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Outdoor Living Space Design
 



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Outdoor Furniture Trends 2014 – Houston Outdoor Designer Dishes

Outdoor Furniture Trends 2014 – Houston Outdoor Designer Dishes

Outdoor furniture trends 2014: think wicker, lanterns, cast iron and much more, says Houston outdoor designer Lisha Maxey of Outdoor Homescapes of Houston in a blog post at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Outdoor furniture trends 2014: Think wicker, lanterns, cast iron, custom fabrics and more, says Houston outdoor designer Lisha Maxey in a blog post at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Lisha Maxey

Outdoor furniture trends 2014: What are they in Houston?

Wicker, cast iron and so much more, says Lisha Maxey, senior designer with Outdoor Homescapes of Houston.

“Design-savvy, yet durable, outdoor furniture is now the rule, not the exception,” says Lisha, who’s offering $500 worth of outdoor furniture consultation free to Outdoor Homescapes clients. “That’s especially true in Houston, which is now outpacing many American cities in median household income, upscale housing development and year-round good weather.”

Outdoor furniture trends in 2014, she explains, have moved toward styles that look creative and carefree but that hold up against the elements and trendy decorating phases. “We’re demanding better-performing materials while gravitating toward timeless simplicity,” explains Lisha. “At the same time, we’re looking for ways to personalize our outdoor space and make it unique.”

But the end result can end up looking like a cluttered hodge-podge – unless a designer helps tie it all together.

“Many upscale outdoor furniture manufacturers give you a great start, with smartly designed collections you can customize.” A trade partner with upscale outdoor furniture brands like Restoration Hardware and Janus et Cie.

Here are some specific outdoor furniture trends for 2014 she’s noticed:

Wicker

Wicker is among the top outdoor furniture trends for 2014, says Houston outdoor designer Lisha Maxey in a blog post for Outdoor Homescapes of Houston at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

“I would say that wicker is still number one for most clients,” says Lisha. And indeed, wicker’s new all-weather appeal (thanks to a mix of wicker and resin that allows it to be kept out in the rain) was cited among HGTV’s top outdoor furniture trends for 2014.

Cast iron

“Cast iron is also making a big hit,” says Lisha, noting these Avignon lanterns from Restoration Hardware:

Outdoor furniture trends 2014? Think cast iron lanterns like these ones from Restoration Hardware, says Houston backyard design expert Lisha Maxey of Outdoor Homescapes of Houston in a blog post at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

 

Custom fabrics

When it comes to outdoor furniture trends for 2014, custom fabric is also on the top of the list. Restoration Hardware, Lisha notes, offers more than 132 choices for upholstery, drapes, patio umbrellas and pillows. And the dizzying textiles collection at Janus et Cie can be specified by color, grade, weave and pattern:

Outdoor furniture trends 2014? Try custom fabrics, like these textiles by Janus et Cie, says Houston outdoor living space designer Lisha Maxey of Outdoor Homescapes of Houston in a blog post at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

The breezy look of draped linen sheers is especially popular in 2014.

Flameless candles

“With record drought and heat causing widespread wildfires the past few years, flameless candles have become even more popular in 2014,” adds Lisha.

Outdoor furniture trends 2014? Try flameless candles, like the ones featured on the counter of this outdoor kitchen by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, says Lisha Maxey, a Houston outdoor designer with Outdoor Homescapes of Houston at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

 

Interested in incorporating the latest outdoor furniture trends into your outdoor living space? Just contact us, and we’ll get your project started!

 

Question: What outdoor furniture trends have you noticed in 2014? Write a comment and tell us about it!

 

 

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Outdoor Living Color Schemes – Houston Designers Offer Ideas

Outdoor Living Color Schemes – Houston Designers Offer Ideas

Outdoor living color schemes help establish the personality, mood and style of an outdoor living space, say two designers with Outdoor Homescapes of Houston.

Here, Gretchen Kliafas and Lisha Maxey share some ideas on how to effectively use color in your outdoor living space.

“I truly believe in the 60-30-10 theory of color,” says Gretchen, who joined the Houston outdoor design company in April 2014. “If you balance your colors and underlying color tones in this ratio, your outdoor living color schemes will always look pulled together.”

