Unique Decorating Ideas for the Winter Holidays

Winnipeg Real Estate Times- For Home Buyers & Sellers – Info and Tips for Buyers and Sellers of Winnipeg Real Estate

Why not try out some new ways to decorate your home for the season this winter? These are some unique decorating ideas for the winter holidays.

The post Unique Decorating Ideas for the Winter Holidays was first published byBo Kauffmann and appeared inWinnipeg Real Estate Times- For Home Buyers & Sellers – Info and Tips for Buyers and Sellers of Winnipeg Real Estate. All Rights Reserved by Bo Kauffmann, #REMAX #Winnipeg.

8 Key Market Trends Shaping The 2021 Housing Market

Winnipeg Real Estate Times- For Home Buyers & Sellers – Info and Tips for Buyers and Sellers of Winnipeg Real Estate

Whether you’re a prospective buyer or seller, it’s important to keep track of housing market trends and conditions before you dip your toes in the water — especially after such an unprecedented year for both real estate and the rest of the world. In HomeLight’s Spring 2021 survey, top real estate agents gave their take […]

The post 8 Key Market Trends Shaping The 2021 Housing Market was first published byBo Kauffmann and appeared inWinnipeg Real Estate Times- For Home Buyers & Sellers – Info and Tips for Buyers and Sellers of Winnipeg Real Estate. All Rights Reserved by Bo Kauffmann, #REMAX #Winnipeg.

Helping You Navigate Today’s Hot Housing Market

As many home shoppers and consumers can attest, there has been a recent shift in the housing market—disrupting many standard homebuying processes and making it more difficult to secure the home of your dreams. Given the historically high demand we’re experiencing in the housing industry today, we want to provide insight on how Taylor Morrison is working to be there for our customers during the most competitive market anyone has ever seen, and to reaffirm that we’re here to help you in your new home search.

We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding during this busy season—and empathize with how stressful it must be searching for a home in today’s market. In an ideal world, we’d be able to sell a home to everyone who wished to purchase one. We hope we can shed some light on the changes we’re adopting to manage the demand thoughtfully and with our customers in mind. That means adding a few extra measures to how and when we sell homes. Doing so will help us ensure we are able to get our customers in their brand-new home in a timely, more predictable manner given the unprecedented circumstances we’re encountering.

But before we dive into how Taylor Morrison is responding, it’s crucial to understand how and why the market got to where it is. The drastic shift was not triggered by any one single event or metric. Rather, it was a perfect storm created by a powerful concurrence of factors like low mortgage rates, a skilled labor shortage, high material costs, limited inventory and the pandemic’s impact on the economy. According to Zillow economists, there will be seven million home sales this year—that’s an almost 25 percent increase from what we saw in 2020. To put it simply, try as we might, we’re simply not able to build homes as fast as we can sell them.

How We’re Selling Homes in Today’s Market

Here are some of the scenarios prospective buyers may encounter while exploring Taylor Morrison new home communities. Please visit the community pages on the Taylor Morrison website for more details on how that particular community or market is currently selling homes. 

Building Our Waitlist

Many communities are releasing a limited number of homes every few weeks or months. To be notified of upcoming releases, prospective homebuyers must sign up for the development’s ‘Interest List.’It is a simple and fair way to release available homesites.

Homesite Drawing

When there are homesites available within a community, this scenario allows pre-qualified home shoppers to enter a virtual drawing where they may be selected at random. This method addresses the housing demand by establishing a fair process for all interested shoppers.

Selling Showcase Homes Only

Some communities are pausing the sale of to-be-built homes and selling showcase homes only. We build our showcase homes by drawing upon our most popular floor plans and exterior and interior finishes, meaning they are beautiful options to consider. We know this change may be disappointing to customers who were desiring to build their own home, and we certainly want them to know we didn’t come to this decision lightly. . Markets adopting this selling model are the ones experiencing especially high demand, which amplified our need to maintain a steady pace to meet the extreme need for housing.

In some instances, a community may opt to continue offering both to-be-built and showcase homes, however, showcase homes would only be available for purchase after they are halfway through the construction process.

