Indoor Air Quality Basics

Most of us tend to think of air pollution as something that occurs outdoors where car exhaust and factory fumes proliferate, but there’s such a thing as indoor air pollution, too.  Since the 1950s, the number of synthetic chemicals used in products for the home has increased drastically, while at the same time, homes have become much tighter and better insulated. As a result, the EPA estimates that indoor pollutants today are anywhere from five to 70 times higher than pollutants in outside air.

Luckily, there are many ways to reduce indoor air pollution. We all know that buying organic and natural home materials and cleaning supplies can improve the air quality in our homes, but there are several other measures you can take as well.

How pollutants get into our homes

Potentially toxic ingredients are found in many materials throughout the home, and they leach out into the air as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. If you open a can of paint, you can probably smell those VOCs. The “new car smell” is another example of this. The smell seems to dissipate after a while, but VOCs can actually “off-gas” for a long time, even after a noticeable smell is gone.

We all know to use paint and glue in a well-ventilated room, but there are many other materials that don’t come with that warning. For instance, there are chemicals, such as formaldehyde, in the resin used to make most cabinets and plywood particle board. It’s also in wall paneling and closet shelves, and in certain wood finishes used on cabinets and furniture. The problems aren’t just with wood, either. Fabrics—everything from draperies to upholstery, bedding, and carpets—are a potent source of VOCs.

The good news about VOCs is that they do dissipate with time. For that reason, the highest levels of VOCs are usually found in new homes or remodels. If you are concerned about VOCs, there are several products you can buy that are either low- or no-VOC. You can also have your home professionally tested.

How to reduce VOCs in your home

Make smart choices in building materials.

  • For floors, use tile or solid wood—hardwood, bamboo, or cork – instead of composites.
  • Instead of using pressed particle board or indoor plywood, choose solid wood or outdoor-quality plywood that uses a less toxic form of formaldehyde.
  • Choose low-VOC or VOC-free paints and finishes.

Purify the air that’s there.

  • Make sure your rooms have adequate ventilation, and air out newly renovated or refurnished areas for at least a week, if possible.
  • Clean ductwork and furnace filters regularly.
  • Install air cleaners if needed.
  • Use only environmentally responsible cleaning chemicals.
  • Plants can help clean the air: good nonpoisonous options include bamboo palm, lady palm, parlor palm, and moth orchids.
  • Air out freshly dry-cleaned clothes or choose a “green” cleaner.

Fight the carpet demons.

  • Choose “Green Label” carpeting or a natural fiber such as wool or sisal.
  • Use nails instead of glue to secure carpet.
  • Install carpet LAST after completing painting, wall coverings and other high-VOC processes.
  • Air out newly carpeted areas before using.
  • Use a HEPA vacuum or a central vac system that vents outdoors.

Prevent Mold.

  • Clean up water leaks fast.
  • Use dehumidifiers, if necessary, to keep humidity below 60 percent.
  • Don’t carpet rooms that stay damp.
  • Insulate pipes, crawl spaces, and windows to eliminate condensation.
  • Kill mold before it gets a grip with one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water.

We hope this information is helpful. If you would like to learn more about VOCs and indoor air quality, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/. 

Announcing the Winner of the Community Service Day Facebook Challenge!

On June 20, Windermere offices in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska, and Utah all took a day off from selling homes to help make a difference in their local communities. Our offices were challenged to share photos and videos from their community service day event on the Windermere Real Estate Facebook page, and in turn, they received a $100 donation to the Windermere Foundation charity of their choice.

To add some competition to this challenge, we offered an additional $1,000 charitable contribution to the office with the most Facebook “likes” and comments. So, who won?

With a total of 206 likes and comments on their photo, the winner of the CSD Facebook photo challenge is Windermere North (Lynnwood)! Owner, Lena Maul, and her team will be donating the $1,000 prize to “Pathways for Women” which provides shelter for homeless women and their children through their local YWCA.

Windermere offices from throughout the region participated in the CSD Facebook photo challenge, here is just a sample. To see all entries, check out the Windermere Facebook page and look through the “posts to page”. Thank you to all of our offices for participating and sharing your stories.

