Monday, April 3, 2017

4 great ways to create an outdoor living space

An outdoor living space with fireplace.Today more than ever, homeowners are seeking ways to maximize the footprint of their home - both inside the four walls and out. Outdoor environments can serve many purposes and are a perfect way to customize a space that is right for you.

hether you plan to live in your home for years to come, or have an upcoming listing on your mind, now could be a great time to create an outdoor living space.
As you consider creating a beautiful, yet functional outdoor area, here are some key elements to keep in mind:
Outdoor kitchens are in demand
Whether you keep it simple with a built-in grill, some counter space and a sink, or go grand with a brick pizza oven and abundant seating at a granite-topped counter, an outdoor kitchen is becoming a must. In fact, according to, home buyers will pay a premium of more than 26 percent for a home with an outdoor kitchen.
As with the indoor kitchen, many outdoor kitchens include a cooking area, sink, storage and refrigeration. As with your indoor kitchen, the faucet outside can be the perfect marriage of beauty and function. You can find a variety of kitchen faucets from manufacturers such as Danze that fulfill all your outdoor needs. Need the ability to put water exactly where you want it in your outdoor workspace? A pulldown faucet from Danze offers great looks and exceptional versatility.
Media makes it way outdoors
Many of the technology wonders you enjoy indoors are making their way into outdoor environments. From built-in flatscreen TVs that can stream video, to video gaming systems, Wi-Fi and surround sound, outdoor entertainment has gone high tech.
Whenever you're incorporating electronics and electricity in an outdoor environment, weather proofing and proper wiring are essential. Keep these critical aspects in mind while planning your outdoor space, and deciding what media you'll incorporate and where it will be placed.
Bars are big
Outdoor bars, like traditional tikki bars, may increase your home value by nearly 14 percent, according to Whether you're thinking of adding a bar in tandem with your outdoor kitchen space, or want to simply expand your entertaining area, an outdoor bar requires a few basic elements.
A fully operational sink with a high-functioning bar faucet are a go-to when it comes to outdoor bars.  Storage for beverages and glassware, a drink chiller, ice storage and seating can make your outdoor entertaining area an envy in the neighborhood.
Room for relaxation
While plenty of comfortable, attractive seating tend to be a significant part of outdoor living spaces, modern outdoor spaces are re-defining relaxation and entertainment. In addition to seating and dining areas, homeowners are incorporating recreational elements such as ping pong and billiards tables, putting greens, hot tubs and infinity pools.
Firepits and fireplaces are also popular for adding ambiance, and deliver the added bonus of extending the outdoor living season well into cooler months. Whether you choose to build a full-wall fireplace that doubles as a brick pizza oven, or stick with a more modest, portable firepit, adding heat and comfort to your outdoor space can also add value (upwards of 21 percent according to 
Outdoor living spaces offer a multitude of benefits and creative options. Even the simplest of designs can make a home feel larger, increase the property's resale value and bring years of enjoyment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Easy Upgrades for Holiday Entertaining

Holiday gatherings call for an extra touch to make the celebrating special. Since many holiday festivities are centered on food, focus some attention on the refreshments for a simple way to upgrade your next holiday party.
From the presentation to the pairings, it's easy to make an ordinary spread extraordinary this holiday season. Take this year's event to the next level with these easy tips that bring the wow-factor to your gathering:
Make it look as pretty as it tastes. Even simple platters of crackers and cheese can feel extra special when presented on a pretty plate. If you're serving food buffet style, use a colorful tablecloth and stack sturdy boxes of varying sizes underneath to serve as risers that create some visual interest for the spread. Incorporate seasonal decorations such as ornaments or sprigs of holly and poinsettia blooms. For a plated meal, a table-runner adds just the right pop of color and a tasteful centerpiece of candles or evergreen dressed with holiday trinkets elevates an everyday table.
Offer the perfect pairings. When planning your menu, consider the types of beverages you'll serve along with the appetizers and dishes. When paired properly, food and cocktails complement one another, making the flavors more vibrant and the overall experience more impressive. A good starting place is cheese. Pair alpine-style cheese such as Roth Grand Cru with Riesling; creamy blue with gin; smoky blue with merlot; Havarti with pinot noir; Spanish-style such as Roth GranQueso with scotch; and Gouda with prosecco.
Enhance traditional favorites. Putting a fresh, elegant spin on the basics instantly elevates your menu and the overall experience for your guests. Even a staple like cheese can get some special dressing for the occasion. This recipe combines three rich, flavorful cheeses for a fondue that's sure to delight guests.
Explore more ideas for exceptional holiday entertaining at
Culinary Education Center House FondueCook time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6
3/4       pound Grand Cru Original, shredded
3/4       pound Grand Cru Reserve, shredded
1/2       pound Roth Fontina, shredded
16        ounces Pinot Grigio or other light- to medium-bodied white wine
1          loaf crusty artisan bread
            fresh apples, grapes and pears
            black and white pepper (optional)
            nutmeg (optional)
Combine cheeses and wine in ceramic fondue pot and stir to combine. Allow mixture to soak 15-30 minutes.
Heat mixture over low heat, approximately 7-10 minutes, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Do not allow mixture to boil. When cheese has melted completely, remove from heat and transfer to tabletop burner.
Serve fondue with chunks of bread and fruit. If desired, provide pepper and/or nutmeg guests can sprinkle onto a plate and use for dipping bread and cheese. Pair with chilled dry Riesling and a shot of authentic Swiss kirschwasser.