Take, for instance, the color palette in this outdoor living space designed and built by Outdoor Homescapes:

Outdoor living color schemes help establish the personality, mood and style of outdoor living spaces, say Houston outdoor designers Gretchen Kliafas and Lisha Maxey in a blog post by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Outdoor living color schemes are a subject touched upon on by designer Gretchen Kliafas in a blog post by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Gretchen Kliafas

“In this outdoor living color scheme, the red was definitely the 60 percent,” says Gretchen, noting the red brick home exterior, columns and pavers as well as the fiery-red seat cushions. “The dark brown of the furniture and pergola represent the smaller 30 percent, and then I believe the cool silver of the appliances brought the last 10 percent – for just the right pop.”

The red seat covers, she continues, coordinate with the client’s existing red patio umbrella. “They also had a strong, underlying warmth in their existing brick and flagstone, so it was a natural transition to continue the red and terra cotta colors. I also think red is a natural choice for outdoor living, since it’s opposite on the color wheel from the green of the outdoors.”

But color options have grown in the past decade as designers have gotten bolder and looked to personalize outdoor rooms. In fact, bright and cheery colors are right on trend for 2014.

Outdoor Living color schemes are a subject touched upon by Lisha Maxey, senior designer with Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, in a blog post at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Lisha Maxey

“The colors have gotten very happy, because we’re all feeling better,” says outdoor living expert Susan McCoy, crediting the recovering economy, in the National Hardware Show’s report on 2014 outdoor living trends.

“And many of these colors can be brought in with outdoor furniture and décor,” adds Outdoor Homescapes’ senior designer Lisha Maxey, who’s offering $500 free in outdoor furniture consultation when you get an outdoor living space by Outdoor Homescapes.”That’s where my partnerships with design-savvy brands like Restoration Hardware and Janus et Cie come in.”

Both brands, she says, offer a variety of decor options that make color moveable and changeable. Think customized upholstery fabric for furniture pieces, area rugs, drapery, throws, planters, patio umbrellas, seat cushions and throw pillows.

Here’s an outdoor color scheme with pops of orange, for instance, by Janus et Cie:

Outdoor living color schemes  help establish the mood, personality and style of an outdoor living space,  as seen in this orange themed collection by Janus et Cie. From a blog post on using color outdoors by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Blue is another popular choice for outdoor living color schemes. Here’s one including mostly Restoration Hardware pieces that was featured in Colorado Homes and Lifestyles magazine.

 Outdoor living color schemes help establish the mood, personality and style of outdoor living spaces, according to a blog post by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Looking for more outdoor living color schemes? Check out our outdoor color palettes on Houzz. You can also browse our outdoor color scheme ideas on Pinterest. And here’s a great HGTV slideshow on “Bold and Colorful Outdoor Rooms.”

Or, just contact us for a consultation. Our designers will be glad to help you out!

 

Question: What are some of your favorite outdoor living color schemes? Post a comment and let us know!

 

 

 

 

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Houston Patio Designers Satisfy Budget, Style, HOA

Houston Patio Designers Satisfy Budget, Style, HOA

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Gretchen Kliafas is a project manager, salesperson and project manager for Outdoor Homescapes of Houston.

Gretchen

Houston patio designers Gretchen Kliafas and Kristy Buel Franks made this beautiful covered patio with an arbor and outdoor kitchen what it is — an extraordinary example of style, affordability and adaptability.

“We had to overcome some major hurdles on this project — the property had a no-build line all the way to the back door and the client had a very, specific, conservative budget in mind,” says Outdoor Homescapes of Houston owner Wayne Franks. “And we certainly couldn’t have done it without Gretchen and Kristy.”

Gretchen, he notes, “did an incredible job for a boatload of reasons” in her first stint as project manager for Outdoor Homescapes.

“The project had a different size, dimension and selection projection than what was approved by the homeowner’s association four months later,” says Gretchen, who was hired as a Houston patio designer in April 2014. “I guess you could call it my trial by fire!”

