Category Archives: Outdoor Living Spaces

Outdoor Clocks

Dragonfly Outdoor Clock with Thermometer

Bring Beauty and High-Tech Function to Your Outdoor Living Spaces

Expanding your living space and increasing the value of your home can be as easy as making the most of the areas outside your door. Patios and decks, screened porches and sun rooms, and outdoor kitchens and dining rooms are the most desirable places to entertain friends or to enjoy some quality relaxation time when the weather is pleasant. Your outdoor spaces should be an extension of your indoor living areas in that they should feel comfortable and reflect your personal style. Furniture, rugs, lighting, and decor are some of the basic ingredients that allow you to create your perfect outdoor room.

Beauty and Style

An outdoor clock is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to bring the feel of the indoors outside. Today’s outdoor clocks are not only affordable and can withstand the elements, they are also beautiful. They come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, and the available materials range from weather resistant metals and natural woods, to glass and durable plastics.  In addition, you are sure to find a style of outdoor clock that satisfies your taste, whether traditional, antique, contemporary, whimsical, rustic, or retro.

High-Tech Function

Outdoor clocks bring more than beauty to your outdoor living spaces; they can also offer a variety of high-tech functions.  Many outdoor clocks come with thermometers to measure temperature, barometers to measure air pressure, and hygrometers to measure humidity. One of the most impressive features of some outdoor clocks today is their ability to automatically synchronize to U.S. official time.  The Time and Frequency Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, houses the NIST-F1 cesium fountain atomic clock, which is one of the most accurate clocks in the world and which sets the standard for the nation’s primary time and frequency.  The NIST broadcasts a low frequency signal from its own radio station near Fort Collins, Colorado (WWVB), and this signal is received by outdoor clocks, as well as other electronic devices, that contain a miniature radio receiver.  Once the radio controlled clock receives the signal from the WWVB station, it will synchronize, so the time is always accurate to the second.

Outdoor clocks differ in the number of times per day that they synchronize to the WWVB time signal; some synchronize every 4 or 6 hours, while some only synchronize once per day.  Clocks that synchronize only once per day usually do so at night when the signal from WWVB is at its strongest.  Outdoor clocks that synchronize once each day are just as accurate, though, as those that synchronize several times.  The NIST’s Time and Frequency Division explains that “in between synchronizations, the clocks keep time using their quartz crystal oscillators.  A typical quartz crystal found in a radio controlled clock can probably keep time to within 1 second for a few days or longer.” As a result, a clock that synchronizes more than once per day has no real advantage over one that synchronizes only one time.

The Value of an Outdoor Clock

Beauty, style, accuracy, high-tech functionality, and affordability — today’s outdoor clocks offer so much in a single package. As a whole, clocks have been an essential element in our lives for centuries; they remind us of occasions we don’t want to miss and allow us to mark the moments at which our greatest achievements occur. Bringing the beauty and practicality of a clock to your deck, screened porch, or outdoor kitchen is a natural way to bring an essential element of life and the comfort of the indoors to your outdoor living spaces.


“WWVB Radio Controlled Clocks.” Time and Frequency Division. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

All Weather Indoor / Outdoor Rugs

Indoor / Outdoor Rugs

Durable Beauty For Every Room Inside and Out

Remember When . . .

In the not too distant past, the word outdoor rugs referred to something like a small patch of Astroturf that one placed in the backyard. Those old outdoor rugs were basically utilitarian, and sure didn’t add any ambiance to the landscape. But then again, few people cared much about what patios looked like at the time.

Outdoor Rooms Come into Their Own

All that is changing. Now, it is not uncommon to hear decorators, architects, and outdoor enthusiasts talk about “outdoor rooms,” explaining how outdoor living areas are more than just a place to put your backyard furniture. They have become integral parts of the home, and as such are treated like any other room in the house. Of course, along with this alluring new take on outdoor rooms came the desire for higher quality and more stylish outdoor products. Enter braided outdoor rugs. An improvement over the older models, braided rugs were more pleasing to the eye, and, being made of polypropylene, they were also water, UV, mold, and rot resistant.

