Milwaukee/NARI Offers Tips and Trends for Staycation Ready Homes – Part 2

May 7, 2013


Pergolas, Arbors, and Gazebos
Pergolas and arbors are easy, less costly additions that can add to a backyard’s sophistication and ambiance. Pergolas can be featured over a seating area or patio, or stand on their own to add shade and a unique design feature to a landscape. “A pergola allows you to control the amount of sun screening by means of vegetation or fabric. They are a great fit for a limited budget, simple to build, and can be of almost any size. With its more open nature, it is easier to transition between covered and uncovered spaces. It also can be larger and closer to, or even attached to, the house for coverage right out your door,” said Sebastian.

Arbors are perfect for highlighting areas of your lawn and adding some character to the space you have. They act as great entry and exit ways to patios, gardens, and walking paths. Adding a bench beneath the arch creates an outdoor reading nook or unwinding spot.

A gazebo's design and beauty alone gives a lawn added intrigue and appeal, and their shade and interior options offer a fun place to hang out and relax. “Gazebos typically have solid roofs and open or screened sides with an octagon shape that creates a very defined space. They are great for a dining space or small sitting area,” said Sebastian.

Outdoor Living Areas
A well-designed outdoor living area can attract guests to the home, highlight recreational preferences, and make entertaining a breeze. “An attractive, functional outdoor living space can be the perfect retreat for relaxing after work, regrouping with family, or entertaining friends,” said Ken DePratt of KD Poolscapes in Franksville.

An outdoor living area can be simple with one main focus, or have several different sections with as many features as desired. “Many of the smaller projects to enhance backyards are centered on barbeque islands, shade structures, fire features, and anything that is a natural gathering space. Any of these features can be an addition to an existing outdoor entertainment area or part of a larger project and add additional interest,” offered Dave Thompson of Swimming Pool Services in Waukesha.

Outdoor living areas can greatly contribute to family time together, especially for staycations and kids’ summer vacations. Having a backyard filled with welcoming areas is likely to draw more guests in and get kids more eager to stick around home.

A custom deck or patio with plenty of seating and covered areas is a strong investment and a great summer fun hang out spot. Adding an outdoor kitchen makes your patio or deck extra equipped for warm weather celebrations. “An outdoor kitchen can form the focus of the perfect staycation, allowing the most popular room in the house to move outside where the fun keeps homeowners and guests together. Modern outdoor kitchens feature specially constructed appliances such as refrigerators, ice makers, and even dishwashers built to withstand the elements,” added Sebastian. Many patios and decks now feature outdoor fireplaces with stone seating areas for added ambience during summer night get-togethers.

Water Features
The ultimate way to bring the feeling of a resort to a staycation destination is incorporating water. “How many times have you gone on vacation and had the ‘experience’ of water multiply the good times by ten? It blends worlds between exercise and leisure. It brings family and friends together,” said DePratt. Possibilities include everything from above ground pools and sprinklers to inground pools and spas.

New to residential clients and quickly rising in popularity, splash pads are perfect for families with a limited budget and space, according to Thompson. “These have become very popular in cities to allow kids to cool off and have fun, and now they are an element that can be added to any backyard area,” he said. A great addition to any backyard on their own, they can also be built to be multi-functional. “It’s common for homeowners to have them created as multiuse spaces—like a patio that is transformable into a kids entertainment area by removing the furniture and starting the pump,” said Thompson, explaining that splash pads take up very little space and contribute tons of fun at lower cost than larger projects.

When designing an R&R retreat, adding a pool, hot tub, or spa is a safe bet. Whether inground or above ground, large or small, they are all a relaxing and fun way to spend any staycation. Custom pool and spa design, lighting features, slides, waterfalls, and other bonus features are all becoming very popular with those choosing to add water elements to their property.

“One element that is gaining in popularity the last several years are fire and water features such as fire bowls. These features have a water feature that overflows into a pool, spa, or hidden reservoir. Fire is soothing, and in addition to providing light, these features also add calming and tranquil sounds to the equation,” said Thompson.

Surrounding the pool with outdoor living areas, or “poolscapes,” is also a current trend in staycation creation. Poolscapes combine water features and entertainment areas into one cohesive backyard paradise. For outdoor staycations, this is the ultimate in entertaining. Although usually more costly, these large projects pay off by significantly raising property value and utilizing the land to its full potential. “What many have termed as a ‘staycation,’ we have been calling a ‘poolscape’ for 28 years,” said DePratt. “Poolscapes take the benefits people most enjoy on vacation, and put them right out their backdoor. Our poolscapes include spas, custom pools, fire pits, bar and grill areas, pergolas, putting greens, and the list goes on.”

For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI's Remodeling Guide,” call 414- 771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at

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