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The porches attached to American residential architecture have evolved over the years.  We’ve all seen the trend of front porches virtually disappear as a secluded back porch has gained popularity. Whether you have no porch, one, or a wrap-around porch, the addition of an private porch area is an idea we’re all fond of. A pool house can be your first porch, an addition to your pre-existing outdoor area, and is made easier to access with a beautiful walkway.

Custom Outdoor Pool Houses

Substitute a Porch Addition for a Pool House: No need to add the huge project of a front porch to your house if you decide on a backyard structure instead. Typically, guest houses and custom pool houses have both an indoor and outdoor area that can be put to good use. In fact, the indoor area can find functionality as a home office, exercise studio or as a storage space for outdoor entertaining and lawn/pool maintenance items.

Embellish the Feel of a Second Porch:  If you’ve already got a porch, a custom pool house of rectangular or hexagonal shapes can add a quaint porch space to your backyard that is perfect for reading on a porch swing, reflecting as your gaze at the birds, or even napping on some comfortable patio furniture without being exposed to the neighbors. If you’re into social gatherings, use it as the central point for entertaining by adding an outdoor bar.

Walkway the Line: Whether you use your pool house as a hideaway or a pivotal party piece, getting to it without thinking is the best way to make sure its purpose is utilized. With the accompaniment of a portable treated pine walkway or a permanent stone walkway you can design your retreat to be as accessible or secluded as you wish.

Guest houses can act as an extended or primary indoor/outdoor porch space detached from your house that doesn’t require the stress of a remodel to capitalize on the design of your yard.

If you’re not quite ready to retire, try the next best thing: work from home. Although many of us will attest who have done it that cramming your desk into the guest bedroom is definitely not the best idea, working out of a backyard structure, like a pool house, most definitely works well if it is insulated, has electricity, and is shrouded in plenty of natural light.

Vinyl Rectangle Pool Houses

Insulate Yourself: The first step to making your business or telecommuting position work from your guest house is to make sure it is well insulated above ground and on the floor. This will allow you to work year-round, with no humid or drafty excuses to detract from professional progress. It will also help to maintain any electronics – computer, printer, audio/visual equipment, etc. – that will be stored inside.

All About the Electrics: Since it is the 21st century, most telecommuters and business owners are well-connected. By installing an electrical package into the plan for a custom pool house you automatically gear yourself up for success. Also, you can hook up the music, plug in a refrigerator, or set up an espresso machine besides finding inspiration using the worldwide web.

Shine Some Light: Lastly, natural light is a must for many hardworking individuals. It’s refreshing and adds a natural calm to otherwise drab and anxiety-provoking cubicle settings. Knowing this, make sure you choose a pool house with windows positioned just right to allow the sun and air to flow in. Proper placement of windows will work their magic while you work your own.

If you have the opportunity to save money on your commute by using your backyard space as a remote office, make sure it is setting you up for nothing but success with good insulation, electricity, and windows throughout.

Some folks see pool houses as just a simple structure for changing in and out of swimsuits.  But, though the name is focused on pools, its uses are nearly endless.   Most people who know the true advantages of pool houses see them as the perfect space for a home office, entertaining, outdoor storage, or as shelter from inclimate weather during your backyard gala. Truth is, pool houses make life easier in many ways – but more specifically, the separate area for entertaining behind your house is second to none in convenience and style.

backyard outdoor pool house

Making Concessions: To begin with, a pool house shaped like the hexagon style guest house on your lawn can come equipped with a concession bar that may serve line drinks and snacks, even buffet-style meals for guests to enjoy libations and a tasty treat. The centralized location means no wandering for direction to a random table either. It’s height and separation from the home keeps entertaining fun and light.

Outdoor Stow Away Zone: In addition to the concession bar to keep energy levels high on cool nights or sun-drenched afternoons, a pool house provides your home with extra storage for pool toys, lawn games, outdoor dish ware for throwing parties, and extra patio seating, among other things. This separate storage area helps keep clutter down in your garage or basement, and allows for site-specific items to be easily taken out and put away.

Storm Shelter: Lastly, you don’t necessarily need a custom pool house to be set for all weather conditions. In fact, many pool houses come with attached porches to shield your guests from the occasional rain showers that may otherwise dampen the mood. An added benefit of the porch follows right into your house too, since you won’t have to worry about muddy, wet clothing entering through your house when the storm hits.

Pool houses provide your grandiose outdoor entertaining ideas with a central location where food and beverages, storage, and even shelter take the party into their own hands for a shock-proof approach to dynamite outdoor events.

