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All it takes is a quick stroll through your local shopping mall to erase any doubts that springtime is officially here. Sweaters and stocking caps have been pulled from the shelves, and tank tops and bikinis are once again king. That said, spring is also a great time to get in touch with your inner home improvement fashionista, and with beautiful spring days lurking around every corner, our home fashion experts suggest you focus your energies outside! If you've been thinking it's time to spruce up your home's exterior, here's a list of a few of our spring fashion favorites to help get you started off in the right direction.
- Outdoor KitchensSpring wouldn't be spring without firing up the grill after a long winter hiatus, but cooking on that old kettle grill over a concrete slab is a little like passing up a shopping spree at Macy's for a trip to the secondhand store. Outdoor kitchens have taken the nation by storm the past few years, and spring of '09 doesn't look to be any different. Built-in grills, tiled countertops, a sink for food prep, and a set of cabinets are pretty standard fare. More luxurious outdoor kitchens can incorporate everything from wood fired ovens, covered working areas, and even refrigerators and dishwashers into the mix. Our suggestion: do whatever it takes to make your outdoor kitchen the culinary playground of your dreams!
- Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire PitsA few other home fashion favorites this spring include outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. Outdoor fireplaces can be as elaborate as you want them to be, including built-in gas fireplace inserts and luxurious outdoor furniture that rivals most living room ensembles. And if your fashion sense leans more towards REI than Neiman Marcus, maybe a fire pit is a better choice for you. Portable or built-in fire-pits make for a great addition to patios and garden areas, and with the addition of some simple outdoor furniture you'll have an optimum marshmallow roasting setup at your disposal just by stepping out the back door!
- XeriscapingNatural themes seems to be a big hit on the runways of the home fashion world, and no home fashion innovation is getting more attention from the critics this year than xeriscapingthe landscaping philosophy that focuses on using native plants and embracing water wise design. With xeriscaping homeowners can enjoy a beautiful array of perennial flowers, native shrubs, and attractive hardscape that looks just as stunning as anything conventional landscaping has to offer. Even better, xeriscaping accomplishes that feat without the high maintenance and heavy watering requirements that most homeowners consider par for the course when it comes to keeping up a beautiful yard.
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- Water WorldIf sitting barefoot on the bank of a creek or lake in jeans and an old t-shirt is your idea of the perfect relaxing day (and the optimal wardrobe, then #4 on our spring home fashion list is right up your alley. Water features such as flowing streams, waterfalls, fountains, and ponds are sweeping the nation, adding movement, beauty, and serenity to any backyard design.
- HardscapingThink of hardscaping as the "fashion accessories" of landscaping and outdoor design. Stone patios and pathways, garden benches, rock gardens, lawn decorations, and even functional aspects like fencing and retaining walls can be invaluable additions to your outdoor areas when they are well thought out and incorporated into a larger landscaping design. And just like the right pair of sunglasses or the perfect earrings can put the finish touches on a fashion ensemble, the right hardscaping addition can be the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to bringing your outdoor spaces together.
- This Little Light of MineEverybody in the fashion world knows that even the best dress can look drab if the lighting isn't right, a fact that holds true for adding a little pizzazz to your home's exterior as well. In fact, our bet is that it won't take too many beautiful spring evenings sipping tea on the patio before you start thinking about what a little landscape lighting could do for you and your home. From illuminating decks and patios, to highlighting your home and other landscaping features, letting a little light shine can help to beautify your home, improve safety, and increase security, all in one simple, illuminating project.
Spring has arrived, making it the perfect time to focus your energies, and your home improvement fashion genius, on improving your outdoor spaces. Flaunt it if you've got it, and don't forget to have fun on the runway!
Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles.