14 Fresh and Fun Patio Ideas to Inspire You This Summer

patio ideas

Check out these fresh patio ideas to help inspire your design this summer. Image: Distinguished Pools

Summer is finally here, which means it’s time to think about your backyard entertaining options. Your exterior space doesn’t have to be boring. With just a little bit of effort, this area can become your favorite spot in the entire home.

If you need a little inspiration to help you get started, you’re in luck. From pools to outdoor kitchens, we have 14 fresh patio ideas to help inspire your design. By the end of the list, you’ll likely find one that strikes your fancy.

1. Work with your pool


If you have a pool, consider creating a showstopper by incorporating it into your patio design. Image: Pasquale Design Associates, Inc.

2. Make sure there’s plenty of room for dining


Don’t forget a dining table for hosting dinner parties. Image: Chelsea Construction Corporation

3. Think about adding a TV


Adding a TV to the patio makes the space perfect for watching the big game. Image: Alisberg Parker

4. Bring some shade with a pergola


If you want a middle ground between indoor and outdoor living, think about adding a pergola. Image: Yardscapes Northwest

5. Don’t forget lighting


It’s important to pay attention to lighting while you’re planning your patio design. Image: Creative Environments

6. Create an outdoor kitchen

outdoor kitchen

Go big or go home by including a whole outdoor kitchen in your patio setup. Image: Ettore Masonry Inc.

7. If nothing else, include a grill


Make sure you have a grill so that you’re not stuck in the kitchen preparing a meal while guests socialize outside. Image: Maverick Landscaping

8. Add some warmth with a fireplace


Including a fireplace will help extend the life of your patio well into the cooler fall weather. Image: Fredman Design Group

9. Extend the life of your patio with a fire pit


Building your patio around a fire pit creates the perfect spot to roast s’mores or sit and talk the night away. Image: Sycamore Design

10. Keep cool with a fan


Ceiling fans are a must for those who like to keep cool all year round. Image: Affordable Shade Patio Covers

11. Break it up into different seating areas

seating area

Think about adding several distinct seating areas so that you can easily entertain large groups. Image: Patina Home Design

12. Pay attention to your chair arrangements


Try arranging chairs in a circle to facilitate long evenings filled with conversation. Image: The Moellman Group

13. Use benches for maximum seating


Consider comfy benches like these to maximize the amount of seating your patio has to offer. Make sure to include plenty of pillows to keep it comfortable. Image: Dale Alcock Homes

14. Don’t forget the bar


A patio bar gives your guests a built-in place to congregate and saves you from having to run back and forth with drink orders. Image: Georgio Home

Incorporating even one of these patio ideas into your outdoor space will keep your summer gatherings fresh and inviting. Are you inspired by anything on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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5 Outdoor Entertaining Tips to Amp Up Your Summer Parties

outdoor entertaining tips

Prep for summer fun with these outdoor entertaining tips. Image: Apex Pools

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‘Tis the season to start moving your gatherings outdoors. As temperatures warm and the daylight hours lengthen, it becomes easier – and more fun – to host parties in your yard. Easier doesn’t necessarily mean easy, though. Hosting your friends al fresco comes with its fair share of challenges.

The good news is that with a little preparation, an outdoor party can be extremely low-maintenance. Getting everyone together outside lends a relaxed air. Expectations are lower, the natural beauty of your yard does most of the decorating work and if things get really messy, a hose handles cleanup. Are you ready to take advantage of the summer season and move your next party into the fresh air? Here are five outdoor entertaining tips that will help you get started.

outdoor entertaining tips- storage

Outdoor storage for dishes makes hosting a breeze. Image: LevEco Architects

1. Create an outdoor kitchen

Even if you already have a kitchen set up outside, you may benefit from making things easier to access during your party. Start by bringing a cabinet, a trunk or another storage piece outside. If you plan to host throughout the season but don’t want your furniture to get damaged by the elements, consider flipping it over and adding some casters.

