Luxury Housing Trends

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Outdoor Furniture Made from Recycled Milk Jugs

If you’re in the market for a new outdoor furniture set, and you’d like to help the environment by buying products made from recycled materials, you can check into the outdoor tables, chairs, benches, rockers, and swings from By the Yard.

The company makes its pieces from recycled materials, old plastic milk jugs to be exact.

Their outdoor furniture is supposed to be maintenance-free and comfortable:

“HDPE is a naturally flexible polymer and molds to your body for exceptional comfort; yet, it’s warranted not to crack, break, splinter or peel because it won’t breakdown or become brittle from the sun or cold. It is actually a wood substitute, making it as dense as wood and approximately 20% heavier than cedar – without the maintenance.”

And if you’re worried you have to buy milk-jug white, then you’ll be relieved to know these come in other colors as well: brown, green, gray, weathered wood, redwood and a sand tone.

More information at By the Yard


Personalized BBQ Grill Grate

If someone in your family loves to grill, this may be a fun gift:

A personalized BBQ grill grate.

YMI Custom Grates lets you order names, initials, or custom messages to be incorporated into a grate that will fit your unit. Hey, you spent thousands of dollars on that state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen–might as well stamp your personal touch on it!

In addition to letters and words, the company will put sports team logos or other designs on your grate. Sounds like a fun touch for the family that likes to entertain outdoors.

The grates are made from heavy-duty 304 stainless steel, so they should last a while too.


Grill Pad Protects Your Deck or Patio

You may love grilling in the warmer months, but you may not love cleaning up the grill. Sauces, marinades, and meat juices just love to stick to the bars, the insides of the grill, and the deck boards and patio stones underneath… ick.

Some stains can be particularly tough to clean up. If you’ve got a nice looking deck or patio that you want to keep free of BBQ dribbles, then you may be a candidate for a grill pad.

Make that… The Original Grill Pad

It is “a fiber cement protective blanket that is placed under outdoor ornamental clay fireplaces, fryers, smokers, charcoal and gas grills to protect your deck, pool area patio surface from grease stains and incidental sparks or debris.”

The Grill Pad is designed to be heat and weather resistant, and you can clean it with your garden hose. It sports a chip-resistant textured finish that can be coated with water-based, latex stain so it’ll match your deck or patio.

From Amazon and available in rectangle, oval, and round shapes:

The Original Grill Pad


Natural Gas Hanging Patio Heater Warms Outdoor Living Space

As soon as the snow melts, you’ll probably start thinking of spring and summer and outdoor living spaces again. You can start the grilling and lounging-around-the-deck season a littler earlier with a patio heater.

There are quite a few models to pick from (we’ve looked at tabletop patio heaters, combination misters and heaters that look like palm trees, and umbrella stands with patio heater bases to name a few). Well here’s one that won’t take up any floor or table space:

The Sunglo Natural Gas Hanging Patio Heater mounts to the ceiling and radiates down 50,000 BTU/Hour of warmth. That might be enough to brown your burgers without even turning on the grill!

You can also order the heater to run on propane.

$883 from Patio Heating Plus


Rustic Barnwood Bird House Condo with Fence

You might not think of buying a bird house in the winter, but when it’s cold out is when our feathered friends are most likely to need a high energy boost. Sure, you could just throw some seeds out onto the nearest snowbank, but if you prefer to give them a haven up high, then a bird house is the way to go.

Any old house or feeder will do, but if you want your backyard to be the talk of bird town, then perhaps a whole condo is the best choice.

This rustic bird house condo is made from reclaimed barn wood and is one of several barn-wood-inspired pieces of home decor at the Cedar Creek Woodshop.

They make everything from porch swings to tables to, well, bird condos (it’s typically the small pieces, such as shelves and planters, that are made from barn wood) and prices are pretty reasonable.

Pick up the bird house (with fence) for $80.


Automatic Hot Tub Cover Doubles as Canopy and Privacy Screen

Okay, I am so getting this (just as soon as I get a hot tub):

The Covana automatic hot tub cover sits nice and snug on your portable spa (sealed with a lock) when you’re not using it, and then when you amble out to take a dip, you just turn a key and the “cover” slowly rises (in 20 seconds) to become a sheltering canopy for your hot tub. It can keep the rain out, or act as UV protection from the sun on a bright day.

Want some privacy from the neighbors? (Hey, maybe you don’t have anything on under that robe!) Then get the model that includes roll-down bamboo privacy screens. It works the same way, but now you’ve got walls in addition to a canopy.

Once you’re enclosed, you can do whatever you want in there, and nobody will be able to peep.


Stone Pagoda Lantern Lights up Your Yard

Is your outdoor lighting bland? Boring? The same as everyone else’s on your block?

If that’s the case (and you’re in the mood to spend some cashola on decorative and unique outdoor lighting), perhaps a stone lantern is for you.

This Asian-inspired natural pagoda lantern “combines the beautiful natural properties of stone granite with unique architecture to enlighten any outdoor space.” Each piece is hand-carved using hammer and chisel.

The lantern weighs in at 1,500 pounds, so we’re talking about some serious gravitas here. “In a world of impermanence, the timelessness of hand carved granite can bring a suggestion of eternity to your home or garden.”

In other words, this isn’t the type of lamp your neighbors are picking up at Costco. Stand out, and set a mood with your lighting…

$1,900 from Spirit Elements


Ofuro Outdoor Soaking Tub

On a chilly winter day, sitting in a hot bath feels really good. It’s even better when you can enjoy that steamy water outside with snow swirling around the bare branches of the trees.

This deep two-man outdoor soaking tub is based on the Ofuro, a chin-deep Japanese tub that is designed to provide a zen-like experience.

These tubs are made by a company in the U.S. using Western Red Cedar (the thick wood construction means the water is insulated enough to stay hot longer than in a traditional bathtub).

As an added bonus, the cedar gives off a pleasant aroma that can help you reach that zen-like state. The tubs themselves use “an architectural stainless steel strap system which allows the tub to naturally expand and contract with out worrying about the wood splitting.”

In short, if you’re looking for a way to relax and enjoy a spa-like experience without leaving home, you can pamper yourself with an outdoor soaking tub.

From Cedar Tubs


Puzzle Piece Garden Bench Adds Whimsy to Your Outdoor Living Space

A garden bench can be more than a place to plant your rump. It can be a way to enhance your outdoor living area with some personality.

If you’ve got kids (or you’re a kid at heart), then you may appreciate this puzzle piece garden bench.

It looks practical as well as whimsical. Sometimes people want to sit together, and sometimes they want their space. Also, the puzzle piece aspect would probably give this a tighter and more stable fit than modular benches and chairs that simply rest side-by-side.

This particular garden bench was custom done by the folks at Sanctuary Gardens.


Portable Gas Grill with iPod Hookup Really “Rocks”

There just aren’t enough household items you can now plug your iPod into, so here’s another one:

The Gastar M-iGrill Portable Gas Grill can sizzle your burgers and steaks, and when you’re done cooking, pull up a chair, and gather about the grill to enjoy your favorite tunes. Yes, this puppy features built-in speakers that are plug-n-play ready, allowing you to hook up your portable music devices including MP3, MP4, CD players and more (so you’re not limited to the iPod).

The speakers take 4 AA batteries, and the grill takes 1 propane tank. Get those things, and you’re ready to take it on the road, since this barbecue is small enough to be considered portable.

$140 from Yardiac:

Gastar M-iGrill Portable Gas Grill