Each object in a home serves a purpose, but for those who experience dizziness and numbness, many of them can also be a potential hazard. Taking steps to reduce the risk of falling in your home is a worthy exercise for any homeowner, especially if you have elderly family members or young children living in your home or visiting often. Here are some ways you can fall proof the rooms in your home.
How to Fall Proof Your Home
The kitchen is synonymous with spills and messes. When these accidents happen, be sure to clean them up quickly and thoroughly to reduce the risk of a falling injury. Slippery floors have been the culprit of countless broken bones and bruises, so it’s best to wait until the cleaned spot is dry until you resume cooking.
Stay low to the ground as much as possible by keeping your most used items like spices, cooking utensils, and hand towels within reach to reduce the number of times you need to use a step stool.
In the bathroom surfaces are often slippery and slick, and the hard tile makes for an unforgiving landing spot. It’s common for homeowners to place a non-slip mat in the shower or tub to reduce the risk of slipping and falling. Grab bars are a more permanent option for making the bathroom safer. For those interested in installing a grab bar but have reservations about the aesthetics of installing a grab bar, look at pieces that align with your existing décor. Match the grab bar with your shower head, shower rod, and towel racks to make it fit with the space.
The key to preventing falls in the bedroom is visibility. Bedrooms are cozy, intimate spaces, which means that space can often be limited. Keep all pathways clear and make sure that your nightstands and bedside lamps are well within reach. Stow any cords next to your bed to avoid tripping over them in the night.
We’ve all taken a tumble on the stairs at some point or another. To mitigate the risk of falling, keep your stairs organized at all times. It’s easy for clutter to build up at the top or bottom of the stairs or on platforms between floors, but these objects are tripping hazards. Consider installing a handrail if you don’t have one or add a second one if you currently only have a handrail on one side.
For more information on home safety, cleaning tips, and more, visit the living section of our blog.
Much can be determined about the conditions of a local real estate market by its supply and demand. When the supply of available homes is greater than demand, it’s referred to as a buyer’s market. Reduced listing prices, longer days on market, and an increased number of re-listings are also signs of a buyer’s market. While the current market is far from favoring buyers, it’s still a good idea to understand how a shift in the conditions could impact your search for a new home when the time comes.
What is a Buyer’s Market?
A buyer’s market creates ideal conditions for those looking to purchase a home. With more homes on the market than buyers, sellers must compete to gain their attention. In a buyer’s market, inventory is high, which means buyers can take their time in finding the right home as there is simply more to choose from. It’s common for homes to be on the market for longer periods of time. Sellers will sometimes need to drop their price to gain a competitive advantage, a selling tactic that is not nearly as common in hotter markets. To get a gauge of your local market conditions, talk to your Windermere agent about the current home price, sales, and inventory figures in your area.
How to Approach a Buyer’s Market
It’s understood that a buyer’s market favors buyers, but how can they utilize this advantage as they explore available listings? For one, buyers can be picky about finding the right home. Unlike a seller’s market, buyers have the luxury of weighing comparative advantages between homes knowing that time is on their side.
The conditions of a buyer’s market favor the buyer when it comes to negotiations as well. With fewer people buying homes, sellers are willing to be more flexible during the negotiation process, which gives buyers leverage. This underlines the benefits of working with a buyer’s agent. Buyer’s agents deliver significant value to the clients they represent in their ability to find the right home, streamline the buying process, and handle the negotiations and offer phases of a home purchase.
If you are selling a home while looking to purchase, you likely have the opportunity to make your offer contingent on the sale of your existing home, whereas in a seller’s market, there is a low chance of getting a contingent offer accepted. Contingent offers can be tricky, but when done correctly, it means that you don’t have to buy if you can’t sell.
When an agent sees that a home has been on the market for quite some time, that will fuel their ability to negotiate a lower price. In these market conditions, the chances are low that buyers will enter a bidding war or that a home will suddenly sell overnight to a competing offer. However, once buyers have identified their top candidate home, they should work with their agent to form a strategy for making a successful offer.
