Swing into Spring

Warm weather is upon us, and it’s time to take the party outside. From Cinco de Mayo to Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, spring’s signature celebrations deserve a festive and welcoming outdoor space. But what if your patio feels a little plain, a little bare, or a little less-than-inspiring for the party of your dreams?

Dreams can become reality if you have the right plan. And we can prove it. We will show you how to take a winter-worn patio and make it bloom into a versatile foundation for hosting three spring parties, from setting up the perfect base space to perfecting every minor detail, down to the apps and napkins.

With the advice from our design and party experts, and the dramatic before and after photos of our patio designs, you are sure to find the inspiration to transform your patio into a party destination all season long.

Build a Beautiful Base

Before running off to purchase celebration decorations, take the time to build a versatile, functional outdoor living base for your family, whether you are entertaining or not. Most patios need the following basic elements:

  • A table and set of chairs
  • Planters and greenery
  • A source of shade

Of course, don’t forget the grill—the official cooking tool of spring and summer.

Click on the arrows to see the patio transformation:


Spruce up the area

After the dreary winter months, your backyard oasis might look a little rough around the edges. Shrubbery can have dead or uneven growth, and leaves and branches litter the ground. In general, your greenery may need a little TLC. Pay attention to the plants and lawn around your patio by trimming, checking for disease or damage, and fertilizing all greenery. Setting up your lawn and garden for success means that they’ll reward you with beauty all season long.

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Don’t forget the patio itself. Concrete is the most common patio surface, and since it is semi-porous, it can hold general grime as well as stains from plant matter. Use a pressure washer to bring back its sparkle (while you’re at it, extend the cleaning to the exterior of the house as well). Pressure-washing can prolong the life of your surfaces (mold and mildew naturally cause decay), and the results are immediate!

Once the surface is clean, add potted planters filled with seasonal, colorful flowers to help blend the patio with its surrounding environment.

Choose your investment pieces

Plastic Adirondack chairs are great for a casual get together. But when you’re ready to transform your outdoor space into an entertaining area suitable for the whole family, you’ll need comfortable, attractive seating, some shade and a table fit for all the great food coming off the grill.

“The elements are going to take their toll, so it’s important to invest in quality,” says KariAnne Wood, a blogger, lifestyle expert and creator of Thistlewood Farms in Paducah, Kentucky. “Look for pieces that are a good scale for your size patio, and when you invest in furniture, make sure that you get furniture protectors so you can protect it from the elements in the off season.”

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neutral table and chair set is a great base (especially if you add a little texture with a rug below it). From there, says Wood, it’s time to add some shade. Consider an umbrella or pergola: “It extends the life of the patio, and helps define and add purpose to the space.”

Umbrellas come in a huge range of styles, from traditional table-anchored options to bigger, more modern cantilever styles.

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Finally, the easiest way to “fire up” a party is to add a grill to your outdoor setting. By taking the cooking outside, you’ll get to spend time with your guests, keep the house cool in the heat of summer and show off your cooking chops to the neighborhood. Gas and charcoal are both excellent choices, and some grills include both, so you can leave your options open.

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Your base patio is set! Now, building a specific party setting is a snap, which Jacqueline Lawrence of inventivENVIRONMENTS in Charleston, South Carolina, illustrates with the following seasonal soirees.

“I love a challenge like this!” says Lawrence. “It’s really all about creating a plan and then layering the look with texture, color and fabric.”

Party One: Cinco de Mayo

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Cinco de Mayo is rising in popularity as a celebration in the US, but don’t fear that you’re stuck with plastic margarita glasses, a piñata and sombreros. Go beyond cliché to celebrate the vibrancy of Mexico and its rich heritage.

Lawrence explains her elegant approach: “We want something cool and inviting for Cinco de Mayo, so we evoke the colors and textures of the high Mexico desert. Cool sage greens, a woven runner, citrus and succulents provide inspiration, and the last two do double duty on the table-scape: The citrus can be a great beverage garnish, and the potted succulents a thoughtful takeaway gift for the evening’s guests.”

Click on the arrows to see the Cinco de Mayo patio transformation:


Additionally, since Cinco de Mayo is often more of an evening affair, Lawrence also includes a glint of copper to catch the setting rays of the sun, and uses the space under the umbrella as a party “ceiling” from which to hang decorative elements. In this case, copper lanterns accented by a fresh flower garland woven throughout look even better when there’s a soft glow from the lanterns’ candles.