Once your outdoor storage is ready, fill it with everything you’ll need. Plastic dishware and cloth napkins are a great start. Think through your previous parties. What did you find yourself often grabbing for? (A bottle opener, perhaps?) Having these necessities easily accessible outside will give you more time to enjoy your event.

outdoor entertaining tips - seating

Capitalize on the relaxed feel of an outdoor gathering by mixing decor. Image: IDF Studio

2. Celebrate variety

The relaxed air of an outdoor party encourages playfulness in your decor. Say, for example, you’re hosting more people than you can seat with your outdoor chairs. Bring your indoor chairs outside and intermix them. The variety looks fun and inviting.

What other indoor items could be useful? Pull throws off your couch and drape them over chairs outside for guests to use if they get chilly. Choose decor from your coffee table and mix it with fresh-cut flowers for an interesting centerpiece. Don’t be afraid to play with items you already own. The beauty of an outdoor party is in the way otherwise-stressful details become unimportant.

outdoor entertaining - wind

Make sure you’re ready if the breeze picks up. Image: Anthony Wilder

3. Be prepared for wind

Summer nights can get breezy. Getting ready for wind is one of the best outdoor entertaining tips we can offer, because it can prevent something out of your control – the weather – from ruining the whole night. The week before your party, make a mental list of anything that could blow away. Solutions are generally simple: like, for example, buying or making tablecloth weights that clip to the corners of a tablecloth. You should have no trouble finding a product or DIY project that matches the decor of your party.

Too pressed for time? Skip the tablecloth altogether!

If you’re going to be lighting candles, make sure you protect them from the wind. Hurricanes and tea light holders are an affordable way to maintain your lighting on a breezy evening.

outdoor entertaining tips - pests

Candles add ambiance and keep bugs away. Image: Susie Watson Designs

4. Keep pests away

Candles can serve a dual purpose, beyond adding ambiance: They can also help fend off mosquitos. You don’t have to choose citronella varieties, either; pests also hate eucalyptus. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even make your own bug-deterring candles. This DIY uses both citronella and eucalyptus to banish mosquitos.

If you’re going to be serving food outdoors buffet-style, have a plan in place to cover it when people aren’t actively serving themselves. In a pinch, an overturned mesh colander can serve as a protective shield.

outdoor entertaining tips - grill

It’s grill season. Get ready to cook outdoors all summer long. Image: FireMagic Grills

5. Prep your grill

Don’t wait until the day before your party to grab propane and scrub your grill grate. You can even season your grill grate the way you would a cast iron pan to avoid rust.

As you get your grill ready, make it safe. Move it at least 10 feet away from your home, outdoor structures and any trees or bushes. If you own a gas grill, perform a quick and easy test with soapy water to identify any leaks. Taking the time to get your grill ready before you fire it up gives you a summer of stress-free outdoor cooking.

If you want more inspiration to get your yard ready for summer parties, check out our outdoor articles. We’re always working to keep you in-the-know about the latest outdoor decor trends and hottest summer yard designs. From outdoor entertaining tips to highlights on fun yard additions, we’ve got you covered.

Did we miss any outdoor entertaining tips? Let us know your best tips and tricks in the comments below.

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Just When I Thought I Had Things Under Control…

Sigh… owning a house is great and all, but when there’s a leak in your ceiling? Ugh. Here’s how to prevent and clear a clogged air conditioning drain line.

Going to tell you right now: this story isn’t quite finished yet. I found a temporary solution, but I’m more or less going ahead and posting this so that someone will run up to their attic and immediately take care of this, before you have to deal with a ceiling leak.

Let’s start with what we all know is never a good sign: the dreaded ceiling stain:

I knew it couldn’t be good. I’ll be partnering with a drywall brand later this fall, and while I was at their headquarters earlier this month (recap coming next week), I heard a quote that proved to be way too ominous:

When it comes to owning a house, it’s not a matter of IF you’ll have a moisture issue. It’s WHEN.

Little did I know how true that was about to be. I’ve always said that my house has a sass all its own, and once again, she interrupted my plans. It was as though my house overheard that quote and manifested an example so I could have a story ready to go. I didn’t want to do a tutorial on ceiling stains, but my house is like, “Drywall? Ok, I got you, boo. Check this out!”