Highest and Best Offer

Modeled after the resale housing market, this process gives interested buyers the opportunity to bid on their desired home. The bidder with the most competitive offer will receive the first opportunity to enter into a new purchase agreement. Keep in mind that ‘highest and best’ doesn’t exclusively mean highest in price. Other factors may include: whether the bidder is financing or paying in cash, anticipated down payment, estimated options selected, whether the bidder must sell an existing home as a condition to purchase, current market conditions, timing of submission and the price of selected floorplans and elevations. 

Tips for Buying a Home with Us

Regardless of current market conditions, our No. 1 priority is to provide every customer with an unmatched homebuying experience from start to finish. We want the process to be as seamless as it can be given the unexpected circumstances, so we’ve compiled a few best practices to help you find success purchasing your new Taylor Morrison home.

We strongly encourage booking an appointment through our website prior to visiting our sales centers so we can give you the experience and dedicated attention you deserve. Take advantage of our virtual and self-guided tours to help you find your ideal home on your own schedule. Remember, in a market like we’re seeing today, time is of the essence.Connect with one of our Internet Home Consultants or Community Sales Managers. Our team will happily provide more details regarding any new homebuying procedures and will help you stay apprised of when new homes may become available. Please note: Appointment availability may be limited, and our response times may be longer than usual—we appreciate your patience.Get pre-qualifiedwith our in-house lender Taylor Morrison Home Funding as soon as possible to speed up the homebuying process. Even if you plan to finance elsewhere, this is still a required preliminary step in our homebuying process.

We still passionately believe in helping our customers Make Moves, and want to help you make yours. The desire to do so has never been felt by so many customers all at once, but we know there’s nothing sweeter than settling into a new beginning. We look forward to the chance of welcoming you home soon.

dditional Helpful Information

What is a Healthy Home?10 Design Trends for 2021America’s Most Trusted® Home Builder* is more than an Award for Us

The post Helping You Navigate Today’s Hot Housing Market appeared first on Second House on the Right.


America’s Most Trusted® Home Builder* is More Than an Award for Us


Of any year to be named America’s Most Trusted® Home Builder, this year is the most important, because it signifies that we continued earning our customers’ trust during a pandemic—and when they needed it most. After being recognized with this momentous award for six years in a row, it’s fair to say this distinction is far more than an award. Being trusted is simply who we are.

Sheryl Palmer, Taylor Morrison Chairman and CEO

Cultivating our consumers’ trust has never been more important than during a year of uncertainty and unpredictability. Taylor Morrison has built a foundation based on trust and home shoppers have continued to place their trust in us—propelling the company to the top of the national rankings yet again. For the sixth year in a row, we have been named America’s Most Trusted® Home Builder by Lifestory Research.

For Taylor Morrison, being named America’s Most Trusted serves a greater purpose and has a much deeper meaning for our organization and our brand. It’s not easy to enhance customer trust in a pandemic era, in fact, it’s hard work and the company has proven time and time again to be up for the challenge. Our trustworthy reputation was furthered even more in the virtual world—offering our customers a variety of innovative tools to shop for their dream home safely and conveniently, including virtual tours, self-guided tours and home reservations. And Taylor Morrison’s brand-new healthy homes brand—TM LiveWell
, which is focused on healthier air, cleaner water and safer paint, took our commitment to our consumers’ health one step further.  

Following a year in which people turned to those they most trust, Taylor Morrison once again was the homebuilder brand consumers continued to admire and rely on. In a year with so much uncertainty, we applaud Taylor Morrison in retaining the top rank as the America’s Most Trusted Home Builder for the sixth consecutive year.”

Eric Snider, Lifestory Research President and Chief Research Officer

America’s Most Trusted® Home Builder by Lifestory Research is an annual study where nearly 50,000 home shoppers rate the trustworthiness of homebuilders in the top U.S. housing markets. And this year, Taylor Morrison captured its highest Net Trust Index Score since claiming the title back in 2016.

We know trust isn’t easily granted, it’s something that has to be earned and that’s no easy feat. But it’s a challenge Taylor Morrison has accepted and excels in every year. We’re honored you have chosen to place your trust in us. To learn more about us, our brand purpose and what prompts consumers to choose Taylor Morrison, visit us today.    


