13 Stylish Ways to Update Your Lake Home

by Patrick Adams

Owning a lake home is a real asset because you essentially get a private holiday resort. Regardless of the look of your home, there are always improvements you can build to update the residence. The more modern your lakeside home is, the more comfortable it will be for and your family to spend a weekend or the entire summer holiday there.

The best thing about the following 13 stylish ways to upgrade your lake home is the fact they are affordable, so you needn’t lose thousands of dollars on sprucing up the house.

1. Refurbishing the deck

Whether you’ve bought the residence or erected the structure yourself, a lake house comes with a deck overlooking the lake. Since the deck is usually made from timber, it decays faster than the rest of the house, even if the deck rests on concrete pillars. The power of wind and water should never be underestimated.

You can spruce up the house precisely from the deck. Inspect it thoroughly and replace all the missing or damaged floorboards and beams. If there are sections of the railing that have come loose, tighten them down, as safety is imperative! Finally, all the sections of the deck that have faded out to the elements should be impregnated, repainted, and lacquered.

2. Include an outdoor seating area

The view from the deck or the balcony can be stunning as heck but unless you include a seating area, all that beauty will go to waste. A comfy seating area doesn’t cost much, as garden furniture is available at garden and DIY centers at a bargain price.

A sofa and a couple of bean bags are more than enough to enjoy summers by the lake. However, be sure to choose furniture pieces that are durable, comfortable, and water-resistant. The color of the furniture should match the hues of the surroundings (green and brown are ideal for natural settings).

3. Invest time and money in landscaping

Because the lake is right in front of the house, you might think that nature doesn’t need much working on. Well, you cannot rely solely on Mother Nature to beautify your home, as you need to invest in landscaping. Everything from evergreen trees, across flowers to decorative shrubs, will make the outdoor living area more desirable.

Don’t just let flowers or vegetables grow around your house, as bedding plants ensures they will stay verdant for decades to come. Think of your lake home as of a typical suburban home that offers plenty of opportunities for landscaping.

4. Revamp the kitchen cost-effectively

We’ve mentioned earlier that you should look to use most of the outdoor living area. One way is to throw lakeside parties but in order for these events to be successful, you need to be able to prepare food outside. Parts of the kitchen, such as the sink or the freezer, should find their way on the deck.

Moreover, you should revamp the indoor kitchen as well. A couple of buckets of paint for the wall, doors, and kitchen cabinets won’t cost more than 100 dollars, labor included. You can also polish all the handles and knobs to make the kitchen shine as it 9was brand new.

5. A spa-like bathroom

Taking a dip in the lake seems like the obvious way to escape from the summer heats but you can afford the same luxury in winter as well. There are countless useful bathroom accessories that will turn your home into a proper Turkish bath or a luxurious spa.

The biggest benefit of this transformation is the ability to use the lakeside resort throughout the year. You won’t have to spend thousands of dollars for a summer holiday when a warm bubble bath awaits you in the bathroom of your lakeside residence.

6. Avoid using draperies

Since you want to have an excellent view of the lake from every room in the house, try to avoid hanging heavy draperies. Both the windows and the sliding doors free should be free of shades of any type. Since the house is probably set low, you won’t receive much sunlight during the day and if it gets too hot inside, turning the AC on is always a possibility.

7. Go for 180° views

Speaking of the views, if you’re making major changes to your home, use the opportunity to create 180° views from as many rooms as possible. Bump-out windows are ideal for a seaside or lakeside home, so design a cozy sitting room with an all-around view if possible.

8. Backup seating options

Owning a lakeside house is not going to pass unnoticed with your friends. In fact, your friends will come in large numbers when attending a party or arriving for a slumber party. For this reason, you need to have extra seating options ready.

There should be plenty of cushions and convertible furniture to accommodate a large number of people if necessary. After all, who wouldn’t want to experience a part of the lakeside cottage magic?

9. Connect different living spaces

We’ve already pointed out that the boundary between the indoor and outdoor living space should be a thin one, represented by a sliding glass door. However, you can connect other living spaces, such as the main residential quarters with the gazebo, for instance. A simple walkway or a vine-covered avenue can serve as the connection, allowing you ease of access to all parts of the property in all weather conditions.

