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Design & Remodel

Integrating smart tech in your home remodel

“Alexa, turn the lights on downstairs."
 
“Google, set the temperature to 68 degrees.”
 
“Hey Siri, is my garage door open?”
 
When it comes to smart technology for the home, options are endless. And while there are plenty of gadgets you can install yourself to add convenience and fun to your home, there are other, more comprehensive upgrades to think about when planning to renovate.
 
Without integration into your HVAC, lighting or home security system, your Amazon Echo can give you the weather, play music and tell you a joke, but it can’t do any of the commands listed above.
We’ve put together a few smart ideas you can add to enhance your home, as well as some bigger picture ideas that can truly revolutionize the way you live.
 
Smart doorbells
Smart doorbell cameras like Amazon’s Ring and Google’s Nest Hello, among many others, have made headlines for their usefulness in catching package thieves red-handed. While these devices are relatively easy to set up if you know your way around a smartphone and a drill, you aren’t exactly getting the bang for your buck that you would if the devices were integrated into your home’s smart lighting, locks and more. 
 
That shouldn’t necessarily deter you from getting one. Being able to see who is at your door and even communicate with them from inside is useful for personal safety and entertaining the grandkids. 
Smart thermostats
 
While convenience is king when it comes to many smart home features, the efficiency upgrades they bring shouldn’t be overlooked. Smart thermostats are not only a great way to regulate temperature in your home while you’re there (who wouldn’t like to adjust the temperature in the middle of the night without getting out of bed?) but they are especially handy when you’re gone. 
 
Energy-saving experts will tell you it’s not a good idea to constantly tinker with your temperature settings. Replacing outdated HVAC equipment when you remodel however, combined with a smart thermostat, can pay off more quickly than you think. The added efficiency of the new unit, along with the ability for a few touches on your smartphone to ramp up the AC when you’re on the way back from that summertime beach trip, can’t be beat.
 
Bathroom upgrades
If you are a more adventurous DIYer, you may feel comfortable replacing an old toilet with a newer water-conserving model. That’s a great start! As you think about other ways to upgrade your bathroom, don’t forget about other possibilities that may require professional help to get just right. 
 
An experienced design-build professional can create a plan for your bathroom that incorporates radiant heat into the floors and wiring that enables you to listen to your favorite podcast or playlist while you’re getting ready for work or relaxing after a long day. “Hey Alexa, play Shower Songs!”

Kitchen convenience
The “kitchen is the heart of the home” is a popular cliché because for many families, it’s true. If you’re thinking about a kitchen remodel, plan to integrate technology from the beginning. Smart appliances are an obvious choice when upgrading your home. Leave home without starting the dishwasher full of dirty pots and pans? A couple of clicks on your tablet will ensure they’re clean and dry by the time you get back and need to start dinner. At the grocery store and suddenly can’t remember if you need milk?

Get a live look via an app on your smartphone. And while you don’t have to remodel your kitchen to replace outdated appliances with the newest Wi-Fi enabled models, there are other smart features that a professional contractor can incorporate into any renovation plans. A design-build firm will not only help you select paint colors and materials for countertops or flooring, but it can incorporate wiring and power strips or connections hidden beneath or inside cabinets instead of more visibly placed outlets in the walls or backsplash. 
 
These types of details combine aesthetics and functionality to create spaces that work for you. As you consider renovating your home, ask your contractor how smart technology can make your home more functional, and fun. 


Sara Bagwell is a designer for Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling in Gainesville.








March 202 column

 

Spring home maintenance tips

Spring is almost here and it’s time to start thinking about getting your home in tip top shape and out of those winter blues. We all know about spring cleaning basics, such as dusting, cleaning carpets, etc., but there are lots of other things you can do to help your home run more efficiently and look better.
 
Declutter and donate
Spring is a great time of year to go through closets and storage spaces to get rid of things you don’t need or want. If the items are still in good shape, consider donating them so that someone else can enjoy them. Even if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a yard sale, there are many consignment and thrift stores in the area, or you might consider donating to shelters, the Salvation Army, or Goodwill. Especially after the holidays, we tend to accumulate more than we need, so now is also a great time to go through and donate gifts that you may never wear or use so they don’t just end up in the back of a closet.
 
Check gutters, roof and siding
As soon as the air gets a little warmer, it’s a good time to evaluate shingles on your roof to see if any are missing or damaged. If you do find areas that need repair, hire a professional to help out, but make sure you check references. Hire someone you trust. After all of the rain this year, it’s also a good time to check your gutters to make sure they are free of debris and allowing water to flow freely. Check the siding of your home for any areas that may need repair. If everything looks fine, pressure washing your siding will freshen it up and can help make your home look new again.
 
