Luxury Housing Trends

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For Outdoor Rugs, Look to Recycled Plastic

Outdoor rugs can be a great way to pull together an outdoor living area, adding a little homey warmth to the deck or patio. The problem is finding a rug made from materials suitable for the elements. If your deck, patio, porch, etc. isn’t covered, you’ll need something that can stand up to the rain and won’t fade quickly under the sun’s rays.

Recycled plastic rugs are durable and can be used indoors or outdoors, so may be a good choice for backyard entertaining.

Since this outdoor rug from VivaTerra is made from recycled plastic, you can also consider it eco-friendly. In addition, it’s supposed to be easy to clean and strong enough to hold up under kitchen or garden foot traffic. The cheery design features a pastel palette with a merged stripe pattern that “evokes the first light of dawn.”

Depending on size, the rugs run $29 to $49.


Fire Pit Table & Chairs Outdoor Furniture Set

As long as you’re buying new outdoor furniture for your patio or deck, why not go all the way and get a table with a fire pit in the middle? We’ve looked at fire pit tables before, but not ones that include the chairs too.

A fire table gives you all the coziness of a campfire, except you can sit around it in real chairs with cushions instead of on damp rocks and insect-infested logs. Oh, and you don’t have to go camping; you can enjoy this fire right in your backyard.

Not in the mood for crackling flames every night? This oval fire table set from Oasis has an insert that can be changed. One night blazing fire, the next barbecue grill, and the next ice bucket.

Your table, which is made from steel and stone (“all natural granites, travertines, and marbles”), and chairs are designed to be sturdy and weather many years. You can get versions that run on either propane or natural gas.

Price, you ask? Around $8,600. It’s true the campfire might be cheaper, but if this is in your budget, it’d surely be a nice piece for entertaining (in fact, send me one too, as long as you’re feeling rich!)

Available online from Yardiac:

Oasis 5×6 Oval Fire Pit Table Set


Cedar Planks Step Aside for “Seasoned Grill Planks”

You’ve probably heard of cedar planks for infusing whatever you’re grilling with smoky wood goodness, but here’s a new twist: seasoned grill planks.

For $19, you can pick up a set of two lemon-dill planks:

“Infuse grilled foods with all-natural flavor without adding calories. Simply soak our aromatic wood planks in water, place on a hot grill, arrange food and cook to perfection.”

They can be used with meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables, and the planks are even eco-friendly, since they’re made from sustainably-harvested wood sources. Oh, and if lemon-dill isn’t your thing, you can also get cajun planks. Mmm, spicy.

Available from Smith & Hawken


Personalized Grilling Surfaces for Your Barbecue Grill

If you’re starting to scrounge for gift ideas for Father’s Day and coming up with blanks, perhaps Pop would dig a brand new barbecue grill complete with personalized grilling surface.

Custom grill cooking surfaces are an option for the grills from Kalamazoo. Different styles and sizes of holes are supposed to be specifically suited for cooking different things.

For example, the meat pattern “features wide open spaces to allow maximum exposure to your gas, wood or charcoal fire” while the vegetable pattern “features an open pattern with narrower spaces specifically designed to prevent asparagus, green beans and other vegetables from falling through.” There’s also one for fish, and don’t forget the solid/Hibachi surface for griddle-work and Japanese teppan-style cooking.

The cool part is that you can have different surfaces on the same grill. Oh, and as for the personalization aspect, you can get initials, logos, or other artwork designed into the grilling surface. Dad would probably think he’d gone to grill-master heaven.



Electric Charcoal Starter Means No More Lighter Fluid

If you’re looking for birthday presents or Father’s Day gifts, an electric charcoal starter could be great for that BBQ-junkie in the family.

Hammacher Schlemmer’s “60 Second Electric Charcoal Starter” ignites the briquettes without the need for lighter fluid. That’s a plus in my book, since it always seems dubious dumping some flammable liquid onto the same coals that will be sending smoke up onto my meat.

“Similar to the heat-focusing technology used in paint-stripping hot-air guns, the charcoal starter emits hot air at 1,290┬░ F, providing a constant, precise flow of heat from the tip of the unit.”