10. Rustic lakeside dining

As you might have noticed by now, the lakeside porch is the greatest asset of your property. However, it needs a theme in order to breathe out luxury and the best outdoor theme is a rustic one. For instance, you can dine outside at a large wood table coupled with iron chairs. The rustic atmosphere is completed using pillar candles and river rocks to complete the experience and blend in with the surroundings.

11. Open shelving in the kitchen

There is hardly a person on the planet that enjoys doing the dishes and the last thing you want to do in your charming lake cottage is to sink your hands in detergent. For this reason, keep the shelving in the kitchen open, so it would house only the necessary dishware.

12. Bring nature indoors

Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to bring the plant life from the outside inside the house. This might seem like a logical décor choice but you’d be surprised with the number of homeowners who are lenient about placing a single flower pot inside their lake home.

The plants you introduce needn’t be exotic, as you should pick the flowers and plants that already grow around the estate and bring them inside. Of course, you’ll need to learn how and when to water them now that you have turned them into houseplants but the house will become verdant and fragrant just as the outdoors.

13. Accessing the lake

Having a pier or a dock that connects the property to the lake is important.

The design of the dock shouldn’t be too complicated nor should it be too tall.  In order to fit your budget, there are several different types to use.

There are many ways to beautify your lake home but the 13 listed above are among the most cost-effective ones. Remember that simply owning a lake residence is not an asset unless you use it for enjoyment.


Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.


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How To Maintain Your Cabin, Inside and Out

By Mikkie Mills

Maybe you live in your log cabin year-round, maybe it is a vacation home that you retreat to seasonally, or maybe it is an investment property that you rent out to vacationers. In any case, you must put some effort into maintaining your cabin, just as you would in any property that you own. Your cabin requires regular cleaning maintenance on both the inside and outside regardless of how consistently it is occupied. Here is a comprehensive guide to cabin maintenance.

Interior Cabin Maintenance

You may want to start by cleaning the floors because they see the most traffic. A traditional cabin has wood plank floors, although some may opt for more affordable options such as engineered wood or laminate. Be sure that you understand cleaning dos and don’ts for the type of floor you own. For example, hardwood floor cleaning cannot involve any standing water or the planks will warp.

Different areas of your cabin are exposed to different hazards. For example, the wood in the kitchen can become discolored due to oils from cooking. Proper ventilation in this area of the house is essential to prevent this.

Wood in the bathroom needs extra protection in the form of a clear polyurethane coating to prevent it from warping. However, this is only necessary in areas where excess water is present. In the rest of the house, you can apply a water-based acrylic stain. This provides a tough protective film that is easy to clean and dust while allowing the wood to breathe.

Don’t forget to pay attention to your interior roof beams. These sometimes crack, especially if your cabin is very old. You can fill cracks on interior beams yourself, then seal and stain them to disguise the repair. However, this only applies to interior roof beams, not ones on the exterior. You will also want to run a duster over your interior roof beams often to avoid an accumulation of dust and cobwebs.

Over time, you can probably expect some movement in your wood due to compression and shrinkage. However, you may be able to minimize this by maintaining appropriate interior humidity and temperature at all times.

Exterior Cabin Maintenance

When maintaining and protecting your cabin exterior, there are two main factors you need to be aware of: water and sunlight. Both can cause damage to your cabin’s exterior. Ultraviolet sunlight can cause damage and discoloration to the logs of your cabin just as it can to the cells of your skin. In addition to causing logs to warp, excess water can also promote mold growth. Your log cabin may also be prone to insect infestation that can cause extensive damage.

You can guard against most of these hazards by applying protective products to the outside of your home. A preservative provides protection against a variety of threats with a mix of chemicals. A stain may contain some protective ingredients but is primarily used to enhance the color of your home’s exterior.

The logs of your exterior can crack or separate. This can result in openings that allow insects to get into the wood or drafts to enter your home. Products like caulk, sealant, and chinking can help to fill up these cracks and crevices.

Besides applying products, there are things that you can do to protect your cabin exterior from damage. For example, when landscaping, try to maintain a three-foot distance between your home’s exterior walls and any mulch or ground cover. This helps to prevent damage from insects and moisture by keeping debris away. Avoid planting trees too close to the house and keep any existing trees trimmed away from the roof to prevent twig and leaf buildup.

You can protect your cabin from both sun and rain by extending your eaves. An overhang of two to three feet provides extensive protection and also gives your cabin an attractive look of quaintness.