Paint
After pressure washing the exterior of your home, you may realize that it’s time to freshen up your exterior paint. Maybe just the trim needs to be painted, or maybe the whole house. If the whole house needs a coat, and you don’t love the color, now is a great time to change it up and give your home new life with a new color. While thinking about the exterior is important, make sure you don’t neglect the interior. Spring is perfect for updating the interior paint and/or colors in your home, too. If you’re not sure about what colors to use, talk with a designer or local paint professional for some help.
 
Clean up outdoors, landscaping
After all of the heavy rain we’ve been getting this winter, your yard will be in need of some TLC when warmer weather gets here. Check the backfill around your home, make sure landscaping against your home is at the correct height and sloped away from the structure. This will help prevent issues with your foundation, including your basement or crawlspace. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work your yard needs, look into hiring a local landscaping business. The hardest part of most jobs is getting started, so they can help take that stress away.  In addition to your yard, be sure to clean up other outdoor living areas, such as patios, decks, and pools.  This will ensure those areas are ready for your use both now and all throughout the summer months.  If you don’t have any outdoor living areas but have always wanted one, call a local design/build firm to help visualize and create the space for you.
 
Service HVAC units
One of the big things we recommend homeowners do in the spring is have their HVAC units serviced.  Not only is changing the filter regularly important, but now is also the time to have a service company come out to evaluate and clean your unit before summer months take their toll. Regular maintenance on both inside and outside units will help them run smoothly and efficiently, which in turn can help extend the lives of the units.
 
If the thought of spring cleaning and home maintenance overwhelms you, use this column as a starting guide. If you aren’t able or don’t have the time to do the work yourself, there are lots of local experts in the area who can help you out. Remember, getting your home is shape now will help you enjoy it longer and will allow you more time to get out and enjoy the warmer weather come summer!


February 2020 column

 

Make the most of living on the lake

When designing for any home remodel or build, there are common elements and trends that are applicable no matter where you live. However, thanks to nearly 700 miles of shoreline, Lake Lanier is the back yard for thousands of residences in northeast Georgia, presenting unique opportunities for home design and features that make the most of such a tremendous location and the magnificent views that come with it. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering remodeling or building a lake home:
 
Create an inviting front entry
Almost everyone has heard a variation of the common expression, “You don’t get a second shot at a first impression.” That goes for the front entry of any home but is especially important when your house sits near a locale like Lanier. Create a sense of place and make your home feel like a destination with a functional walkway or path leading to a welcoming front porch. Consider your surroundings when deciding if a natural stone or wooden entry is a fit for your property, or if a pop of color on the door would add a sense of excitement about what lies behind it.
 
Open floor plans for views
You don’t have to be a regular viewer of HGTV to know that open floor plans are all the rage. They also appear here to stay and make sense for many homes. An open floor plan can be especially advantageous in a lakeside residence because it enables you to maximize views from multiple rooms, levels and vantage points within the home. If you live on the lake you’re likely there because you love the water, or at least like looking at it! Why block all that beauty with unnecessary walls?
 
Vault ceilings and expose beams
Want your home to feel as magnificent as the setting? Vaulted ceilings and exposed beams create a dramatic effect and can be adapted to fit your style, whether it’s rustic décor and design you want or a more polished look. Though it may cost more to heat your home during the winter months, advantages such as a feeling of increased space (especially true when coupled with an open floor plan) and additional natural light cannot be understated. Vaulted ceilings also will allow you to take maximum advantage of our next tip – large windows. 
 
Add floor-to-ceiling windows
Though many homeowners may think of their home’s best feature in terms of rooms or components – a spacious, state-of-the-art kitchen or dramatic stone fireplace – lake homeowners understand that what makes their homes truly special is outside the doors. Emphasize one of your property’s greatest features by installing energy efficient floor-to-ceiling windows. Large windows not only add tons of natural light but can make your home feel like an escape to nature, even if you’re a short drive from town. Unique lighting and an eye-catching chandelier can pick up the slack once the sun sets.
 