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Our menu highlights the culture of Mexico:

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Party Two: Mother’s Day

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Small details, pale petals, tinkling glass and delicate treats—Mother’s Day is all about making the women in your life feel special, so it makes sense that traditional feminine details lead the way in this design. Seersucker fabric is fresh and full of spring promise, beautiful glassware makes the day sparkle and you can never have enough flowers for Mom.

“The amount of flowers for this scene might feel over the top, but really, it’s very doable!” says Lawrence. “Purchase some potted plants in bloom for the planters, and then layer flowers for the table. Buy simple cut flowers to arrange for a centerpiece, and then add flower heads to each place setting—and even the ice cubes! Different varieties, colors and sizes really provide the illusion of an abundance of petals.”

Click on the arrows to see the Mother’s Day patio transformation:


Below the petal explosion are the fresh stripes of seersucker—Lawrence used the iconic breathable fabric as a runner, complemented by delicate napkins and even more floral motifs on fabric pillows, which creates a luxurious feel and makes the scene one-of-a-kind. Maybe mom always told you to “dot your i’s and cross your t’s”—this design does all that in the details.

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Our garden-inspired Mother’s Day menu features fresh and light fare:

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Party Three: Memorial Day

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For Memorial Day, take your color cue from the American flag to plan a patriotic party. Red, white and blue used in equal proportions create a bold backdrop for a casual cookout.

Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California, uses the patriotic trio to great effect.

“Nothing says ‘all-American’ quite like a decorative grouping of pots and planters full of red geraniums, while vibrant outdoor pillows in hues of red, white and blue set the tone of your celebration,” says Kelly, adding, “Don’t forget the miniature flags!”

Click on the arrows to see the Memorial Day patio transformation:


Lawrence follows this classic advice in setting the scene for our Memorial Day party, including swapping out the chairs’ seat cushions for a motif that fits the celebration. “A few styles of cushions can really extend the life of your furniture and make it feel fresh with a simple change. Why not a bright pop of red for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July?” she asks.

Additionally, Lawrence uses monofilament to hang paper stars and lanterns from the umbrella, extending the color from the table itself into the entire space.

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The table and the grill are the stars of this show, and the table is set to create a buffet style service for the food. A few chairs are moved into a conversation area in the shade, providing easy table access for guests to fill their plates. Although cool desserts will help take minds off the heat, designer Kelly suggests being ready with an assortment of yard games.

“Activities like corn hole, croquet and ping-pong get the whole family involved, while a kid-approved activity like decorating bike baskets or making ice cream sundaes keep their focus on the fun of the long weekend,” suggests Kelly.

Once the food is finished, it’s easy to clear away the serving dishes and transform the table for crafts.

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Our Memorial Day menu takes the standard cookout fare up a notch:

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Starting with a neutral, comfortable base will ensure that your party goes as planned, no matter the occasion. From there, choose an inspiration for the decor and then take a cue from our professional designers by layering elements to make your spring party feel more professional and put together. Now all that’s left to do is celebrate!

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on May 7, 2018 at 5:02 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Spring | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Ambient Lighting Tricks to Warm Up the Whole House

They say setting the mood is like flipping a switch and we couldn’t agree more. Lighting plays a lead role in making your house feel like home. Here are 10 lighting tricks to enhance your home’s aura.

1. Control natural lighting. If you thought only stormy weather could make a breezy beach house look dark and moody, take a second look at the photo above. The lucky homeowner can draw the sheer curtains closed without completely blocking out the sun. They also get a postcard-worthy view of sunrise and sunset every day from their glass doors. The dimmed fixture above casts a warm light in an all-white room while the cloudy landscape photo tones down the views of the beach.

2. Be picky about your paint. Ask a professional about a paint’s light reflectance value (LRV) before you commit to a color. Lighter colors tend to be more reflective than dark shades. Pay attention to sheen level too since glossy finishes are more reflective than matte finishes.

3. Experiment with materials and finishes. When mixed and matched strategically, these seemingly small details can determine the mood of a whole room. This white and grey bathroom would look stark and cold without the brass fixture above. The candles around the tub help warm the room up too.

4. Install a dimmer switch. There’s nothing relaxing about straining your eyes in a room that is too bright or too dark. Use a dimmer in addition to layering your light sources for ultimate light control. Believe it or not, installing a dimmer switch can be a DIY project.

5. Recess your lights. Even if the bulb is not that bright, a central fixture with multiple bulbs and a shiny finish can be overpowering. Recessed lighting conceals the bulbs and therefore can lights feel softer. You could also hide strip lighting underneath cabinets for a nice nightlight on your way to the kitchen or bathroom. Check out this ultra contemporary island that appears to be floating mid-air.

6. Go a different direction. Uplights, like sconces and track lighting, create a soft glow. On the other hand, downlights cast ominous shadows that can really add mystery to a romantic room. Get creative by backlighting wall decor for a play on color and shapes.

7. Take a refresher course in lightbulb basics. The type of bulb is equally important as its fixture. Halogen, fluorescent and LED bulbs have a range of temperatures from warm (or yellow) to cool (or blue) hues. This is a matter of personal preference, but typically yellowish bulbs warm up cool-colored rooms nicely and vice versa. Bluer bulbs also help brighten darker spaces, like basements and windowless bathrooms.

8. Find your favorite shade. Bright colors, playful patterns and funky shapes can bring personality into a stale space. Smoky glass chandeliers intensify intimate vibes in a dining room while big paper lanterns enliven sophisticated home offices. The teal shades on this fixture match the pillows and put an icy sheen on the large dark walnut bookcase.

Note: This ceiling light is reflected in the whimsically shaped mirror that will help spread light further into the room.

9. Try twinkle lights. Not limited to holiday decor, you can use twinkle lights all year round. Drape them over windows for some extra sparkle or fill jars or empty wine bottles with a bundle of battery-operated fairy lights for an illuminated vignette.

10. Open flame. It’s no secret that candles are customary to ambience, but they’re often reserved for after dark. Next time, try starting a fire first thing in the morning and you’ll find that candles are as effective for waking up as they are for winding down. The heat will naturally draw you out of bed and the rising sun will energize you. We’re channeling all the feels from this rustic bedroom. The corner fireplace and candle chandelier are nothing short of mesmerizing.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on February 16, 2018 at 9:04 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: lighting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Create Lasting Holiday Memories

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we can’t think of a better season to make some special holiday memories with your loved ones! Knoxville, Tennessee, offers lots of holiday cheer for residents, and we all look forward to the annual traditions. Here are a few ideas for making holiday memories with your loved ones that will last a lifetime.

Ice Skating, Shopping, and Dining on Market Square

Market Square in Downtown Knoxville has always been a hub of activity, ever since its early days as a market where farmers could bring their produce to sell and trade. These days, it’s a great spot for dining, shopping, and people watching. During the winter holidays, Market Square is transformed with a giant ice-skating rink in the center. The rink, part of Knoxville’s Holidays on Ice festivities, opens November 24 and runs through January 7, 2018.

This is a great spot to create some special holiday memories! Maybe enjoy a little skating to work up an appetite for one of the great local eateries around the square. Or perhaps you’d like to cap off a day of holiday shopping with some ice-skating fun. Many shop windows around downtown Knoxville will be decorated in a peppermint theme as part of the Window Wonderland. There’s plenty to do and something for folks of all ages.

Holiday Lights Auto Tour

Many neighborhoods around Knoxville get all decked out for the holiday season, and this is a great opportunity to create some special holiday memories with your family and friends. Plan an evening for you and your loved ones to hop in the car and cruise around town to see all the outdoor holiday lighting and decorations.

Knoxville’s historic Sequoyah Hills neighborhood is always a great option for those really special decorations on a grand scale. West Hills is another neighborhood to visit for lovely light shows, and don’t forget Founders’ Park in Farragut for a truly magical twinkling light display.

Want to get an even closer look at some of the beautiful lights around the city? Take part in Knoxville’s Tour de Lights event on December 15. Decorate your bike with lights and tinsel and meet at Market Square for a ride through the historic 4th & Gill neighborhood.

Love Your Neighborhood

Another special way to create lasting holiday memories is by showing your neighborhood some love. Deliver baked goods to neighbors and maybe sing a carol or two. Or perhaps you could host a holiday drop-in and invite neighbors over for cookies and cocoa.

This is a wonderful way to get to know the folks in your community and introduce yourself to neighbors you haven’t met yet. It’s also a worthwhile opportunity to just get out of the house and explore the neighborhood as a family.

Give Back to the Community

The holiday season is a great time to give back to those folks in your community who might need a little help. Plus, taking the opportunity to give back as a family is a wonderful way to create some lasting holiday memories. Knoxville has a variety of nonprofit organizations that are always looking for volunteers. Consider volunteering at a local food pantry or maybe buying gifts for a family experiencing financial trouble. You can also help out at a local animal shelter.

These are just a few ideas for this season in Knoxville. Get together with your loved ones and see what you can come up with.

Posted on November 29, 2017 at 10:03 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Celebrate, decorating, family, holidays, real estate | Tagged , , , , , ,