The Year That Changed Outdoor Living Forever

For the past year-plus, the outdoors has been our saving grace. It’s where we went to find peace in the uncertainty of our “new normal”; where restaurants turned to survive, ushering patrons around heat lamps and into personal igloos; where weary front…

For the past year-plus, the outdoors has been our saving grace. It’s where we went to find peace in the uncertainty of our “new normal”; where restaurants turned to survive, ushering patrons around heat lamps and into personal igloos; where weary frontline workers found respite from overwhelmed schools and hospitals. With that embracing of it as a safe haven has come a newfound respect for it, a reinvigorated valuing of the five yards or five acres we call our backyards.

“The pandemic undoubtedly surfaced an appreciation for our yards like we’ve never seen before,” says Allison Messner, CEO and co-founder of Yardzen, an online landscape design service that provides clients with virtual renderings of their dream outdoor space, then connects them with the local pros that can make it happen. “Our yards have become the space to do essentially everything we also do inside—dine, cook, entertain, work, play, and relax.”

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12 Ideas to Upgrade Your Outdoor Space, Sustainably

There is no better feeling than breaking out your outdoor decor for the season. You know the day: the weather has finally hit 60 degrees and you can’t wait to blissfully sit out on your porch (slash deck, slash apartment terrace) and finally finally fe…

There is no better feeling than breaking out your outdoor decor for the season. You know the day: the weather has finally hit 60 degrees and you can’t wait to blissfully sit out on your porch (slash deck, slash apartment terrace) and finally finally feel the sun warm your face again (with SPF 45 on, of course). Whether you have just enough room for a bistro table and chairs or a whole outdoor living room to play around with, our fresh-air spaces quickly become sanctuaries for the next several months.

My partner and I have been in the market for some new outdoor decor now that we own a home and finally have a backyard of our own to deck out. And, while there are so many beautiful options out there, the "consume, consume, consume" mindset that comes with buying (and decorating) a new home can often feel like… a lot. To help ease our environmental footprint a bit, we decided to approach shopping for our very own oasis from an eco-conscious mindset, and look to items that were sustainably made to outfit our outdoor space.

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What Restoring an Old Home Can Teach You About Life

Late last year, my husband and I bought an 1826 colonial in the Hudson Valley. As a first-time home owner, the learning curve was steep—there was plenty to be grasped about things like mortgage rates and down payments, real estate trends, and property …

Late last year, my husband and I bought an 1826 colonial in the Hudson Valley. As a first-time home owner, the learning curve was steep—there was plenty to be grasped about things like mortgage rates and down payments, real estate trends, and property investments. Ever the students, my partner and I threw ourselves into mastering anything we thought could come our way after owning the home, too—how to spot water damage, the best method for heating an old house, how to reinforce a rickety stairwell—the list truly went on and on.

I thought my degree in home ownership would be tangible and actionable, a suitcase packed with knowledge about how to renovate and then care for something that we gleefully sunk our savings into. Little did I realize though, that buying an old home came with a slew of less tangible—and perhaps, more important—life lessons, too.

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17 Essential Gardening Tools the Pros Swear By

Mastering a new hobby is no easy feat, especially if you’re a serial hobbyist like myself—I try and fail like a pro, let me tell you. In the past year, I’ve tested my hand at needlepoint, sewing, calligraphy, cheese making and baking. Granted, we have …

Mastering a new hobby is no easy feat, especially if you’re a serial hobbyist like myself—I try and fail like a pro, let me tell you. In the past year, I’ve tested my hand at needlepoint, sewing, calligraphy, cheese making and baking. Granted, we have been through a pandemic, so you can’t blame a girl for trying to fill her time. Still, attempting to be a renaissance woman (or man) can be time consuming, discouraging, and expensive.

Which is why I’m here to hold myself accountable in front of the entire internet and say this: I am moving on to gardening. And guys, I think this one is for keeps. I’ve been picking up some basics (like these much-loved garden snips, and this organizer for our garage), perfecting my soil blend and starting my seeds ahead of transplanting in a few weeks. The only thing left on my green thumb to-do list? Getting all the right gear.

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Who Says You Can’t Decorate a Ceiling? Ideas This Way.

It took a trip to Italy (remember travel? Sigh.) to get me into the habit of looking up upon entering a room. Nearly everywhere I went, there was beauty on the ceilings of grand cathedrals and humble, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, alike. From dynamic t…

It took a trip to Italy (remember travel? Sigh.) to get me into the habit of looking up upon entering a room. Nearly everywhere I went, there was beauty on the ceilings of grand cathedrals and humble, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, alike. From dynamic textured stucco to ornate pastel murals, walking around with my neck craned was a big part of my experience of soaking up Italy’s well-worn beauty.

Upon returning home, I quickly noticed that buildings here, especially residential ones, didn’t draw my gaze upwards as much. While it is certainly possible to find historical homes that boast original tin ceilings or rustic farmhouse beams, more often than not, ceilings are forgotten features of home design—only discussed if they need to be made to feel taller or less… popcorn-y?