Contrary to popular belief, cabin maintenance is not necessarily more difficult or complicated than that of any other home. It just requires a different approach because of the materials used.


Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on natural health cures and news, budgeting hacks, and favorite DIY projects. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her little ones around or can be found rock climbing at her local climbing gym.

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How to Improve Your Lake Home’s Curb Appeal

by Holly Welles

Summer is here, and lake life is good. From skiing to tubing to floating around with a pool noodle, you’re likely taking full advantage of the lake — but are you doing the same of this gorgeous weather? While you’d love to spend most of your days lounging around on the boat, there’s work to be done. Longer daytime hours and the cool breeze blowing in make right now the perfect time to fix up your home’s exterior.

Spend a few days up at the house and make a couple of changes and updates. Your hard work will pay off when you’re finally ready to sell your lake house.

1. Landscape

One of the quickest — and arguably most affordable — ways to boost your home’s curb appeal is to do a bit of landscaping. Even just cutting and watering the grass can significantly improve the look of your lake home. Hang a wreath on your door and place potted plants on your porch to add more greenery.

Then, focus on laying some new mulch, edging the flower beds and planting some perennials so that you don’t have to worry about buying more each year. Low-maintenance landscaping can spruce up your vacation home’s exterior without requiring time-intensive work each week.

2. Get a New Door

The front door is the first thing guests see before entering your home, so if yours doesn’t look too welcoming, it’s time to replace it. If your door’s color matches the rest of your home, consider staining it a different hue or completely replacing it with one that pops. Opt for bold colors that will accentuate your home’s style and consider painting your shutters to match. Doing so will more likely catch the eye of passersby.

3. Power Wash or Replace the Siding

If you decide your home needs a good washing, a pressure washer can help remove years of dirt and grime. Whether you invest in the equipment yourself or hire a contractor to handle the project, power washing is a simple way to update your lake home’s exterior after a long season.

However, some stains and smudges may not come off, no matter how many times you spray it. In this case, it may be best to replace the siding completely. Of course, this may cost a few thousand dollars, but it will leave your home looking brand new, drawing more interest from potential buyers.

4. Light It Up

Adding exterior lighting is another surefire way to draw attention to your lake house and quickly boost curb appeal. Add a sconce or hanging light fixture above the main entryway, hang some string lights over your porch or install solar-powered lanterns to illuminate the path to the front door.

You might also add wall sconces to the exterior of your home, lighting up its best features and keeping the neighbors impressed. This has a functional benefit, too — if your lake home or cabin is in a more remote location, it can help you and your guests increase visibility when hanging out outdoors.

5. Focus on the Details

Siding, front doors and landscaping are all incredibly important to pay attention to when improving your lake home’s curb appeal. The devil’s in the details, though, so don’t forget to focus on them. Switch out old home numbers for new ones, give your mailbox a fresh coat of paint and update the hardware on doors and windows.

You could even add planter boxes to the window sills, decorative shutters and add a few pieces of patio furniture to your porch.


Curb Appeal is a Small Investment With a Big Payoff

You don’t have to spend a fortune to dramatically increase your lake home’s curb appeal. In fact, you might only need a few spare hours and your own two hands to give your house a noticeable facelift.

This relatively small investment of cash, sweat and time will undoubtedly pay off. Each improvement will impress your neighbors and anyone passing by. Moreover, these upgrades will help you when and if you decide to sell your house.





Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

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Four Ideas to Cozy Up Your Winter Cabin

By Craig Middleton

While it is a hot summer, it is time to start getting ready for the cold and getting your cabin up to date. One of the chief concerns an owner of a cabin in the woods has is how to keep it warm and toasty in the winter, especially if winters in the area tend to be grueling. Here are four ways to keep a cabin cozy:

Stock Up on Pillows, Throws, Afghans and Blankets

Pillows and throws aren’t just for the bed. Place them around the rooms of the cabin to wrap up in or cuddle with. Pile pillows of all shapes and sizes against the bed’s headboard and toss throw pillows in the other rooms. Throw pillows come in all sorts of cozy fabrics, including cashmere, denim and faux fur. Like bed pillows, they come in many sizes, including those big enough to plunk on the floor and sit on.