Sellers will be doing the most they can to make their homes stand out amongst the high number of available listings. It’s common for them to make repairs, upgrades, and other improvements to their homes before placing them on the market to entice buyers. Accordingly, a buyer’s leverage in negotiations carries through to contingencies, where they can work with their agent to negotiate repairs—a proposition that sellers will be more open to, given the limited number of buyers.
The conditions of a buyer’s market put the buyer in a favorable position as they go about finding the right home. For more information on how to increase your buying power, talk to your Windermere agent. If you are interested in understanding more about your local market conditions, or are looking to purchase a home, connect with a Windermere agent here:
All of us at Windermere Real Estate are proud to kick off another season as the “Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks.” Since 2016, we’ve partnered with the Seahawks to #TackleHomelessness by donating $100 for every Seahawks defensive tackle made in a home game. And for the third season in a row, the money raised will go to Mary’s Place, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting homeless families in the greater Seattle area. Mary’s Place works to provide safe and inclusive shelter and services that support women, children, and families through their journey out of homelessness.
Mary’s Place’s mission and the work of the Windermere Foundation go hand-in hand. Last year, we were able to donate $32,100 which brought our #TackleHomelessness total to $160,300 donated over the past five seasons. We look forward to raising even more this year!
There are a variety of reasons that a homeowner may decide to remodel their bathroom; they could be looking to increase the value of their home for a future sale, they may have discovered repairs that need to be made, or perhaps they’re simply looking to maximize their enjoyment of the space. Whatever your motivation may be, consider the following information before the hammer hits the tile to make sure your bathroom remodel turns out as successful as you’d hoped.
A Guide to Remodeling Your Bathroom
Which bathroom remodel projects have the highest ROI?
Before you decide which projects to tackle, it’s worth your while to identify which bathroom remodeling projects have the highest ROI. This can be especially helpful if you’re thinking about selling your home in the near future. According to recent nationwide data released by Remodeling Magazine, bathroom remodels can have as high as a sixty percent return on cost, while larger projects like bathroom additions return roughly fifty percent of their costs. The point is you likely won’t recoup every dollar you spend on your bathroom remodel, so choose your projects wisely. If you’re preparing to sell your home, talk to your agent about which bathroom projects are seeing the highest return in your local area.
How can I save on my bathroom remodel?
There are various ways to keep your costs down when remodeling your bathroom, but it depends on the scope of your project. If, while preparing to sell your home, you identify a handful of outstanding repairs that need to be fixed before you list, it may be difficult to pull off a low-budget bathroom remodel while still fetching a competitive sales price. Neglecting these issues can be a costly mistake, and in some cases can even jeopardize a sale.
One way to save money on your bathroom remodel is to do it yourself. Identify the pros and cons of either doing a project DIY or hiring a professional. Though you may save money on labor, if you get in over your head on a project the costs can add up quickly, and you may end up having to hire a contractor to remedy the situation. If you decide to hire a contractor, thoroughly research multiple companies, ask for referrals from family and friends, and get multiple quotes before deciding which is best for the job.
Simple Bathroom Upgrades
As the scope of a bathroom remodel changes, so do its costs. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, a midrange bathroom remodel cost an average of roughly $24,000 nationwide, while an upscale bathroom remodel was just over $75,000. But fear not, there are ways to give your bathroom a makeover without having to break the bank. Here are a few ideas for budget-friendly bathroom upgrades.
Refinish Your Tub: Remove all hardware from your tub and sand the entire surface smooth, evening out any chips or cracks and filling them with epoxy. Once the epoxy has dried, sand those areas one more time. Apply multiple layers of primer and topcoat as advised and buff the surface to finish off the job.
Add Décor: A well-decorated bathroom can revitalize the space. Add a fresh coat of paint to the walls, install a new faucet and shower head, and match your towel rods and shower curtains for a quick bathroom refresh.