Eastern Washington: Tri-Cities/Richland “First annual Health and Safety Fair”

Utah: Head Start

Hawaii: Kona, Humane Society

Idaho: Coeur d’Alene Children’s Village

Oregon: Southwest Portland Boys and Girls Club

Montana: Helena Food Share

Summer Entertaining Guide

Summer is officially here, and the season is ripe with opportunities for parties, barbeques, and outdoor entertaining with friends and family. To set the stage for fun gatherings, we have collected some ideas for outdoor decorating, fun party themes, and more on the “Summer Entertaining” Pinterest board. What are your tips for throwing a fantastic summer soirée?

Outdoor improvement

Add some finishing touches to your outdoor spaces to create a fun atmosphere and a touch of your personal style.

Party ideas

You don’t need an excuse for a party! Elevate your gatherings to a whole new level with these fun party ideas.

Get your game on

From Bocce to Horse Shoes, there are plenty of games for guests of all ages.

Summer safety

Keep your friends and family safe outdoors with these quick tips.

How to feed a crowd

Don’t forget to search for delicious recipes, quick BBQ tips, kid-friendly foods, and summery cocktails.

You can find more fun home decoration and entertaining ideas on the Windermere Pinterest Board.

Celebrating 25 Years of the Windermere Foundation

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Windermere Foundation. What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need in the Seattle area, has grown to encompass ten states and has raised over $26 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, clothing, children’s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those who need our help the most.

In honor of this anniversary, we want to take a moment to reflect on some of the milestones the Windermere Foundation has achieved over the past 25 years. We also want to recognize and thank everyone who has helped us get to where we are today – especially our agents who continually embody the notion that service to others is not something you do, it is who you are.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Windermere Foundation through the years. With your help, we will continue to help make a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.

Celebrating 25 Years of the Windermere Foundation

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Windermere Foundation. What started in 1989 as a grassroots foundation serving families in need in the Seattle area, has grown to encompass ten states and has raised over $26 million for programs and organizations that provide shelter, clothing, children’s programs, emergency assistance, and other services to those who need our help the most.

In honor of this anniversary, we want to take a moment to reflect on some of the milestones the Windermere Foundation has achieved over the past 25 years. We also want to recognize and thank everyone who has helped us get to where we are today – especially our agents who continually embody the notion that service to others is not something you do, it is who you are.

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Windermere Foundation through the years. With your help, we will continue to help make a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors in need.

Follow your local Community Service Day projects!

On Friday, June 20, Windermere offices in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah will be closed for a very special reason. Since 1984, Windermere has dedicated the third Friday of June to our annual Community Service Day*. On that day, you will find our team doing a variety of projects, including cleaning, landscaping, and painting at local senior citizens centers, facilities for homeless children and adults, public parks and schools, low income housing, and emergency shelters, among others.

Follow what are offices are doing on Community Service Day! Each office that posts a Community Service Day photograph or video on the Windermere Real Estate Facebook page, (www.facebook.com/WindermereRealEstate) the Windermere Foundation will donate $100 dollars to that office’s Foundation fund, to benefit low-income and homeless families. We encourage you to “like” our Facebook page, follow the Community Service Day projects, as well as your favorite Community Service Day photos. The office with the most photo/video “likes” and comments will receive a $1,000 donation for the Windermere Foundation charity of their choice. The contest will end Thursday, July 3.

*Windermere’s Southwest offices hold their Community Service Day in October

 

Hawaii    
Office Name Project Project Description
Kahului- Maui Hawaiian Islands Landtrust Public area clean up.
Kona- Big Island Kona W. Hawaii Humane Society Painting, landscaping and cleaning new location. 
Paia- Maui Hawaiian Islands Landtrust Public area clean up.
Waimea- Big Island Waimea Middle School Painting and cleaning school parking lot. 
     
Idaho    
Office Name Project Project Description
Boise- Richard B. Smith Food Bank Stocking and organizing food bank warehouse.
Coeur d'Alene Children's Village Gardening, cleaning, painting, building shelves, organizing children's toys and clothes for the facility.
Caldwell Food Bank Stocking and organizing food bank warehouse.
Hayden Children's Village Gardening, cleaning, painting, building shelves, organizing children's toys and clothes for the facility.
Moscow Sojourner's Alliance  Cleaning an organizing facility and storage space. 
Post Falls Children's Village Gardening, cleaning, painting, building shelves, organizing children's toys and clothes for the facility.
     
Montana    
Office Name Project Project Description
Helena Helena Food Share Landscaping, sorting food, and general help around the building. 
Missoula Child Development Center  Restore garden and build a cement patio for bike riding.
     
