Latest posts

Grow a Vertical Garden on Your Deck

There’s nothing healthier than eating vegetables from your own garden — no need for chemicals, petroleum-based fertilizers, or depleted soil — and it doesn’t get any fresher than when you pluck a few tomatoes right from the vine and add them to a dinner salad minutes later. But if you live in a townhouse or an urban home with a postage-stamp backyard, you might not feel you have room.

There are lots of create ways to grow vegetables in confined spaces though. Container (pots) gardens are popular, and this picture shows a classy version of that concept: a vertical garden rising from the sides of the deck.

Built by Decking London, this attractive growing space not only lets the homeowner plant vegetables right outside the kitchen door, but it also provides privacy from closely placed neighbors. Too, the walls and overhead slats offer shade on hot summer days.

vertical garden on the deck

Portable Indoor/Outdoor Speaker Lets You Rock on Anywhere

If you want to entertain in the backyard, music is a must. We’ve looked at a variety of outdoor speakers that are hidden in the ground or are disguised as a rock or tree stump, but what if you want a unit you can move around and use anywhere?

This portable indoor/outdoor speaker from Hammacher Schlemmer might do the trick:

In evaluations by The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute, this wireless all-weather speaker delivered “great clarity and quality sound,” surpassing all other models for audio quality and signal range… In tests for signal range, the speaker maintained a connection with the included iPod dock transmitter 450′ away when in line of sight outdoors–200′ further then the next closest model. The Best Speaker’s three-channel transmitter operates over the 2.4GHz radio band, instantly jumping to open channels to avoid interference from microwaves and household appliances that jammed other speakers’ signals.

The speaker’s rechargeable NiMH battery provides up to 10 hours of cordless power on a three-hour charge or it can be plugged into AC… Its weather-resistant white ABS cabinet will endure years of outdoor exposure. Transmitter plugs into AC and recharges a docked iPod’s battery.

$800.

portable-indoor-outdoor-speaker

Nespresso Pixie Compact Espresso Maker for Home Use

If you love the idea of making lattes, cappuccinos, and other espresso drinks at home–no need to put on clothes and stumble out into the daylight to hit the Starbucks!–then an espresso maker can be a great investment. Not only is it convenient, but you’ll save money, especially if you usually get the pricy coffee drinks (me and my triple grande +milk substitute latte know all about it).

Big espresso makers that grind the beans and everything can take up a large chunk of counter space, though, and they’re expensive to boot. The $250 Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker from Williams Sonoma appears to be a space-saving alternative.

“Meet the Pixie: an eye-catching new single-cup machine that combines a super-compact silhouette with superb espresso-making abilities. The smallest Nespresso machine ever, this stylish little dynamo adds impact to your kitchenscape with its sleek, urban design and bold color. Easy to use, it’s the ideal size for small kitchens, apartments and offices. “

By the way, if you usually get soy or rice milk in your lattes at the espresso stand, try coconut, oat, or hemp milk for a fun (healthier) alternative at home!

nespress-pixie-coffee-maker

Nespresso Home Espresso Machine

“Asteroid” Garden Floor Lamp Lights up the Outdoors

Outdoor lighting is a must, for security at night and–of course!–for entertaining purposes. We’ve looked at some cool options before:

And here’s another unique offering: the Asteroid Garden Floor Lamp.

Designed to rest on your patio or deck (though fine for indoor use too), the Asteroid lamp features 24 facets, each with its own unique geometry. Measurements run 30cm x 26cm x 29cm, and it is available in clear and matt white finishes.

$215: Asteroid Floor Lamp

Asteroid Outdoor Lamp

Residential Steel Decking Offers Low Maintenance Alternative to Wood

It’s true that wood decks are the norm, and we’ve looked at some beautiful examples (such as this handsome tigerwood deck), but wood does require periodic maintenance to keep it looking good, especially in damp climates such as the Pacific Northwest. Also, if you live near the ocean, wood receives an extra battering from the harsh maritime air.

You can look into composite decking materials that are made to look like wood, or you could try something completely different, such as steel.

A high-tech finishing process will keep steel from rusting, making it virtually maintenance free. Its strength means your deck will hold the entire family for barbecue after barbecue–no worrying about rotting supports or other problems that afflict wood over time. No need to paint or stain it either.

Steel decks are also designed so they don’t heat up under the sun, so no worrying about scorched bare feet. Expect 50-year warranties with this sturdy material.

More information at Xccent Decking (they do steel decks and docks).