Finishing Touches: The right bathroom lighting can make all the difference. Experiment with softer light bulbs or dimmers to create a sense of calm and relaxation. Add candles, scented oils, and new towels to make your bathroom feel like your own personal spa.
For more ideas on remodels, décor, and all things home design, visit the design page on our blog.
Since 1989, the Windermere Foundation has supported low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S. Earlier this year, the Foundation proudly crossed the $44 million mark in total donations.
2021 has been an active year for giving back at Windermere. Our offices have continued to support their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, donating time and money to local organizations. In June, Windermere celebrated its 37th Annual Community Service Day, which saw agents and staff from across the Windermere footprint show up in force to partner with local organizations serving a variety of needs. When all was said and done, this year’s Community Service Day resulted in hundreds of hours of volunteer time and over $269,000 in donations.
A swimming pool can turn a backyard into a grotto, an oasis, an at-home vacation spot. But to let the poolside good times roll, they require maintenance. Your local climate can often dictate how much you use your pool. For some homeowners, you may be swimming in your pool year-round. For others, the pool may be a summer ritual, only to close it up once fall temperatures start to plummet. No matter how often you use your pool, these tips will help you keep it in tip-top shape.
5 Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance
1. Keep Your Pool Water Balanced
A well-balanced pool maintains the correct levels of chemicals and, through filtration and disinfection, avoids having to change the pool water year after year. The main levels of concern are pH, total alkalinity, chlorine levels and calcium hardness. Aim to keep these levels within the following parameters:
pH: 7.2 – 7.8
Total alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm
Chlorine levels: 1 – 3 ppm
Calcium hardness: 180 – 200 ppm
2. Routine Cleaning
Regardless of the season, keeping your pool water crystal clear requires routine cleaning. Weekly tasks include vacuuming, backwashing the pool filter, applying algaecide and chlorine, and cleaning the skimmer baskets. Running the circulation system is a daily task, which keeps the pool water fresh. Pool walls are a commonly missed cleaning spot. Brush them routinely to prevent algae growth and to eliminate chemical buildup.
3. Closing Your Pool
If you don’t use your pool year-round, you’ll have to go through the steps of proper decommission to avoid any hang-ups when it’s time to open it back up. Stow all equipment including ladders, lights, and thermometers before cleaning and vacuuming the pool. After you’ve balanced the pool water, let the system run for up to twenty-four hours before adding winterizing chemicals. Once the chemicals have run through for a few hours, remove the pool equipment, and drain. Finally, cover your pool to protect it from debris during the offseason.
4. Opening Your Pool
For those who user their pools seasonally, the day you reopen your pool is cause for celebration. But before you draft up any pool party invitations, you’ll need to give it some TLC. If you use a removable pool cover be sure to store it in a safe, protected place. Fill the pool back up to the maximum fill line and clear any debris from the water’s surface. Once you’ve tested the water and properly balanced the levels, remove any winterizing plugs to get water flowing into the plumbing system again. Once you’ve tested all systems to make sure the water is being properly heated and pumped, cleaned the walls, vacuumed the floor, there’s only one thing left to do—cannonball!
5. Pool Offseason
Even when your pool is not being used it requires a watchful eye. Besides keeping your pool ready for when you open it back up, offseason maintenance will help to avoid any major repairs due to neglect. Check your pool water occasionally. Even if your pool is covered, it’s possible for leaves, sticks, and needles to make their way inside. Continue to monitor the balance of your pool water by checking the levels weekly and adjusting as needed. Check the pump, heater, and plumbing for any signs of damage and clean the filter regularly.
For more information on keeping your home and the systems in it well-maintained, read more on our blog:
Successfully selling a home and buying a home are significant accomplishments on their own, but when their timelines cross it can be difficult to manage both. If you’re thinking about doing both simultaneously, it’s equally important to understand the steps you can take to make the process go smoothly as it is to have a backup plan in case it doesn’t. Above all, the balancing act required to pull off both deals highlights the importance of working closely with a trusted and experienced real estate agent.