Extend outside space
While we’ve discussed great ways to emphasize your home’s views and location from the inside, don’t forget outside spaces. Create spaces to enjoy the outdoors by adding decks to one or more levels depending on the size of your home and think beyond the traditional when planning. Composite materials are durable and not only weather outdoor conditions better, but they can mimic natural wood beams and stains better now than ever. Though up-front costs are higher, composite decking is low maintenance and doesn’t require the ongoing care like sanding, staining or painting that natural wood decks need. If you love entertaining and envision lots of dinner parties or guests in your future, consider going one step further by adding outdoor kitchen space. Options these days are endless whether a nice gas grill is all you want or if you prefer the complete chef’s experience with multiple appliances like pizza ovens, refrigerators or a tap for your favorite craft beer.
 
Prepare for guests
Chances are you’re going to have lots of friends and family anxious to visit your beautiful lake home. Be prepared by thinking about basement suites to accommodate additional guests. Bunk beds are a great option to maximize the number of places to sleep. Consider that, as with many homes, gatherings will take place in the kitchen which means space to sit and socialize (such as around a large kitchen island) is recommended, along with walk-in pantries for plenty of food storage that’s out of the way.
 

January 2020 column

Eyeing home design trends for 2020

The new year is upon us, and just as years come and go, so do home design trends. Whether you love to follow them or not, it’s still fun to see what colors and features are expected to be popular in the coming year. In terms of home design, many trends are meant to make a statement; but if bold isn’t your style, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate trends in a more subtle way, too.
 
Kitchens: In 2020, blue is predicted to be a strong color throughout the home. But when it comes to kitchens, blue cabinets are on the rise. Cabinet manufacturers have been coming out with blue paints and stains throughout 2019 that are expected to be popular in the coming years. Colors with names like Dark Azure, Harbor, Indigo, Surf, and Stardew invoke a sense of sea or sky. Blue is known to be a calming color which is another reason why we might be seeing it on the rise; it can help give you a sense of calm and tranquility in your home.
 
Pops of color: For those that still like a neutral background, you can still add in pops of color as an interesting element. Whether it be in your backsplash tile selection, appliances­ – which can be customized in an array of colors – or furniture. Color can help add some character and personalization to your space. If you don’t think you are ready to commit to blue cabinets, bring in some navy upholstered bar stools, a red range, or light coral backsplash tile. When you bring in elements of colors in this way, they are much easier to change out when you tire of them.
 
Natural wood touches: If you do bring in painted cabinets or elements of color, a great way to help balance the space so it doesn’t look like it came out of a comic book is with natural wood elements. Open wood shelving above colored cabinets, or wood or wood-look floors can help add some warmth to the space, and organic, nature-influenced elements are still very popular in design.
 
Transitional style: This one holds true throughout the home. If you’re not quite ready to go full-on modern or contemporary in your home, transitional style can give you a nice, updated classic look.  In the kitchen, that means quartz countertops, cabinets with a simple, clean door style (think recessed panel vs. a dated raised or arch panel), updated lighting, and neutral wall colors (be gone wallpaper)! If you have traditional pieces in your home that you just can’t part with, you can mix in some modernized elements like wall colors, rugs or curtains, or lighting to help update the space.
 
Statement lighting: Lighting used to be an after-thought when it came to home design. We see it all the time in homes that were built in the ’80s, ’90s, or even early 2000s, and especially spec homes. Maybe you’ve got one overhead fluorescent light in your kitchen or laundry room or a ceiling fan with two or three dim bulbs in your master bedroom or bath. Now is the time to update your lighting. Lighting, just as color, can help not only make your space more functional, but also bring your personality into your home. Pick out a dining light fixture that represents your style and gives better light for family gatherings. If your kitchen needs more lighting, add under-cabinet lighting for a nice ambience, as well as better work light. I also recommend getting rid of fluorescent lighting throughout your home in favor of LED recessed lighting or flush mounts. Other places you can add a statement fixture would be at your bathroom vanities, in your foyer, over your kitchen island, or even in your master bedroom.
 
Warmer wall colors: When it comes to paint colors, cool neutrals are declining as warm neutrals are on the rise. Cool whites, blues, and grays have been popular for a while now, but we’re seeing people gravitating toward warmer gray tones and even earth tones. Color plays a big part in setting the feel and mood of your space.
 
Like I’ve mentioned before, trends can put a time stamp on your home if you try to incorporate too many into one space or incorporate them too literally. Try bringing in trendy elements sparingly so that you don’t tire of them too quickly and they can still easily be changed out. This will help keep your home current without looking too “trendy.”