Taylor Morrison received the highest numerical score in the proprietary Lifestory Research 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 America’s Most Trusted® Home Builder study. Study results are based on experiences and perceptions of people surveyed. Your experiences may vary. Visit

The post America’s Most Trusted® Home Builder* is More Than an Award for Us appeared first on Second House on the Right.

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What is a Healthy Home?

At Taylor Morrison, we believe one of the healthiest moves you can make is into a new home. And with our Make Healthier Moves
and TM LiveWell
initiatives, our nationwide new construction homes are now even healthier than ever.

The “why” is easy is to see. We understand that nothing matters more to our home buyers than their health and the well-being of the ones they love.

But How Do We Do It?

In this post, we’ll dive deeper into all the TM LiveWell
home products and technologies that go into building some of the healthiest new homes on the market. All so you can breathe easier and trust that you’re doing the best you can for you and yours.

The Power of a Single Breath

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You’ve always been told that a healthy breakfast is the key to giving your body the energy it needs to last the day, but what we really need to keep going is oxygen. Every breath you take fills your lungs with the power that fuels all of our living processes.

Each day, the average human breathes in 15,000 times at home. 15,000 opportunities to take in clean air…or not so clean air. Which is why the new homes we build feature a whole-home air filtration system with a MERV-13 rating.

Removal and Prevention of Air Pollutants

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Whole-home air filtration isn’t the only technology Taylor Morrison is utilizing to purify the air in your new home.

Anti-bacterial bathroom fans are installed in all full baths to help prevent mold, mildew and bacteria in their tracks. As wet rooms, bathrooms are more susceptible to the pollutants that naturally grow in humid environments. Anti-bacterial fans use the combination of patented LED lighting to help prevent pollutants from growing along with a powerful extraction motor to remove moisture from the room.Low VOC paint contains fewer volatile organic compounds, which helps prevent air pollution in the home.

Safer to the Last Drop

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Along with air, water is the other life-giving element ever present in your home. Naturally, the cleaner your water is, the better – especially when the average American uses approximately 90 gallons of water each and every day.

By installing advanced water filtration systems in our new build homes, contaminants and pollutants can be removed before the water comes out of the tap and into your glass.

For added germ control, touch-free faucets are now standard equipment in all kitchens. Touch-free faucets prevent cross contamination for little hands and big ones, too. For easy, safe cleanup when you’re preparing a meal or doing the dishes at the end of one. Many of our homes are also fitted with lighted garbage disposal units to quickly whisk away food scraps down the drain.

Along with keeping your water as pure as possible inside the home, a selection of eco-friendly fixtures improve efficiency to lower water consumption and reduce utility bills, helping to preserve and protect our nation’s water supply.

Smarter Home is a Healthier Home

Maintaining a stable temperature in your home makes your living environment more comfortable for both your overall mental health and it is simply better for your physical well-being, as well. Our next generation of new homes will give you more control over your home’s heating and cooling system through the installation of smart home systems.

Smart thermostat technology allows you to regulate the temperature in your home from any Wi-Fi enabled device. Smart thermostats are also programmable, so you can adjust the temperature up or down as desired automatically.

Keep Reading: Learn about Self-Guided new home tours. More privacy. More freedom. Your tour, your way.

Boost Your Mood and Emotional Well-being

Loving where you live has a greater impact on your mental health than you may realize, and even the smallest improvement to your at-home environment can pay big dividends in terms of your overall happiness and mood.

The benefits of living in a new home extend well beyond healthier air, cleaner water and safer paint. Knowing that you’re doing everything you can to care for loved ones is a big deal. A healthy home environment isn’t just great for your body, it’s good for your mind, too.

Included in the Base Price

Something that sets Taylor Morrison apart from many other national homebuilders is that all these healthy home improvements are included as standard features. Not as upgrades but included in the base price for the new homeswe build.

Making it easier than ever for you to Make Healthier Moves

Note that while new build Taylor Morrison homes across all our divisions will include standard included healthy home products and technologies, the exact brands, models and products may vary community to community. To find out which TM LiveWell
products are included at your favorite community, click on the tab on the community page for details or speak with a member of the community sales team or an internet home consultant.

Ready to Make Your Healthiest Move?

Visit a Taylor Morrison new home community near you to learn more about our Make Healthier Moves
initiative and to see these new healthy home products and technologies in action at our professionally decorated model homes. Be sure to ask about additional healthy home features currently available as upgrades through the Design Studio.

