by Kathleen Reynolds
The saying is “Home Sweet Home; but have you been stuck inside all year and tired of the same four walls? Last spring, we didn’t know how long we’d have to shelter due to the pandemic. This year there’s an end in sight; spring is here, summer’s around the corner and we want to head outside.
There’s fresh air and sun. Maybe too much sun.
We’ll have barbeques on the patio. The beat-up grill has seen better days.
Let’s sit around at night and look at the stars. It can get a bit nippy in the evening.
If it’s time to spruce up your backyards and patios, Napa has qualified professionals to help you do just that and here are a few tips.
Hide your messy garbage and recycle bins in sheds, behind lattice or privacy screens. If decks or concrete patios are faded, chipped or rough, try staining the deck or using concrete floor paint to cover unsightly surfaces. Buy from a reputable dealer and understand the instructions prior to leaving the store.
To block the sun, awnings and patio covers no longer look like the ones at Aunt Mabel’s mobile home park. They have become sophisticated.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest in patio covers since the pandemic,” says Holly Holman of Morgan’s Outdoor Living. “We have enclosures with louvers, free standing structures people use over swimming pools or to shade their plants. We also construct sunrooms.”
“We’re doing a lot of homes in the Silverado area where they’re rebuilding from the fires,” Holly says. “Most of them are using aluminum shades because they’re fire resistant.”
Besides residential work, Morgan’s work has been embraced by wineries such as Mumm, Harlan Estates and others.
“We’ve installed enclosures with louvers that close when it senses rain to protect the furniture,” says Holly. “We also have motorized retractable covers.”
Holly says they have patio covers for all sizes, shapes and materials that any homeowner would want.
Outdoor lighting is a must. There are super-simple solar lights, string lights or even twinkle lights to make your backyard glitter. Hardware and big box stores have them in plentiful supply. For fun, check out the light-up flowers and palm trees available online.
Other popular outdoor features are hot tubs and pools.
“Our business has been booming for the past year,” says Mimi Gish, manager of Napa Valley Hot Tubs. “Our most popular hot tub is the six-seater. We also have tubs for two, four or higher.”
Mimi says that hot tubs have come a long was in the last few years. “Per California code, all of them are fully foam insulted and have to be Energy Star compliant.”
The majority need 220V outlets and Mimi explains to be therapeutic, the extra power is best for the jets.
“I’d say the majority of our customers want hot tubs for chronic pain, have a bad back or arthritis,” explains Mimi. “Also, people with Airbnb or VRBO homes for rent find more than a 30-40% uptick in the number of rentals if they have a hot tub.”
If you’d rather cool off, Napa Valley Hot Tubs has above-ground splash pools and TidalFit exercise pools. There are models that have the exercise pool at one end and the spa feature on the other. Exercise pools and spas are easier than ever to maintain, too.
They also carry Green Mountain Grills or the Big Green Egg if your outdoor cooking needs a boost or to step up your outdoor kitchen a notch.
Patio furniture may be the first thing you think of when refreshing your outdoor living space. There are dozens of new styles in local discount stores and online. Teak and dark wood pieces come in coordinating sets. Hammocks, poly resin chairs and deck boxes are affordable options.
Many outdoor furniture pieces can be refinished with a bit of elbow grease and spray paint. Again, ask for the paint that’s right for your surface: metal, plastic or wicker.
For chilly nights, patio heaters are back in stock at local retailers. During the height of the pandemic, you may recall there was a shortage of these warm dynamos as restaurants scrambled to serve outside. Outdoor heaters come in many sizes and price ranges.
For outdoor warmth, fire pits are popular, too. There are DIY instructions on the Internet to build your own out of bricks or pavers. For a finished look, many stores carry premade metal fire pits.
For the ultimate in cozy night entertaining, nothing beats the ambiance of an outdoor fireplace.
Made from stone, steel or even glass, backyard fireplaces extend your time outdoors. To determine the best one for you, consider the size of the space and the number of people you want to heat.
“Most people looking to install an outdoor fireplace are going with gas, rather than wood,” says Patty Perez, owner of Napa Valley Hearth. “In the last five years, the popularity of outdoor fireplaces is growing.”
She suggests checking various fireplace manufacturers’ websites to see the variety available and decide what you want.
“There are wonderful websites now. Having that knowledge helps us determine the best fit for you when you come into the store.”
So, get going—to grilling, warming or just chillin’—to the outdoors.