Friday, May 29, 2015

Weekend Happenings: May 29-31, 2015

Patio Week

Downtown Minneapolis
May 24-30, 2015
Cost:  Various

The restaurants in Minneapolis love outdoor dining just as much as you do, which is why the numerous outdoor patios and rooftops offer significant deals on their food and beverage selections.

Join us in celebrating our 3rd Annual Patio week Plus, we have every type of patio dining you can think of: Rooftops, Decks, Sidewalks and On The Water.

Rivertown Arts Festival

Lowell Park
Downtown Stillwater
May 30-31, 2015
Sat: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sun: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Cost:  Free to attend

Rivertown Art Festival

The Saint Croix Valley’s Largest Art Festival Returns

Stillwater, MN – The 38th Annual Rivertown Art Fair returns May 30 & 31. The two-day fest offers many reasons for art enthusiasts, day-trippers, treasure hunters and festival goers to attend.

Nestled along the scenic Saint Croix River, with the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge as the backdrop, more than 100 artist will showcase their wares. The mediums range from leather and painters to sculptors, metal artist and jewelry artists.

Event Highlights

• The addition of enhanced food concession vendors.

• New: Demonstration area. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage direct with a hand selected group of artisans while they share secrets to their craft on the main stage.

• Furry friends welcome! This event is leashed dog-friendly. (Owners must be prepared to clean up after pets). Animal Inn Pet Resort will be providing a pet hydration station, treats and free scratches.

The Rivertown Art Festival is produced by the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce.

Twin Cities Tour de Cure

Minnehaha Falls
4901 Minnehaha Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55417
May 30, 2015
Race Times vary.  First rate starts at 6:00 am. Event ends aroudn 3:00 pm
Cost:  Free to attend, $35 registration to ride, $200 minimum fundraising for adults, $50 for kids

Go Red Rider!

Join us for the Twin Cities Tour de Cure! Tour de Cure is more than just a ride; it's an experience. We’re on a million dollar mission to change the pace of diabetes and we’re having a blast while we do it. Come see why our motto is: Ride. Party. Stop Diabetes.

Fully supported, paved cycling routes: 7, 18, 29, 43, 62, and 100 miles. New this year, our 22 mile off-road route for mountain bikers!

At the finish enjoy lunch, live music, vendor village, massages, and more! There’s even a beer garden for adults and a kid’s zone for the little ones. Riders with diabetes can choose to be recognized as “Red Riders” and receive VIP treatment, including a free Red Rider cycling jersey just for riding with us.

Register today at online!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Make Downsizing Easy

With kids graduating from high school and college, many parents find that they just don't need a 4 bedroom home anymore.  Many consider downsizing to a smaller home that has just enough room for the two of them and a guest room.

But after raising a bunch of kids in a big house, you tend to accumulate a lot of stuff.  Downsizing can seem daunting! To help you tackle this task, we offer a few tips to help you along.


Don't Rush Into It

Before you make the final decision to downsize, make sure you're sure.  Do you anticipate your kids coming home with children of their own someday?  Maybe you want the bigger house to accommodate everyone on holidays.  Once you downsize, it will be a big adjustment on space.

Plan Ahead

Okay, so you've decided that you definitely want to downsize.  That's great, but don't be too quick to move, especially if you're very recently empty nesters or retirees.  It takes a while for you to figure out what your new lifestyle will be.  Will you finally have time to take care of your gardens or do you find you don't want any outdoor maintenance at all?  Are you going to entertain a lot or do you plan to travel?  Are you going to take up a new hobby like painting or woodworking?

Live your new life for a bit to see what shakes out.  Then, once you have an idea for how you're going to spend your time, you can start the process of downsizing.

Determine Your New Space Needs

Now that you have an idea of how you're going to live, determine what your ideal living space would be like.  It would even help to know how big you want each room and how many rooms you'd like to have.   Consider having a few multi-purpose rooms to keep your square footage down.  Maybe you can have an office that's also a guest bedroom.  Or a dining room that also serves as a music room.

Schedule in Downsizing Time

Going through all your stuff can take a lot of time and can take an emotional toll.  Set aside specific times each day, a couple of hours at least, to go through your stuff.  Write it in your calendar and stick to it.  Work through as much as you can during that time, and then give yourself permission to stop until the next day.