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The Definitive Guide to Owning a Clawfoot Bathtub

Everyone has an idea of what their dream house will look like. Maybe it includes a terraced garden or acres of untamed forest; perhaps it comes with charming wooden shutters or a sleek, modern metal staircase; or that it’s just a cozy 700-square-foot c…

Everyone has an idea of what their dream house will look like. Maybe it includes a terraced garden or acres of untamed forest; perhaps it comes with charming wooden shutters or a sleek, modern metal staircase; or that it's just a cozy 700-square-foot city-center apartment. For me, every version of my dream home—from my days playing MASH on the playground, to using the Sims 2 design layouts I found on the internet, to house-hunting as an adult—all included one thing: a clawfoot tub.

To me, a clawfoot bathtub epitomized the peak of decadence—a romanticized fever dream where adulthood and self-care and luxury (not to mention copious amounts of free time) collided in an aspirational-yet-attainable ideal—all represented in one little cast iron fixture. The idea of owning a home that boasted a clawfoot tub came with promises of fluffy bubble baths accompanied by wine, and lazy afternoons reading a book. It represented all that I thought homeownership would be: satisfying, comfortable, and uncomplicated.

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How to Stain Your Deck (Just in Time For Spring!)

Purchasing a home comes with a myriad of to-dos, some more urgent than others. Since moving into our house, we’ve done everything from stain the floors and rewire the outlets, to rehab the staircase and replace the countertops. Because we moved during …

Purchasing a home comes with a myriad of to-dos, some more urgent than others. Since moving into our house, we’ve done everything from stain the floors and rewire the outlets, to rehab the staircase and replace the countertops. Because we moved during winter, our work has largely been concentrated indoors, but all it took was one nearly 50 degree day recently to switch all of that focus and attention to our backyard space. First on the list out there? Staining our (well-worn, well-loved) deck.

I would classify myself as someone who is pretty DIY savvy and willing to figure out how to do just about anything myself, so the idea of staining the deck in our sunroom ourselves really doesn’t scare me away. It helps that I’ve “been there, done that” a bit too—the deck at my house growing up was a bit of a problem child, and I helped my father tend to it (I’m serious, it was very delicate and picky) nearly every summer. One of the biggest lessons I learned when it comes to staining a deck is—like with almost every home project you do—it’s all about the prep work. Nail that, and you pretty much can’t mess up the rest of the process, resulting in a richly-stained deck that levels up the beauty of your outdoor space and will last you for years to come. Looking to tackle staining your own deck? Follow these easy steps and you’ll be on your way to hosting outdoor BBQ’s in no time.

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Cottagecore Is Here to Stay—Bring it Home With These Decor Essentials

Spend just five minutes on Instagram or Tiktok (or really, browsing any design site you love) and you’ll probably realize that cottagecore, the semi-new social media trend du jour, isn’t going anywhere. I mean, when Taylor Swift writes not one but two …

Spend just five minutes on Instagram or Tiktok (or really, browsing any design site you love) and you’ll probably realize that cottagecore, the semi-new social media trend du jour, isn’t going anywhere. I mean, when Taylor Swift writes not one but two albums that are pretty much singularly evocative of the vibe, you know it has staying power. And while sure, some examples of cottagecore can veer towards crunchy for some, there's a lot to love about this easygoing, comfortable design trend.

At its essence, cottagecore style is all about casual liveability. Like farmhouse decor before it, you can expect to see an emphasis on simplicity and ease, with nods to the slow pace and uncomplicated aesthetic only country living can bring. To me, it feels like the kind of room you walk into and feel immediately welcomed by, where you can take a load off and stay a while (preferably with a soul-warming cup of coffee in hand).

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How Buying a Home Taught Me To ‘Fight Right’ With My Partner

Buying a home, in my opinion, is one of the most emotionally-charged domestic tasks you can take on with your partner, second only to grocery shopping while you’re both hungry. Add in a pandemic and burgeoning real estate market (in practically every t…

Buying a home, in my opinion, is one of the most emotionally-charged domestic tasks you can take on with your partner, second only to grocery shopping while you’re both hungry. Add in a pandemic and burgeoning real estate market (in practically every town in the country) and, well, you’ve got yourselves a recipe for disaster.

Like with so many other people, the pandemic pushed up the timeline my husband and I had carefully constructed for when we’d leave our beloved apartment in Astoria, Queens. We’d both grown up in the suburbs and knew we’d want to make the move out to the Hudson Valley eventually, but the onset of COVID-19 sped up our timeline. We suddenly found ourselves both working from home, with a newborn, in a very expensive city that we loved but didn’t have to live in if neither of us was commuting to Manhattan any longer. Plus—and it needs to be said—no matter how much you love your spouse, spending 24/7 with them in a 400-square-foot apartment where they’re constantly in your sightline is...less than ideal.

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5 Totally Doable Decor Swaps to Refresh Your Home

The advent of a new year often brings with it a desire—even enthusiasm—for a necessary refresh. While I think we can all acknowledge that it’s just a date on the calendar and improvement can come in many forms and during many months of the year, I can’…

The advent of a new year often brings with it a desire—even enthusiasm—for a necessary refresh. While I think we can all acknowledge that it’s just a date on the calendar and improvement can come in many forms and during many months of the year, I can’t help but also be drawn to the idea of a refresh for 2021.

Like many people, I’m skipping resolutions this year (can we all agree to just not put that on ourselves?), but I am game for a few easy-to-pull-off ideas to help make my home feel fresh and new—all without a lot of time or money.

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