But this, of course, isn’t the project I wanted to do this fall — it’s something else that’s way more exciting and cool.

Frig friggity frig-frig — freaking dammit.

Anyway, I saw the leak and at first thought it might be a sweating/condensation issue. It’s been raining practically EVERY DAY this summer and humid beyond belief. So, I figured that turning the A/C up when we went to visit K’s parents the other weekend might have created a problem, similar to how I learned that leaving the door open might freeze up my A/C (as it turns out, your childhood scolding wasn’t just a “bought air” issue). Working on the deck and shed, I’ve certainly noticed how soggy everything in general has been this summer.

Not to panic, I thought. I‘ll just monitor it and let it dry out. If it did, I could just cover over the stain and be done with it and have learned a lesson. I also had one of K’s brother’s visiting overnight at the time, so I was in a frenzy and really couldn’t spend time thinking on it.

(Which is obviously stupid, because ceiling leaks don’t give a damn about your schedule.)

The next day, it started to drip. And I knew immediately it was a bigger problem. So, I grabbed a tarp and a cardboard box and started cutting the ceiling open. I certainly know enough to handle a drywall patch, so it was more of trying to protect ruining the floor more than anything.

To humor myself, I put a neglected plant underneath the drip to give the plant a little water. Lemons —-> lemonade.

After K and I investigated the drip a little more, we had to keep cutting a hole to find the source. I  suspected that the leak might be further away, since the stain was forming right along a drywall seam (which would make it a path-of-least-resistance type thing, where water would seep through a vulnerable spot, even if the drip behind it originates somewhere else). The leak was coming from inside the house a spot closer to the actual wall/joists, near a duct.

It occurred to both of us: if you go straight up from this point, it’s between two walls and directly in line with the air conditioner in the attic. DAMMIT. The more I cut, the more it became a steady flow.

Tip: If the drip is splashing on your floor, drape a towel over the bucket.

After looking through a number of articles online, YouTube videos, speaking to my dad, and more, it seemed the most likely culprit was a clogged AC condensation line.

How to Prevent a Clog in Your Air Conditioner’s Condensate Drain Line

The purpose of an air conditioner’s condensate drain line is kind of in the name: to drain excess water. As the HVAC system does its thing, water is produced, and it needs a drip line to take that water from the HVAC system in the attic or basement and outside the home (you know, where it won’t leak through your ceiling). You can often locate the end of this drip line outside, near your A/C unit.

There’s also often an overflow line and a drip pan underneath the indoor HVAC system, so that in the case that the line gets clogged, it will fill the pan and reach the overflow line and still run out of the house. So, why did I still have this issue?

Unfortunately, this whole setup usually doesn’t get much love until there’s damage. Clogs and blockages form from algae and mold buildup. Metal drip pans can rust through. To prevent this buildup, it’s recommended to use distilled vinegar or bleach and pour it into the line at an access point (there’s usually a valve somewhere along the drain line where you can open it and pour it in). Doing so on a regular basis (a good time is every spring just before turning on the A/C for the first time),  you should have no problem. If you ever hear a gurgling, or bubbling sound behind your wall, this would be a good time to check too.

But get this: even if you hire someone to regularly service your HVAC system each year, this is commonly forgotten to be checked on. So first, you have to know about this to even ask the person if they checked it. Anyone see the problem with that???

How to Clear a Clogged Air Conditioning Drain Line

You Might Need

  • towel and bucket
  • distilled vinegar , bleach, or drain line buildup remover
  • funnel or something with a narrow pouring spout
  • drain snake or a drain line gun