Houston patio designers Gretchen Kliafas and Kristy Buel Franks worked on this covered patio with an arbor and outdoor kitchen. More at www,outdoorhomescapes.com

"Before" picture of covered patio project with arbor and outdoor kitchen by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

“Before” shot

Kristy Buel Franks is a graphic designer for Outdoor Homescapes of Houston.

Kristy

After meeting with the clients several times, Gretchen quickly put her 12 years of construction design experience to work, re-creating the project on a much smaller scale while maintaining its design integrity. The clients chose their design and functional elements for the most part, but Gretchen guided them through surface and finish selections like granite, stone, paver color and stain.

“Often, clients fall into one of two categories – those who want A LOT of input and want to meet at every supplier or go over multiple choices of details,” she explains. “Then there are those who want turn-key design services — more of a presentation style — which is what I did with this client. They’re busy … hectic schedules … so I presented all the elements together in their space, giving them multiple options.”

Also instrumental in the success of this project was graphic designer Kristy Buel Franks.

“She continually worked with Gretchen and the homeowners’ association to make it happen and conform to HOA covenants,” says Wayne.  “As usual, her floor plans, elevation drawings, 3D graphic renderings and virtual video tours also helped the client really see the entire project before it was built.”

screenshot antonio project rendering 1

screenshot antonio project rendering 2

screenshot antonio project rendering 3

 “A lot of times, it’s hard to tell what the finished project will look like from black-and-white, 2D drawings,” says Kristy, who’s been a Houston patio designer with Outdoor Homescapes since 2010. “I think the ability to do the renderings in color — with materials chosen by the homeowners — helps give the project a finished look.”

This, she explains, gives the client that peace of mind that there aren’t going to be any surprises when the construction is over. “They don’t have to wonder, ‘Is this stone going to go with the counters?’ or ‘Will the stain on the stain on the ceiling look OK with the existing brick?’”

But it’s 3D virtual video tours, she says, that really distinguish Outdoor Homescapes from its competitors – and rank Kristy up there with some of the most cutting-edge Houston patio designers.

“Even though I’m able to create graphic renderings from many different angles, it’s the video that truly shows the finished project from every perspective,” says Kristy. “It’s that realistic walk-through that clinches it for clients — and that keeps the buzz building about our design capabilities.”

Check out more of these Houston patio designers’ work on this project on Houzz.

Looking for Houston patio designers yourself? Contact us, and we’ll get your project underway!

Or, feel free to browse our patio designs on Pinterest or covered patio projects on Houzz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Favorite Patio Addition Designs: High Ceilings and Fab Finishes

This covered patio addition by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston features high wood ceilings, a gas fireplace with a TV and seating area and an outdoor kitchen. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Welcome to the latest installment of Our Favorite Patio Addition Designs.

This latest project is perfect for anyone looking for high ceilings and luxurious finishes.

As you can see, a beautiful, dark-stained patio ceiling rises high over this patio addition design. Here’s the “before” shot of the white Hardie panel ceiling before we replaced it with the dark tongue and groove boards:

 This "before" shot of a patio addition shows a Hardie panel ceiling, which was later replaced with dark-stained tongue and groove boards by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com

Atop this wood patio ceiling is a 210-square-foot hipped roof extension off the existing house, with red brick, white trim and grey composite shutters matching the existing house. Underneath the patio ceiling sits a new outdoor kitchen and a fireplace with a seating area:

This gas-burning fireplace features a mounted flat-screen TV, drystacked ledgestone walls, a wooden mantel and a flagstone hearth. Designed and built by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

The outdoor kitchen island includes a raised countertop with bar seating for six and the following Renaissance Cooking Systems (RCS) stainless steel appliances: drop-in cooler, horizontal door, sink , single access door, trash door, 30-inch Cutlass Pro grill, double drawer/door and lowered power burner:

This outdoor kitchen by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston features RCS appliances and stainless steel storage: a drop-in cooler, 30-inch grill, power burner and sink. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

The gas-burning fireplace features a mounted flat-screen TV, a wooden mantel and a flagstone hearth that matches the pool coping. The family’s existing wicker patio furniture was placed in the new seating area around the fireplace.