Steel deck

Another steel decking example

Triangular Sink Vanity Offers Unique Look for the Bathroom

Need a new vanity in your bathroom? The Decolav Wood Triangular Pedestal isn’t something you see every day.

The interesting sink vanity is made from solid wood with a butcher block finish. It comes with a tempered transparent glass top and shelf, and its cut-out drawer and shelf add storage. The matching mirror and display shelf are included.

You can get more details from the Decolav site, and you can find the wood vanity online with prices starting around $1,000.

If you’re looking for more bathroom vanity ideas, check out these older posts:

wood-triangular-bathroom-sink-vanity

LED “Waterfall” Bathroom Sink Faucet

If you’re planning a bathroom remodel, then you’ve probably got ideas for a cool shower, tub, sink, and maybe even a heated commode. You’ll need a faucet for the sink as well. Do you want elegant and sophisticated? Or cool?

This illuminated “Waterfall” faucet probably falls into the latter category.

The single-handle chrome faucet features a built-in LED light that changes color according to the water temperature. No batteries are needed, and the light is automatically activated when the faucet senses water flow.

$150 at Amazon: Modern Single Handle Waterfall LED Bathroom Vessel Sink Faucet

(If this particular style doesn’t float your boat, try searching for “LED faucets” over there as there are quite a few in the store.)

waterfall-led-bathroom-faucet

Decks with Built-in Planters, Arbors, Pergolas, etc.

For many folks, the deck is the foundation of the outdoor living area, especially if you live in a damp climate where puddles gather on patios and muddy up the lawn. But a deck can do much more than give you a dry place to entertain.

Try building in benches, planters, and even an arbor or pergola (an overhead structure that can have an open or closed ceiling). Planters make it easy to add greenery, and you can even try kiwi or grape vines if you build an arbor or some sort of vertical support structure for them.

Adding these sorts of features can create extra seating, privacy (once those plants grow up, the neighbors won’t be able to see into your deck area), or just extra interest for the eyes.

For deck design ideas, check out Great Design Ideas from Top Deck Designers (English and English Edition)

Deck with built in planters and arbor

Cute Towel Racks for the Children’s Bathroom

If you’re lucky enough to have a bathroom you can dedicate to the children (so they stay out of yours!), then you might want to do some fun things with it. Perhaps a little kid-friendly decorating?

Any of these towel racks (made by different Etsy artists) could be fun for the young ones:

This cute owl is $30 at Julie Malhotra’s shop.

owl towel rack

“My custom hand painted peg towel/coat rack are cut out of 1/2 inch MDF, with two keyholes cut out in the back for easy and secure hanging.

These 2 peg hooks are perfect for the bedroom or bathroom. Each peg measures 2 inches. Horse is 12 inches wide and 8 inches high.”

The Fairy Mushroom Rack would be fun in a children’s bedroom or bathroom. $50 from Lori Biebel.

mushrooms kids towel rack

“This clothing rack with gingham check mushrooms, a vintage fairy and a little blue bird will add the perfect touch to your little girl’s nursery, bedroom or bathroom.

Shelf matches nicely to all the Pottery Barn bedroom themes.

Any color can be requested for rack.”

This little frog is only $12 from Pink Fish Studios.

frog coat/towel rack

“They are coat hangers or pegs for your child to hang their things on. Perfect in any room or bathroom. So very sweet and cute and are very versatile to match any room decor. You are purchasing one coat peg. I have shown some of the others in the pictures to give you and idea of others that are listed. Enjoy and thanks for looking!

size is approx 5″ wide 1/2″thick and peg is about 3″ from wall. They are all drilled with a keyhole for easy hanging.”

Mosaic Glass Tile Designs Add Interest to Your Swimming Pool

If you’re designing a new swimming pool for your backyard, or fixing up your old one, you might add mosaics to the bottom for interest. With glass tiles, you can do patterns that line the entire bottom, or you can simply accent with a whimsical image or two.

You can find stock designs, or you can have one custom-made. Mosaic tiles can range from a few dollars to thousands, so you can spruce up the pool on a budget or get crazy and extravagant.

One of the nice things about mosaic tile designs is you don’t have to plan them as a part of your initial installation. Even if your pool is ten years old, you can add them.

For lots of ideas on pool design, try browsing through magazines and books for pictures. The Pool Idea Book (Tauton’s Idea Book Series) is a solid resource.

mosaic-glass-tile-design-swimming-pool

swimming-pool-mosaic-glass-tile-design