Bringing the Outside In

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Summer is the perfect time to welcome the outdoors into your home. Well, not literally of course, bugs and insects are welcome to stay outdoors! If you are in the planning stages of your home then consider adding an outdoor room to your home that can be used for outdoor dining and relaxation whilst still maintaining privacy for your family.

Courtyards

In the traditional Arab homes, the entire home was built around the courtyard. Featured here is the Karamanli-Haus, built around 1750. Styles vary around the Middle East. (CC BY-SA 3.0 from Franzfoto – Own work via Wikimedia Commons)

A courtyard is an enclosed outdoor room. This is the perfect solution on a busy street where houses are built very close together. In the traditional Arab homes, the entire home was built around the courtyard. Not only was this a perfect way to bring the outdoors into the home, it also makes ecological sense as the courtyard acts as a natural ventilation system, cooling down the home and helping to control the temperature. A home that has been designed with a courtyard in the middle lends itself to glass walls and lots of sunlight as there is no need to worry about privacy issues.

Porches

Montana Woodworks Rustic Swingset

Montana Woodworks’ Swing Seat might look like it only goes with a cabin, but a rustic element can fit in with many styles.

Many of the traditional homes in the USA come complete with a wooden outdoor porch. The porch is the perfect way to create a transition between your home and the world outside. A fully or, more commonly partially enclosed porch is also the perfect setting for an outdoor swing and comfortable chairs that offer shade from the sun whilst allowing you to enjoy the great outdoors.

Zuo Modern’s outdoor swing works perfectly.

For those of you who live in the city, the porch is even more important as it allows you to experience the outdoors in an otherwise urban setting. A rooftop porch in the middle of the city can be turned into a wonderful garden. Besides providing a wonderful place to sit, the rooftop porch can also provide food as well as temperature control and a positive environmental impact.

A Screened in Porch

On a hot summer day, a screened in porch is the perfect place to enjoy your outdoor space and cool off. A screened in porch overlooking a lake or the sea is the perfect place to relax whilst watching the sunset every evening.

If you are handy, or up for a DIY challenge you can screen off your porch by yourself, you should also consider installing or having removable screens installed. Another option is to install a rollaway screen that can be rolled into the sides of the house and allows you the option of choosing to enjoy an open porch or a screened in porch depending on the weather, your company or simply your mood.

Hello Summer! 5 Tips for Your Summer Household

July 4th is behind us and summer has arrived. Parents of school age kids everywhere are looking forward to calmer mornings, lazy days at the beach and family trips. To ensure that your home does not turn into a wet toweled, sandy floored, discarded toy mess, I have compiled a list of my top five tips to help you and your kids enjoy your summer break in a calm, clean and tidy home!

1. A Beach or Pool Corner

Metallic Surfboard Coat Hooks from Sterling Industries

Metallic Surfboard Wall Hooks from Sterling Industries

Long days spent at the pool or the beach will result in wet towels, bathing suits and paraphernalia strewn all over the entrance of your home, or, worse still all over the car seats. To help you contain all of these water accessories, consider affixing some hooks and a bench in your garage or mudroom so that the kids can hang up their towels and bathing suits as soon as they arrive home, and place their buckets, flip flops and goggles on the bench below. These adorable surf board hooks are the perfect solution.

2. Clean out the Pantry

New Rustics Patina Square Water Hyacinth Basket

Baskets from New Rustics fit the bill perfectly.

I know, you are probably thinking that cleaning out the pantry is going to be necessary once the summer is over not when it is just beginning, however, I have found that if the pantry is organized at the beginning of the vacation, it is easier for my kids to grab what they are looking for without having to make a huge mess in the process. Try and make sure that your pantry is full of healthy and nutritious snacks.  Filling the easy to reach shelves with wicker fruit baskets and snack-size dried fruits is a great way to make sure that we all reach for healthier snacks

3. Tidy the Toys

Blue Wave Heatseeker

Organize the water toys and pull them our for summer!

Cleaning out toys is a fun activity for parents and kids to enjoy together. This is also a perfect opportunity to donate toys that your children have outgrown. There are many organizations all over the USA that will be happy to receive your gently used toys.  Charities with branches all over the USA include Goodwill and Toys for Tots.

4. Indoor Options

When it is too hot to play outside and you don’t have time to run to the pool, make sure that there are plenty of activities your kids can enjoy indoors. As a family of bookworms we have a comfy corner in our home complete with beanbags, cushions and a small bookcase that is particularly welcoming to young readers. Encourage your kids to read or look through books by displaying books on a shelf and rotating them regularly. Click here for instructions on how to make an inexpensive shelf yourself.

5. Hang a Hammock!

Nothing says summer quite like a hammock. If you are lucky enough to have some large trees in your garden take advantage of them, otherwise, hang it from a hammock stand. The hammock is sure to become a favorite relaxing spot all summer long.

Couple in hammock; CC BY-SA 2.0 by Flickr user ReubenInStt