese, Roasted Pepper Chicken with Pesto Tortellini and Shrimp & Garlic Butter Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta.





Free recipe cards and “Pasta Made Perfect” samples will be served!  Cooking demonstrations will be presented a number of times each day at the shows




The “Getaway Gourmet Cooking Stage” was created and built by

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“Pollinators Live!” with Rob Mies

Presented by conservation biologist Rob Mies

Why are pollinators important?  Without the actions of pollinators agricultural economies, our food supply and surrounding landscapes would collapse!  Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food we eat.  Between 75 to 95 percent of all flowering plants on our planet need help with pollination.

Pollinators also support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather and support other wildlife.  Unfortunately, many key pollinator populations are in decline.  This decline is attributed most severely to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats, pollution, the overuse of herbicides and pesticides, disease and changes in climatic patterns.

What can responsible home and cabin owners do about this?  Plenty!  According to Rob Mies, founder of the Organization for Bat Conservation and a member of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), the first step always includes awareness and education.

Mies will be speaking on pollinators at the 2018 Lake Home & Cabin Shows and will teach attendees how to identify the most common pollinators around their lake homes, cabins and urban residences.  He will also discuss the best ways to attract native pollinators by planting wildflower gardens and providing roosting and nesting homes for these important animals.

Don’t miss the interactive and educational  “Pollinators Live” presentations on the Cabin Living Stage with Rob Mies at each show.

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Eight Steps to Buying a Lakeshore Home

Is it time for a home away from home? Buying a lakeshore home has different considerations than a primary residence. Here are insights you can use as you consider purchasing waterfront property in Minnesota or western Wisconsin.


1. List your requirements

First, make a list of everything you want from your lakeshore home experience. Are you hoping to have a ski boat, or to spend your days fishing or kayaking? Do you want to be able to eat at waterfront restaurants you can travel to by boat? Do you want neighbors close by or something more remote? Start researching different areas to see what they offer, down to the types of fish in each lake.

In addition to listing your preferred lakeshore home features, start ranking what’s most important to you. Whether you’re most excited about having a home large enough for visitors or living on a chain of lakes so you can spend all day on the water, ranking your criteria will help you narrow down your options.

2. Hire a trusted REALTOR®

Once you’ve narrowed down your preferred area, find a REALTOR you trust and who understands your buying goals. Your agent will be a trusted guide who can provide insights on the quality of the lake lot, elevation, lakeshore and the right types of lake and lake home or cabin. In an ideal world, the perfect waterfront property will already be listed, but it’s possible that your agent will have to help you over the course of a few months or longer to find the perfect lakeshore home for your needs.

3. Tour waterfront properties in person

While it may seem like you can get a good idea of a home online, it’s especially important to see waterfront properties in person. Everything from the lake size to the home’s natural light to the shoreline and elevation to the lake is important to consider when buying a lake home — and almost impossible to gauge from even the most beautiful listing photos. Work with your REALTOR to block off a day or weekend to tour several lakeshore homes in your preferred area.

Remember to go back to your ranked list as you narrow down your choices. Lakeshore homes, like any segment of the market, come in varying sizes and conditions. A buyer with an eye on a particular lake may want to overlook the updates required on a fixer-upper; conversely, a retiree may focus more on finding a perfect long-term home in good condition than one on a certain body of water.

4. Apply for a mortgage loan

If you’ll need financing for your lake home, work with your REALTOR to get in touch with a mortgage loan officer who can walk you through your options. If this is will be your second mortgage, read these tips on securing a loan for a vacation home.

5. Factor in outside costs

Your real estate agent and mortgage loan officer can also help you factor in the costs of owning a lakeshore home, especially if this will be a secondary residence. Non-mortgage related costs include utilities, any homeowner’s association fees, repairs and winterizing services. By planning for these expenses in advance, you’ll ensure that your first year of memories as a lakeshore homeowner will be marked by coffee on the deck and sunset cruises to end the day instead of emergency repair calls.

6. Start the duplications process

Once your offer has been accepted, it’s time to start planning for the future. If your lakeshore home will be a second property, you’ll need to buy duplicates of many home items including furniture, bedding, kitchen and bath towels, table settings, small kitchen appliances, cookware, cooking utensils and flatware. To keep costs down, pay attention to flash sales and visit estate sales or garage sales of other waterfront properties.

Keep in mind that in some cases, lakeshore home sellers are willing to include furniture, décor and even their kitchen and dining items with the sale. This is especially common if the seller isn’t planning to purchase another waterfront home. Talk with your agent to determine if this is common in your local marketplace, and how you can incorporate this agreement into the terms of your contract.

7. Join the lake association

Many lakes, oftentimes depending on where they are located, have community meetings or neighborhood groups that discuss upkeep, water trends and testing and residential and commercial growth of the area. Not only will you learn more about the kind of community you’ll be moving into, you’ll also meet neighbors and new friends you can invite for happy hour or brunch once you move in.

8. Get to know local festivals and customs

You’re about to enjoy your first full summer as a lakeshore homeowner, so make it count. Once your closing date looms, start researching local customs and festivals and make sure you’re in town for them. Visit the in-town bakeries, shops and restaurants and ask the proprietors for insider tips on the best places to boat, hike, fish and more. Soak it all in—you’re a weekend warrior now!

Getting started on the path to owning a lakeshore home

Edina Realty has 2,300 local market specialists serving every neighborhood — and lake — across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We’d love to put you in touch with one of the lakeshore specialists. Reach out today to get connected or start your lakeshore home search now.

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