Upgrading your backyard may work for you on multiple levels. Not only will you increase your enjoyment of the time you spend there, backyard enhancements like decks, patios and landscaping can increase your home's resale value. You can create your own oasis of luxury at home for much less than the cost of a luxury vacation.
From murals to outdoor kitchens, resort-style luxury can be had for less right in your own backyard. To get an idea of where to begin, think of the features and decor that you most loved about your last resort stay and work toward recreating them at home for a fraction of the cost. Here are some ideas to get you started:
HGTV star Jamie Durie has elevated outdoor living spaces to an art form by creating each design around a specific theme, whether it's capturing the exotic flavor of Thailand or the dreamy, relaxed style of California. You can borrow Durie's techniques and create a theme in your own backyard.
Do you dream of a vacation to the English countryside? The right mix of flowers, cultured pathways and gracious seating areas can evoke the beauty of an English garden. Is a beachside retreat more to your taste? Try potted tropical plants, torches and decorating accents in sand and ocean hues to recreate the atmosphere of the beach.
Your outdoor decor can go a long way toward creating a luxury resort feeling. Draw on favorite luxury touches of interior designers, such as luxurious floor coverings and engaging wall murals. An outdoor mural can transform a space from mundane to exotic.
New technology, dubbed SmartStick, can allow you to mount a mural virtually anywhere outdoors. All you need is a flat surface (other than non-painted brick). The space-age material will withstand all weather conditions, won't shrink or curl, and can even wrap around corners and curves. It's easily removable, peeling effortlessly away from the surface without leaving any marks or residue, and can then be re-used elsewhere. Log on to www.muralsyourway.com to learn more.
A splash of class
For many of us, water play is a key part of a resort experience. If you live in a community that permits pools, you can easily install an above-ground pool for less than you would pay for a luxury vacation. Modern kits include everything from the pool walls and liner to the filter. Prices range from just a few hundred dollars for basic, modestly sized pools to a few thousand for more upscale versions.
If a pool isn't possible for you, consider adding a different type of water feature. Installing a fountain or building a pond can not only be a great do-it-yourself project for the entire family, everyone will enjoy the delightful presence of water in your outdoor living space when you're done. Whatever type of water feature you choose, from a tabletop fountain to a bird bath, the object is to deliver the restful mood and charming sound of flowing water.
Seating that sizzles
For some items, it's worth paying a bit more to get better quality, and outdoor furniture is one of them. You'll be spending a lot of time on your deck or patio, and your seating area should be comfortable, inviting and luxurious. A table and at least four chairs is a must, but think beyond the box and consider incorporating loveseats, lounges and ottomans into your seating design.
If you have the space, consider creating seating groupings throughout the yard. Your deck or patio will be the main entertaining area, but a simple bistro set tucked away beneath a tree or beside a flower bed can make a great spot for quiet chats, or reading a book while sipping your favorite wine.
This summer, consider staying home and keeping your money with you by creating a backyard resort that your whole family can enjoy throughout the season.