  1. Turn off the A/C power at the thermostat and the breaker.
  2. Locate the drip pan beneath the HVAC system. If it’s got standing water in it, you probably have a clog. Shop vac it out or use a towel to soak up the water. I sincerely doubt you will, but you should also clean the pan with soap while you’re at it.
  3. Go outside and locate the end of the drain opening. Use the shop vac again for a minute or two (put your hand around the valve and end of the shop vac if you want to improve suction, or use some super cheap dollar-store duct tape that never sticks well to anything when you want it to). You might hear debris getting sucked up, but check the shop vac’s contents if you’re not sure. You might also see some really gross sludge fall out of the line.
  4. Locate the access valve (if there is one). It will look like a T-shaped vent with a PVC cover. Using a funnel, small cup with a spout, or similar (I used a watering can with a really narrow mouth), pour a little distilled vinegar or bleach into the line.
  5. Allow it to sit for a little while (go watch an episode on Netflix & come back), then flush with water. Have someone outside on the phone with you when you do this to confirm if the line is now clear.
  6. If the above doesn’t work, you can try snaking the clog, blasting it with a canister of air (my dad does this), or calling a pro (hopefully a guy who will remember to check this for you the next time he services your system).

In my case, not only was my line clogged, but:

  • My drip pan was rusted through in one spot. That’s what was causing it to leak in the house, because water wasn’t catching where it should have been.
  • Even if I had known about this prior, my drain line setup had no valve to pour anything into. While this might still work if you can remove the fitting on the edge of the drain pan, mine was stuck on tight and really awkward to move in its current layout. So, we had to cut the line and reroute the water flow temporarily into the overflow drain line.
  • Drain lines are recommended to be slightly titled at a downward angle to better assist with water flow. Guess what — nope.
  • There are a number of turns in mine, so the clog has been building up slowly for years.

What’s next:

As I mentioned, my tale is not quite over yet, but at least we have the A/C running and I’m confident we’ll be able to get this fixed. We’ll need to clear the clog and reroute the drain line back to normal, add an access valve, and replace the drip pan. We’ll probably also look into installing an overflow sensor in the overflow line, so we can be alerted in case it happens again (yay, technology!).

Oh yeah — and patch the hole in the living room ceiling. I’ll have that tutorial for you sometime in the future.

So, now you know! I hope this info someday helps someone prevent a clog and an expensive repair bill. If it does, please come back here and tell me so I know I prevented damage in the process of earning mine.

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Just When I Thought I Had Things Under Control…


Chip and Joanna’s New Additions to Their Target Line Are Too Cool for School

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It may be summertime, but Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new Modern Farmhouse Office Collection – the latest segment in their Hearth & Hand with Magnolia line for Target – has us lying in wait for the start of the school year. Whether you’re still a student or haven’t been one for a while, you’ll love the signature rustic simplicity that’s evident in every one of the 40 new pieces.

Best of all, everything is under $50. (Those prices will have just about anyone making a Target run.) From the faux-leather file organizer to the sleek, industrial desk lamp, it won’t take long for you to see why it’s time to up your accessories game for your desk or home office.

chip and jonanna

Images courtesy of Target.

As if you needed any more convincing, this collection seems to be one of Joanna’s personal favorites:

“I love [the Modern Farmhouse Office Collection] because it has something for everyone and every workspace,” she told People. “The wooden pencil holder and two-tier paper tray are great for desktop storage, while the pivot world globe and lined chalkboard will add elements of nostalgia and personality to any creative space.”

Ready to see it for yourself?

Check out a selection of the 40 new additions here:

Other items that we haven’t featured include classic-looking notebooks and portfolios, as well as some inspirational and educational wall décor. You can find these new pieces, plus the whole Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection, online or at one of Target’s many nationwide locations.

We love everything about Chip and Joanna’s new collection, but which piece is your personal favorite? Tell us in the comments below.

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21 Ideas for Wild Statement Ceilings

Usually, the ceiling in any space goes fairly unnoticed. Seen as just a way to hide insulation, roofs and attics, ceilings tend to get painted a light color and then left alone. But if you’re looking to create a space that really pops, you might want to consider adding some artistic flair to the ceiling. Wild statement ceilings come in all types, from funky geometric designs to creative colors to three-dimensional creations. Rather than letting the ceiling fade into the background, take a look at the statement ceilings below to find an idea that might just be part of your next room remodel.

Three-dimensional statement ceilings that literally pop

One of the most popular ways to create statement ceilings is to choose three-dimensional designs. Three-dimensional ceilings could be as simple as raised beams around lighting fixtures, with traditional white or cream paint to keep things subtle. However, you also have the option of going wild by incorporating bold colors your design. Either way, these ideas are wonderful ways to add visual interest to a room and customize your living space.