Throws and Afghans are basically blankets for other places besides the bed. Like throw pillows, they are made of all types of fabrics, but on a cold night nothing beats the warmth of wool. Wool doesn’t need to be scratchy but can be meltingly comfortable against the skin. Indeed, some blankets and throws are made of a wool silk blend for extra luxuriousness.

Warm Drinks and Comfort Food

Nothing warms a person up faster than a warm drink. It’s not necessary for there to be booze in the beverage, but if no one’s getting behind the wheel, it can’t really hurt. Caramel milk is a simple drink that adds two tablespoons of dark brown sugar and a drop or two of vanilla extract to a cup of hot milk. It’s sipped out of a mug cupped between the hands. Though it probably shouldn’t be had before bed, hot mocha punch is also a good beverage to warm up the tum. Ingredients are a quart of chocolate ice cream and two quarts of hot coffee. Put the ice cream in a punch bowl, pour in the coffee, and whisk until the ice cream is just about melted. Serve it in punch cups and sprinkle on some fresh grated nutmeg for garnish. Toddies are traditionally a spirit mixed with boiling water. One recipe calls for one or two tablespoons of bourbon, a tablespoon of honey and two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice all mixed in a cocktail glass with boiling water.

Comfort food includes filling casseroles such as mac and cheese, beef or chicken stew or vegetable dishes such as ratatouille. Homemade cookies, cakes and pies that are served while they’re still warm from the oven are ideal. So are hearty soups such as French onion soup with its crust of Gruyere cheese.

Ventless Fireplace

Nothing says “cozy,” like a fireplace, and now ventless fireplace logs are an option. Having a fireplace in the winter is equivalent to having a pool in the summer if you want to get a headstart on the summer consider doing a quick search of “pool designs Pensacola” or the city you have your cabin in to get some inspiration. Regular gas logs need to vent to the outside to rid the room of dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide, but the logs in a ventless fireplace use their fuel so efficiently that the amount of carbon monoxide is very low. At the same time, the fire burns very hot. To make them even more safe, they come with an oxygen depletion sensor, or ODS that turns the fireplace off if the level of carbon monoxide becomes too high. The cabin owner can put these gas logs in a regular fireplace made of brick or stone or a firebox that mimics one.

Go for a More Neutral Color Palette

Interior decorators claim that darker colors make a room feel warmer, but when it comes to a winter cabin professionals claim that lighter colors make the space more cozy. This is because it contrasts beautifully with the short days and cold dark nights of winter.

A warm fireplace, hearty good, lots of pillows and blankets and soft colors are only four of the tips for a cozy cabin. They will make the cabin a place anyone would want to visit even in the dead of winter.

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Your Cabin Home: Traditional Design, Modern Function

by Craig Middleton

There are many reasons you may want your home to look like a traditional cabin. Cabins evoke a sense of history, simplicity and nature. What distinguishes cabins from other home designs is a rustic, casual feel. They tend to be smaller and less refined than other styles of houses. However, no matter how rustic you may want your home to appear, you still need modern comforts and amenities. Here are some ways to have a traditional, rustic-looking cabin that functions in today’s world.

Clean Lines

Cabins are all about practicality; you want nothing frivolous or fussy cluttering up the facade. Most cabin designs follow a minimalist approach, where form must follow function. A steeply pitched roof is a must in snowy regions, but boxier shapes are fine in dry, warm climates. No matter the overall shape, one thing most cabins have in common is a tendency toward simple lines and a tidy aesthetic. Do not bother with ornate molding, gables or gingerbread trim on your cabin’s exterior; load-bearing columns may be necessary, but keep them hefty and plain.

Solar Power

Cabins remind us of a time when people could build what they needed, using just what the environment provided, a little ingenuity and the strength of their own two hands. To capitalize on that self-reliant notion, use solar power as much as possible. A solar water heater can supply you with steaming hot showers all year-round for a fraction of the cost of an oil, electric or gas model. A solar attic fan will help you keep the cabin cool during the summer. Solar panels, either in a rooftop or ground array, can increase your energy independence. A robust solar system may completely eliminate your reliance on other power sources. Install a solar power battery, or a bank of them, to store solar power for use after the sun goes down.