Oregon    
Office Name Project Project Description
Bend Healing Reins Painting indoor arena.
Cannon Beach Seaside Baseball Field, Brodway Park Paint dugouts and shack at baseball field.
Corvallis SafeHaven Humane Society Help relocating to new facility 
Eugene Food for Lane County Clean and plant community gardens. 
Hillsboro Orchard Park Landscaping and mulching. 
Lake Oswego Lakeridge High School Landscaping, cleaning up sports fields
Lake Oswego - West Volunteers of America - Children's Relief Nursery Weeding, playground cleaning, general maintenance. 
Newport Habitat For Humanity Planting flower boxes, mural painting, facility clean up
Portland Heights Project Lemonade Sorting clothes that are sold to foster kids.
Portland- Lloyd Tower NE St. Andrew's Nativity School Cleaning, painting, straightening - get projects dones that have been on the teachers' lists since its summer!
Portland- Moreland Boys & Girls Club Cleaning up and organizing the center, which includes painting, yard work, and cleaning play areas.
Portland- North the Hereford House PDX   Painting, power washing, yard work and donation collection.
Portland- NW Johnson Lift Urban Portland Gardening.
Portland- Raleigh Hills Hopewell House Cleaning up the grounds at a hospice facility.
Seal Rock Habitat For Humanity Planting flower boxes, mural painting, facility clean up
West Linn West Linn Adult Community Center Landscaping.
     
Utah    
Office Name Project Project Description
Coalville Salt Lake City Head Start Building a play house from Trex, Painting eaves on the school, Trimming trees, bushes, shrubs and pulling weeds.  Adding a Berm and Tree to the front playground area, Cleaning the brick walls, resealing them with Schellac as well as window washing.
Park City Salt Lake City Head Start Building a play house from Trex, Painting eaves on the school, Trimming trees, bushes, shrubs and pulling weeds.  Adding a Berm and Tree to the front playground area, Cleaning the brick walls, resealing them with Schellac as well as window washing.
Salt Lake City- Foothill Salt Lake City Head Start Building a play house from Trex, Painting eaves on the school, Trimming trees, bushes, shrubs and pulling weeds.  Adding a Berm and Tree to the front playground area, Cleaning the brick walls, resealing them with Schellac as well as window washing.
Salt Lake City- Union Park Salt Lake City Head Start Building a play house from Trex, Painting eaves on the school, Trimming trees, bushes, shrubs and pulling weeds.  Adding a Berm and Tree to the front playground area, Cleaning the brick walls, resealing them with Schellac as well as window washing.
     
