By Roelf Nel

The New Old – Porch Designs

Whether you’re dreaming of a modest retreat where you can connect with nature or an elaborate space built for serious outdoor entertaining, there’s a verandah to fit your home, lifestyle and budget. Verandah’s can be built in nearly any shape, size, colour or pattern you can imagine. It’s a place where you can seek peace and quiet, have fun with the kids, welcome and chat with neighbours, or have a simple breath of fresh air. It’s truly another extension of family life. Before you start pouring concrete or laying pavers, learn the basics of a well-built verandah, then discover the latest trends in flooring, lighting, furniture and more.

Verandahs don’t have to be constructed of cement or stone. Other building materials include classic wood, natural slate, sandstone, granite, brick, a wood composite and even porcelain.  In addition to traditional pine or cedar floors an increasingly popular choice is ipe, a Brazilian hardwood that is an incredibly strong wood, resistant to insects, rot and mold. Ipe is moderately priced, however, installation can be more expensive than other wood floors, because it’s more time-consuming given the very dense wood, which requires pre-drilling.

Although choices seem endless, concrete is the most common and surprisingly still the most versatile flooring option. Poured concrete can be shaped into just about any pattern and colour. It can be swirled and scored, tinted a subtle or bold colour like red and blue, shaped into patterns or even formed into stone-like shapes.

You may be thinking what about pavers? Interlocking paver stones have been gaining a fan base in recent years. They are four times stronger than concrete and easy to remove and replace should something go wrong underneath the verandah, like a burst pipe, offering a good low maintenance option.

Most people think of a verandah as a strictly outdoor space, perhaps with an umbrella table set up for shade. But you can always add extra protection from the elements with a retractable awning, canopy or going all out by adding a patio sunroom. Depending on your budget and space, your options are virtually endless when it comes to outfitting your patio. You may consider a fireplace, a water fountain or an outdoor bar. Seat walls are currently a functional and artistic trend for verandahs. Look for furniture with cushions that resist moisture and mildew. A lot of chairs, sofas and tables these days have non-rusting aluminum frames that resemble wood and wicker but are much more weather-friendly.

These top five accessories are worth consideration:

  • A large piece of outdoor art, hung above the sitting area.
  • A new outdoor rug to finish off the look of comfortable, stylish living space.
  • Bright outdoor pillows that pop against neutral furniture.
  • Twin urns on either side of the steps, filled with seasonal plantings. Fabulous-looking urns will draw visitors into the space from the outside, and outside to the verandah from the house.
  • Curtains made from outdoor fabric can be drawn to block afternoon sun or pulled back and tied for a homey look.
  • Coloured potted plants add life and creates and enhances your personal space.

When choosing lights for your verandah, think about purpose. Path lights can safely lead the way from a verandah to a driveway, uplights can highlight landscape focal points or architectural features and specialty lights, such as rope lights, torches and lanterns, can add ambiance. Remember, it’s no longer the old style black plastic lights, but the copper lantern with stained glass that’s hanging on a shepherd’s hook instead.

A right combination of lights will make your verandah safe and inviting. Bright standard-voltage lights can ward off possible intruders at night, while low-voltage lights provide a soft glow for entertaining, plus they’re easier on your electric bill. Investing in energy efficient bulbs is another great way to cut down on lighting costs in the long run.

Remember, verandah memories are the kind we keep forever. Have fun in yours.

Visit our Pinterest board and get inspired by what others have created.

By Roelf Nel

Garage Door Design Trends


Today, there are new ways to make a design statement with your garage door that will kick-start your home’s appeal and could even add to its market value. There is only one chance to make a first impression. Homeowners are now using garage doors in a way to set their home apart from others in the street; making it the focal point of the home’s exterior. With this in mind, they are taking this opportunity to design their own garage doors rather than purchasing a standard door.

Taller and wider garage doors have become all the rage now. Homeowners are tending to make larger openings for their garage doors when building or renovating their homes. This gives the owner a larger canvas to work with and allows more space for creativity. It also accommodates larger vehicles, allowing easy access inside and leaving the car top carried items to be left in place.

Light colours, like white and beige garage doors are fading in popularity. Homeowners are becoming bolder with their choice in garage door colours. Consider going brighter, bolder with distinct colours and patterns, to complement the exterior. It gives you an opportunity to express yourself in a way white or beige garage doors just can’t do.

Wood doors add a level of sophistication to a home and offer a timeless, classy appeal. The only issue is wood doors are extremely expensive. As an alternative, homeowners are also turning to fiberglass or steel garage doors. They can get a door that looks like wood for a fraction of the cost. In addition, fiberglass garage doors increase R-values (insulation) and that saves even more money!

Many families are becoming larger and extended families are living together. They need the extra room to accommodate everyone comfortably. For this reason, homeowners are turning their garages into extra bedrooms so everyone has a place to sleep. This means the door needs to be well insulated so the room’s temperature remains controlled. This is why insulated garage doors are trending. They prevent harsh temperatures from getting into the home and air or heat from escaping. This is especially true where the garage shares a nearby wall with a room inside the home. The improved insulation will decrease how hard the owner’s heating and cooling systems have to work to reach a set temperature. What great about this, is that the heat and air will be trapped inside, which means the owner saves money on their monthly bills.

As technology evolves, the demand for smart products does too. This is why smart garage door openers are trending. Homeowners can now open and close their garage door with the use of their tablet or phone. Smart garage door openers provide the owner with peace of mind that they didn’t leave their door open. They are able to close it from anywhere! The best smart home technology is intuitive, saves homeowners money, and contributes to a better quality of life. Look for a product that allows you to monitor and control your garage from any location. Once it’s installed and the free app downloaded, homeowners can receive alerts when the garage door opens or closes.