Since this is an electric charcoal starter, you do need to have access to an outlet. To use it, you plug the device in, place the metal tip in the charcoal, and hold down the button. It sounds almost as easy as pressing the igniter on a gas grill.

If you’ve got an outdoor fireplace (or an indoor one for that matter), you can also use the starter to get the wood going.

Price: $79.95

60 Second Electric Charcoal Starter


Quilted-weave Hammock–Napping Outdoors in Luxury

I’ve always enjoyed hammocks, and if I could fit one on the balcony of my condo, I probably would (I’m still eyeballing the compact XChair hammock). It’s just nice to read or nap outside on a summer day, enjoying a breeze that you don’t get if you stay inside the house.

If you’ve got a good tree to use, hammocks don’t cost too much, but if you need a free-standing hammock, expect to pay $200 and up. Now if you want real luxury, check out this quilted-weave model from Brookstone.

“Individual padded strips are interwoven for a luxurious lofted effect that allows the air to circulate more freely, keeping you cool. Instead of a cushion atop a network of ropes, the padding is actually the hammock itself. Your body only touches plush SoftWeave┬« material, resulting in even weight distribution and unprecedented comfort.”

Yay, for plushness! The hammock is over-sized, too, so it can support two adults or up to 450 pounds.

The hammock is $200 or you can get a package for $350 that includes a stand and the hardware to set everything up. Alas, the quilted-weave pillow extra.

Quilted-weave Hammock


Outdoor Canopy Provides Patio Shade

Setting up an outdoor canopy is an easy way to add a shaded area to your patio or deck, and it can also protect a hot tub or outdoor dining area from those passing rain squalls.

If you think of boring square or rectangular constructs when you picture canopies, you might be pleased by some of the more modern offerings out there. For example, check out this model from Base Structures.

The Concord Curved Post Hypar is a contemporary outdoor shade canopy that is suitable for patios, hot tubs, outdoor dining areas, and could even work as a car port. The company says the powder-coated steel frame is designed to withstand 75-mile-per-house winds, too, so there’s no need to hurry out to take the canopy down if a summer storm is coming through. If your outdoor entertaining often extends into the twilight hours, you might even consider some of the options, such as integral heating and lighting.

Sounds pretty posh for a simple outdoor canopy, doesn’t it?

Base Structures


Outdoor Beds, Anyone?

As a long-time inhabitant of a northern state, outdoor beds aren’t something I spend much time thinking about, but I chanced across a lovely looking bed while I was browsing for information on gazebos, so why not write a little post about it?

This “Lagoon” outdoor bed looks like a pleasant place to relax and enjoy the breezes while the canopy protects you from the sun. Even better if you’ve got a view of the ocean and some palm trees swaying above you! Alas, I’ll probably only ever need something like this on a tropical vacation.

To get more information on this model or peep at some more outdoor beds, hit the Jardinico company’s website:


Modern Gas Firepit Has Square Vibe

It must be all those campfires from wilderness trips as a kid, but when I think of firepits, I think of circles (usually circles surrounded by rocks). Well, there’s no reason to limit yourself geometrically.

For a modern look in the backyard, check out this square Dinton gas firepit.

The burner and gas components are made from stainless steel, and the firepit shell is of concrete resin construction, so the unit should have no trouble withstanding the elements season after season.

It sure looks like a nice way to warm your hands (or your backside) on a cool summer evening.

From the Urban Garden


Patio Storage Bench Makes Sense

A patio storage bench is a great way to add some seating to your deck or patio area while also providing a spot to tuck away hoses, tools, gardening pots, etc.

This hardwood storage bench from Brookstone has an attractive wooden exterior (a little nicer looking than the plastic versions cropping up everywhere) and a durable frame (so you shouldn’t have to worry about your guests denting the top of the bench after a few too many hot dogs and beers. The cushions also look like they’d be more comfortable to sit on than a simple plastic box top.

The bench has some thoughtful features such as ecologically farmed topical wood that resists rot, mildew, and insects. There are also drainage holes in the storage compartment to allow water to escape and air to circulate.

The price is $249.95 with the cushions and a furniture cover sold separately.

Hardwood Patio Storage Bench