Ideas to make the most of outdoor living

This is the time of year when we practically live outdoors. We’ve got more vacation time and more daylight hours after work. That not only means more hikes and beach days, it also means more time on our decks, balconies and patios. The views may not be as inspiring, but there are no traffic or parking hassles, either.

Here are some fun ways to enhance your outdoor living space this season.

Stone yard — Zamora Fire Bowl

When the evenings start cooling off after the summer heat waves we’ve been enduring this year, it’s delightful to enjoy our outdoor spaces with a lovely fire. One modern way to do that is with a fire bowl. And since fire features can really enhance the value of your home, it makes sense to add it stylishly if you’re going to make the investment.

Stone Yard has been crafting custom pieces for San Diegans and others through a national showroom network since 1985. Fire bowls are a hot commodity lately, adding contemporary and compact style to the fire feature category. Stone Yard’s are made from a lightweight but durable composite with fuel, media (glass or stone), and starter options.

Available at: custom made through Patio Cushion Design Center

Pricing: starting at $2,200

Websites: Stoneyardinc.com and Patiocushiondesign.com

True Residential — Beverage Dispenser

San Diego is a tremendous craft brew town, and there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your favorite IPA, lager or stout outdoors at home. It’s one of the summer’s great pleasures, especially when paired with the perfect burger from your grill. Now you can dispense beer like a pro with a beer tap appliance rated for outdoor use. If your significant other loves one style and you prefer another, a double tap might be your answer to relationship bliss, at least on the beverage front.

Available at: Barbecues Galore and Expressions Home Gallery in San Diego

Pricing: $3,700 for 15-inch single-tap dispenser; $3,900 for 24-inch single tap; $4,400 for 24-inch dual tap

Website: true-residential.com

Ooni — Uuni 3 Pizza Oven

You know what else pairs deliciously with an IPA? Homemade pizza! And you don’t need thousands of dollars to make this treat in a wood-fired pizza oven at home either. Ooni (formerly Uuni) has made a version that is both compact and affordable. It’s also fast — baking a 13-inch pizza in 60 seconds. That’s just enough time to pour two cold ones to enjoy with your slices.

Available at: local Ace Hardware stores, online at Amazon, Williams-Sonoma and Ooni.com

Pricing: $299

Grand Trunk — Ultra Light Starter Hammock

A hammock is perfect for outdoor relaxation, especially if you have a shady spot in which to enjoy its gentle sway. It can be mounted between trees or on a stand. This 12-ounce version comes with its own carrying case if you want to take it on a camping trip. And it’s affordable enough to buy one for each member of your household.

Available at: multiple local retailers shown on website’s store locator, Grandtrunk.com

Pricing: $29.95

Grandin Road — Pretty in Pink Outdoor Pillow Collection

Imperial Beach residents and visitors have been enjoying a rare visitor this year. “Floyd the Flamingo” was first spotted in February by a stunned local birder and quickly named by the community. These Floridian shore birds, made famous by plastic lawn ornaments, are not usually seen here in the wild. No one is sure how Floyd found his way to our area, unless he’s a zoo escapee. Since his arrival, though, he’s stuck around and inspired enthusiastic online sighting posts. If you want to celebrate the serendipity of a kitsch symbol of ’50s Floridiana showing up in the neighborhood, consider this delightful pillow collection for your outdoor furniture (or hammock). You may not spot Floyd on your next Strand ride, but you can spot his likeness in your backyard every day.

Available: online at Grandinroad.com

Pricing: $39

Philips — Hue Personal Wireless Lighting

Lighting also helps extend your outdoor living hours, and Philips makes it easy with wireless outdoor lighting. You can control it from your smart phone or tablet to create the ambiance you want. You can even sync it with your favorite tunes for a party. Outdoor lighting not only makes enjoying your space easier, it also enhances the style and security of your home.

Available at: local Best Buy and Home Depot stores; online at MeetHue.com

Pricing: from $99.99 for the Hue White starter kit to $279.99 for a Lily spotlight base pack.

Windowbox.com — Bungalow Birdhouse

Outdoor living is about nature as much as it is about family, friends and fun. One way to share the natural world with your children — and enjoy it for yourself — is with a birdhouse from Carlsbad-based Windowbox.com. Your little ones can watch local songbirds make a home in your yard. The twig, grass and moss construction of these birdhouses are the preferred building materials for these feathered natives, so you and your family will get to enjoy their families up close.

Available: online at Windowbox.com

Pricing: $29.85

Last words

Outdoor living is one of the great pleasures of living in San Diego, but it’s not without its risks. Be sure to hydrate yourself, your kids and your pets when spending long hours in the sun. Keep your skin protected with sun block, and check for ticks after you’ve been outside. A little bit of preventive care goes a long way toward ensuring maximum summer fun!

Gold is a San Diego-based, independent kitchen and bath designer and the author of “New Kitchen Ideas That Work” and the “New Bathroom Idea Book.” Her website is jgkitchens.com.

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