No matter what the major trends are now, always pick a style of door that will perfectly complement your home. A hot trend this year can be on its way out the next, but a perfect match to your home’s style will remain timeless. Remember, this is the most used door in most homes and should be given the careful respect and consideration it deserves.

Follow our Pinterest Board for more inspiring garage design ideas.

By Roelf Nel

Dining Room Trends

Does your dining room gather dust between holidays and your random dinner parties? Well, it shouldn’t. You spend some of the key moments of your life in your dining room, getting together with your family and friends, celebrating holidays and birthdays. It’s important for this room to be a reflection of your personality and style!

There has been a lot of chatter about how the dining room has been eliminated from new home designs, but that’s just not true. The room still exist; they simply function differently. Many people choose to make it multi-functional — it could be a library and a bar area. It could open to the patio and be more of a party room. Or it could be more open and casual, where it’s a serving space for informal parties. Add in a bookcase or two and you have a library. The point is, it doesn’t vanish from the floor plan. It just becomes something that you’ll actually use.

Here are the latest trends in decorating this versatile space:

  1. Inject new life into your dining room, using fresh and clean colours. The trick to decorating a whole room is to incorporate a lot of texture. This is easy to achieve through the use of wallpaper. Consider grasscloth wall coverings, or even faux leather wallpapers. There are amazing wallpapers around to create this visual effect, ranging from metal to cork. Another place is using a rug underneath the dining set, large framed mirrors on the walls and a crystal chandelier to complete the design. If you want a pop of colour, set the table with bright-coloured plates or use vibrant flowers as a centrepiece.
  2. The key to getting this look is to mix your materials. Start with a rustic table : It could be a farmhouse-style table or maybe one made of reclaimed wood. Oak and walnut wood are among the most popular materials being used currently. Visible wood graining and a thick table top, either in tempered glass or natural stone, will help you get the feeling right. Now look for chairs in a modern material: Metal chairs or plastic chairs would work well. You could even choose chairs in bold colours, with soft cushions and backs. Anchor the space with a traditional area rug with warm tones, like red or orange.
  3. High-contrast dining sets are one of the hottest trends in dining furniture. Making use of a wooden table and neutral upholstered chairs go together beautifully. It’s visually interesting, and automatically makes the whole room feel warm and inviting.
  4. If you’re ready to make a serious style statement, look for a dining table that has unique legs. These could be pedestals, X-shapes, or columns. Generally, when the table legs are this bold, the chairs in the set will be more streamlined, so they don’t detract from the style of the table. Benches can take the place of the side chairs on both sides of the table or just on one side. It gives the room a casual feeling that’s perfect for less formal homes.
  5. Having a separate library is oh so Sherlock Holmes. Behold instead, the library and dining room combo. Walls lined with books make a room feel cozy and intimate. Plus, your dinner guests will know how well read you are. The current trend in design for libraries, asks for sleek lines with well-defined edges with neutral shades. The more space-conscious models has become much more prevalent when it comes to home libraries. They no longer need to occupy an entire room on their own and can fit in pretty much anywhere and connecting, where necessary, two different rooms.

Visit our Pinterest board and see some of the inspiring ideas we discovered on modern dining rooms.

By Roelf Nel

Design Trends for your Backyard

Home is the only place in which we can find the complete comfort that we need, relax our minds and refresh our bodies after working for long hours. Gone are the days when people only ventured into the backyard to water the plants or clean up after the dog. Today, homeowners see their yard as an extension of the inside of their home, and they are increasingly willing to spend money on converting their backyards into comfortable living spaces if it means they can spend more time there. Homeowners, now more than ever, are looking to incorporate indoor elements into their backyard designs. In fact, functional outdoor living spaces have gone from a luxurious comfort to a must-have in today’s homes.

The style now is to turn this space into another charming place which is more appealing and enticing not just for you and your family, but also for your friends and guests who come to visit you. There are simple and inspired design ideas that are presented for the next year to transform backyards into an incredible place that allows you to enjoy your time at your home. Here is a quick glance at some modern outdoor living trends to help you to freshen your backyard.

  1. After working hard or laying out in the sun, it’s best to hit the shower—the outdoor shower, that is! Outdoor showers have been around for years, but this year they’re back in the spotlight for their sheer convenience and accessible luxury. Less maintenance than a pool and more versatile too, the outdoor shower lets you cool down, enjoying the summer sun all the while soaking in the peace and tranquility of your surroundings.
  2. Homeowners have always sought to live in harmony with nature. But whereas the trend used to be toward bringing the outdoors in, many today are doing the opposite, taking the “indoor” comforts onto the deck, porch, or patio. Thanks to advances in all-weather materials, furniture and accessories are now available in so many shapes, sizes, and styles, you can decorate outdoor living spaces in much the same way that you would any room in the home.
  3. To officially kick off outdoor entertaining season, update your outdoor space with a fire pit. The right fire pit can serve not only as a potential focal point for your outdoor space, but it also creates a warm, cozy ambiance, adds lights, provides an adequate cooking source, or even a be just the right spot for a romantic dinner.
  4. Having a simple grill in the yard is soooo last year. Full-blown kitchens with a grill built-in as well as spaces for prep, seating, and keeping drinks cold comprise today’s must-have space. Estate agents agree that people don’t build homes without summer kitchens anymore. Built-in braai grills, refrigerators, even icemakers. Perhaps even an outdoor pizza ovens – not a feature everyone will want, but in line with the trend of personalising outdoor spaces to meet individual lifestyle needs.

Visit our Pinterest Board and get inspired by some of the awesome ideas we have discovered.  How will you convert your backyard into a luxurious space and enjoy the summer evenings?

The New Old – Porch Designs
Garage Door Design Trends
Dining Room Trends
Design Trends for your Backyard