Do I buy or sell first?
One can imagine a perfect world in which the two transactions go through one right after the other. However, this is not usually the case. So, should you list your current home first or start by putting in offers on a new one? There are pros and cons to both.
Selling your current home first allows you to make offers on a new home with cash in your pocket, increases your buying power, and avoids having to juggle two mortgages simultaneously. On the other hand, it creates a gap of residence, often leaving homeowners wondering where they’ll stay until they move into their new home or whether they may need to rent before they can buy again. Sellers may also negotiate a rent-back agreement with the buyers, allowing them to rent the house from the new owners before they move in.
Buying before selling solves the need for any temporary housing and makes the overall moving process much easier. Having a residence established ahead of time means you’ll only have to move once, which can save you some serious stress during this time of transition. Oppositely, buying a new home before you sell your current one will put an added strain on your finances. Having two concurrent mortgages equates to taking on more debt, which could result in less-than-favorable loan terms for purchasing your new home. Without the lump sum generated by a home sale in your pocket, coming up with enough money for a down payment may be a challenge and obtaining private mortgage insurance (PMI) may be in the cards. Finally, buying before selling comes with an obvious assumption—that your current house will sell.
Ultimately, the order of operations depends on your situation. Perhaps you’re moving due to a change of employment, and you need to direct all your energy toward buying a new home by a certain date before you can even think about selling your current one. No matter which route you take, it’s important to communicate your timeline to your listing agent or your buyer’s agent so they can strategize accordingly.
Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time
Local Market Conditions
Buying and selling at the same time will come with a certain duality: at each step in the process, you’ll have to balance your responsibilities as both a buyer and a seller. For example, when assessing your local market conditions, you’ll be looking at not one, but two housing markets.
Seller’s Market: Selling in a seller’s market means that that you’ll need to be prepared to move once you list, since you could be looking at a short selling timeline. However, relying too heavily on the assumption that your house will sell quickly could make things dicey down the road. If you’re buying in a seller’s market, finding a new home may take longer than expected. You could potentially be waiting weeks or months for an offer to get accepted.
Buyer’s Market: Selling in a buyer’s market typically means that homes stay on the market longer. If you proceed with a new home purchase just after you’ve listed your current house, know that it may take a while to sell. If you’re buying in a buyer’s market you can afford to be picky, knowing that time is on your side. With fewer people buying homes, sellers will be more flexible, giving you leverage to negotiate your contingencies.
Having a Backup Plan
If only you could wave a magic wand and make both transactions go through as planned. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan in place to right the ship should things go sideways at any point in the buying or selling process. Talk to your agent about which options may be right for you. Here are a few:
Sales Contingency: Buying your new home with a sales contingency allows you to opt out of the purchase contract if your home doesn’t sell by a specified date. Purchasing contingent on the sale is rare in highly competitive markets.
Bridge Loan: If your current home hasn’t sold yet and you’re not able to afford the down payment on a new home, a bridge loan may be a fitting solution. Bridge loans can be used to cover the down payment on a new house and are repaid once your existing home has sold.
Rent-Back Agreement: A rent-back agreement is a clause in the sales contract that allows the seller to rent their old home from the buyer for an agreed-upon period of time before the buyer moves in. This can be especially helpful in situations when the seller is having trouble finding a new home.
For more information on buying and selling a home at the same time, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent today by clicking on the button below.
This video is the latest in our Monday with Matthew series with Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. Each month, he analyzes the most up-to-date U.S. housing data to keep you well-informed about what’s going on in the real estate market.
Hello there! I’m Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, and welcome to the latest episode of Mondays with Matthew.
Today I wanted to take a look at the several housing related data releases that came out in August, and I am going to start off with the new home sector and the July numbers for housing permits and starts.