Durable, Sustainable Building Materials

Many traditional cabins harmonize with their surroundings; they look as if they have been there for generations and will stand for generations to come. That sturdy appearance comes in part from building with strong materials that weather well. Wood is a popular natural choice; use recycled or repurposed timber if you can. Wood-look composites are an easy-care, low-maintenance alternative, and are also resistant to rot and insects. If you prefer to stick with natural materials, a stone facade is an excellent choice.

For the interior, exposed beams — steel or wood — suit the informal cabin vibe. They add interest, highlight architectural features and give height to living spaces while still feeling cozy. Use low-maintenance, locally sourced materials throughout. In the kitchen, install butcher block counters and an oversize farm sink. In other rooms, you will love details such as sealed concrete floors, wrought iron stair rails and reclaimed barn doors. For warmth, a living room fireplace is a must.

Large Windows

If your cabin is on a hillside, by the coast, beside a stream or nestled in the woods, you want to make the most of your view with large windows. Even in less picturesque settings, installing large windows creates a cheery home by letting sunlight stream in. In the winter you will also appreciate the sun heating your rooms. However, to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, be sure you get energy-efficient windows for your cabin. The best windows have double panes encased in treated wooden frames. A tint or coating can increase the ultraviolet protection and maximize the energy efficiency of the glass. Your investment will pay off in performance, durability and looks.

Ample Connectivity

For a vacation home, you may want a remote cabin that is totally off the grid. However, if you are living in your cabin year-round, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity is essential. Keep cords and cables hidden, either within walls or by using cord organizers. When possible, avoid cords altogether by using smart devices that operate over Wi-Fi. Today’s hubs, control panels and other items are small, sleek and unobtrusive, so you can combine rustic design and high-tech devices beautifully.


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How To Maintain Your Cabin Year-Round

By Craig Middleton

If you have a cabin you know that one of the greatest pleasures is to disappear to your cabin for a chance to unplug and relax. As you read this you are probably thinking about sitting by the cozy fireplace, roasting marshmallows under the stars in the fire pit outside or about how peaceful and quiet your cabin is. Likely not a part of your daydream is walking into your cabin to find a water leak or rodents. When you have a cabin it’s important to ensure you are properly maintaining it so it can remain the relaxing escape you daydream about. Below are some tips to maintaining your cabin year-round.

Address Pest Problems Swiftly and Effectively

Pests can cause larger issues to your cabin, such as damage to the wood or unsanitary living conditions. That is why it is important to take care of any pest problems quickly once you become aware of the issue. For example if your cabin is in North Carolina, there are great pest control services in Raleigh that have experts who can help you identify the issue and create a plan to resolve it. Some pest control places even guarantee their treatment and will retreat the area for free if the initial treatment plan did not work. Though you can try to resolve the issue yourself, hiring pest control professionals is more likely to have the desired outcome and keep pests away for good.

Properly Take Care of Pipes and Water

If you have a cabin you do not use year-round, it is important to have a plan for what you will do with the water in the pipes. In the wintertime water that is unused and left sitting in the pipes can freeze and cause the pipes to rupture if heat is not on or is too low. When water pipes rupture it can cause water damage to your cabin. It also means you will have the expense of hiring a plumber to replace or fix the pipes. The best plans of action are to turn off the water, if possible, or to leave the heat on and have someone you trust that lives nearby check on your cabin a couple of times a week and run the water to get it moving through the pipes. If you turn off the water be sure to drain it out of the pipes and blow the remaining water out with an air compressor.

Ensure the Roof is Maintained

A well maintained roof is one of the most important protections against water damage, pests and mold. If you notice shingles that are curled, missing or look lifted it is important to call out a roofing specialist and have them repair the roof. Missing or damaged shingles can lead to water leaks, which can cause mold and mildew growth in your ceiling. Additionally, if there is water damage it can cause weak spots in your roof or ceiling that may later result in holes or caving. Address any issues with your roof as soon as you notice them to prevent any further damage and expenses.

Reduce the Risk of Fire

If you are not going to use your cabin for a while think about how you can reduce the risk of any fires while you are away. Unplug any major appliances that are not necessary to prevent electrical fires. However, be sure to leave on any necessary appliances, such as the sump pump. Make sure space heaters are turned off and turn off the gas if you have properly winterized your pipes and will not be using the heat. If there is good kindling for fire around, such as books or cleaning chemicals, take them with you.