Home is where the heart is, but the rest of you lives there, too. That’s why Taylor Morrison is committed to building homes that take care of all of you.

Find Your Healthy HomeAdditional Helpful Information: Virtual Home Buying 101: Make Your Next Move Online

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8 Tips for Achieving Maximum Coziness

As winter plods along, you may wish you could just hibernate until spring – and that may be more true than ever this year. But there is, indeed, joy to be found in the quieter months of the year.

While the trend may have come and gone in the U.S., the art of hygge, that feeling of being ultra-cozy and content, is just part of everyday life in Denmark.

The thing is, the Danes know how to thrive in winter. You might already know they’re the happiest people on earth, but did you know a lot of them attribute their unseasonably sunny outlook to their home- and self-care habits?

When it’s cold and rainy out, and you’ve been stuck inside for – who knows how long? – binging the next series on your “recommended” list might feel like the most appealing option. But if you’d like mix things up, here are a few ideas to channel the Danes and make an intentionally delightful day out of drab weather.

1. Set the mood

Candles are a key ingredient to a supremely comfortable atmosphere. Not only do they provide beautiful, soft lighting, they also add warmth and scent to your space.

Tip: Choose seasonal scents to inspire celebration, or choose a summery scent, such as coconut and floral, to help combat the seasonal blues.

2. Bake something

Comfort food is central to the cozy experience. But it doesn’t just begin when you eat the cake (or cookies or pie) – it begins when you imagine the creation.

Leaf through your favorite cookbooks or browse some eye-candy baking sites, choose your ingredients carefully, and mix them with care, taking your time to enjoy the task at hand. It’s just a bonus that your baking will flood your space with delicious smells – and taste good too.

Tip: Reach out to a friend or family member whose recipes deserve appreciation, and ask if they could show you how to work out their spectacular skills. You can set up a video call if you’re not able to meet in person.

3. Add texture

Plush throws, sheepskins and cushions make for a much more inviting space. Cover your surfaces in as many luxurious fabrics and pillows as you can find and snuggle down.

Tip: Feel free to go faux, or if cost prohibits, find inexpensive alternatives.

4. Get out the board games

Pull your partner or kids away from their screens and gather around the table for some old-fashioned fun. Whether you go for the competitive strategy variety or laugh-out-loud social games, there are options for everyone. For the minimalists among us, even a deck of cards can offer plenty of entertainment.

Tip: Looking for remote gaming options? There are many online group gaming apps, and many people have come up with creative ways to play the classics via Zoom as well. Start up a game and maintain your connections year-round!

5. Perfect your hot drink game

Hot cocoa, hot toddies, apple cider, mulled wine – pick your poison. Whatever it is, find your own special recipe that is so delicious you can’t wait to show it off. Host a virtual happy hour and share it with family and friends.

Tip: Why, yes, you can put whiskey in those drinks. But it’s usually a good idea to perfect a mocktail version, too, for those who don’t imbibe.

6. Embrace sweater weather

If you don’t already have a favorite sweater, it’s time to find one. It should be something that makes you feel at home when you slip it on. Cashmere, wool, mohair – anything will do. Whatever you choose, pair it with thick socks!

Tip: Find some beginner books or tutorials and try your hand at knitting, crocheting or weaving, and make your own sweater over the course of the winter. Find an online knitting circle for tips and encouragement.

7. Curate your cold-outside playlist

Make yourself a mix of music that inspires you to do all those things that make you feel absolutely endeared to your space. Put it on shuffle, relax, repeat.

Tip: Instrumentals are classics for a reason – they can work as background for just about anything. When in doubt, most music services have premade playlists, some of which you can filter by mood.

8. Do seasonal activities

Making caramel apples? Check. Working on (or giving up on) your New Year’s resolutions? Check. Canning, puddle jumping, snowball throwing, signs-of-spring spotting? Check!

Tip: Whatever your favorite seasonal activities might be, create a plan to make them happen – put it on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or find an “accountability partner” (a friend or family member who will give you the nudge you need), and feel the magic of even the most blah weather wash over you.

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Originally published October 2018.