December 2019 column

Going green in home design

‘Going green’ has been a popular buzz term for several years now, but what exactly does that mean when it comes to home design? Yes, we all know about natural cleaning solutions, natural health and beauty products, and organic foods, but there is so much more you can do in your home to help keep your family and the environment healthy.  
 
Research continues to evolve on the impact of home materials and chemicals on our health, and long gone are the days of using asbestos or formaldehyde in surfaces and glues. Paint and flooring companies are introducing more low-VOC options. VOCs are volatile organic compounds that can affect the air quality in your home and impact your health. Even when it comes to hardwood floors, oil-finished wood is gaining in popularity as an alternative to polyurethane finishes. Other sustainable flooring options include bamboo, cork, reclaimed wood, wool carpet, or recycled glass or stone tile. These options are better for your health when it comes to reducing chemicals in your home and have much less impact on the environment.
 
Another way to go green in your home is with energy efficient fixtures and appliances. A lot of the appliances you see now have energy star ratings; these ratings show impact on the environment in terms of energy the appliance uses. Look for the energy star logo when purchasing appliances so you can select options that keep your energy bill down. 
 
Plumbing fixtures are another area to look for energy efficiency. Low-flow toilets use less water, as do toilets with variable flush settings. Shower fixtures with technology that infuses air to the water coming out of the shower head give the feeling of higher flow, but actually use less water. Delta calls this technology H2Okinetic, and in addition to the droplet size, these fixtures also control the speed and movement of the water to control water usage. Another way to conserve water is to look for shower fixtures that have a pause setting.  This allows you to shut off the water flow while you wash or apply shampoo, cutting back on the amount of water that is wasted.
 
Going green in home design applies just as much to the exterior of your home as it does the interior. One of the best ways to make your home more energy efficient is with quality windows. Look for options that have Low-E glass to help eliminate the effect that outside air temperature has on the interior of your home. This coating also protects the color and finish of surfaces in your home such as curtains, furniture, and flooring which means they won’t have to be replaced as often.
 
Recycled and reclaimed materials have been trending for a while now and utilizing these products in your home is another way to go green. Recycled glass countertops and tile can be used in kitchens and bathrooms. Reclaimed wood can be used as flooring, or as an accent on walls, fireplaces, kitchen islands, etc. If you’re really feeling adventurous, scout out local antique shops or consignment shops to find furniture, accessories or other items that can be repurposed rather than always buying new. Or even when remodeling, consider donating cabinets, countertops or furniture to a local consignment shop or company like Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army. This all helps reduce waste in our landfills.
 
One final way to make your home greener is through electricity and lighting. LED lighting has come along way in the past few years, offering different brightness options and color temperatures.  You can even get vintage Edison style bulbs in LED now. LED lighting offers up to a 90% energy savings when compared to traditional incandescent lighting and emits very little heat. Solar energy is common in the West and is finally making its way into the Southeast. Adding solar panels to your home can help use the sun’s radiant heat to power your home and supplement your existing energy source. While this energy source can be expensive to set up, the savings in the long run on your wallet and the environment are well worth it.
 
When it comes to making your home more eco-friendly and energy efficient, there are endless options. You don’t have to go all out all at once, either. Even taking small steps like changing out frequently used plumbing fixtures and light bulbs throughout your home can make an impact. If you’re not sure where to start, just reach out to a local remodeler familiar with green design for some advice.


November 2019 column


Preparing for cooler weather

Summer seemed never-ending this year in North Georgia, but cooler weather is finally here. As the temperatures cool, power and gas bills typically do the opposite. Proactive planning and a few quick fixes around the home can prevent damage and save you a lot of money. Follow these simple steps to make sure your home stays warm and your wallet stays safe from unforeseen costs.
 
Step One: Prevent water damage. As water freezes it expands, and this scientific fact can be the cause of catastrophic damage to your home if proper steps are not taken to prevent it. Pipes can burst when water freezes inside them, or if pressure builds behind a chunk of ice. Flooding and water damage can and will occur if you do not follow these steps:
 
• Drain water from outdoor sprinkler systems
• Disconnect and store outdoor hoses
• Drain and cover any exterior faucets with foam insulation
• Insulate pipes that run through unheated areas of the home like the attic, basement or garage.
 
Clogged gutters can also be a source of severe water damage. Blockage due to snow, ice or fallen leaves can prevent water from draining correctly, causing it to seep into your roof or flood your home. If you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your gutters yourself, invest time to work with a trusted roofing professional or contractor to have your gutters cleaned and make sure your drainage system is functional. Another option is to install deeper gutters with leaf guards that help prevent costly build-up and issues.
 