Be Tough

Getting rid of things is hard.  But remember your final goal - to downsize.  Ask yourself tough questions.  'Will I really repair this handheld vacuum?'  'Do I really need three gravy boats?'  It's also a good time to ask lifestyle questions.  'What's important to me?'  'Does this fit my new lifestyle?'  'Does this bring me joy?'  And probably most important, 'Do I want to move this?'


Establish Decision Makers

Give yourself a set of criteria to help you determine if you need to keep something or not.  'Have I used it in the past year (or five)?'  'Am I just holding on to it for sentimental reasons?'  'Could someone else use this more than me?'  'Can I make some money if I sell it?'  If you find you're having trouble with these decisions, hire a professional organizer or a good friend who can be objective and supportive.


Do It Now, Not After You Move

Moving companies charge by the weight of the cargo.  This means if you're thinking of getting rid of that computer after you move, don't!  Do it now.  You can recycle electronics, printers, computers, and kitchen appliances.  If you're moving to a condo with an association that takes care of the grounds, get rid of your lawnmower and your lawn care implements.  Throw away old mattresses (after you move is a great time to invest in new mattresses) instead of moving them.

Tackle the Closets First

Many times downsizing means losing some storage space.  So it only makes sense to start with your closets with the goal of eliminating enough stuff to clear up a few closets worth of space.

Measure Your New Rooms

Once you've found a new place to live, measure each space.  Maybe that huge sectional you have just won't fit anymore.  Sell it before you move and buy a new one after you've moved in.  No room for your treadmill?  Get rid of it and join the gym.  If your kitchen is smaller, keep only those kitchen items that you can't live without.

Be Proud of Small Accomplishments

Downsizing a big family home takes time and endurance.  After you've successfully downsized a space, pat yourself on the back.  Don't keep looking ahead to all you have yet to do.  Just accept credit for what you've accomplished each day.


Before you know it, your whole house will be done and you will soon be living in your new space with only the stuff you need and want there.  And you'll be ready to move onto your next stage in life.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weekend Happenings: May 22-24, 2015

Sound Set Music Festival

Canterbury Park
1100 Canterbury Rd, Shakopee
May 24, 2015
Opens 11:00 AM
Cost:  $72 General Admission, $136 VIP


In 2008, Rhymesayers Entertainment and Rose Presents combined forces to produce Soundset; an outdoor Hip-Hop & Rap music oriented festival to kick off the summer season. Soundset has since become the biggest Hip-Hop & Rap music festival in the world, selling out at 30,000 attendees. Soundset not only provides over eight hours of music on four different stages, but is also host to a 150 vehicle car show, skateboard park, live graffiti and painting exhibition and much more.  Performers include Atmosphere, J. Cole, Ice Cube, Ludacris, Dessa, Big Sean and countless others.

Star Trek:  The Exhibition

Mall of America
60 E. Broadway, Bloomington
May 22-24, 2015
Fri. & Sat. 10:00 AM to 9:30 PM
Sun.  11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Cost:  Adult:  $16.99, Children 5-12:  $9.99, Seniors $12.99

May has been a spectacularly geeky month in the Twin Cities, with Wizard World Comic Con, Free Comic Book Day, SpringCon, and a sci-fi burlesque night from Toil & Trouble. Now, there's a Star Trek-themed show at the Mall of America. The exhibition opened about a week ago, and features a variety of memorabilia from the television shows and movie franchises. Folks who always wanted to know what it felt like for Captain Kirk to command his ship will be able to sit in a reproduction of his U.S.S. Enterprise chair. Other items on display include models, props, costumes, sets, and other pieces covering 40 years of production. There will be fun facts and trivia, as well as kiosks exploring the very real science behind the world of Star Trek. The show is both geek- and kid-friendly. Be sure to bring a camera, as there will be plenty of photo ops for visitors as they explore. The show is located in the EMS Exhibit Center in the southeast corner of level three.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mistakes To Avoid With Paint

Have you ever visited some place where you loved how all the colors harmonized?  You probably thought to yourself, "This would look great in my house!".  The next day you find yourself paralyzed in front of the paint chips wondering how in the world you're ever going to find the right shade.

We've been there.  While painting is one of the quickest, cheapest, and relatively easy renovations you can do yourself, it's still an awful lot of work. So the thought of getting the color you chose on the walls only to find out when you're done that you don't like it, can make you want to run and hide.

While picking a color is a personal choice, it doesn't hurt to learn from other's mistakes.  Below we've listed some tips from some color experts to help you on your way.