Properly caring for your cabin year-round is a way to protect the lifespan of your cabin and ensure its safety and maintenance. It also means your peace of mind that when you return you can truly rest and relax.


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5 Ways To Improve Your Summer Home

by Craig Middleton

If you own a summer home, chances are you love it and you see it as your own personal oasis. It’s your home away from home where you can entertain and relax to your heart’s content. It’s inevitable that you might reach a point where you can see your house being renovated for yourself and others. How can it be achieved? Read on to learn of some ways you can improve the quality of your summer home.

Landscaping and Lawn Work

Don’t let the grass on your lawn grow to new heights—Mother Nature sees no such thing as a rest. In the months when you’re away from your summer home, your grass and plants will continue to grow and flow with the seasons. During those months, a lawn service El Paso, or wherever your summer home is located, can stop by every week every few weeks to mow grass, trim bushes, plant any new plants, and more. This can save you plenty of time on doing yard work when summer starts.

Cleaning Services

To improve the quality and cleanliness of your summer home, you’ll need to stay on top of keeping everything in top shape. A cleaning service, like landscaping, can swing by your house every so often to keep things tidy inside and out. The cleaners can take on a variety of tasks to ensure a clean dwelling for all. Since you have to do chores and maintenance for your primary residence already, cleaning services at your summer home can take a load off your shoulders. Be sure to consider leaving a tip for cleaners you hire as a courtesy, if you wish.

DIY Projects

Nothing beats the boredom blues like a hands-on do-it-yourself project. No matter how big or small, doing things yourself can save you money and time on further house renovations. Take a look around the internet to find tutorials and videos on how to create a new project. Also, keep in mind that while many projects can be done without the aid of a contractor, there are some projects that are best left to the professionals, like anything involving asbestos. Before taking on anything major throughout the house, consult with a carpenter or similar specialist to rule out logistics.

Solar Energy

It can be a costly investment in the beginning, but having even some parts of your home run on solar energy can bring down electricity expenses by a fraction of the bill. Fossil fuels are the major pollutants that contribute to climate change because of the number of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. When one installs solar panels in their home, they are taking action to reduce the number of fossil fuels used in our environment. Natural energy carries many benefits for humans, animals, and the air we breathe; using solar energy is a wonderful place to start reducing your carbon footprint.

Security Systems

Summer is the season of relaxation and fun in the sun. Unfortunately, it’s also prime time for thieves looking for a quick steal. Without a proper security system intact, a break-in can happen at any time and your things may get stolen; nothing dampers a vacation more than a burglarized home. Keep all the doors and windows locked at all times, even when you and any guests are staying there. Any cleaners, landscapers, and maintenance crew you hire to help with summer home duties can serve as a crucial pillar of security—burglars are much less likely to break into a house where people are out in the open. Also, make sure any valuables in your home are well hidden.

Your summer home is already a perfect getaway, and there’s no harm in working to make it even more habitable and fun for you and your guests. Take any of these improvement tips into account to try something new and keep your home in pristine condition.

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How to Add an Outdoor Kitchen and Dining Area to Your Backyard

by Alejandro Smith

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting social distancing guidelines have encouraged millions of Americans to spend more time at home. Despite the pandemic, however, there are tons of benefits to being outdoors, and it can significantly improve your overall health and well-being.

So, the question is: What can you do to make your home more accommodating to outdoor time? Sure, adding a volleyball net and treehouse can keep the kids happy, but what about something that the whole family can benefit from? One thing to consider is creating an outdoor kitchen and dining area. And we’ve got some tips for how you can do it:

Inquire About Cash-Out Refinancing

Even if you’re doing something as simple as making space for a grill and putting out some chairs, you will need some money to make the changes. If you don’t already have cash set aside for your project, one thing to consider is refinancing your mortgage. PennyMacUSA.com notes that with cash-out refinancing, you will get a new loan on your home and be able to cash out some of the equity you’ve built. Also, if you’re a veteran, it’s important to learn about VA cash out rules as it applies to your eligibility.

Think About What You Want from the Space

When you’re determining how to plan for your outdoor space, It’s important to factor in exactly what you want from it. Do you want to cook complex meals that require various appliances, or do you want to stick to grilling hamburgers, hotdogs, and the like? Are you wanting to be the neighborhood’s best backyard barbecue host, or do you just want to have a place where you and your family can have a nice dinner and relax in the evenings? Do you want a bar area? Answering questions like these will help you get a solid start on planning out your outdoor space.