New home permits – and here I am referring to single-family permits – fell by 1.7% (or roughly 18,000 units) in July to an annualized rate of 1.048 million units and have been heading backwards since March.
But I always like to put things into perspective and you can see here that although we have seen a pullback over the past few months, the trend has actually been heading higher since we emerged from the financial crisis in 2011.Of course, COVID had a very pronounced impact on permit activity, but it bounced back rather impressively, that is until the parabolic increase in lumber and other costs really started to hit builders hard.
And the slowdown in permits obviously impacted housing starts which dropped by 4.5% – or 52,000 units – to an annual rate of 1.11 million.
Starts fell across most regions, with the exception of the west which rose by 0.9%. Declines were led by the Northeast (-6.3%), followed by the Midwest (-2.3%) and the South (-2.0%).
But again, for perspective, you can see that the longer term trend is still improving, but I am afraid not to the degree needed to address the massive housing shortage that the country faces.
If you have watched these videos for any length of time you will know that I like to look at homes under construction as opposed to housing starts – which many do not – as I believe it offers a better gauge of the market that permits or starts data. And for those who might not be aware of the difference between housing starts and houses under construction, a home is technically started if a foundation has been poured, but it does not mean that vertical construction has started, but homes under construction show just that.
And the number of homes actually being built rose by 1.5% in July to an annual rate of 689,000 units, and that is 33% higher than the same time a year ago.
All regions other than the Northeast – which dropped by 1.6% – saw the pace of vertical construction rise versus June with the South leading the way with a 2.7% increase. This was followed by the Midwest which rose by 1.1%, and the West saw a more modest increase of 0.5%.
Again, when we look at a longer timelines, the growth is actually rather impressive, but, again, it still falls well short of demand.
So, what I see in this data is that the pullback in housing starts was not a surprise, given that permitting activity (which is a leading indicator for starts) having fallen in each of the prior three months. But despite this, the overall pace of new homebuilding actually remains relatively healthy, with the six-month moving average of homes under construction above the pre-pandemic trend at a little more than 655,000 units.
Although rising material costs, a significant shortage of qualified labor, and affordability challenges are all still keeping builders awake at night, I believe that the fundamentals for homebuilding remain solid, thanks mostly to an improving labor market backdrop and still exceptionally low inventory levels.
Additionally, a recent easing in mortgage rates, and a significant pullback in lumber prices which have fallen sharply since peaking in mid-May and are now back to pre-pandemic levels, also provide support to growing new construction activity.
Moving on to new home sales in July and it was a bit of a mixed bag. As you can see here, the number of new homes for sale continues its upward trend – which bottomed out last Fall – and rose by 5.5% versus June and is up by over 26% from a year ago.
Now, this may sound to be great news but as I dug though the data, I saw a different story. You see, the jump in listings was driven by a record rise in homes for sale that have yet to be built.
In fact, the number of houses for sale that have yet to break ground accounted for almost 29% of total inventory. Why is this? It’s because many builders are very cautious about the market given expensive raw materials as well as limited land supply and construction workers.
On the sales side of the equation, contract signings were up by 1% versus June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000, but that is down by 27% from a year ago.
Last month’s gain in new home sales was driven by a 1.3% rise in the populous South and a 14.4% jump in the West, but sales plunged 24.1% in the Northeast and were 20.2% lower in the Midwest.
There can be no doubt that affordability is becoming an increasing issue in the new-home market. The median sale price is up almost 18% from its pre-pandemic level, which is a touch lower than the run-up in sales prices in the existing-home market, but still enough to deter potential homebuyers.
And cost is another factor – in addition to COVID-19 – that is accelerating the migration to suburban markets and metro areas in lower-cost states such as Arizona, Utah, Texas and Florida. But, by contrast, new home sales have weakened in areas where population growth has slowed, in part due to an outflow of residents seeking more affordable real estate, lower taxes and other lifestyle advantages. It will be very interesting to see if this is a trend that continues as we head into 2022.
