Home improvement activity has been heating up, with 60 percent of homeowners expecting to spend an average of $1,200 on at least one upgrade over the summer. At the top of the list is improving outdoor spaces, followed by bathroom remodels, according to Zillow Digs, an online real estate website that tracks design trends. Here are 10 ideas for backyard and bathroom projects as well as some top-rated products from Consumer Reports that’ll help all your hard work pay off.

FIVE WAYS TO ENJOY YOUR BACKYARD
Younger homeowners and homeowners with children are the most likely to be planning a summer project and many are looking outside. “Homeowners want outdoor spaces that are just as comfortable as their indoor spaces,” says Cynthia Nowak of Zillow Digs. “Specifically, pool and patio spaces are used more for socializing and lounging, rather than recreation.”

Go low-maintenance. A sustainable backyard design can save you work and money. To save on watering costs, choose drought-resistant plants and shrubbery that’s native to your area.

Bring the indoors out. If you have a covered porch, sunroom or other protected outdoor area, furnish it with comfy weatherproof furniture. Some homes even have a place to safely install a television so you can watch movies al fresco.

Make it festive. Bright colors like tangerine, turquoise, hot pinks and corals are becoming more popular. Refresh your old wooden furniture by painting it a fun color—or more than one.

Create an outdoor kitchen. Camp-like elements, such as stone fireplaces and brick barbecues can make a setting seem more natural. Build a brick or slate workspace for your backyard kitchen with a gas grill as the centerpiece.

Decked-out dining. If you’re spending more time outdoors, you’ll want your deck to be in good repair.

FIVE FUN AND FUNCTIONAL BATHROOM UPDATES
bathroom_remodeling_1.jpgBathroom remodels are the second most popular project this summer, according to Zillow Digs. “Because the bathroom is small, folks are giving that room an identity,” says Alan Zielinski, who has 25 years of kitchen and bath design experience and is on the board of directors at the National Kitchen & Bath Association. “That’s opened it up to make it a lot of fun.”

Frame it. With a few inexpensive touches, you can dress up the décor. Install a large vanity mirror and frame it. Get creative by using repurposed wood, installing backsplash tile on the frame or painting it in an accent color.

Get inspired by glass. More homeowners are opting for spa-like showers instead of tubs and doing away with the shower curtain. You can extend the trend to the counter by adding a tempered glass bathroom sink, which held up well to stains, scratches and heat in our sink tests but not to dropped items.

Plan for the future. More consumers are thinking ahead when redesigning the bathroom. Installing attractive yet functional shower grab bars will serve you down the road. As will a “comfort-height” toilet.

Relax with sound. Technology in the bathroom is a growing trend.

Stay neutral. Whites and off-whites remain the top color schemes in bathrooms, especially for cabinetry. You can add a pop of color with bath towels, soap dishes and accent tiles.

http://homes.yahoo.com/news/backyard-bathroom-updates-summers-top-projects-195108785.html

 

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