We really love the finishing materials in this patio addition design. The fireplace and exterior walls of the kitchen island are dry-stacked Chardonnay ledgestone. The countertop is Spectrus granite.

As this 3D graphic rendering shows, the new stamped concrete patio features a Versailles pattern with a contrasting border. The 645-square-foot patio under the roof addition is a lighter tan and the 1,580-square-foot patio around the pool and firepit is a darker tan, visual distinction between the two areas:

This 3D graphic rendering of a patio addition by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston shows the contrasting patio colors used to define different areas. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

Question: What kinds of elements do you like best in patio addition designs? Write a comment and tell us about it! You can also browse our patio addition designs on Houzz.

Or, contact us and we’ll help you get started on your own patio addition!

 

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Small Outdoor Kitchen Throws Style a Curve in Houston

 This small outdoor kitchen by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston features a curved design along the flagstone walkway that allows for optimal traffic flow. More small space kitchens at www.outdoorhomescapes.com.

This small outdoor kitchen is big on function – and style.

“This compact outdoor kitchen island has a really nice look, with materials I haven’t really used before,” says Wayne Franks, owner of Outdoor Homescapes of Houston.

The exterior walls, he notes, are a dry-stacked Tuscan Valley limestone. The countertop is Normandy granite.

“It’s unique because of the shape,” explains Franks.  “We used a special galvanized steel track stud that’s fastened to the concrete. It’s segmented and pivots to follow the radius shape of the existing deck.”

A “skin” of HardiePanel (fiber cement siding, which can handle the high-heat of grills better than wood) is then put over top of the frame. This creates a cabinet for appliances and storage.

Here’s how this small outdoor kitchen came to life:

A unique small outdoor kitchen required this curved metal frame and segmented tracking from Outdoor Homescapes of Houston. The Houston outdoor designer has other such projects on its website, at www.outdoorhomescapes.com.

Galvanized steel frame with segmented track

This small outdoor kitchen in Houston has a Hardie panel covering over a segmented, galvanized steel frame before stone walls are built on the exterior. Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, the Houston outdoor living space designer who designed and built the project, has a gallery of its other outdoor kitchens on its website at www.outdoorhomescapes.com.

A HardiePanel “skin” covers a segmented, curved metal frame before stone walls are built on the exterior.

 This small outdoor kitchen with a curved back, built by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, needed a galvanized steel frame, covered with HardiePanel and then drystacked limestone. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com.

Tuscan Valley limestone is drystacked into exterior walls. Finally, built-in appliances and stainless steel storage are added.

Built into the small outdoor kitchen island are a 30-inch RCS commercial-grade grill with a double burner and outdoor refrigerator:

“The curve helps this kitchen meld into the outside border of the flagstone walkway, for optimal traffic flow,” says Franks. “And I really love the look of the limestone stone. For a smaller kitchen, this one really shines with style.”

Looking for small-space kitchen designs in Houston? Check out our photos of small-space outdoor kitchens. You can also browse the small outdoor kitchen photos on Houzz.

Or, if you know what you want and are ready to get started, just contact us! We’ll get the ball rolling!

 

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We’re Taking On Luxury Outdoor Furniture in Houston

We’re Taking On Luxury Outdoor Furniture in Houston

This Malay Concrete Table, from Restoration Hardware, will be among the luxury outdoor furniture designs offered by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston through a new partnership with Senior Designer Lisha Maxey. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

Malay Concrete Table, from Restoration Hardware

 

Q&A with Lisha Maxey (Senior Designer for Outdoor Homescapes of Houston) and Wayne Franks (company owner)

Looking for luxury outdoor furniture in Houston?

We’ve got you covered with our new line of products – and our new Senior Designer, Lisha Maxey!

Lisha Maxey is the new Senior Designer at Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, and will be partnering with Restoration Hardware, Janus et Cie and other luxury outdoor furniture provider in conjunction with the outdoor designer. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com.

Maxey

To celebrate this brand new venture, Outdoor Homescapes is even offering a special summertime promotion: $500 off an outdoor furniture and/or lighting consultation. Just contact us to take advantage of this limited-time offer!