Step Two: Clean the fireplace and chimney. Equally as important as preventing water damage, is preventing fire damage. Cozying up by the fire is a staple of enjoying the winter months. Before you warm up by the fireplace, remove any soot or debris that could catch fire. Taking the time to hire a professional to inspect and clean your chimney will keep you safe and warm all winter long.
 
Step Three: Check for leaks or drafts. When air escapes out of leaks or cracks, your heating system must work harder. If you want to prevent sky-high power bills this winter, you must ensure there is no unwanted air leakage in your home. Fixing this issue is fairly simple. Caulk can be used to seal openings around door frames, while weather stripping is best to use around windows. You might also consider a home energy audit or evaluation to better understand your home energy use and where improvements can be made.
 
Step Four: Have your HVAC system checked. Most people don’t think about maintenance on their heating and cooling systems until they have a problem. However, regular maintenance can help your system run smoothly and extend its lifespan. Call a local HVAC contractor to come out to inspect and service your unit before the cold of winter hits. It’s better to get ahead of any issues before your system goes out and you’re without heat in the middle of winter. Also, if you’re not already doing it, change your air filter regularly. This will also help your system run smoother for longer. If you can, invest in a higher quality air filter, especially if you have an older home or pets. 
 
Step five: Check emergency sensors. Make sure sensors in your home are working properly. This includes smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Before you start cooking more and building fires in your fireplace, inspect and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly. This will give you peace of mind whether you are at home or traveling this winter. Another thing to check is your security system. We don’t like to think about the possibility of any problems, but with the holidays approaching and people heading out of town, you want to know your home is safe while you are away. If you sense any issues with your system contact your security provider and have them inspect the system. 
 
Step Six: Find and fix any potential exterior hazards. As leaves start to fall and the weather gets cold and wet, broken driveways and walkways can become a hazard. Leaves and water can gather in cracks and crevices and create hidden slip or trip hazards. Inspect the walkways around your house, as well as your driveway. Repair or replace any cracks or broken pavers you see. If the damage is beyond repair, consider replacing the driveway or walkway. 
 
There are many things you can do to prep for colder weather this fall. All these steps are generally quick fixes and will give you peace of mind to enjoy time with family and friends this winter, rather than worry about your home.


October 2019 column

Here's how to remodel on a budget

Remodeling your home can help boost its value should you decide to sell down the road. Here are a few ideas to help you save in ways that don’t compromise on quality, when a tighter budget is in play.
Think about a partial remodel
 
You can make a room look new while saving money if you stick with some things that were original to the room, and/or replace key elements instead of the whole room. Painting existing walls is a well-known update. For your kitchen or bathroom for instance, consider painting the cabinetry instead of a complete replacement, if the cabinets are still in good shape.
 
Removing and updating handles and knobs for cabinet doors and drawers will help refresh a room. Also, update light fixtures. These types of items can immediately give you a fresh, updated space and cost less than a whole room remodel. Refinishing wood flooring is also a way to reuse existing materials to make an old room like new.
 
Use off-the-shelf dimensions
Save money by avoiding the high costs of custom-built materials. If you can do a little research to see what sizes are common to the things you’d like to change, you can save cash because it doesn’t have to be specially made. Cabinetry typically comes in off-the-shelf, semi-custom, and fully customized price points. However, you may have to relinquish some control over design specifics when choosing off-the-shelf.
 
Use design/build firm
Design/Remodeling firms fully manage remodeling projects from repairs to renovations. They help you save time by managing workers and schedules for you, and help you stay within your budget by giving you cost-effective ideas. 
 
These firms are also able to narrow down material choices for you to choose from that fit within your budget range, so you’re not endlessly searching or choosing outside of your budget. By discussing up front what your budget is, and choosing your priorities, this will help your remodeling team plan your project specifically for your style and your budget needs.
 
Don’t move the big stuff
If your budget is more limited, keeping the same or a similar layout can help reduce costs vs. the more expensive moving of plumbing or load-bearing walls. In many cases it’s possible to plan your remodel within the existing layout. Refreshing with updates can still make a room look dramatically different. You may even be able to upgrade materials, by saving in other areas.
 
Beware of amateurs
While some smaller projects can absolutely be done by watching YouTube instructional videos, some minor and all major home renovations should be completed by professionals who have years of experience and lots of expertise. Projects can be completed in a more timely way when done by those who have lots of experience. It can be emotionally and monetarily tolling to have to go back and re-do something that was done incorrectly the first time. 
 
