If fountains are the only elements that come to mind when someone mentions adding water features to your outdoor entertainment area, you're in for a treat. Today's water features come in so many more options: Man-made ponds, water walls, rain curtains, scuppers and jets are only several choices you have when it comes to adding a backyard water feature. Here's what you need to know about each:
Backyard ponds are gorgeous additions to any landscape, rural or urban. To add one, you'll need to excavate a small area of yard, drop in a pond liner, and add a submersible pump with a filtration system to keep water clear and pristine. You'll want to build out the edges of your pond with attractive rocks, boulders and gravel. Plant some pretty perennials of varying heights around the pond, and you'll have a relaxing water feature that draws guests to its edge at every party.
If you've ever watched a backyard improvement show, you've likely seen a water wall. The first step in designing a water wall is to create an eye-catching vertical hardscape for the water to cascade down. Walls covered with pretty tiles, synthetic wood or stone are popular choices. When completed, water is pumped up to the top of the wall, where it runs back down, pools and is pumped back up the top of the wall.
Water walls make excellent features for backyards where the noise of a freeway or a busy city intrudes on your private space. The trickling sound of water is an excellent buffer to unwanted noise.
Similar to a water wall, a rain curtain involves streams of water pouring downward. In a rain curtain, however, the water doesn't run down a wall. Instead, it falls in a sheet from a free-standing structure, pools into a basin, and is pumped vertically to fall again. You can walk through a rain curtain, and this feature is an excellent addition to most pools.
Scuppers are often used in multi-level pools or water features to deliver significant amounts of water from a top level to a lower level. They create sound and movement in your backyard, and are filtered so the water is always clean, fresh and pure.
Laminar jets shoot water out over your pool or existing water feature in pleasing arcs. You can adjust the size of the arc so that it falls exactly where you want. You can also adjust the width of the water spray, or change it from solid to intermittent.
Today's water features are really only limited by your imagination, your DIY skills or your budget, and they go a long way toward increasing the fun and function of your backyard oasis.
Among the upgrades most sought in a kitchen are new cabinets and appliances, granite, marble, or even concrete countertops, and the ubiquitous farmhouse-style sink top the list. If the expense of these renovations is out of reach, however, there are some simple changes that can give your kitchen a new look. Open shelving, for example, can breathe new life into aging wood cabinets.
If you spend much time flipping through decorating magazines or watching home-makeover shows on TV, you’ve probably seen kitchens with open shelving. As part of a kitchen remodel, it’s probably not the first thing we think about … but as an inexpensive way to upgrade the busiest room in the house, it probably deserves consideration.
The trend of open shelving creates an elegant place to display dishware, crystal, antiques, your cookbook or wine collection, dry goods, or even your canning jars. With a little time and effort, you can create this look in your kitchen.
Here’s what to do:
- Remove the doors to some (or all) of your upper cabinets. The look is especially attractive with cabinets that line a single wall. Note: you won’t want to do this to lower cabinets that store cleaning products or that hide plumbing.
- Carefully remove hinges. Fill any remaining holes or gouges in the cabinet faces with wood filler or a product appropriate for your cabinet material. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to achieve the best results.
- Sand and smooth the cabinet faces. Wipe them down with a degreaser cleaner. For primer and paint to stick, the surface should not have any oil or grease.
- Prime the entire cabinet (inside and out) with a high-quality paintable primer. Priming is important to cover darker colored wood or paint, stains, discolorations, and to hide any repairs you’ve made to the surface.
- Paint your cabinets with a paint designed for the surface of the cabinets. Use a satin, semi-gloss, or gloss finish. Apply your paint with a small flat roller designed for smooth finishes. You’ll probably need more than one coat, so give plenty of drying time between coats, and take care to avoid drips as they will mar your elegant finish.
- Create a new look with crown molding or specialty trim. Add a subtle geometric wallpaper to the shelf back for an interesting effect. For a farmhouse motif, use a print with fine, vertical stripes or chicken-wire design.
- Install lighting in the cabinets to highlight your special display. If there is no power outlet nearby, use battery-operated puck lights.
- Paint lower cabinets a complementary or contrasting color to finish out your look. Lighter upper cabinets with darker lower ones add depth and dimension to a smaller kitchen.
Finish out your look by filling the shelves with artful stacks of dishes or pottery, books, and jars of colorful nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.
If you’re upgrading your kitchen to place it on the market, seek the advice of your real estate professional on popular and trending color choices for your project.