And now – here are more details on this exciting new expansion, from  Lisha Maxey and company owner Wayne Franks:

Q: So why is Outdoor Homescapes partnering with Lisha to provide luxury outdoor furniture and outdoor lighting?

 

Wayne Franks, owner of Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, is partnering with Lisha Maxey to provide luxury outdoor furniture to his clients. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com.

Franks

Lisha: It’s been my experience that customers want a truly turn-key operation for outdoor kitchens and other outdoor living spaces. Customers do ask for direction when buying outdoor furniture, ceiling fans, etc. So it just makes sense that we facilitate this in a broader sense.

Wayne: Very true. It’s a natural for us. Some clients also want something unique and custom that exactly matches their final finishes. They also want personalized on-site service - not just going to a store and getting “stuck” with what they have or with a salesperson that doesn’t really know what their space looks like.

Q: Do think there’s a movement toward more upscale outdoor furniture and outdoor lighting?

Lisha: I don’t know if it’s so much a trend as it is that customers purchasing luxury items are usually very savvy and educated and expect more than the average with everything. I think it’s about us plugging into the customer experience and guiding the client through all the available options.

Wayne: Service, service, service … Most people want a professional’s touch here, and it’s all about details, details, details …

These Santorini Lanterns from Restoration Hardware are part of the new line of luxury outdoor furniture and upscale outdoor lighting being offered by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston. The outdoor designer is partnering with Senior Designer Lisha Maxey to expand this part of their outdoor design business. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog.

Santorini Lanterns, from Restoration Hardware

 

Q: Are there any particular luxury outdoor furniture and lighting brands/designers you’re excited about showcasing?

Lisha: Currently, I’m a trade partner with Restoration Hardware and Janus et Cie. And I’m working on building this list of partners.

Q: How will you be involved in the outdoor design process?

Lisha: I plan to be involved from the beginning on most projects. The expansion into high-end outdoor furniture and accessories is actually going to be just one piece of what I’ll be doing. Project managing and project sharing will also be part of my job.

Wayne: She plans to offer an online library of upscale outdoor furniture and lighting at some point, but her current trade partners already have some amazing tools in place – publications, samples, catalogs – you name it.

This wicker chaise lounge by Janus et Cie will be part of the expanded offerings of luxury outdoor furniture by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston. The outdoor designer is partnering with Senior Designer Lisha Maxey to offer them. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog.

Chaise lounge by Janus et Cie

Q: What seem to be popular luxury outdoor design choices right now?

Lisha: I would say that wicker is still Number One for most clients. But cast iron is making a big hit. Custom fabric is also on the top of the list, along with trendy accessories like lanterns, flameless candles, draped linen sheers.

Wayne: Clients love anything that can personalize a space and make it their own.

Q: Anything else you feel is important to add?

Wayne: Yes. Since we’re already known for our cutting-edge 3D graphics that let you see your project from every angle before it’s even built – of course we’ll be incorporating your choice of outdoor furniture, lighting and accessories into those renderings. That way, if what you’ve chosen doesn’t look right in the space, we can alter it before you make a purchasing decision.

 

Question: We’d love to know – what are some of your favorite brands or designers of luxury outdoor furnishings? Post a comment and let us know!

Or, if you’d like to get started on an outdoor living space project, simply contact us - and we’ll get the ball rolling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Outdoor Media Room, Kitchen a Hub for Houston Family

Outdoor Media Room, Kitchen a Hub for Houston Family

An outdoor media room sits at the far end of this outdoor living space, with an outdoor kitchen in the foreground. Part of a blog post on an outdoor living space designed by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

This outdoor media room and kitchen had to meet the needs of a Houston family needing kid space and adult space.

The kids wanted an outdoor audio visual area watch TV and movies. The grownups wanted an outdoor kitchen, bar and grilling area where they could enjoy themselves while watching the kids. And they all wanted a covered patio with places to sit between dips in the pool. 

However, the family had very limited space between the back of their house and their pool, and no room for anything in either of the side yards:

Stringent homeowner association rules also required that any home modifications match the existing home’s architecture, color and finishing materials. The pitch of the roof also had to be such that it didn’t overlap the bottom of the second-story windows above.