Don't Rely On Trends

Contemporary Living Room with Box frame coffee table, Laminate floors, Safavieh Mercer Modern Pouf, Henry Sofa
Source:  Zillow Digs

You need to love the colors that you're going to live with everyday.  Simply because you saw a designer room with the latest trendy color that looked amazing, doesn't mean that you will love it once it's on your walls.  If you want to try that new trendy color, opt for splashes of color like pillows, or artwork rather than splashing it on every wall.

Furnishings First

Transitional Living Room with Hardwood floors, Linon Trio Striped Area Rug (5 x 7 ft.), High ceiling, Skyline Crate Arm Chair
Source:  Zillow Digs

Never pick out your color and then try to match your furnishings to it.  It is always best to work off of an inspiration piece like a rug or an accent chair and then choose a paint color that will go with it.

Live By The Light

Traditional Kitchen with Complex granite counters, Maxim Lighting - Infinity 1-Light Mini Pendant, Glass panel, Subway Tile
Source:  Zillow Digs

Colors a very affected by the light that is in a room.  On a sunny day you might think the color is perfect, but when lit with lamps it might take on a hue that you don't care for.  Before painting all your walls, paint a swatch and consider it in all different light sources at all times of the day and evening.  Live with it for a while and see how it stands the test of time.

White Is A Color

Traditional Living Room with Cement fireplace, Z Gallerie Tufted Ottoman - Sapphire, Wall sconce, French doors, Crown molding
Source:  Zillow Digs

Many overlook white thinking that it will be to sterile or boring.  But white pairs fabulously with almost any color.  And whites by themselves have come a long way with many showing shades of gray, lavender, blue and green.

No Competition

Cottage Living Room with Shades of light mercury glass bell lantern, Uttermost baina silver end table, Hardwood floors
Source:  Zillow Digs

If you're wanting a two-toned room, don't make your colors compete.  Let one color dominate and the other play a subordinate role as an accent color.

Don't Forget To Look Up

Traditional Kids Bedroom with West Elm Simple Bed Frame - White, Window seat, Ikea ps maskros pendant lamp, Hardwood floors
Source:  Zillow Digs

Ceilings can play a big color role in your rooms.  You can go with a shade or two lighter than your walls, a high gloss white for drama or a bold hue that is the main source of color for the room.

Play Nice With Others

Contemporary Great Room with Hardwood floors, Built-in bookshelf, Chatsworth leather storage ottoman - brown, Ceiling fan
Source:  Zillow Digs

If you have rooms that are open to other rooms, plan ahead to have a cohesive look as you walk throughout the house.  Don't randomly choose a different color for each room without checking to see that they flow together nicely.

Source:  Michelle Schwake For Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weekly Market Update: May 18, 2015

As we press through May, the residential real estate market is really hitting its paces. Sales activity has been plentiful and REALTORS® are busier than ever. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released April numbers, and they are still quite positive. The nation added 223,000 jobs and the national unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%. The need for more inventory is an ongoing issue, but not one that thwarts optimism in the marketplace.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending May 9:

 • New Listings increased 7.1% to 2,117
 • Pending Sales increased 24.0% to 1,526
 • Inventory decreased 1.8% to 15,518

For the month of April:

 • Median Sales Price increased 9.7% to $215,000
 • Days on Market decreased 4.5% to 85
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.1% to 97.0%
 • Months Supply of Inventory decreased 2.8% to 3.5

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fix An Ugly Patio

When we moved into our current house, we were happy that there was a deck.  The house also boasted a patio, but it left much to be desired.  It was a poured concrete patio, with a not-very-realistic stamp laid into it and a very faded stain that I'm sure at one point might have been nice but is now a light pink color.  And to top it off, there is a huge crack down the middle of it.

The patio is in a great location but it's plain ugly.  Rather than take all the time and effort to smash it all up and haul it away, then lay down gravel and sand for a paver patio, I decided to look at some alternatives.

I wanted something that I could just put over the existing patio.  Something fairly easy and not too terribly expensive.  I'll share with you what I came up with.

Easiest/Lowest Cost - Paint or Stain Over It

If I'm willing to live with the ugly stamped design, I can simply paint over the concrete with one of the deck/patio restoring finishes.  I could also apply a stain with a sealer.  I would first need to patch up that big crack, but once that's done, I could simply apply a new finish and have a much better looking patio.  I would probably spend about $200 to $300 for this method on my 10 ft. by 10 ft. patio.