Moving on – the National Association of Homebuilders published their Index of Builder Sentiment in August, and the data rather echoes the numbers that we have just been discussing. You can see that sentiment in the single-family market has been easing gradually in recent months, but it remains well above the 50 level, suggesting that more builders are seeing the market as good, rather than bad, even if the current index is at its lowest level in 13 months.
And when we look at the components of the index, sales conditions fell five points to 81 and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers also posted a five-point decline to 60. But the gauge charting sales expectations in the next six months held steady at 81.
As we have talked about, builders are facing significant obstacles and this is impacting the pace of new development. According to Freddie Mac, the U.S. housing market is 3.8 million single-family homes short of what is needed to meet the country’s demand and in order to catch up, builders would need to construct between 1.1 million and 1.2 million single-family homes a year to meet long-term demand but, in truth, the start rate would need to be even higher to shrink the existing deficit that we are currently experiencing.
And with more demand than new supply, what happens? That’s right, buyers turn their attentions to the existing home market and that is a neat segue into the final dataset that dropped this month, and that’s the existing home sales numbers for July.
It was pleasing to see that, for the 5th month in a row, Inventory levels ticked higher and, unadjusted for seasonality, were measured at 1.32M units, but I like to look at the seasonally adjusted number and that came in at a still respectable 1.0246M units.
I also like to look at the number of new listings which gives a better view on the market – and as you can see here, they are up year-over-year and that is allowing sales to accelerate.
You see, the inventory number that NAR puts out represents the number of homes for sale at a set date in the month; however, new listings show the total number of homes that came on the market during that month and if a sale is agreed upon in the same month that it comes to market, then it is not included in the overall inventory number.
And because new listing activity is still pretty robust, it has allowed sales to tick back up as you can see here. On a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis, sales came in at 5.99M – up for the second month in a row but still well below the numbers we saw last Fall.
On a month-over-month basis, single-family home sales rose by 1% to almost 442,000, but multifamily sales dropped by over 10%, but were still up by 15% from a year ago.
Home prices took a little breather in July – dropping by 0.8% month over month – but are still 17.8% higher than seen a year ago.
Single-family home prices also dipped by 0.8% to $367,000 – but are up by 18.6% from a year ago and multifamily sale prices dropped by 1.3% to $307,100 but were up 14.1% from July of 2020.
Even though we saw modest increases in listing inventory, the market is still far from balanced. At the existing sale pace, there is only 2.6 months of supply, well below the 4-6 months that is considered balanced, but certainly better than the 1.9 months we saw back in January.
The same was seen in the single-family arena which also showed 2.6 months of supply and things were slightly better in the condo and co-op world where there is currently 3 months of inventory.
As I went through the report in more detail, there were a few more nuggets worthwhile mentioning. Although it is true that inventory levels are somewhat higher – which is certainly a good thing – but the market remains remarkably tight.
For example, for every offer accepted on a home in July, there were 3.5 additional offers; half of all offers made in July were above the list price and, because the market remains highly competitive, the number of all-cash offers rose from 16% a year ago to 23% in July. And with 89% of homes going pending in the same month that they were listed, and the average days on market coming in at just 17, we are still quite far away from experiencing a normal housing market.
Well, I hope that you have found this month’s discussion to be interesting. As always if you have any questions or comments about this topic, please do reach out to me but, in the meantime, stay safe out there and I look forward the visiting with you all again, next month.
Today, the Cape Cod architectural style is synonymous with waterfront property, windy beaches, and vacation getaways. Known for its distinct exterior features and cozy interior spaces, the Cape Cod home has become an American classic.
History of the Cade Cod Home
The original idea behind the Cape Cod home was to bring a bit of across-the-pond familiarity to the early English settlers in New England. The design of the home was conceptually similar to an English cottage, except with certain modifications to fit the harsher Northeast climate. These homes were built throughout the region during the 19th century, then experienced a surge in popularity in the early-to-mid twentieth century, due to a renewed interest in colonial-era architecture and their affordability in a post-World War II economy.