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A 3-Step Downsizing Plan

Moving into a new house is often bittersweet. You are excited for the change, but sad to leave a home so full of memories. Downsizing can be even harder – a smaller place means you don’t have room for all of your current possessions.

But downsizing is also an opportunity to refresh and start anew. If you get rid of the clutter, you can fill your new place with the things you really love, making it feel like home.

Here are three steps for downsizing without sacrificing your meaningful belongings.

1. Make a plan

Take a trip to your new place and measure the size of your rooms and storage areas. This will be your guide for how much you can take with you. It is better to underestimate than overestimate.

As you’re deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, do one room at a time. Moving is a big job, and you don’t need to tackle it all at once. Plan to do a little bit each day, and leave extra time so you aren’t rushed.

Decide on your furniture first. Going from big to small will give you a better idea how much space you have left to fill. You don’t want to have to reshuffle everything if you can’t take that bookshelf with you.

2. Sort your belongings

Will you use it? It’s easy to convince yourself you might still wear that 10-year-old shirt with the tags still on someday. But if you haven’t used it in the past year, it’s likely you never will.

Also, get rid of multiples. Do you have multiple coffee pots, or several sets of china? If you can only use one at a time, you don’t need to keep both.

As you sort, follow a strict yes/no policy -no “maybes” allowed. Make a “yes” pile and a “no” pile, and force yourself to choose. If you aren’t convinced the item deserves a yes, then it’s a no. “Maybe” piles just mean more work for you later.

Decide how to divvy up your “no” pile. You may not want or need these items anymore, but they’re probably useful to someone else. Special items may handed down to friends or family members. Furniture, housewares, clothing and other items in good condition could be sold at a garage sale or on sites like Craigslist. Or, you can choose to donate reusable items to organizations like Goodwill, who sometimes offer neighborhood or even residential pickups, making your task that much simpler. Anything damaged or worn beyond repair should make its way to the recycling bin or a trip to the dump.

3. Preserve memories

Digitize photos to save space and easily share them with family. Photo albums take up a lot of room, and how often do you actually go through them? Pick up a digital frame and enjoy all of your photos in a rotating slideshow or create a slideshow screensaver for your TV or computer.

Take photos of items that bring up good memories, but you no longer have room for. You can look back on the memories without actually keeping the items.

To make sure those treasured items are in good hands, pass them on to your children, grandchildren or close friends. They will love the gift, and you get to enjoy seeing the items being used.

Another strategy is to give keepsakes a new life. If you love to craft, items like old movie stubs, letters and photos are perfect for scrapbooking, letting you create a record of your experiences. Or make three-dimensional pieces of art using shadowboxes. Gathering up your memories in one place will make them easier than ever to enjoy.

Downsizing is an emotional process. You will discover items you haven’t seen in years, and you will have to decide what to do with them. Give yourself some time to reminisce, and then make a decision. Keep in mind your space limitations. Take with you what is truly valuable – only you can decide what you can’t do without.

Just imagine: Once you’ve finished your move, you’ll be able to enjoy your new place surrounded by the feeling of home.


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Originally published November 2015.

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Regain Your Garage: Simple Tricks for Getting Organized

If your house is bursting at the seams, or simply short on storage options, the solution may be as close as your garage. To make the best use of this space, however, you first need to corral its current chaos.

This is, fortunately, a relatively simple task if you incorporate a few good storage ideas. With careful planning and a little effort, you can transform your garage from a messy catchall to an efficient, well-organized household annex.

Divide and conquer

First things first: Get rid of anything you no longer use. After you’ve winnowed down the contents of your garage, sort everything into groups. Keep garden tools with garden tools, and sports equipment with sports equipment. Items used together ought to be stored together.

Where possible, place like items into clear plastic containers with lids. It’s fine to use opaque bins, just be sure to label each one. Stackable containers are especially handy. They keep your belongings clean, protect against insects and rodents, increase the amount of usable floor space, and cut down on visual clutter.

What goes where?

The efficient use of space partly depends on positioning stored items in a thoughtful, strategic way. Are there certain items you’re likely to need on a regular basis, such as cleaning supplies? If so, store them near the door so you can access them quickly and easily. Stash rarely used or seasonal items, like sleds and skis, in harder-to-reach spots.