Easiest/Moderate Cost - Overlay with Deck or Paver Tiles

If I really want a completely different look and am willing to pay for it, I could simply install deck or paver tiles right over my concrete patio.  These tiles are interlocking and quickly snap together to complete the look in under an hour.  Prices vary depending on which style of tile I choose, but I would expect to pay about $1500 for my 10 ft. by 10 ft. patio.


Labor Intensive/Moderate Cost - Pavers Over The Patio

This would probably be the best looking option and the most labor intensive.  In order to lay down pavers I'd need a level surface and that crack down the middle is going to cause some problems.  I would need to not only repair the crack but install an anti-crack membrane over it so that it doesn't become worse.  Then I'd need to lay down sand to help level it and then place all the pavers.  Then lay down some polymeric sand to lock it all together. Finally, I'd need to apply a sealer to help them look good and handle the weather over time.  

However, this option would give me the true look of a paver patio which would be nice.  I'd expect to spend about $1,500 to $2,000 for this method on my 10 ft. by 10 ft. deck.


Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Weekend Happenings: May 15-17, 2015

Minnesota Monthly Annual Grillfest

CHS Field, the new home of the St. Paul Saints
360 N. Broadway St., St. Paul
May 16-17, 2015
1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cost:  $40 online, $45 at the door

A GrillFest ticket covers food, wine, and beer samplings at many of the booths and feature areas, plus the grilling demos and music stage. GrillFest will occur rain or shine - The space is covered!

Taste your way through your favorite grilled foods and sample summer wines and specialty beers. Test out the hottest grills, gather recipes, and learn how to barbecue like a pro. Get the latest grilling tips at the grilling stage, and listen to local live music at the 89.3 The Current stage. Find special pricing on grills and products that will make you the envy of your neighbors.

This is a 21+ event. We cannot admit anyone under the age of 21 or without a valid ID.

MSP Comicon

MN State Fairgrounds Grandstan
1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul
May 16-17, 2015
10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Cost:  $12, Kids 9 and under Free, $1 off with canned good donation

The all volunteer, not-for-for profit Midwest Comic Book Association is pleased and proud to announce that for the 27th consecutive year a celebration of comical proportions will take place here in the Twin Cities.

The MSP Comicon, is one of the Midwest's largest celebrations of comic book culture, it is a unique regional nexus of graphic literature and the wildly diverse communities that fuel it, produce it, and and ultimately consume it.

An ideal event for seasoned comic book conventioneers, as well as first timers, MSP Comicon is all about celebrating our community, the fun and experience and provides attendees with the opportunity to personally interface with hundreds of comic book artists, inkers & writers. This includes national industry super stars, working professionals, up and comers, independent & alternative voices, beginners, has beens, never will be's and all creative points in between.

Other goings on include extensive guest creator panels, free portfolio reviews, how to art classes, extensive art show, Arkham Asylum children's activities, cosplay & costume contest, the super cool MCBA charity garage sale, the prop shop, tons of fan groups, HeroClix's Tournaments, Burl's traveling RPG, free grab bags, over 1,000 door prizes, free autographs, free parking, and much more TBA!

Of course no comic book convention could be complete without hucksters! The MSP Comicon also features a super gynormous comic book marketplace with comic book stores and dealers buying, selling and trading all things comic books. There will be literally tons of comic books (Around 500,000 golden age, silver age, bronze age, current and collectible comic books), trade paperbacks, graphic novels, original comic book art, manga, action figures, statues, Star Wars & Trek, Doctor Who, Godzilla, inexplicable trinkets, collectibles and the list goes on to a reasonable approximation of infinity. 

Mainstreet Days Arts & Crafts Fair

Downtown Hopkins
May 16, 2015
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Cost:  Free

-Over 120 arts and crafts vendors from across the state will sell their goods at the event, and food booths will be located throughout the fair.
- Entertainment for the family will include live music, train rides, a bounce house, and more.
- The event is free and open to the public.

Nature Connects:  Art with LEGO Bricks

MN Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska
May 15-Aug 30, 2015
Cost:  Gate Admission $12, kids 12 and under always Free, U of M students Free

"Hummingbird and Trumpet Flower" LEGO sculpture

The innovative work of Sean Kenney's sculptures with LEGO® bricks will inspire and delight our visitors and members. Just as LEGO® bricks connect to each other, we connect to nature. The Arboretum wants to challenge the way you think of the traditional garden exhibits, delight in the artistry of LEGO® bricks, and CONNECT with nature in a whole new way!