So here’s what we came up with: A 40-foot-long by 11-foot- deep roof extension off the back of the house (longer than most, but with good engineering specs and design work, we were able to preserve the structural integrity):

This outdoor living space by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston has an outdoor kitchen on one end for adults and an outdoor media room on the other for the kids. Part of a blog post at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blogThis outdoor living space by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston features an outdoor media room on the right for the kids and an outdoor kitchen on the left for the adults. At www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

At one end of the covered patio below is a 12-foot by 8-foot outdoor living room with a custom audio-visual cabinet. At the other is an L-shaped, 8-foot-square outdoor kitchen island with a built-in commercial-grade RCS grill, a 4-by-8-foot outdoor refrigerator and a outdoor icemaker.

Keeping in line with the existing home’s beige siding, white trim and brown accent façade, we helped the homeowner choose appropriate finishing materials: Austin Western limestone (mostly white with beige accents) for the TV cabinet, kitchen island and column supports; Old English travertine (beige) for the countertops) and white, fluted columns.

The Old English travertine countertop has a raised back for a bar with counter seating. The diamond-pattern tile backsplash also features inset fleur de lis accents. 

The family is more than pleased with the results – two outdoor rooms with two different functions – all within the same covered outdoor living space!

Does your family have similar needs? Check out our “Projects” section for even more ideas! You can also check out our outdoor media rooms on Houzz.

 

Or, simply contact us and we’ll work out a custom solution for you, too!

 

 

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Community Giving In Houston: Getting Back More Than You Give

Community Giving In Houston: Getting Back More Than You Give

 Outdoor Homescapes of Houston owner Wayne Franks says community giving is good for you, in this blog post on www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

Franks’ team with the Harris County Senior Softball League. (He’s second from left on the bottom row).

 

by Wayne Franks (company owner)

Outdoor kitchens and covered patios may be our professional specialities, but there’s another area Outdoor Homescapes excels in – community giving in Houston.

Why do we do it?

Well, it just feels good!

Just consider the findings of the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey of 4,500 American adults. Of those who volunteered, The new Cameron Computer Lab at Literacy Advance of Houston; part of an article on community giving in Houston by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston owner Wayne Franks at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog68 percent said it made them feel physically healthier, 89 percent that it “has improved my sense of well-being (i.e. happiness) and 73 percent that it “lowered my stress levels.”

I can totally relate.

Just last Friday, for instance, we attended a ribbon-cutting for Literacy Advance of Houston, to which we’d donated two thousand dollars’ worth of outdoor design services in early spring. Since 1964, Literacy Advance of Houston has helped people become more self-sufficient and reach other personal goals through literacy.

Friday’s ribbon-cutting was for the group’s new Cameron Computer Lab (left), which in addition to meeting basic literacy needs will produce self-sufficient individuals ready for work.

Diana Delgado, transition coach for Literacy Advance of Houston (center), with Outdoor Homescapes' Gretchen Kliafas and Wayne Franks at a ribbon-cutting for the new Cameron Computer Lab, with will meet basic literacy needs and get learners ready for work with life skills. From a blog post by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

Diana Delgado, transition coach for Literacy Advance of Houston (center), with Outdoor Homescapes’ Gretchen Kliafas and Wayne Franks at Friday’s ribbon-cutting.

And you know what? Just being at the event and meeting the people who will be running — and benefitting from — this program felt really great! Maybe thinking about others gave me a break from the stress and worries of my own day. Maybe it was that feeling of doing your part or having a larger purpose in life. Or maybe it put the blessings of my own life – even something as basic as being able to read – into clearer perspective.

Whatever it was – it made me feel good.

I first learned about the benefits of community giving in Houston through my involvement with sports. At first, it was just fun for me – a lifelong sports fan and coach – to participate in something I enjoyed. But then, as I saw more and more how athletics improves lives, I started getting more involved in the charity side of things.

I’ve sponsored an Outdoor Homescapes of Houston team in the Harris County Senior Softball League for four years. Then there’s the $2,000 outdoor design services package we’re donating to Houston’s Miracles Baseball Academy. Founded by Mike Harris, a former pro baseball player, coach and scout of the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox, this academy builds character and life skills while teaching baseball and softball.