Once reserved for the poolside soirees of the most elite, the pool house has really stretched its legs and expanded its reach.  A pool house is now perfectly at home in any backyard, large or small, even if there’s no water nearby.  Used for entertaining, relaxing and even working, the pool house can transition seamlessly to a functional extension of your home.

Backyard Pool house

But, before you can gain the biggest potential out of your backyard pool house, you have to infuse some design sense into your structure.

Determine your Function: Before you can pick your outdoor furniture, you have to pick your function.  Are you hoping to create a party-central that will keep guests and entertainment centralized to one section of your home?  Having a backyard pool house for hosting parties will focus your cleaning and “prep” efforts to one place.  And, of course, after everyone goes home, all the mess will be in one spot as well!  Pool houses also do well as home offices, exercise spaces, game rooms, and even (most traditionally) as a place to change in and out of swim suits, grab towels, and store pool toys.  Whatever you decide, map out how you envision using your ideal space.

hot tub backyard pool house

Design your Layout: It’s important to dedicate space before you start decorating.  What kinds of areas do you see being utilized within your pool house?  If you’re installing an indoor hot tub, be sure to leave plenty of room around it for climbing in and climbing out, as well as spots that won’t be damaged by wet feet.  Evaluate your square footage and be sure to maximize your space by mapping out your areas and not simply cramping too much furniture.  Start with the basics: a place to sit, a place to eat, a place to set down drinks.  Then, get creative and keep your main function at the center of every design decision.

Find your Fashion:  Once you have outlined the skeleton of your floor plan and layout, you can dive into colors, textiles, and textures.  To make a space look larger, color the ceiling a lighter shade than your walls and direct your color pallet toward light-hued neutrals.  For more drama, pick darker, more stark colors that will make immediate impact.  Mix soft, plush furnishings like mission style outdoor sofas and deep seating collections with harder surfaces like patio dining tables.  Keeping your colors and furnishings in balance will lend considerable comfort to the space.

backyard pool house

Take a calculated approach to design and decorating to ensure you get the most out of your space.  Backyard pool houses can be customized for everything from meditation to poker night, so don’t let any pre-conceived notions of the structure attempt to hold you back!

Have Fun!

Hazel

Many homes would benefit from a guest house.  Whether you entertain often or have in-laws over for every holiday, having a separate guest house can allow both your guests and your home to feel a little more at ease.

Vinyl Rectangle Pool House

Save Your Sleep: Nobody sleeps well with house guests.  The hosts are worrying whether they supplied enough towels, the guests are tip toeing around the kitchen searching for a glass only to knock over your pile of cooking magazines.  It can feel like a competition of who can be more accommodating: the guests or the hosts.  But, in the end, no body feels completely at ease.  Have you ever stayed with a friend that has a burglary alarm system?  You hear this phantom beeping in the distance from your pull-out couch and wonder if there’s some problem.  Skip the stress for both parties.  Having a separate structure to serve as your guest house will let guests retreat to their own space, eliminating the need for tip toes on all fronts.

Save the Hassle: A lot of people avoid the hassle of house guests by investing in a hotel room.  But, now meals and activities have to be scheduled around check ins and check outs.  If the best hotel is across town, no one will be traveling to and from during rush hour! Plus, if there are kids along for the trip, they’ll inevitably forget a favorite toy or book, sending a parent back out into the weather and traffic to retrieve it from the hotel room.  Having a separate guest house will allow families to retreat, but only be a few steps away.

Save Some Money: The upfront investment of a backyard guest house will well outweigh the ongoing costs of those hotel rooms.  After you factor the night rate, parking, gas going to and from the hotel, and other expenses associated with hotels, guests will end up cutting travel costs in half when coming to visit you.  Easing travel spending for your loved ones is the greatest gift you can give, especially during the holiday season.

Red Cedar Rectangle Cabanas

Using a cabana or a pool house as a private guest house is an easy, customizable, and affordable option.  Designing your structure online, you can personalize the tiniest details and choose a size that works for your lifestyle.  The world of garden structures is a lot bigger than open-air gazebos and pergolas, fully insulated backyard cabanas and pool houses are serving as guest houses, home offices, and extra home spaces.

Pat SloanWe are so excited to have Pat Sloan guest posting on our blog today! Pat Sloan has been creating since she was a child.  From the first shoebox dioramas to sketches for a fabric line, there has always been creative energy flowing.  When she tried her hand at quilting in 1985, she never looked back.  Now, owner and founder of the quilting design and publishing company Pat Sloan & Co., she has published over 20 books, more than 100 patterns, nearly 10 fabric lines, and has had her work featured in major quilt magazines.

Pat first began sharing her knowledge through her publications, workshops, and lectures, but as expanded her reach through social media.  She has built quilting yahoo groups, forums, facebook communities, and even the group “Quilters in Second Life” for quilting enthusiasts using the popular virtual world, Second Life.  Also interested in beading, painting, and paper crafting, Pat’s overall passion has always been to help others harness their creative energy.

Today, we posted tips for creating a sewing and crafting studio on her blog.  So, she perused out site for what she would use to decorate it!

I’m so excited to be asked to guest blog today on CedarStore.com!  This summer I was part of the Kathy Peterson “Create your own Adirondack Chair” Designer challenge. The challenge was not only fun to do but really showed how easy it is to create your very own CedarStore.com Adirondack chair to fit your decorating style. We had some really amazing chairs come out of the challenge. Mine sits on my front porch and is the official porch visitor chair!

I thought it would be super fun to tell I would ‘Decorate’ that new ‘pool house studio‘ that is over on my blog today.. you know. The BIG ONE! I need lots of great stuff in my studio so I can design and sew and store a few things.

First I’d have to have a nice sitting area. I’ll use it to entertain guests. I’ll sit there to design quilts, and it will be a great place to take a coffee break and read my favorite blogs.  I’ll choose this wicker seating for my studio. I love that the set has a matching love seat, table and extra chair. I think I can do amazing designing in this! Plus I can have friends over to stitch … sweet!

Wicker Outdoor Furniture GroupThis stack of quilts is currently in my dining room and they really need to be ‘shown off’ properly.

I’ll add a Quilt Rack in the corner with my newest quilts displayed.  I’d pick a dark stain to go with the seating area, don’t you think that will look nice?

Cherry Quilt Rack

But you know there are more quilts than on the chair. And of course I have quilts in progress too.

fabric basket

So I think I’ll add a cedar chest to the studio. My living room and dining room are mission style, so I’d like this mission style chest in case I want to move it into the house someday.

Oak Chest

Now I need to fix up the functioning part of the studio. A desk for the Sewing machine and maybe another for cutting fabric. CedarStore.com has a ton of table ideas but this one is nice and compact. It is their potting table. I think sewing machine on one table and another for cutting will work out great!

Potting Table

We always need more storage right? I think this classy Cedar Buffet will work for an ironing station and storage, plus I could put an inspiration board on it.. what do you think?

They also have some great Red cedar drawers. You can build your own unit to fit what works for you.  I have a lot of wool and this arrangement would be fabulous for storing it.

basket of wool

The drawers will be perfect for the fabric I now have in baskets. The best part is that you can build it to suit your exact needs, love that!

Red Cedar Storage

And of course I’d need a beautiful fan for my studio! I’ve been in love with ceiling fans and have never owned one, so I do think my ‘fantasy studio’ will have a fan like this.

Outdoor Ceiling Fan

I hope you enjoyed seeing how a Quilter would use CedarStore.com items to build a fantasy studio! Please come over to my blog and see how easy it is to create that studio. Then sign up for my newsletter at my website and join me at Facebook!


Open Gazebo Pavilion SquareCertainly, you’ll want to create the perfect atmosphere for your outdoor dinner party, as well as the ultimate experience for those attending it; and the food, the outdoor décor, and the company will be integral to your achieving that goal.  In fact, there are times when putting together just the right combination of these ingredients can almost guarantee success.  However, when you’re planning an outdoor affair, especially at this volatile time of the year, there’s another force that can undo all of your efforts at the drop of a hat; er, rather, let’s make that several drops – of rain.

Indeed, sometimes, Mother Nature can get mighty testy when she is not included on the guest list; and if she decides to crash your party, there’s not a thing that you can do about it.  Moreover, in some cases, rain may be the least of your worries, because she does not simply have the element of surprise – she has many of them; and if she’s really angry, she may show no quarter.

Therefore, your first consideration should be keeping your guests out of her path, as well as her wrath.  Luckily, there are steps that you can take that will prevent everyone from being entirely at the mercy of Mother Nature’s capricious nature.  These precautions can also help to preserve the food, the tableware, and the decorations.

Of course, the ideal situation would be to have a gazebo or a pavilion that’s large enough for all of the guests, the picnic tables, and the patio furniture.  In the absence of either of these garden structures, a patio that’s covered by a roof, awning, or even a pergola, will afford some level of protection.