Off the wall

The key to garage storage and organization is getting things off the floor. Capitalizing on wall space enables you to fit the most into your garage, while keeping it all visible and easy to access. The type of wall storage you choose depends on your storage needs, project budget and personal preferences. Many homeowners opt for one or a combination of the following storage standbys:

Pegboard. A favorite for generations, pegboard is inexpensive and easy to install. Because it can be outfitted with an array of compatible hooks, clamps, bins and shelves, pegboard can be used to store and organize just about anything, as long as the item to be stored isn’t especially heavy.Open shelving. Whether a wall-mounted track system or a set of stand-alone units, open shelves are affordable, versatile and user-friendly, and they keep everything in plain sight. Plus, depending on their construction, 12- or 16-inch-deep shelves are typically capable of holding heavier items.Closed cabinetry. If you plan to park your car in the garage, cabinets with doors may be the most desirable option, because closed storage means not having to come face-to-face with paint cans and garbage bags every time you leave or arrive home. Cabinets are available in countless materials and styles, but generally speaking, they are more expensive than other solutions. And because they are unable to accommodate very large items, cabinets are most effective when used in conjunction with another storage system.Panelized systems. Here, entire walls are covered with specially designed panels that hold any number of companion add-ons, such as hooks and shelves. Unlike pegboard, panelized systems can handle heavier items. But that strength and utility comes at a cost, especially since some proprietary products must be installed by licensed professionals.

Look up

For certain infrequently used belongings, the ceiling provides ideal, out-of-the-way storage space. Ladders and seasonal gear can be kept here, hung by clips or straps fastened to the ceiling joists. Or you can take advantage of hoist pulley systems, which cleverly operate like the cords on window blinds. Bear in mind, however, that ceiling storage must be oriented so that it doesn’t interfere with the operation of the garage door.

Safety steps

As you’re organizing your garage, it’s important to keep safety in mind. It’s unsafe to store gasoline and propane in the garage; a single spark could lead to tragedy.

Likewise, if you have children or pets, you should store hazardous materials like fertilizer and pesticides far out of reach. Locked cabinets are a good solution for these toxic materials, and they’re also a smart place to store power tools and sharp implements.


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Originally published January 2015.

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Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation

You don’t need to stay in a hotel and play tourist to have a proper holiday. Look no further than your own home for a staycation that dreams are made of.

Make no mistake, an at-home staycation doesn’t just mean a lazy weekend on the couch. Turn your humble abode into a resort made for relaxation with a few days of planning and prep work.

Here’s your guide to creating the ultimate staycation.

Tackle chores in advance

Make a list of chores you want to tackle a few days before your staycation begins. At the very least, cover the basics like washing linens, dusting and vacuuming.

For an added level of sparkle, schedule time to clean your windows. That way when you’re gazing out at your backyard garden or pool (aka your staycation resort spa), your windows will be as spic-and-span as those at a five-star bed and breakfast.

Better yet, for a totally chore-free staycation, consider setting aside extra cash for a housecleaning service to do the work for you beforehand.

Maximize your comfort

Maybe your home is already perfectly comfy and cozy. But for maximum staycation relaxation, why not add a few extra elements to make your home feel like a luxury resort?

Adjust your lighting. Look for soft ambient lighting options to create a calming environment. New lamps for bedroom and living areas and candles for the master bath can completely change the mood of a space.Add new rugs. Soft, plush area rugs boost the comfort level of a room and make a cozy reading spot if you add a few floor pillows.Upgrade your bedding. Not only will it feel like you’re truly on a vacation, but new sheets are an added perk after your leisure time comes to a close.

Create designated spaces

Think about what kind of environment will help you reach peak relaxation. You can do a quick makeover of your bathroom to create a calming home spa or carve out a quiet corner for a meditation or reading nook.

If a spa setting is more your style, look at bath pillows, aromatherapy candles and bath oils. Or if you simply crave a reading corner, pick up some new reads that have been sitting on your wish list for too long.

If you have kids, create a designated craft or board game corner, or come up with a few activities they can enjoy while you relax.

Look outside for added comfort ideas too. Whether it’s a hammock, a porch swing or patio furniture, look for ways to blend your staycation lounging with the great outdoors.