Miracles Baseball Academy team (left). Academy founder Mike Harris (way right). Part of a blog post on community giving in Houston by Wayne Franks, owner of Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

(Left): Miracles Baseball Academy team. (Far right): Mike Harris.

And then there’s the Miracles League offered by the Langham Creek branch of the YMCA of Greater Houston. This all-volunteer, not-for-profit group gives kids with disabilities the chance to play baseball as part of an organized team at no cost to their family. Last year, Outdoor Homescapes helped the team move closer to its dream of a new sports complex, by donating $3,000 toward 610 Sports Radio’s 2013 Yuletide Drive.

This past year, we’ve also donated outdoor design services to a wonderful charity called Operation Finally Home. The goal of the program is to build homes for returning soldiers and widows of the fallen. The goal of the program is to build homes for returning soldiers and widows of the fallen.

I’ve made some wonderful friends and had some wonderful experiences through community giving in Houston – and I advise you to try the same. As the saying goes, “If you help someone up the hill, you get closer yourself.”

Question: Have you done any community giving in Houston? Do you agree with the 2010 Do Good Live Well survey that giving makes you happy? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

 

 

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Houston outdoor kitchens trending toward multiple grills

Houston outdoor kitchens trending toward multiple grills

Houston outdoor kitchens are increasingly acquiring multiple, higher-end grills.

The sky’s the limit – as you can see in the above image – with its professional-grade grill (right), outdoor pizza oven (center) and smoker (right).

In fact, it’s a trend Outdoor Homescapes of Houston owner Wayne Franks speaks about in a May 2014 article on Houston outdoor kitchens in House & Home magazine (“What’s Cooking Outside?” starting on page 32).

Cover of House and Home magazine May 2014 issue. Part of a blog post on www.outdoorhomescapes.com by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston on Houston outdoor kitchens. Article referenced in blog post is "What's Cooking Outside?" and starts on page 32. The article talks about how Houston outdoor kitchens are trending toward multiple grills. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blogArticle "What's Cooking Outside?" from May 2014 issue of House & Home magazine in Houston. Part of a blog post by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston on www.outdoorhomescapes.com in which company owner Wayne Franks talks about Houston outdoor kitchens trending toward multiple grills. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

Sidebar with article "What's Cooking Outside?" article in the May 2014 issue of House and Home magazine of Houston. Part of a blog post by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston in which company owner Wayne Franks talks about how Houston outdoor kitchens are trending toward multiple grills and why. More at www.outdoorhomescapes.com/blog

In the article, Franks explains how these multiple grilling appliances are often built into islands or cabinets as part of custom outdoor kitchen designs: “That’s because when you start getting into multiple components in any design, you’re going to want to group them together, so they look neat and tidy and make better aesthetic and functional sense.”

The most common grills used in combination in Houston outdoor kitchens, Franks says, are a professional-grade grill with an infrared burner for searing and either a smoker or kamado-style ceramic charcoal cooker.

Kamado grills like the popular Big Green Egg or Primo grills - have become increasingly popular in Houston outdoor kitchens because they can be used as a convection oven, smoker or grill. So you can cook virtually anything outside you would inside – including roasts, ribs, pizza, baked goods and casseroles.

“They’re especially popular for roasts and briskets,” says Franks. “The meat comes out unbelievably moist and tender.”

The popularity of the professional-grade grills, he continues, has grown out of the desire for restaurant-quality grilling: “The professional-grade grills allow for the higher heat needed to cook meat faster – rendering it more tender and juicy.”

Allowing for even higher – and more evenly distributed heat – are infrared burners or grills. Infrared burners superheat ceramic tiles so that they emit radiant heat. This cooks the meat directly instead of just heating the air around it, and is especially good for maintaining a the long-term, evenly distributed heat needed along a horizontal surface for rotisseries.

It’s also ideal for searing, since the screaming-hot, even temperature allows you to quickly heat the surface of a steak to a high temperature quicker.

“That’s how you get that restaurant-quality brown crust that seals in the juices, instead of a grey, dry piece of shoe leather,” says Franks.