Even if you have a small gazebo that won’t accommodate the entire party, you may want to, at least, keep the food in it, on an outdoor buffet.  Then, make sure that whatever picnic tables, outdoor dining tables, or bistro tables that you will be using are equipped with patio umbrellas.  You can get them in beautiful fall colors, such as burgundy, bronze, plum, red, orange, gold, and russet.  Another option is to put a large market umbrella over the outdoor serving table and the outdoor bar.  Naturally, if you have any other kind of outdoor structure, such as a garage, pool house, cabana, sunroom, or shed, or even an enclosed porch, you should use it to house the food.

Otherwise, it might be wise to rent a tent or two; but if you don’t, just be certain that you have some kind of backup plan, in case things get nasty, and the party has to move indoors.  Wherever you intend to take refuge, you must provide adequate seating for everyone; so, if you don’t have enough outdoor furniture, get some extra folding chairs.  If there’s not adequate room to fit a picnic table inside, you can use a folding table, some outdoor accent tables, or even bring in just the picnic table benches.

The key is to make arrangements for dealing with unfavorable circumstances, and have everything set up in advance.  That way, you, your guests, and your party, can continue the revelry, unscathed.

On the other hand, there is always the chance that your foresight will irritate a certain, spiteful entity, who may feel cheated that she didn’t get to have her revenge; so, just be careful, as she may be waiting to launch another assault the minute you step back outside.

After all, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

Yours Outdoors,

Kathy

Nearly everything, including the way we dress and decorate, the tools and equipment we use, the food we eat, the places we go, and even the way we live, changes with the seasons.    Consequently, many of our possessions are stored in garages, sheds, attics, and cedar chests, for the better part of the year.

Right now, for example, patio furniture, grills, picnic tables and baskets, shorts, tank tops, lawn games, and mowers, are being used or worn every day.  Two months from now, however, we’ll be packing them up, and getting out our warm clothes, rakes, and fall decorations.

Even those who live in regions where the weather barely changes throughout the year, have to adjust to the seasons.  The only difference is that they don’t have quite as many things to put into storage; and that’s good.  After all, it’s sad when something that has been indispensable for months, suddenly becomes a worthless object that’s merely taking up space.

So, it’s always nice to find ways to be able to use things beyond their traditional seasons.  For instance, many people who live in cold climates enclose their porches, patios, and gazebos, so that they can enjoy their porch furniture year-round.  Millions of people have also decided that their Christmas lights, rather than being buried in boxes, should be strung around their arbors, trellises, and pergolas, to add permanent sparkle to their outdoor décor.

Picnic baskets, too, can be functional all year long; yet, people usually put them away at the end of summer.  That’s a shame, because they sometimes get dirty or damaged, or even gnawed by rodents, during the winter (the baskets, that is, not the people – or so one hopes).  Furthermore, like the other types, picnic baskets are attractive, and available in different designs and colors; and they can serve a number of purposes.

Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to keep them hidden away, especially if you have more than one picnic basket, as many people do.  Keep one on your porch or deck, near your favorite lounge chair, and use it to hold magazines, board games, knitting supplies, binoculars and bird books, or anything else that you want to have handy.

In your pool house, you can fill picnic baskets with towels, tanning lotion, bug spray, hairspray (just don’t get those two mixed up!), or other health and beauty products, for guests to use.  Larger baskets can hold extra blankets or outdoor throw pillows, for those chilly nights when you’re lying in your hammock or swingbed, gazing at the stars.  At backyard parties, put them on your outdoor buffet table, to hold napkins and utensils.

Of course, you can always use picnic baskets in your kitchen.  Fill them with snack foods, such as cookies, crackers, nuts, protein bars, and even cereal, rice, and beans (as long as they’re sealed in plastic bags).  You can also keep napkins and tablecloths in them.

In the summer, drape some cloth napkins in pretty patterns, such as gingham, around the edges of the picnic basket, and put a bouquet of dried flowers on top.  Use russet-colored napkins and, perhaps, dried leaves or Indian corn, in the fall.  At Christmastime, use red and green napkins, along with any of the multitude of seasonal decorations.  When spring comes around, try flowered or pastel napkins, and some colorful flowers.

Truly, if you let your creativity flow, you’ll think of a hundred uses for picnic baskets.  If you can save just one of them from the jaws of a rodent, it will be worth it.

Yours Outdoors,

Kathy

Of the millions of Independence Day celebrations that will be taking place this weekend, a large percentage will be pool parties.  If you’re going to host one, don’t skimp on the red, white, and blue decorations, when it comes to your pool house or cabana.

Of course, outdoor décor, although key, is not your first consideration; nor, for that matter, is the food.  If you own a pool, you know that ensuring the safety of all those who will be using it takes precedence over everything.  After all, you want everyone who goes swimming to have fun, and emerge feeling refreshed and, perhaps, hungry for another burger hot off the grill.