On that note, consider setting up your camping gear in the backyard for part of your staycation, or try out a DIY fire pit for late-night chats and s’mores.

Manage meals ahead of time

Don’t waste precious relaxation time planning menus. Pick your favorite family recipes, plan which meals you’ll have delivered and knock out grocery shopping before your staycation begins.

If you enjoy cooking, consider using some of your time off to make more intricate meals than you typically have time for – or bring in a local chef for a cooking lesson.

Plan ahead to make it count

With a few preparatory tasks on your to-do list, you can turn your house into a staycation sanctuary. Map out what you want your down time to look like, and delegate tasks. Soon you’ll be ready for a few days of ultimate relaxation – without ever leaving your home.


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Originally published July 2016.


How to Create Your Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen

As summer approaches and temperatures start to rise, no one wants to spend time inside sweating over a hot stove. With an outdoor kitchen, you can make the most of the beautiful warm nights by spending them with your friends and family.

Whether you have thousands to spend or a just few hundred to splurge, create your own outdoor kitchen and enjoy all it has to offer.

Upgrade your grill

A rusty, dusty grill doesn’t inspire lingering outdoor evenings. Upgrade your outdoor grill and take care of it all year round for a stand-out outdoor kitchen. A standard grill will cost you $150 to $300, and top-of-the-line outdoor ranges may be upwards of $1,500.

Before buying the biggest and best grill, consider how you will use one. Will you be feeding the whole soccer team? Or perhaps grilling some steaks for a romantic dinner for two? Look for a grill with features you will actually use and not just the latest trends.

Enhance your seating

If your basics are up to date, then you’ll want to upgrade your patio furniture and seating options too. If you plan on dining outside often, invest in an actual dining table and appropriate chairs. Eating a gourmet dinner off your lap downgrades an otherwise luxurious experience.

If you’re looking for more versatile pieces, sleek contemporary options coordinate nicely with most outdoor kitchen setups. Expect to spend a good chunk of change on quality furniture, but remember: With the proper care and maintenance, it can last as long as high-end interior pieces. Make sure you have a plan for the off-season, whether that’s moving outdoor furniture to indoor storage or securely covering it to protect it from the elements.

dd the extras

Want a prep sink? Wine fridge? Ice machine? Built-in smoker? You got it. The sky’s the limit when it comes to custom additions – or rather, your budget is the limit. Think carefully about your space before making a wish list.

Perhaps a full chef’s kitchen won’t quite fit in your backyard, but a beautiful wine fridge and some extra counter space are just what you need to take your outdoor kitchen to the next level.

Some features require installing or extending utilities (think: water or electricity), so don’t forget about portable additions such as a bar cart – which adds class without hassle.

Make it comfortable

Think about how you will provide amenities to make being outdoors comfortable, such as shade, heat (if using your space year-round), and perhaps even a few extras like a TV or audio equipment.

Tucking the seating close to the house may help you take advantage of a porch or awning. Otherwise, structures such as a light-strung pergola add shade during the day, light at night and atmosphere all the time.

If you have the room, the addition of a fireplace allows for a longer entertaining season. Outdoor kitchens don’t have to be just for summer, after all.

If you like to have some indoor comforts while enjoying your beautiful outside oasis, television and music can be connected outside – although it can be expensive. Bluetooth or portable speakers, a projector and a large sheet, or even an old-fashioned radio are more budget-sensitive options for those looking to add a little fun to their outdoor space.

pply your own style

Create an outdoor kitchen that suits your style and taste. If you’re working with an existing space, be sure to embrace the style and play up the features, such as dark wood, stone and classic columns.

If you’re starting from scratch, take a look at your indoor design and see what features you like. Then consider incorporating those color schemes, design styles or even furniture shapes into your outdoor kitchen.

While you can’t go wrong designing your outdoor space, consider designs and colors that are versatile so you’re not limited if you want to mix things up in the future.

Make it yours

Your outdoor kitchen should be a comfortable, relaxing space for entertaining or unwinding after a long day of work. Make yours an escape that works for you.

When planning your outdoor kitchen, think about adding one or two small luxuries that will make you excited to enjoy your space. These can be as small as pretty tea lights scattered around or as large as a wood-burning pizza oven.


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Originally published June 2016.

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