This summer exhibit features 26 sculptures using more than 450,000 LEGO® bricks at 13 locations on the Arboretum grounds. Maps with sculpture locations (all will be installed within easy walking distance of the main buildings) will be available at the information desk.

Don't Miss our Community LEGO® Brick Builds:

May 16 & 30
June 13 & 27
July 11 & 25
August 8 & 22

10 a.m.-1 p.m. Challenging the creativity and ingenuity of children and adults, join us to create a LEGO® bricks community, build a car, build a windmill and more! Community Builds will take place at the Sensory Garden Shelter and are complimentary with gate admission in part from support from our community partner Creative Kidstuff. Space will be limited to 200 visitors at a time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A New Spin On Exterior Home Colors

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Grey is everywhere.  It's in every house and on the outside, too.  We admit, it is a great color, but when everyone jumps on the trend, it tends to sterilize it so that it doesn't seem as original anymore.  It's kind of like taupe used to be.

If you're looking to make a change to your exterior home color, why not make a bold statement.  Do something that no one else is doing.  Your house will surely stand out.  And you're sure to love it, too.

White:  The Old Standby That's New Again

Yes, you will look around and see many white houses out there that look old and dated.  But white can make a beautiful, bold statement.  It looks great on any style of home, and pairs well with wood,  brick, and stone.  The key is to go with a minimalist style, keeping colored trim very low key or all white.

Elite Home in Devonshire | Jonathan G. Rosen | 5751 Southwestern Boulevard, Dallas, 75209-3437

San Francisco remodel with white exterior and large windows

Great combo of materials.  Love the mixture of horizontal and vertical Hardiplank.

the lombardi house | 1717 bronson ave.

A barn-style Ohio home | Midwest Living I could live happily in every room of this house!

Black:  Yes, You Heard Me!

I can tell you think that black would be depressing, too dark, and somewhat sinister. But it's anything but when done well.  Black takes even the most humble house into the stratosphere of high style.  Keep the style of your house simple, and let the color do all the talking.

Modern Summer Time Residence With A See -

Derrière la façade de cette résidence noyée dans la verdure, Kelly Wearstler a imaginé un intérieur précieux comme un écrin XXL. Marbres, ors et laque noire sont les matières premières de ce cocon ultrasophistiqué.

Beach House exterior//black//timber. Bob and Cortney Novagratz.

Black Houses – Home Exterior Paint Ideas

Our favorite modern take on the farmhouse? Dark gray or black exteriors.

Navy Blue:  A Nautical Feel

Navy blue lends a nautical feel to any home, regardless of whether it's near water or not.  You can't go wrong with crisp white trim.  Nave pairs well with red brick and makes a nice backdrop for a bold front door color.

Navy house, orange door. A navy house with white trim couldn’t get any more classic — but the juicy orange door adds personal flair. A brigh...

Nautical navy modern farm house at #carltonlanding

Rustic. Navy. <3

St Louis, Missouri... Although in the neighboring state, this has to be owned by a University of IL grad! Go Illini!

The Josephine House in Austin, Texas

Red:  Be Bold

If you really want to make a statement, go with a red house.  Just like a power tie, red draws attention and shows that you are confident in your color choices.  Red pairs well with crisp white trim and dark colors equally well.  Tie in some stone and wood, and you'll have a showstopper.

Casper Country House Plan-Way to big for my taste but I like the colors and the wood work with the brick.

-my little mansion was nestled there in the trees...just so you know, Heaven is filled with cottages basking in red apple sunshine.

Barn Home by Yankee Barn Homes  Love the colors! Looks a bit like a Cape Cod Salt Box house to me!

This Old House Renovation "He meant to fix it up, sell it, and forget it. But somewhere between removing the asbestos siding and rebuildng the porch, this woodworker became deeply attached to the 1890 farmhouse he now calls home."