Washington    
Office Name Project Project Description
Anacortes Storrik Park Painting.
Arlington City of Arlington Cleaning up and landscaping our adopted park in downtown
Bainbridge Island City cleanup projects Pick up trash at Hawley Cove, High School Road Round About and City Hall parking lot. 
Bellevue Commons Little Bit Theraputic Riding Center Weeding, painting, cleaning tack and paddocks, power washing and even ironing ribbons for the participants.
Bellevue South Camp Korey Gardening, weeding, fence repair, trout pond restoration, painting, cleaning storage facility and facilitating a craft project.
Bellevue West Evergreen Court Retirement Community Landscaping, power washing and yardwork.
Bellingham Lydia Place Landscaping, building raised beds, gardening, clearing bush, planting a pumpkin patch, flower beds and painting. 
Birch Bay Lydia Place Landscaping, building raised beds, gardening, clearing bush, planting a pumpkin patch, flower beds and painting. 
Burien  Lake Burien School Memorial Park & Mathison Park Playground updates and invasive plant removal
Camano Island- Terry's Corner Derby Day Community event. 
Centralia Student backpacks Purchase, assemble and distribute backpacks for low-income students. 
Euphrata George Community Hall Cleaning, painting, weeding. 
Fairhaven Lydia Place Landscaping, building raised beds, gardening, clearing bush, planting a pumpkin patch, flower beds and painting. 
Federal Way Boys & Girls Club Summer camp clean up: adding mulch to play area, clearing an overgrown area and removing some unwanted trees. 
Gig Harbor- Builder's Choice Northwest Furniture Bank Landscaping at facility, delivering furniture to families, unloading donated furniture, doing some painting and assembling furniture for families.
Issaquah Hopehouse Building deck, cleaning housing, landscaping and painting. 
Kelso/Longview Salvation Army Various community service duties 
Kingston Litter Patrol Trash clean up for the beach, ferry terminal and downtown area
Kirkland Kirkland Interfaith Transitional Housing (KITH) Repair fencing, tree removal, deck repair, landscaping and painting
Kirkland- Northeast Hopelink Collecting, sorting and bagging food for the foodbank
Kirkland- Yarrow Bay Kirkland Performing Arts Center Landscaping and painting. 
Lake Stevens Local community families Home maintanence for families in need. 
Lynden Lydia Place Landscaping, building raised beds, gardening, clearing bush, planting a pumpkin patch, flower beds and painting. 
Lynnwood YWCA Facility painting, installation of doors, new lighting and flooring, supply room organization and landscaping. 
Maple Valley Tahoma Senior High School  Painting the baseball dugouts and doing landscaping around the school grounds.
Marysville    
Mercer Island City of Mercer Island Mercerdale park flower bed clean up, tree trimming, debris hauling and Summer Celebration preparations.
Monroe Matthew House Exterior clean up, landscaping, sorting and organizing donations. 
Mount Vernon Sedro-Woolley Boys and Girls Club Food collection and facility clean up. 
Mukilteo Mukilteo Food Bank All day food drive for local food bank.
Property Management- Bellevue Teen Feed Clean kitchens for nightly meals and assemble summer resource kits for homeless youth.
Property Management- Edmonds Teen Feed Clean kitchens for nightly meals and assemble summer resource kits for homeless youth.
Property Management- Seattle Teen Feed Clean kitchens for nightly meals and assemble summer resource kits for homeless youth.
Property Management- Seattle/Eastlake Seattle Parks Department Removing invasive plants and cleaning up the Burke Gilman Trail.
Property Management- South Kent Youth & Family Services Exterior updates? Painting fences and curbs
Pullman Sojourner's Alliance  Cleaning an organizing facility and storage space. 
Relocation and Referral Srvs Noel House Serve breakfast to shelter clients. 
San Juan Island Mullis Senior Center Landscaping, weeding, cleaning beds and sprucing up with 3yards of beauty bark. 
Seattle- Ballard Golden Gardens/ City of Seattle Wetlands restoration: planting trees, cleaning up debris and mulching. 
Seattle- Capitol Hill Capitol Hill Housing Paint and landscape low-income housing site. 
Seattle- Eastlake Rebuild Together Home rehabilitation on a elderly gentlemen's home to make it safe and habitable.
Seattle- Green Lake Bathhouse Theater Pick up parking lot and garden area. 
Seattle- Greenwood Boys & Girls Club Gardening, painting, facility organization, cleaning, and building fences.
Seattle- Lakeview Good Shepard Senior Center Clean, garden and serve lunch. 
Seattle- Madison Park City cleanup projects Pick up trash and weeds on city traffic circles. 
Seattle- Magnolia Street Fair Provide community resources for neighborhood. 
Seattle- Mount Baker Wellspring Baby Boutique Organize baby supplies. 
Seattle- Northgate YouthCare Facility cleaning and yard work.
Seattle- Northlake Bothell Senior Center Weeding and Gardening.
Seattle- Northwest Greenwood Foodbank Cleaning, organizing and sorting food.
Seattle- Queen Anne City cleanup projects Pick up litter and weeds along Queen Anne Avenue.
Seattle- Sand Point YMCA Magnuson& Sand Point Elementary Cleaning, organizing, gardening, and summer event support.
Seattle- Wall Street Mary's Place Painting, cleaning, organizing and other needed projects.
Seattle- Wedgwood Nest Help maintain homes for elderly community members.
Seattle- West Seattle Longfellow Trail & Pea Patch Project Cleaning and weeding community garden & greenbelt. 
Services Company Ryther Landscaping, mural painting and other improvement projects. 
Services Mountain West Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Sequim Sequim Boys & Girls Club Clean and organize club location, make space for kids exercise room.
Sequim- SunLand Sequim Boys & Girls Club Clean and organize club location, make space for kids exercise room.
Silverdale Central Kitsap Foodbank Widdening access road, building retaining wall and building raised veggetable beds. 
Shoreline Food Lifeline Foodbank support.
Spokane- City Group Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- Cornerstone Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- Liberty Lake Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- Manito Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- North Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas.
Spokane- Valley Transitions Landscaping and remodeling transitional living areas. 
Tacoma- North Northwest Furniture Bank Landscaping at facility, delivering furniture to families, unloading donated furniture, doing some painting and assembling furniture for families.
Tacoma- Professional Partners Northwest Furniture Bank Landscaping at facility, delivering furniture to families, unloading donated furniture, doing some painting and assembling furniture for families.
Tacoma- University Place Northwest Furniture Bank Landscaping at facility, delivering furniture to families, unloading donated furniture, doing some painting and assembling furniture for families.
TriCities- Kennewick  Cooper Larson Baseball Field at Kennewick American Fields Paint Grandstand, Power Wash & Shop Vac entire facility, fix up dug outs & paint benches, clean the clubhouse and paint bathrooms.
Tri-Cities- Richland Kids Safety Fair Providing community resources for kids summer safety. 
Vancouver- Mill Plain Fruit Valley Food Drive Hosting a local food drive, filling backpacks with food and distributing to local schools for low-income students. 
Vashon Island Granny's Attic Sort donations for re-sale. 
Walla Walla YWCA Family Shelter Staining the downtown benches, weeding & cleaning the tree wells and building some play equipment. 
Whidbey Island- Oak Harbor Help House food Bank Food collection, interior painting and exterior clean up.
Woodinville Neighborhood beautification Planting along 175th street.
Yakima Northwest Harvest and Habitat for Humanity Food drive and house painting. 