Obviously, the first, and most crucial, precaution is to never allow kids to go into the water unsupervised.  Even those who know how to swim, or are using flotation devices, can develop cramps underwater, or hit their heads, before anyone knows what’s happening.  Moreover, no child under four years old should be in the pool at all, unless accompanied by an adult.

So, make sure that there are enough patio chairs, lounge chairs, or steamer chairs around the pool, positioned too much to drink.  Anyone overseeing children must be fully alert, and able to keep track of them; and that’s hard enough as it is, because, as I’ve noticed many times, while watching kids at pools, they all seem to look alike when they’re wet!

It’s also a good idea to set rules – in writing – and post them prominently, poolside, along with emergency numbers.  Make sure that everyone reads them before going into the pool, and knows that they will be strictly enforced.  Keep rescue equipment, such as a shepherd’s hook, or a life preserver, nearby; and, if you don’t already know it, learn CPR.  Don’t hesitate to yell at your kids if they violate any regulations; and, if necessary, do it loudly enough to scare their friends straight, too.

All pools should be enclosed with fences, at least four feet high, which have gates that can be locked, and no nooks or crevices that can be used as footholds.  Keep outdoor furniture, such as garden benches and picnic tables, away from the outsides of the fences, so that kids can’t use them as aids in climbing.

When they’re not in use, pools should be covered; otherwise, open them completely.  Never leave a cover on partway, because kids may get trapped beneath it.  When an above-ground pool is not in use, remove its ladder.  Don’t leave toys near the pool, especially moving things, such as tricycles and wagons.

Never let anyone dive into an above-ground pool, or from the sides of an in-ground pool; and don’t let anyone go down a slide head-first.

It’s also important to remember that even small amounts of water, such as can be held in wading pools, hot tubs, fountains, barrels, and even buckets, can pose perils to small children.

The point is to (please!) just be safe and happy, and have a wonderful time celebrating this, the

234th birthday of our nation; and (please!) be kind to each other while you’re at it (aw, heck, I know you will!).

Happy, Happy, Safe, Safe Fourth of July!

Kathy

As I believe I’ve mentioned a time or two (hundred!), every year, millions of people turn their yards, porches, decks, patios, and gazebos into outdoor living rooms.  This has been going on for quite some time now; and it doesn’t appear that the trend will ever end.  In fact, it’s reaching new heights, as these exterior spaces are also being made into outdoor kitchens, dining rooms, bedrooms, game rooms, guest rooms, and just about any other type of room you can name.

If you’re trying your hand at this kind of landscaping, and you have a large area to develop, it may be difficult to know where to begin.  That’s no wonder, because it’s like trying to decorate a house that doesn’t have walls or ceilings.  Wait a minute.  Like that?  No.  It is that!  After all, without walls and ceilings, it’s not a house; it’s a yard.  So, there you are.

Still, you can approach the task as if you’re remodeling the inside of your home.  All you need is some structure; or, rather, structures, as in, the garden varieties.  Yes, you can use garden structures, such as trellises, arbors, and pergolas, to define your outdoor rooms, and then work on each section as a single, manageable project.

Start by determining how much space you have, and how many outdoor rooms you want.  Make sure that they will all be large enough to suit the functions that you have in mind for them.  Otherwise, you may have to give up a room, or design one for dual purposes, as you don’t want things getting too crowded.

A dining area should be spacious enough for, at least, a grill, a picnic table (or outdoor dining table), some patio chairs, and a few accent tables.  To add more privacy or shade around a pool, place some trellises in key locations, leaving an adequate expanse of grass open for playing lawn games.  If you want just a quiet little retreat, you may need only a remote corner of your yard.

If you already have a gazebo, pool house, cabana, or sunroom, use it as a focal point, and build around it, tailoring the other areas to specific uses.  You can use anything, from a simple trellis, to a paneled garden screen, depending upon the degree of isolation, and the style, that you desire.  Even if you have limited space, one carefully-chosen piece, such as a gated arbor with a swing, or a double planter bench with a lattice back, can instantly become a miniature haven.

Actually, you can have a lot more fun – and a lot more freedom – designing rooms in your backyard, than you do when working within the confines of your house.  For one thing, having trellises as walls lets you change the size of an area any time you wish.  Moreover, with patio furniture now available in so many styles and colors, there are tons of decorating options as well.

Of course, you’ll also be able to select from thousands of varieties of gorgeous climbing flowers, which will surround you with color, and bring your outdoor rooms to life.  So, I guess that would make them living rooms, in the truest sense.

Yours Outdoors,

Kathy

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