Statement Ceilings 3D Blue

Varying shades of blue add to three-dimensional designs. Image: DGA

Statement Ceilings 3D Lines

Some three-dimensional statement ceilings are a work of art in and of themselves. Image: Ornare

Statement Ceilings Hall 3D

Look closely: This white ceiling has some interesting texture to it. Image: Bolton Chalklin Architects

Statement Ceiling Subtle

Some three-dimensional designs are as subtle as an accent around a lighting fixture. Image: Ferguson

Statement Ceilings White Beams

A bold use of geometric beams adds to this three-dimensional statement ceiling. Image: Studio 6 Architects

Geometric statement ceilings

Another way to get statement ceilings is to seek out geometric designs that draw the eye. Many of these also have a three-dimensional element; however, the dimensions tend to be flatter, and the focus is more on the geometry of the design.

Many geometric designs make use of beams to create an eye-catching pattern. Other designs simply use cleverly placed paneling. Still others use paint, making them a more accessible option if you’re looking to update a space without a significant overhaul in structure and design.

Statement Ceilings Large Circle

This use of beams creates a captivating geometric design. Image: Adam McNee Interior Design LTD.

Statement Ceilings Exposed Rafters

Geometric designs can also come from a more traditional rafter design. Image: South County Post and Beam

Statement Ceilings Toned Panels

Using paneling with different shades creates visual interest in the space. Image: Mimasis Design

Statement Ceilings Concentric Circles

Concentric circles around a light fixture add geometry to the space. Image: Perla Lichi Luxury

Statement Ceilings Green Paint

You can also paint around the ceiling for a geometric design. Image: Olga Adler Interiors

Fun statement ceiling colors

The easiest way to get a statement ceiling is to paint the ceiling a bright color. The color of the ceiling tends to match accent walls or elements in the room décor. In that way, you can use your statement ceiling to create cohesiveness in the room. However, you can also use a statement ceiling as a point of contrast for a space with a bright, artsy flair. Take a look at some of the photos below for bright statement ceiling ideas. (And you can see additional painted ceiling ideas here.)

Statement Ceilings Bright Yellow

Bright yellow pops as an accent on a ceiling. Image: Tara Seawright

Statement Ceilings Hot Pink

This photo shows how well a ceiling can match the décor of the room. Image: Artistic Designs for Living

Statement Ceilings Bright Blue

Accents of color among beams is a clever design. Image: Julians Interiors

Statement Ceilings Colorful

Combing both bold color and geometric design creates attractive contrast. Image: Malcolm Duffin Design

Statement Ceilings Blue Shine

High-gloss paint reflects the light for an added dimension to the design. Image: Town Line Wallpaper and Paint

Artistic statement ceilings

Yet another option for statement ceilings is to go for artistic vistas. These can be geometric patterns, natural flowers, foliage, a skyscape and much more. It’s a great way to bring unique art into the space. And if you get creative enough, the ceiling painting can be part of the room’s larger theme. Some designs even make use of an added light fixture or art element that goes with the painted design. And even if you don’t have an artist’s touch, you can commission someone to do these designs for you.

Statement Ceilings Flowers

A floral and foliage design is a striking addition to a ceiling. Image: LauraU

Statement Ceilings Gold Leaf

Combing a painted design with a matching light fixture is a good way to add cohesion to the room. Image: EG Studio

Statement Ceilings Silver Geometric

You can also use shimmery paint to create an abstract design. Image: In Site Designs

Statement Ceilings Rustic Red

A more abstract design combines well with rustic looks. Image: Ohara Davies-Gaetano

Statement Ceilings Floral Letters

Painted ceilings and written decals or stencils go well together. Image: Virge Temme Architecture  

Statement Ceilings Sky Paint

A sky vista is a classic favorite for artistic ceilings. Image: RLH Studio

No matter which style you choose, statement ceilings are a unique way to add character to any room in your home. Do you have a favorite design? We’d love to hear about it below!

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