By Ash Stevens
Are you itching to shift your home from homely to elegant? Well, you can do it! And the good news is, you can spend as much or as little as you’d like. From simple and inexpensive, to lovely and intricate — these projects have some of the biggest payoffs (for the eyes and the wallet).
Wiry utility meters. Horrendously-blue trash bins. AC units the size of Africa. These are the things that gnaws on every homeowners heart. If we want an elegant home, then we need to hide those atrocious sights. And, what do you know, they actually offer up an opportunity for some lovely additions. Eyesore updates include everything from privacy screens or cabinet-like wooden enclosures (perfect for train bins, tools, and utility meters), to a wooden hinged-box or a decorative screen wall (great for ac units and hoses). Whether you want to buy them, or you’re ready to hammer them on your own — the internet is your oyster!
So, a garage door doesn’t exactly scream “elegance” like marble or a waterfall. But a fancy new door will make your home elegant AF. For homes with landscape lighting, a door with translucent panels is the perfect complement thanks to it’s warm and inviting glow. Another huge and stylish trend is to install carriage-style garage doors that open out rather than up. Of course, you’re looking at hundreds, and some of us have more important things to spend our money on. But thanks to the ole internet, garage updates can be budget friendly! Thrifty folks are using nothing more than paint to glamour up their garage, like a faux-wood paint job. Buy some fancy door hardware, and you can paint the illusion of a carriage-style garage door with windows. Whatever it costs in money or time, a garage door will give your home a whole new look.
If you’re really serious about your home makeover, then it’s time to jump on the stone bandwagon. Nothing whispers elegance like the smooth and polished slate of marble, granite, soapstone, and quartz, and it’s one of the hottest trends in housing. But which stone to throw in the home?
Well, marble is the softest and most porous of the four, so it’s looks are best saved for bathrooms, vanities, and decorative surfaces. Granite and quartz are both very tough and durable; with granite packing a greater tolerance for heat, and quartz boasting a higher resistance to chips and stains. Then there’s soapstone, the chemical lab counter of choice. It doesn’t put up the fight against scratching that granite and quartz do, but it doesn’t need sealant like marble and granite require. And it can take on heat, stains, acids like no other stone out there. Of course, installing a slab of stone is no DIY project. But if you get your stone in tile form, the do-it-yourself world opens itself right up. They could add a lot of value to your home should it ever go up on the market. But keep in mind that an increase in home value means an increase in property taxes. It’s not a bad idea to run your update plans by the County Tax Assessor to see how the change will affect the tax bill.
A water feature seems like a gaudy design best saved for the rich elite or a day spa, but once you’ve got one, you’ll never want to go without. They take relaxation and party potential to a magical level thanks to their delightful sights and soothing sounds. Create your own secret garden with a pathway that leads to a foliage-hidden pond and stone seating. If your heart aches for the outdoors, build a nature-inspired pond complete with stones, trees, bushes, and a cascading waterfall.You can even use a pond to add a touch of romance by way of a bench for two, and a little privacy via bushy grasses or a screen wall. Waterfalls and fountains. Lush plants. Pathways lit by string lights and bottle lanterns. They can all shift that pond from hole-in-the-ground, to the most vied for spot at home. If you’re daring enough — and live in the right climate — you can upgrade to a koi fish pond. It could be an unforgettable family upgrade with how magical fish are to children. Especially since they offer adults some magic; a peaceful, blissful mind.
A swimming pool is a BIG investment — both with money and with time — but do it right and it will really pay off. If there are other pools in the neighborhood or you’re in a hot climate, there’s some serious value in a pool. If you’re handy and you can pull it off for cheap, or you just have to get in that morning swim — well, that’s a perfect cause too!
Pools were once large tiled-rectangles and concrete circles, but this standard has been pushed aside for pools that swim away from convention (I couldn’t stop myself from using that pun). Shallow or deep, fancy or simple, shapely or free-form — they’re all so, so good. And you don’t need a football field for a backyard to pull it off. Some of the hottest designs incorporate pools into the landscaping or turn it into a focal point, like with plants or waterfalls. Other designs turn it into a social settling like a pool and patio combo, an adjacent outdoor kitchen, or bench seat borders. And while you’re at it, why not put up a cabana? Go for an open-air version, and you can add curtains or a firepit for romantic moonlit nights. Opt for an enclosed cabana, and it could double as a she-shed for reading, gardening, or crafts.
Ash Stevens is a gardener, a writer, and a fan of all things green. Her love for health and sustainability began with her journey into motherhood, and it’s grown exponentially ever since. She’s passionate about living a healthy lifestyle through gardening, cooking, and spending time outdoors. If she isn’t writing or reading up on exciting green trends, she’s probably playing Connect Four or swimming in the river with the kids. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.