Outdoor living made easy with home improvements that boost comfort and value

Beautiful weather begs to be enjoyed, but a drab deck, dated patio and dull lighting can drive homeowners indoors fast. A few home improvements can ensure seasons full of outdoor comfort, all while enhancing your house’s value and exterior aesthetic.Outdoor home improvements extend livable space so homeowners can relax solo or entertain guests with Mother Nature as the backdrop. 

Consider these home improvement tips to give your favorite outdoor spaces a facelift.

Refresh or add a deck
A deck is a great way to add more living space to your home. If you do not currently have a deck, consider adding one. Whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor, a deck addition offers an impressive return on investment. Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report states a wood deck addition recoups 87.4 percent of its cost, while a composite deck addition has a 74.3 percent recouped cost.Of course, if you already have a deck, there’s typically no need to demo – you can just give it a refresh. Add a fresh coat of stain if you have a wood deck and rails, or give a composite deck a thorough cleaning with a hose or power sprayer. If your wood rails are in good condition, give them a fresh look by replacing the wood balusters with aluminum or glass balusters.Next, consider lighting enhancements. If you have a deck with stairs, recessed lights are easy to install in risers and they add an element of safety, too. Solar accent lights secured to posts create subtle illumination that adds elegance and ambience. New post caps are a simple way to boost railing style, and stunning solar caps are guaranteed to complement any exterior design.Finally, if you crave a garden but don’t have the additional space or time for a full-size plot, your deck can serve as a simple solution. Install planter boxes on your deck rails and select a few favorite vegetables or herbs. Another trending option is to create a wall garden with small plants hung independently or on small shelves at different levels. Whatever you choose, you’ll have fresh fare just steps from your kitchen.

Renovate the patio area
If your home has a concrete patio in addition to or in place of a deck, start by applying a coat of concrete stain to give the space new life. Concrete stain is affordable and readily available at home improvement stores. This DIY weekend project will have dramatic visual results.Next, dress up the patio with new furniture. Comfort is key whether you’re relaxing after a long week of work or hosting a neighborhood barbecue with slews of guests. If you have existing furniture that is still in good shape, you can refresh the style with a fresh coat of outdoor paint and new cushions.Enhance your patio facelift by adding solar lighting along pathways. Not only does this illuminate the night for safe and easy access, it adds a soft glow that beautifies the yard. Add even more drama by highlighting landscape features of note – such as fountains, flowerbeds and statues – with hardscape lighting.One outdoor living trend that continues to gain interest is the addition of pergolas to outdoor spaces. Typically installed on patios and low-level decks, pergolas provide a gorgeous focal point that adds a touch of shade in sunny places. Dress up a plain pergola with vine plants that grow upward throughout the season to provide additional levels of shade.

Express your style
No matter what outdoor home improvements you plan to make this year, embrace your own style. Especially when entertaining, you want your spaces to express who you are.