Image Source: Getty Images – Credit: OlegAlbinsky
What is a Cape Cod Home?
The Cape Cod style uses simple lines and shapes that recall the English cottages they’re inspired by. They are typically one or two stories, square or rectangle in shape, with steeply pitched roofs, shingled exteriors, window shutters, and a central chimney. The steepness of the roofs was designed to reduce snow buildup, thereby reducing the risk of a roof collapse from bearing too much weight. The characteristically low ceilings were meant to prevent heat from escaping, while the shutters served as a wind block against the cold New England breeze.
There are multiple styles of Cape Cod homes. The easiest way to tell the difference between styles is to count the number of windows on either side of the front door. If there are two windows on one side of the door, it is what is known as a “half cape.” A home with two windows on each side of the front door is known as a “full cape.” Regardless of which sub-category a particular Cape Cod home falls under, they all share a flat front façade, which creates their square or rectangular shape. Over time, designers have updated the Cape Cod design to accommodate the needs of modern life, but their unmistakable aesthetic remains timeless.
Visit our Architectural Styles page to learn more about the history behind certain styles of home design, from A-Frame to Victorian. For more information on home design, remodeling, and decorating, visit the Design page on our blog.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Windermere Living.
By Amanda Zurita
Summer, especially this summer, is meant for barbecues, outdoor movie nights, garden gatherings, and rooftop cocktail affairs. Keep the focus on reconnecting with friends and family by opting for unfussy, minimalist decor and clean color palettes. It’s about time we have something to celebrate, isn’t it?
Upgrade the summertime tradition of the backyard barbecue with stylish and simple tools.
Image Credit: Jayme Burrows / Stocksy
The most time-honored summertime gathering takes place in your own backyard, and a lineup of modern tabletop grills and tools means you can feed a fête without much fret. For example, BergHOFF’s sleek tabletop grill has a compact design that can easily transport to a balcony or the beach—simply add charcoal, and you’re ready to take orders. Or switch it up with one of this year’s most popular cooking contraptions, a portable pizza oven, like the one made by Ooni. With models powered by gas or by wood fire, these ovens can cook a 12-inch pizza in as little as 60 seconds and will work for meats and vegetables, too. Focus on main courses, and ask your guests to bring sides or desserts to share. Complete the ambience by piping a playlist through portable outdoor speakers like the Move by Sonos, which are equipped with voice control and Bluetooth tech, so you can play DJ with ease.
Elevate Your Grill Game Without Going Too Crazy
Burgers on the menu? Stuff them with gourmet cheeses, like bleu or mozzarella, before throwing them on.
Sitting down together? Time your steaks right by searing them first and finishing them just before serving.
Make it a pizza night—with or without a pizza oven. Load pies with your favorite fixings, roll them out on a pizza stone, and cook them over the open flame.
Don’t skimp on fruits and veggies. Grilled vegetables are summer’s side dish; peaches and pineapple make for a sweet and juicy dessert (make it á la mode!).
Elevate your outdoor space with basic romantic elements.
Image Credit: Trinnette Reed / Stocksy
A garden party is a glorious way to gather with friends for an elegant afternoon. Start by creating a special space in the yard by laying down some outdoor rugs or erecting a temporary canopy to provide shade. To illuminate the celebration, surround the table with candlelit lanterns, or string outdoor lights between overhead branches. Then, it’s all about the tablescape. Select durable (and unbreakable) dishware like sustainable bamboo plates and bowls from Fable New York, which come in a range of colors like soft blush, buttery yellow, and eggshell blue. The same goes for glasses, which can be as durable as they are chic in fluted acrylic designs from West Elm. To distribute your chosen refreshments, fill a cheery pineapple-shaped beverage dispenser from Nordstrom with punch or lemonade, or stock bottles of bubbly in a sleek Permasteel rolling patio cooler. Once you’ve covered the dining and decor, add extras that keep your guests comfortable, like classic paddle fans, supplied by party stores and wedding suppliers like The Knot. Keep mosquitoes at bay with a discreet Patio Shield repeller by Thermacell, which creates a 15-foot zone of protection around your gathering.