Indoor/Outdoor Rugs

Recently, though, there has been a large increase in outdoor rug manufacturing. Now, polypropylene threads are actually woven, as would be done to make a normal indoor rug. The result is rugs that are durable enough to withstand outdoor use, but comfortable and beautiful enough for indoor use, especially in high traffic areas. And because they are available in a huge selection of styles and patterns, they can easily be matched to any home decor.

One advantage of these indoor/outdoor rugs is how easy they are to clean. Usually, they can simply be hosed off, and even if they get especially dirty, all that is needed is some mild soap. In addition to patios and decks, woven all weather rugs are also ideal for kitchens and mudrooms where the biggest messes often happen.

Indoor/outdoor rugs offer one more way to blur the traditional distinctions between the inside and outside of homes. These elegant and durable rugs can take comfort and elegance outside, as well as bring tough durability indoors.

Garden Arbors

Example of a Garden Arbor - Casablanca

Casablanca Garden Arbor

Arbors are an Easy Way to Enhance Any Garden or Yard

If you enjoy backyard gardening or landscaping, no doubt you spend a good deal of time working in the yard every week. Planting, tending, and weeding the garden beds takes time and effort, but the beautiful results are worth it. Increasingly, many homeowners are choosing to add decorative elements to yards and gardens to enhance outdoor spaces even more. Garden arbors are just one example. Garden arbors are structures, often made of wood or metal, that serve as an attractive focal point in a backyard or garden. They allow you to establish an appealing entry or gateway to a garden retreat or quiet backyard corner. Arbors are an easy and inexpensive way to spruce up a yard or draw attention to a carefully tended garden.
Common Features

Most garden arbors feature side panels that double as a trellis for climbing plants and vines. The tops of these structures vary greatly — some feature decorative arches while others have flat, pergola-style tops. Together, side panels and tops come in a wide variety of styles to complement different gardens and personal tastes. For example, arbors can bring an Asian, Moroccan, or Mediterranean flavor to gardens, but they can also bring traditional charm. Many arbors offer the addition of a gate or a bench. Those that feature benches make cozy private retreats; just add a comfortable seat cushion and throw pillows made from all-weather fabric, and you can relax while enjoying the beauty of the garden.

Before choosing from the many garden arbors available, be sure to measure the width of the path or area where the arbor will be located to be sure that the style you prefer is not too narrow or too wide. One particularly nice feature available in some arbors is the ability to adjust its width to best fit the desired spot where it will be placed. Another beneficial feature to look for are concrete anchors that allow you to secure the structure to the ground and prevent it from being accidentally overturned or blown over by strong weather.

Materials Used

Most garden arbors are constructed from metal or wood. Metal arbors often feature beautiful scroll work or other intricate designs along the side panels. When choosing from the variety of metal arbors, look for durable rust-free cast iron construction. Alternatively, wood garden arbors bring a warm, natural element to gardens. When choosing from the variety of wood arbors, look for quality wood, such as western red cedar or eucalyptus wood. Both western red cedar and eucalyptus are hardy woods that naturally resist moisture, decay, and insect infestation, and they continue to look good over time with very little maintenance required. Whether you choose metal or wood, look for arbors that are sturdily constructed so that the weight of heavy vines and greenery growing up the side panels and over the top are well supported.

In sum, garden arbors add a decorative as well as functional element to yards and gardens. They allow you to extend your garden upward, and they create a focal point that draws the eye toward a particular area of interest. Garden arbors offer an inexpensive and easy way to further enhance the look of any outdoor space.

Outdoor Curtains – Tab Top, Rod Pocket or Grommets

Tab Top Curtains

The Inexpensive Choice For Backyard Privacy and Comfort

The desire for a private, comfortable, and beautiful backyard living space often leads home owners to make expensive decisions. Adding on a sun room or even a screened-in porch requires contractors, building permits, large and noisy machinery, and a lengthy wait for the finished product. Luckily, a simple and inexpensive solution exists, especially if your home already has the advantage of a covered patio or deck, or if a pergola or gazebo already serve as a focal point in your backyard. The simple solution is to install outdoor curtains or drapes.

