The Spanaway Source: Tips to Make Your Outdoor Space a Tropical Getaway

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Tips to Make Your Outdoor Space a Tropical Getaway

Summer time and the livin' is easy...

Vacation anyone? Sure, it's Summer, and we could all use some time away at an exotic locale... but not everyone has the time or money. Instead, use these pictures as inspiration for creating a space to relax in without having to spend a lot of money to get the "retreat" look in your own back yard. Try these inexpensive tips and be on your way to living in paradise year round:

Tip 1. Use tropical plants in your space! You may not live in Tahiti, but using tropical plants in your outdoor space will help you feel like you do... Try planting different varieties of Palms, Banana trees, Bamboo, and colorful flowering plants like Hibiscus. If you live in an area where the temperature doesn't drop below freezing, these plants can live year round in full to partial sun... most flowering plants like full sun! If you live in a colder climate, plant your trees and flowering bushes in pots or urns to keep outdoors during the Spring, Summer, and Fall and bring inside during the Winter months. If you have an outdoor covered area like a lanai or veranda, try planting small indoor plants, like a Bromeliad, in a decorative pot and placing it in the shade. Birds of Paradise, Orchids, and a Peace Lilies are all indoor plants that can be placed outside in shaded living spaces to add to your tropical retreat look!

Hint: If there is an out of the ordinary cold winter freeze, wrap your trees at its roots with Christmas lights and then with a blanket... keep those roots protected!

Warning: When using Palm Trees, DO NOT plant Sago Palms if you have pets... these are extremely toxic and will kill them if ingested!
Outdoor Stringing Lights

Tip 2. Use ambient lighting! There is no better way to set the right mood than by using different forms of lighting. After you've planted your new tropical foliage, accent them with garden lights... at your local hardware store, you will find many different types of lighting that are all easy to install. Try using 50 watt spot lights to shine up the trunk of your Palms or lighting Tiki torches that are scattered around your outdoor space. Stringing up white Christmas lights on your pergola or around your Palm trees make great party lighting, and candles are always a sure bet when creating relaxing, spa-like retreats... use white unscented candles. If you like the idea of friends and family gathered around a fire, add a fire pit or outdoor fireplace to your space! If you have a pool in your back yard, try replacing your pool lights with different colored bulbs to create the right atmosphere at night.

Tip 3. What does paradise sound like? Think about it, if you close your eyes and imagine yourself on a tropical island getaway, what sounds would you expect to hear? The first thing that comes to mind is water... whether it's waves crashing on the beach, secluded waterfalls, or water cascading over the edge of an infinity pool. There are many ways to add the sound of water to your outdoor space... for those of us who don't have a pool or the ocean in our backyards, try adding a fountain to create a relaxing atmosphere. If you are going for a more "zen" garden feel, why not add a Koi pond with water trickling down a stacked stone wall or flowing out a bamboo shoot into the pond.

That other sounds do you hear? Chirping birds, the beating rhythm of congas, or your favorite beach band in the background... there are easy and inexpensive ways to introduce these sounds to your outdoor space. To attract birds to your garden, use bird feeders with exotic bird seed that you can find at any pet or local hardware store. Like music? Calling all Parrot heads... introduce your favorite beach music, like that of Jimmy Buffet, into your space by installing outdoor speakers or using a portable ipod stereo!

Tip 4. White is the way to go! When you visit spas or see vacation retreats flipping though magazines, there is always a common color scheme... neutral! The less contrast you have in a space, the more relaxed you feel, which is exactly what you are trying to achieve in an outdoor paradise. The tropical plants you have introduced into your space will give you the color you need so make everything else clean and neutral... and if you can, make it white! Start by hanging white sheer or outdoor curtains from your covered lanai and let them hang loose to blow in the wind or tie them back with a weathered rope for a beachy feel. Use white removable/washable cushions on your outdoor furniture... if your furniture is not placed under a covered lanai, make sure you bring it inside during bad weather or when not in use for a longer lifespan. Accessories are also good ways to bring in color (or lack there of) because they are inexpensive and easy to change... Candles, pillows, sea shells, pottery, beach towels, you name it, are all easy, inexpensive ways to add white or neutral colors into your outdoor space.
Warning: if you have pets or children, you may want to avoid using white furniture... try using off-white or stone colors in a removable, washable fabric.

Tip 5. Seating you could relax in all day! What do you like to do when you are on vacation? Sunbathe, lie on the beach, take afternoon naps in the shade, read a book in a hammock under a Palm tree... these are all things you can recreate in your own space! Add a couple loungers for lying in the sun... Use the white terry cloth washable cushions covers. If you can imagine yourself snuggling up with the one you love while taking an afternoon nap, purchase a double lounger or outdoor daybed and drape white sheer fabric across the top for added shade. You can't have a relaxing tropical paradise without a hammock... this is an inexpensive way to add a statement right when you walk into your outdoor space... "I am here to relax and enjoy the day." Hang a hammock between two trees or between two posts in your pergola. Another way to promote relaxation in your space is to scatter large floor cushions and pillows throughout your outdoor living room... this creates an inviting, relaxing feel that you and your friends will look forward to hanging out in all day!

Tip 6. For the more ambitious: Build a pergola! If you consider yourself handy or know someone who is, pergolas are a somewhat easy, inexpensive way to add an outdoor structure which provides shade and acts as a gathering area. Pergolas can be used to house outdoor kitchens, outdoor dining rooms, living spaces and can be built in just one weekend, depending on the size and detail. For added protection from rain and sun damage, try bolting plexiglass to the top of your pergola... this will still let in natural light but shield your furniture from weather, debris, etc. Use your imagination, your options are endless!

When you take the time to rejuvenate your outdoor spaces, you will increase your living area and ultimately increase your home's value and appeal. Not only will you benefit by enjoying your backyard paradise, but you will also see a larger return on investment when selling your home.

I hope you and your families are enjoying your outdoor spaces this summer!

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Pierce County WA Real Estate | Lisa Racca
About Lisa Racca's Pierce County, WA Real Estate Website: The web site provides Pierce County including the fine communities of Tacoma, North Tacoma, Northeast Tacoma, Central Tacoma, Parkland, Spanaway, Lakewood, Puyallup, Fife, Graham, Eatonville, Edgewood, Milton, Gig Harbor, Rosedale, and the Fort Lewis Army Base, Washington real estate information and resources to guide homeowners, homebuyers and real estate investors through the process of selling and buying a house, condo or other realty property in the Pierce County area. Lisa Racca (Sometimes spelled as Lissa Rocca) has services to help you get the best value for your Pierce County home and this website offers home buyers and home sellers a superior comparative market analysis (CMA), a way to view real estate and MLS IDX listings including virtual tours, prepare your home for sale, and more. Investors looking for real estate investment properties to invest in need look no farther. Anyone selling a home, buying a home or seeking housing can learn more about our realty services, and will appreciate working with a  Pierce County REALTOR who knows  the area so well. Through trusted partners, we also provide real estate and financial services to consumers looking for houses for sale or selling their home in Pierce County, WA, such as mortgages, credit history, new homes, foreclosures and other services. If you've already tried to go the for sale by owner (FSBO) route and find you are needing a partner who you can trust in the sale of your most precious asset, Lisa Racca can take care of your special needs. It really doesn't matter if you spell it REALTOR, Realator or Realter, realty, realety or reality, real estate or realestate, Lisa speaks  your language.
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