June Perspectives

Recently, we were at a luncheon honoring corporate philanthropists from throughout the Puget Sound region. Companies of all shapes and sizes were honored, from the largest technology giant to a local shipyard committed to preserving Ballard’s Nordic heritage. The commonality among all these companies was giving back. Some do it by donating millions of dollars to non-profit organizations, while others give through volunteerism and in-kind donations.

We were reminded that philanthropy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – and it got us thinking about our own charitable efforts at Windermere. While we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve through the Windermere Foundation, can we do more?

The answer is always yes.

For us, that comes in the form of our annual Community Service Day. Cash is king, but there’s something to be said for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. That’s the philosophy behind Community Service Day.

For 30 years, Windermere offices have closed their doors for one day to help make a positive difference in the local community. This year’s event is on June 20, and on that day you will find us doing a variety of projects, including cleaning, landscaping, and painting at local senior citizens centers, facilities for homeless children and adults, public parks and schools, low-income housing, and emergency shelters, among others.

We love living in a region that is known globally for its charitable giving. And we love being a part of a company whose agents prove time and time again that service to others is not something you do, it is who you are.

 

 

June Perspective

Recently, we were at a luncheon honoring corporate philanthropists from throughout the Puget Sound region. Companies of all shapes and sizes were honored, from the largest technology giant to a local shipyard committed to preserving Ballard’s Nordic heritage. The commonality among all these companies was giving back. Some do it by donating millions of dollars to non-profit organizations, while others give through volunteerism and in-kind donations.

We were reminded that philanthropy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – and it got us thinking about our own charitable efforts at Windermere. While we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to achieve through the Windermere Foundation, can we do more?

The answer is always yes.

For us, that comes in the form of our annual Community Service Day. Cash is king, but there’s something to be said for rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. That’s the philosophy behind Community Service Day.

For 30 years, Windermere offices have closed their doors for one day to help make a positive difference in the local community. This year’s event is on June 20, and on that day you will find us doing a variety of projects, including cleaning, landscaping, and painting at local senior citizens centers, facilities for homeless children and adults, public parks and schools, low-income housing, and emergency shelters, among others.

We love living in a region that is known globally for its charitable giving. And we love being a part of a company whose agents prove time and time again that service to other is not something you do, it is who you are.

 

 

Time to De-Clutter? Some Tips for Selling Your Stuff

If you are looking around your home and thinking to yourself that it’s time to de-clutter, the summer months provide an ideal time to hold a garage sale. But if that sounds like too big of an undertaking, there are other options available to you thanks to popular resale sites like eBay and Craigslist. And if even that sounds like too much effort, you might also consider donating lightly used items to charity or sending them off to the dump. Here are some questions to help you decide which method is best for you.

How much stuff do you have?  Are you liquidating your space of large furniture items, a large quantity or quality items, or do you have a small pile of electronics?