Curtains and drapes are an unexpected and often overlooked option that can quickly and easily provide privacy for very little money. Enjoying the pleasant weather and a good book or entertaining a group of friends can be a challenge if you feel that your backyard activities are constantly on display. Homes that sit close to each other, and homes whose backyards overlook roads or commercial areas, can benefit from the privacy that exterior curtains and drapes provide.

In addition to creating privacy, curtains add a soft touch to the hard surfaces of a wooden deck, pergola, or stone patio. The gentle drape of fabric brings a comfortable indoor feel to the outside space and makes the backyard living area so much more inviting. Curtains offer flexibility, too, in their appearance. Whether you prefer fabric that hangs fully or that is tied back with a decorative tassel, you have the freedom to change the look of your backyard room simply by changing the look of the curtains.

When selecting curtains or drapes for a backyard living area, fabric quality is the most important feature to consider. Indoor fabric would not be suitable in an exterior space because indoor fabrics tend to fade and certainly would not stand up to harsh weather conditions. Outdoor fabrics, on the other hand, are made especially to be fade resistant and water resistant. High quality fabrics, such as those made by Sunbrella, block up to 98% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, are breathable, and resist mildew and stains. Like indoor drapes, though, those made for exterior spaces come in a variety of colors and hanging styles, including tab top, grommet, and rod pocket.

For a fraction of what it would cost to construct a new exterior living area, you can hang beautiful, durable outdoor curtains or drapes around your existing covered patio or deck, pergola or gazebo to instantly create a private and comfortable backyard room. Many home owners will find that outdoor curtains are the ideal solution for their backyard living space.

Porch Swings


Your Favorite Features Help Create Ultimate Relaxation

There’s something about the rhythmic movement of a porch swing that can take us to a satisfying state of relaxation. Perhaps it’s because our own parents rocked and swayed us as infants that we continue to seek out that calming sensation. Whatever the reason, porch swings help us relax and unwind. We can breathe more easily, more deeply. On a porch swing, we can let life slow down enough to enjoy the beauty of the natural world around us. We can listen to and appreciate the music of birds, breeze, and children playing.

Porch swings come in a variety of styles, so choosing the best is simply a matter of choosing the features that you prefer. Does the idea of sharing your porch swing with a friend sound inviting? Then a two-seater is a good choice. Even if you swing solo, swings with two seats give you extra space so you can keep your books and magazines handy.

Additionally, porch swings are made from a number of different materials that you’ll want to consider. Do you like the natural appearance of wood? A wooden porch swing can be stained or painted, if you like, to complement the decor of your home. The best wooden swings are made from durable, weather resistant, and insect resistant woods like Western Red Cedar or Eucalyptus. Hard wooden seats can be softened easily with the addition of a seat cushion and throw pillows made with weather resistant fabrics.

Some homeowners prefer the look of wicker rather than wood; unfortunately, traditional wicker is not weather proof and would not be practical for the outdoors. Luckily, porch swings are available in durable resin wicker. Resin wicker looks just as elegant as traditional wicker, but it is resistant to harsh weather conditions, mildew, and ultra-violet rays. The best quality resin wicker swings are hand-woven and have a steel frame, so rust is never a concern. Many also come with their own seat cushion covered with weather resistant fabric. One of the most attractive qualities about resin wicker furniture is how simple it is to clean. Most dirt can be cleaned off by squirting the resin wicker with a hose and letting it air dry. Tougher dirt requires only mild soap and a soft bristle brush.

If your porch at home is too small or is not able to support a porch swing, or if your home does not have a porch at all, you can still enjoy the gentle sway of a porch swing if you have a swing frame. Porch swing frames are sturdy structures designed to support standard porch swings and the people who enjoy them. You actually have a little more flexibility in terms of location when you use a swing frame because you can choose to put your porch swing in the garden, under a shady tree, or anywhere in the yard. Some homeowners prefer to use a swing frame right on the porch rather than bolting the swing to the porch’s ceiling.

Porch swings, no matter where they are located, are an inviting addition to any home. The gentle back and forth sway helps to settle the mind and lighten the mood; as a result, they quickly become a favorite spot for winding down at the end of a tiring day