Choose the Location

Another consideration will be where to put your outdoor space. More often than not, somewhere near the main living quarters is the most practical spot. This is because you will have easy access to food and other items, as well as to utility lines for appliances and devices. However, if you choose to put your outdoor space farther away from your home, be sure to factor in things like sunlight and shade.

Outfit your Kitchen

When it comes to the kitchen area, the appliances you choose are essential. While it may be tempting to go wild and get every kind of appliance under the sun, it’s best to think about what you will actually be cooking, and invest in a few high-quality items (e.g., oven, stove, grill, etc).

Also, make sure you have plenty of counter space. And when you layout your outdoor kitchen, try to design it so that the cook is safely separated from the party yet still part of the group.

Outfit the Dining and Lounge Areas

There are countless ways to build a dining and lounge area. For instance, you can combine the dining and lounge area into one space, keep them separate, combine the kitchen and dining area, combine all three areas, and so forth.

Again, consider what you want from the space to determine the best layout and how to outfit the dining and lounge areas. For some households, a simple dining table and chairs will suffice. For others, a television, a sound system, fire pit, and/or additional furniture may be in order.

Use the Food You’ve Gathered

When it comes time to plan your meals, remember that one way to save money on your outdoor kitchen and dining area project is to use what you already have. For example, if you’ve stocked up on food like frozen or canned veggies for the pandemic, you can incorporate them into some healthy, tasty recipes. And there are plenty of recipes you can find online.

Spending time outdoors is good for the body, mind, and soul. And building an outdoor kitchen and dining area is the perfect way to ensure that you and your family get more time outdoors. Remember to consider cash-out refinancing, and make good use of any food you’ve stored up over the last few weeks. Also, ask yourself what you want from your outdoor space, and pick a location that will best meet your needs. Then, you will be able to outfit your outdoor areas appropriately.

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10 Tips for Small Cabin Decorating

By Tanya Mayer

The fact that your cabin is small doesn’t mean it needs to feel cramped. With these 10 decorating tips you can easily take advantage of space and enhance the comfort and functionality of every inch.


The use of mirrors is the oldest trick in the book to make any room look larger. Every mirror gives the illusion of depth and, placed strategically, it will feel as if you added on to a room. The best way to place them is to reflect views from windows or focal points. They reflect both artificial and natural light, bouncing it deep into the room, so they’ll make it appear bigger during the night as well as during the day.

Go Light And Monochromatic

Besides the fact that room color affects your mood, it can also create the illusion of spaciousness since bright and light walls are more reflective. So go for whites, creams, or ivories and stay away from dark colors which make the room seem smaller by absorbing light. And try to avoid distracting color changes – the monochromatic palette is the best way to go since it makes the space seem limitless.

Eliminate Dark Corners

All reflections in the world mean nothing if you don’t have enough light since dark corners seem like non-existent spaces eating up your room. Natural light is crucial, but artificial light is equally important when it comes to even distribution. A few lamps scattered across the rooms can make a world difference, but it’s important not to overdo it and riddle your walls with sconces, plugs, and switches which will make them appear cluttered and sloppy. The best way is to combine an overhead fixture with a larger number of bulbs and a few additional strategically positioned lamps.

From Floor to Ceiling

Many cabin owners make a mistake of cutting off bookcases and drapes partway up the wall, thinking that they’re saving up space that way. But that way they’re doing just the opposite. If you want the illusion of height, you need unbroken vertical lines. So run your bookcases, drapes, and any other vertical elements you have from floor to ceiling.

Landscapes Over Portraits

No matter if you have paintings or simple framed photographs, you should always choose landscapes over portraits. The reason lies in the fact that landscapes will always create the illusion of additional depth in the room.

Say no to Storage

What we mean is that you need to say no to all friends and relatives who think your cabin servers as storage for various knickknacks and old furniture. If you don’t control the accumulation of things all the items will end up in disarray. The key is in the organization, so get rid of everything you don’t actually need.

When it comes to the things you do need, space withing knee walls can provide perfect storage solutions: built-in bookshelves and dressers, mechanical storage for heating, electricity, and plumbing, low closets, etc.