If you have yards worth of stuff to get rid of, you definitely want to consider a garage sale. Getting rid of multiple items on Craig’s list can be time consuming, and shipping items sold on eBay can be expensive and eat into your profits. On the other hand, if your items are easily shippable or you have a small enough quantity to take quality photos and post online, then you can save time by using eBay or Craig’s list – and potentially make more money too.

What type of stuff am I getting rid of? Is it worth anything?

 If you have large furniture or unique/valuable pieces it may be worth the time to take some quality photos and try to sell these items on Craigslist first. Generally Craigslist works as “first come, first serve” so be prepared to respond to inquiries quickly. If you have small items that have some value, you may want to consider eBay. You reach a much larger audience through eBay which can result in a greater financial return.

How much time do I have?

Garage/yard sales are by far the most time intensive of your options. If you choose to hold a garage sale, you will likely need to dedicate at least three days for prep, clean-up, and the sale itself. All items should be cleaned up, priced, and neatly displayed for sale. Signage should be prominently placed around your neighborhood. You can also place an ad in your local classifieds or on Craigslist to attract a larger crowd.  

Will your home/community accommodate a Garage Sale?

Garage and yard sales are generally held at a single-family residence. If you live in an apartment or condo, you may want to consider alternatives due to limited public space. You may also want to consider your community traffic. If you live on a quiet street, you may not get enough customers to generate sales. 

Can you enhance a sale by joining with neighbors, friends and family?

Some communities hold an annual neighborhood garage sale, encouraging all neighbors to participate on the same day. This increases your ability to market the event and attract a larger audience.

For tips on hosting a garage sale: http://www.houseofhepworths.com/2012/09/24/10-tips-for-havin-a-killer-garage-sale/

 

Outdoor Living Trends

Summer is just around the corner and there is no better way to prepare than indulging in some exciting backyard inspiration. Your outdoor living space can be more than just a place to spend time with family and friends; it can be your sanctuary as well. This year is the time to turn your backyard into your own personal vacation spot.  

 

Sunken hot tub

If you don’t have a tub already, consider adding a sunken hot tub into your backyard with a deck of natural stone, tall grasses, and outdoor curtains for privacy.  Include pillar candles and some twinkling lights for ambiance.  

 

 

 

 

 

Modern outdoor kitchen

If you entertain a lot, a kitchen is the ideal outdoor space for summer entertaining. Bring out your inner Bobby Flay with a cooking station that includes a high-end grill, refrigerator, wine chiller, and elegant washbasin. Round this all out with a concrete counter, bluestone tile floor, and stainless steel.  

 

 

 

 

 

Outdoor theater

Nothing says summer like outdoor movies and your own personal drive-in. All you need is a projector to watch your favorite movie, some dangling lights in the trees, blankets, and pillows. You could also watch it from a hanging bench or my personal favorite, a floating bed. 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable and fruit gardens

Gardening can go beyond being a relaxing pastime; consider growing your favorite foods and join the “farm to table” movement. In 2012, people spent $1.2 billion more dollars on food gardening than they did flower gardening. An easy way to incorporate this is to use blueberries as foundation plants or other fruits, such as raspberries. If you already have flowers planted, tuck a pepper plant or basil in between your flowers.

 

 

 

 

Reading nook

A reading nook outdoors is the perfect way to get lost in your favorite book or magazine. You can convert a small shed into a private reading spot, an arbor with a bench surrounded by clematis, or a relaxing hammock. These hideaway spots are what turn your home into a staycation resort.

 

 

 

 

 

Fire pits

Is your ideal summer situated by a campfire? Build a fire pit and enjoy s’mores in the comfort of your backyard. Use an old wine barrel, bricks, stones, or a concrete bowl. A lowered fire pit is great if you want to use sand for a beachy atmosphere. On a warm summer night a campfire sets just the right mood for outdoor fun.

 

 

 

 

Water features

Having a water feature in your backyard instantly creates a Zen space.  They can deflect unwanted attention by drowning out unwelcome sounds. Add a fountain, pondless waterfall, or small stream to complete the vibe.  If you want a smaller commitment, a shallow recirculating foundation will also do the trick. All you need is a simple foundation and recirculating pump.

 

 

 

 

 

To enhance your space with little to no cost, add dangling vines or twinkling lights as a finishing touch to create your backyard haven. Time is something there never seems to be enough of, but these low-maintenance enhancements will enable you to spend that time in your very own outdoor living space.

 

 

 

 

 

For more outdoor living ideas, follow our Pinterest board.