Then there’s the growing number of smokers.

“With the popularity of TV shows like BBQ Pitmasters and the resurgence of barbecue in general,” explains Franks, “more and more people want to correctly cook pull pork, ribs and other “low-and-slow” barbecue meats for that authentic smoky taste and pink ring. And you just can’t get that with a smoker box in a regular grill.” (According to the Gas Grill Review and Ratings Guide, gas grills have difficulty maintaining the low temperatures needed (225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit) – especially for extended periods.)

The key, says Franks, is incorporating all these features into one, streamlined, custom design. “When you have an outdoor kitchen island, you’ve got to properly plan for things like storage, traffic flow and a look that’s integrated with the style of the house. Since ideal functionality requires that your outdoor kitchen be close to the house, and we get so much heat and sun in Houston, a covered outdoor kitchen via roof extension should also be considered.”

Looking for ideas on how multiple grills can be incorporated into custom outdoor kitchen design? See Outdoor Homescapes of Houston’s outdoor kitchen projects on Houzz.

Or, if you’re ready to dive right in – simply contact us for an estimate and get started today!

 

 

 

 

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Outdoor Living Spaces Boost Quality Of Life, Home Values

Outdoor Living Spaces Boost Quality Of Life, Home Values

This Houston outdoor living space comprises a covered patio via roof extension with an outdoor kitchen, outdoor living room, outdoor bar and grill area and bench storage. To see the blog post this images was part of, go to http://www.outdoorhomescapes.com/outdoor-living-spaces-boost-quality-life-home-values/. To see more outdoor living spaces designed and built by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, go to www.outdoorhomescapes.com.

Outdoor living spaces improve your quality of life. They can also boost the value of your home.

This is especially true in Houston, where a housing shortage has pushed new home prices out of many people’s budgets.

“Demand for homes has continued to grow, depleting inventory and pushing home prices to new heights,” writes real estate reporter Nancy Sarnoff in a May 14, 2014 Houston Chronicle story. In response, Sarnoff reports, many people are staying in their existing homes – or renting in dwellings meeting immediate needs for space or proximity to work – till home prices become affordable again.

For those who feel stuck in their existing homes, we ask: “Why not just remodel instead of buying new?” And of course, we think outdoor living spaces are a wise, enjoyable investment.

This image of a Houston outdoor kitchen shows a nice tile counter, a water feature (fountain) and counter seating. It's part of a blog post at http://www.outdoorhomescapes.com/outdoor-living-spaces-boost-quality-life-home-values/. For more outdoor living spaces by Outdoor Homescapes of Houston, go to www.outdoorhomescapes.com.

First of all, there’s the “quality of life” component.

“Building or renovating outdoor rooms illustrates our need to relax and reconnect with family and friends,” says Martha Baker, best-selling author of “The Outdoor Living Room: Stylish Ideas For Porches, Patios & Pools.”

Outdoor living spaces can also increase the value of your home. But experts agree – they must be well-designed to recoup 100 percent of the cost. At least that was the point made by New York-based real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers in a June 21, 2013 Wall Street Journal article on outdoor living spaces. And by the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, which in this article on outdoor living spaces, especially recommends incorporating commercial-style grills, gas hearths, mosquito eliminators and propane outdoor lighting and patio heaters.

If you’re looking for high-quality outdoor living space design in Houston - well, that’s where we come in.

We here at Outdoor Homescapes of Houston pride ourselves on having an in-house design team. First, we offer state-of-the-art 3D graphic renderings and virtual video tours that allow you to see your project from every angle before it’s built. Second, an in-house design consultant works with our clients throughout every step of the design process, helping them browse our image libraries and coordinate colors and finishing materials. And finally, our top-notch outdoor space planning ensures your outdoor kitchen, covered patio or other outdoor living space not only looks good – but functions well.

For a look at our design work, check out our outdoor living spaces on Houzz. Or, contact us so we can design and build one for you!

Have outdoor living spaces have improved your quality of life or your home’s value? If so, what are the most enjoyable elements for you? Leave a comment and let us know! We’re always looking for ideas and feedback!

 

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