Distract The Eyes

If some of the things have grown to your heart, instead of scattering them around you should arrange them into a collection and create a focal point. This is a great way to distract the eyes of the viewer so they won’t notice the dimensions of a room. But keep in mind not to make too many focal points since they’ll turn into visual clutter and produce the opposite effect.

With Proportions in Mind

When choosing furniture, you need to pay attention to proportions and pick those pieces that are scaled down to fit the dimensions of the room. That doesn’t mean you should just fill the place with tiny furniture. Balance things by using just the pieces you absolutely need and stick to clean lines. That way you won’t block pathways. If you need some larger furniture pieces, place them against the wall and try to get them in the same or at least similar color as the walls. 

Multi-Purpose And See-Through

Another way to save floor space is to use multi-purpose furniture such as a sofa bed, a chest that can serve as a coffee table, bed with storage drawers beneath, etc. You can also boost spaciousness by allowing the viewers to see through furniture with pieces such as a glass coffee table.


We don’t have any remodeling in mind. Simply adding a porch to your design will make your cabin look a lot bigger. The great part of what makes the places small is the lack of spaces to entertain, and porches have always been perfect places for social gatherings of friends and family.

As you can see, all these tips can be grouped into two main parts. The first part is about creating the illusion of space with mirrors, color palette, proper lighting, unbroken vertical lines, and landscape artwork. The second is about creating an interrupted flow with decluttering and careful arrangement with proportions in mind.

Tanya Mayer is a blogger from Brisbane, Australia. She is interested in writing on various topics relating to family, home, and home improvement.

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How to Design a Weather-Resistant Lake Home

By Holly Welles

With summer just around the corner, we’re all looking forward to some time under the sun and on the water. A lake house or waterfront property is a fantastic investment and a great way for you and your family to spend some extra time outdoors during the warmer months. Like any investment, a lake house should be protected — in this case, protected from the elements and weather conditions that can occur on the waterfront.

Whether you’re daydreaming about a future lake house or actively planning your lakefront property, here are a few must-have features for a weatherproof home:

1. Flashing

If you’re hoping to design a truly weatherproof lake house, factoring in flashing is a great first step. Flashing refers to the thin pieces of metal or taping you see around windows and doors that keep rain and snow from leaking into your home. Most of the leaking that occurs in lake homes can be attributed to improper flashing.

When designing a lake house, take steps to ensure the doors, windows and other entrances are well-protected from the elements. Doing so will save you plenty of headaches down the road and keep your family dry when they run inside during a thunderstorm.

2. Waterproof Foundation

After you’ve secured your windows and doors against the elements, you can start planning how to keep your home’s foundation dry and steady, no matter what storms may come your way. The moist soil and stormy conditions common near lakes can lead to excess moisture in your home’s foundation. This phenomenon can create a whole host of issues, including odors, mold, rot and foundation movement.

There are many different ways to help keep your lake home’s foundation from drowning in excess moisture. Some homeowners choose to raise their houses on stilt-like structures above the ground, while others opt for specially treated concrete foundations that provide water resistance. Either way, you won’t regret taking steps to protect the foundation, even during design-planning.

3. Water-Resistant Siding

When designing your house’s exterior, keep in mind that your siding and other exterior features will be facing a lot more water and moisture than they would on a traditional property. While wood siding is beautiful, it tends to decay when exposed to water for long periods.

Opting for more durable and water-resistant siding materials like vinyl or concrete will make your residence look great. Additionally, it will keep your lake home attractive for years to come, no matter how many storms it faces.

4. Landscaping

Now that you’ve planned out weatherproofing for your lake house itself, it’s time to think about landscaping. Although it may not be the first feature that comes to mind when designing a weather-resistant home, high rainfall and a lakeside location can lead to erosion. This issue happens as water continually runs over the soil surrounding your home. Soil erosion around your house can result in gullies or trenches, which can cause your foundation to shift.

You can protect your property from erosion while adding some charm by planting ground cover over any bare soil. Use porous paving materials — which absorb water — for pathways rather than nonporous ones, which can lead to water pooling.

Designing a Weatherproof Lake House

Every lake home is unique, but all waterfront properties require some degree of weatherproofing. The features we’ve outlined here will help you cover the basics of weatherproofing while designing the lake house of your dreams. Following this advice will ensure you and your family have a safe summer gathering place for many years ahead!

Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

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