Good contractors also come with guarantees or warranties, so that things can be fixed later if an issue arises. If you’re still looking to save money, hire the contractor, but find out what services they perform that cost more in order to plan wisely with your specific home or office’s needs. If you come upon an unexpected setback like mold, rot, or degrading pipes, it’s nice to already have knowledgeable professionals on hand to advise you on the most cost-effective solution. This is one corner you do not want to cut, as it could cost you much more later.
 
Make use of your resources
If you don’t have materials for reuse in your house, check out places like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, or even antique or consignment stores for furniture pieces that can be re-purposed into things like a kitchen island or bathroom vanity. Hunting for salvage materials may take more time than you’re able to spend, but it can be less expensive and give you a unique, personalized feature in your home.  Another place to look are builder surplus or overstock stores.
 
As you’re planning your remodel and considering how to budget wisely, remember that saving money in the short term can end up meaning more spent in the long run, if not done the right way. Remodel smartly by spending a few extra dollars to be sure something is done right the first time and know your options to make sure your project stays on budget.


September 2019 column

Don't overlook your home's outdoor space

Football season is in the air and the holidays will be here before we know it, so now is the time to evaluate what kind of space you have for entertaining. Most people just focus on the main area of their home: the living room and kitchen.  But why not think outside the box to other areas that could be used for gathering, like outdoor space.  Fall is the perfect time of year to utilize outdoor space for entertaining. Maybe you have an old deck or patio that is underutilized ... consider updating the space to make it more inviting.
 
Updating your outdoor living area is all the rage these days, including adding grilling and cooking stations, entertainment areas, and fire pits or fireplaces. 
 
There are so many options out there when it comes to updating your outdoor space. Decks tend to be high maintenance, especially in the South. So, if you have a deck that you’re not sure exactly what to do with or that’s in need of some TLC, why not consider converting it into a screened porch or sunroom? The space can be used more time out of the year and provides additional covered living space for when you’re running out of room for guests inside. In addition to providing protection from the elements, an enclosed space also protects your guests from pesky insects, like flies, gnats and mosquitoes.
 
Outdoor kitchens and grilling areas are also gaining in popularity.  On one hand, they provide everything needed for grilling in one convenient place and in easy reach, rather than having to make several trips in and out of the house. And on the other hand, they provide additional gathering area so the grill master doesn’t have to be isolated from the party or guests. A covered outdoor bar or kitchen is a great addition to nearly any backyard.

There are lots of material options out there for this type of space as well; you can either build the kitchen or bar out of brick or stone or there are lines of cabinetry specifically made for outdoors.   When you’re selecting materials like countertops, natural stones or stainless steel both work outside. For flooring, consider materials with a matte or honed finish and some texture to avoid slips. Porcelain tile, stone or brick pavers or even concrete all work well.
 
If you look on home improvement sites, you’ll see an abundance of outdoor fireplace or fire pit pictures. There are so many cool options and designs to bring these elements into your space and make them your own. If you already have a patio, covered porch, or sunroom adding a fireplace is not too difficult at all. 
 
First, decide where you want the structure, making sure not to block any great views or disrupt natural traffic patterns. Depending on your personal style and style of your home, a stone or brick fireplace could add just the rustic or modern touch your space needs. If you have an enclosed space like a sunroom, you have the option to go with gas; but with a patio or open-air deck, you’re best to go with wood-burning so you don’t have to keep re-igniting.
 
Fire pits are certainly a trend right now, and if you love being outdoors, I think it’s a trend with some staying power. When you search fire pit ideas online, you’ll see everything from a primitive hole in the ground lined with some stone and gravel surrounded by chairs to an elaborate recessed stone pit with built-in patio and seating around. Fire pits are a great place for gathering, hanging out on cool evenings or during fall and early winter months here in Georgia. 
 
Who doesn’t love toasted marshmallows or s’mores in the fall? If you’re thinking about re-doing an existing patio or building new, consider adding a fire element into the design for some added warmth and coziness.
 
When it comes to outdoor spaces, the options are endless. I encourage you to think about what you currently use your space for or hope to use the space for and go from there. Most people focus all their energy on the inside of their home but don’t forget about the outside, too. Not only does it give you more space for entertaining and hosting, but also some peaceful space to enjoy yourself. If you’re not sure where to start, start by consulting with a designer or contractor; they can help you come up with some ideas for your specific space.  Now go enjoy the outdoors!

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