Add a touch of natural beauty by creating simple flower arrangements based on what’s in your yard—or the local farmers market. Seasonal blooms like tulips, peonies, and ranunculus come in many shades and have a textural, wild appearance. To step outside the expected, add branches from cherry or olive trees or fresh fruits from trees on your property. Take your time adding and subtracting elements until you achieve a look you love. A flower frog or stretch of lattice can help hold everything in place. For a minimalist spray, choose a monochromatic color palette, or keep it light with just a few blooms.
Watch the sun set from your rooftop, porch, or balcony at an elegant yet restrained affair.
Image Credit: Jovo Jovanovic / Stocksy
To set a classic (and classy) mood, make a portable record player the center of attention, and invite guests to bring a favorite album. Many options, like the turntables from Crosley, have Bluetooth capabilities, so you can link speakers and switch to digital music with ease. To keep the evening chill away, set up a portable fire pit (Solo offers wood-burning, smokeless options in a number of sizes). Citronella candles, like Pottery Barn’s artful candle, help maintain the romantic ambience while keeping the buzz kills away.
Cheers to You
A polished party deserves an equally upscale signature drink, but you don’t want to spend all night playing bartender. A Champagne punch you can batch in advance is easy to make but elegant enough to fit the vibe. This recipe for a berry satsuma sangria will fit the bill and please a crowd, especially when served in shatter-resistant stemware from Williams Sonoma. Prepare about an hour before your party to preserve the bubbles.
6 satsuma oranges
1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
1 pint raspberries
1 bottle of chilled dry Champagne or sparkling wine
6 oz Grand Marnier liqueur
4 oz club soda
2 oz cherry brandy
Fresh mint for garnish
Place the segments of two oranges and all of the strawberries and raspberries into a large punch bowl or drink pitcher. Juice the remaining oranges for about . to ⅔ cup of orange juice, and add to the bowl along with the remaining liquid ingredients. Stir together and taste, adding simple syrup if it isn’t at your desired sweetness. Serve over a large ice cube and garnish with mint.
Everything you need to get cozy under the stars.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
Pump Up Your Popcorn
Toss plain popcorn with a variety of seasonings: try butter, salt, and truffle oil; crispy bacon, a few tablespoons bacon drippings, butter, and chopped chives; butter, sriracha, and lime—or bake popcorn on a tray with a few cups of your favorite cheeses for a crunchy-melty treat.
It’s lights, camera, action with a backyard movie night to rival any drive-in. If you’ve spent the last year watching everything Netflix has to offer from the comfort of your couch, this change of scenery is (literally) a breath of fresh air. Opening your own outdoor theater is easy with movie screens, like Pottery Barn’s streamlined option, that set up in no time and come with a portable storage bag. Upgrade from blankets or lawn chairs to specially made outdoor bean bags from Jaxx, line the aisles with IKEA’s romantic solar lanterns, and you’re ready for showtime under the stars.
When choosing a projector, consider brightness levels in your yard. If you have any light pollution, you’ll likely need a projector that puts out 800 lumens for an 80-inch screen size. A short throw projector, placed three to eight feet from the screen, is ideal. Epson’s EF-100 Mini Laser Projector is a good bet, and it’s both powerful and light, weighing just under six pounds. As for audio, most projectors that do have built-in speakers won’t offer the cinematic sound quality you’re looking for, so a set of well-placed Bluetooth speakers will round out the full experience. A pair of Anker Soundcore Motion Boom speakers placed at the back corners of your viewing area can create rich surround sound. And be sure to let the neighbors know about movie night so they aren’t surprised—better yet, why not extend an invite?