630 square feet Barn Cottage in Buffalo, NY | Tiny House Pins

Step out with confidence on your house color and don't be like the rest of the pack.  Go with what you love and you will never regret it.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Weekly Market Update: May 11, 2015

Through research conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® on the 100 largest housing markets in the nation, it was revealed that 93 out of 100 had uneven wealth ratios and declining homeownership between 2010 and 2013. Homeownership has dropped as slow wage growth, low inventory and tough mortgage standards have become the norm. Activity is spring fresh and exciting at the moment, but it is important to be mindful of the long game.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending May 2:

• New Listings increased 10.5% to 2,050
• Pending Sales increased 26.0% to 1,512
• Inventory decreased 1.3% to 15,298

For the month of April:

• Median Sales Price increased 10.2% to $216,000
• Days on Market decreased 4.5% to 85
• Percent of Original List Price Received increased 1.1% to 97.0%
• Months Supply of Inventory decreased 2.8% to 3.5

Source:  Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fun Projects For Relaxing In Your Yard

We all want to spend more time outdoors during the warm months.  But for some reason we find ourselves spending all our time indoors.  Whether we're getting that last load of laundry in, checking e-mails, or vegging on the couch watching TV, there seems to be too much pull inside to get us outside.

To combat that, you need to make the pull outside irresistible.  How?  By creating spaces so inviting, so enticing, that you can't wait to spend time there.

We've amassed a few great projects that you can incorporate into your outdoor space that will make you want to spend all your time there.  Some are simple and some are more involved.  But either way, if you take the time for these additions, we guarantee you'll be pulled outdoors more often.

A Place To Nap

Who doesn't love a good nap?  Now you can take a nice long nap outdoors.  Check out these great napping spots.

30 DIY Ways To Make Your Backyard Awesome This Summer, Build a giant hammock swing

Heck yeah I need a huge cushioned swing/hammock for my back porch. [ ] #backyard #hardware #slidingdoor

25 DIY Ideas How To Make Your Backyard Wonderful This Summer, Construct this Simple Bar for Outside Entertaining

37 Outdoor Beds That Offer Pleasure, Comfort And Style

Gorgeous Sleeping Porch #HGTVMagazine >>

Have Fun

Make your yard THE place to be this summer.  We have tons of great ideas to get your kids (and you) outside and enjoying the beautiful weather.

50 Kids Treehouse Designs - I absolutely love these. This one is perfect for a backyard with no trees!

Mount a chalk-painted board to the fence so kids can unleash their creativity outdoors. | 51 Budget Backyard DIYs That Are Borderline Genius

How much fun does this look? A real life Angry Birds slingshot

skateboard swing - YES PLEASE- my babies saw me looking at this and now want it!

Make your own movie screen for outdoor movie nights....Simple and inexpensive! I may need to adapt this by adding "feet" to help it stand up if needed.

This is going in the backyard. I plan to still be sliding down it when I am 70.

Secret Hideaway

After a long day dealing with kids or coworkers, sometimes you just need a little solitude.  A place of peace and rest.  Create a place for your at-home retreat.

fairytale dream space

Between our houses.  In and Out of the Garden: June 2009.  Photograph by Louise Jolley

Bucketlist: Have a backyard shed to escape to in the spring/summer. Make it a place to sleep, read, and create....nothing else.

Turn an old bunk bed into a stargazing loft retreat. // 31 DIY Ways To Make Your Backyard Awesome This Summer

Backyard retreat!

Seaside Vacation Rental - VRBO 259633 - 4 BR Beaches of South Walton House in FL, Savannah Style Retreat, Gulf Views, Blocks from Beach, Seaside

Entertain Away

After you've had a little time along, invite some friends over.  Check out these great outdoor entertaining spaces.

Build this outdoor bowling alley for your back yard to make sure you enjoy that space as much as possible. We like the idea of leaving some area in the garden clear for this!

Athena Calderone hosts a summer soiree at her Amangansett home.

This outdoor theater will make your house the gathering spot on summer evenings! #hometheater #outdoorliving

Great idea for outdoor storage and serving/bar. Turtles and Tails: It's Five O'Clock Somewhere

Party Idea: Sterno S'mores Buffet - Turning this idea into something that could be done at home wouldn't be too difficult, all you'd need to do is come up a few cans of sterno (or even just one if your party is small) and the accompanying S'mores accoutrement to go with it. It could be done on a patio, or small balcony without any issues and if you're daring — used inside.

Hello Shabby Chic!  This rustic bar was custom created for a special bride's outdoor wedding.  Complete with galvanized steel front, moss and birdcage detail with wood pallet bar backs.

Source:  Michelle Schwake for Stafford Family Realtors