Category: outdoor living

Plunge Pools

Don’t cancel summer!

Just because most of 2020 was canceled doesn’t mean that lazy days spent at home have to be too. With vacations off the calendar this summer use that time to make your back yard a retreat. Creating an affordable water oasis is within reach with these brilliant ideas.

Stock Tank Pool

During the dog days of summer, having a pool is top of the must have list. There has been a run on above ground pools and installing an in ground version may be financially out of reach. You don’t need to resort to a plastic kiddie tub for your cooling fix though. Stock tanks have become a popular and inexpensive way to incorporate a soaking area in your yard.

Stock Tank Pool Authority

Plunge Pool

Regular-size swimming pools may dominate a smaller sized lot making a plunge pool ideal when space is at a premium. These pared down pools still follow the code requirements as their larger counterparts and much of the equipment is the same. Costs would be dependent on the finishes and ease of excavation.

Aqua Blue Pools

Inflatable Pool

An inflatable pool can be ready for water in fifteen minutes and is just a click away. Having a built in filter is critical as this keeps the water fresh for weeks though you may need to top off the water level due to evaporation once it’s filled. Best of all once summer is over it can be stored away until next year.


Man Made Pond

Unlike a traditional, chlorine-filled swimming pool, a natural pool is designed to mimic an old fashioned swimming hole. Natural swimming pools are filtered organically with a gravel filter or a plants that clean the water. While not an inexpensive option, a bio pool would blend into yard’s landscape adding value by giving your home a water view.

The Swimming Pond Company

Mr. H says: Every summer has a story-Enjoy!


Let’s Escape-Vacation eye candy

While the entire world feels on edge, let’s dream of the places we want to escape to when it is safe to do so. When you want break from it all check out these incredible vacation homes that inspire relaxation and rejuvenation.

Spain-A spacious and elegant home in Aloha, in the heart of Nueva Andalucía. Surrounded by a lush, tropical private garden this villa has a large salt water swimming pool and lovely covered chill-out area.

Aloha Spain vacation rental

Italy-A restored home built in the tradition of the ancient Roman Villas in this part of Tuscany it is nestled between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea. From the beautiful veranda overlooking the garden, you can see the Island of Elba, the Gorgona and the reliefs of Corsica.

Tuscan vacation villa
Barnes International

France-Locted in Mougins, this sumptuous new contemporary villa is just 15 minutes away from Cannes and 5 minutes from the Old Village of Mougins and its restaurants. The landscaped and intimate garden has a heated pool and a pool house.

Mougins France vacation rental
Michaël Zingraf Real Estate

Costa Rica-Casa Teresa is a new ocean front luxury villa located on the white-sand beach of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Located on the beachfront, the house is walking distance to the restaurants and bars of town.

Santa Teresa Costa Rica vacation rental
2 Costa Rica Real Estate

North Carolina-A little closer to home, this Lake Norman rental property is reminiscent of the traditional lake vacation. Tucked away in a private setting, endless lake views create the ideal ambiance to unplug and relax. Bonus: it is only three hours by car from Charleston!

Lake Norman vacation rental
Stay Lake Norman

Mr. H says: A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking-Enjoy!

Open floor plan design

Must have valuable home upgrades

Are you thinking of making some changes to your home to elevate it’s livability and value? Modern amenities that focus on functional luxury are key to making a home more user friendly. How much you spend on these upgrades a determined by the options and choices you make so having a plan and a budget in place before you step into the first showroom is a must.

An Open Floorplan

Even though this lifestyle movement has been around for decades, there is still immense value in an open floor plan. By connecting kitchen and living spaces, open plans create spacious and informal interiors for homeowners of all ages. Taking down a wall or reconfiguring some rooms should be done by a pro since beams or supports may need to be incorporated into your design so that the second floor does not come crashing down.

Open floor plan design

An Updated Kitchen

Every realtor will tell you that this is a home investment worth every penny. The kitchen is the heart of every home and the spot where you will spend a lot time. Give special attention to cabinets and appliances since no kitchen can be overly well equipped. A well designed, organized kitchen is the key to creating a home you love and will interest future buyers. Open layouts, center islands, and pull out pantry storage are must haves in every kitchen.


Spa Baths

With today’s busy lifestyles, we all want a space to relax and unwind in our homes. Large showers, good lighting, storage, and smart toilets are features that homeowners have on their wish list. Adding accessibility features to your bathroom can add a lot of value to your home and can make life easier should you choose to age in place. Upgrades to consider, curbless showers, grab bars and wheelchair height light switches and outlets.


Easy Tech

Technology dominates every aspect lives. Smart equipment has become more accessible and affordable.  User friendly, tech conveniences such as security systems, temperature settings and lighting controls can make your home more attractive to potential buyers in the future.


Outdoor Spaces

Finished outdoor spaces that feel like an interior room with comfortable seating, thoughtful landscaping and lighting, fire pits and outdoor cooking areas are a worthy home investment. Finished outdoor areas expand the living area of your home and depending on your approach can be utilized year round.


Mr. H says: Home should be your happy place-Enjoy!

8 Easy Design Tips for Fall

Bring that Fall feeling inside by adding cozy autumnal touches around your house with these festive and easy decor ideas.

Front porch greetings

Greet family and friends with a Fall themed wreath or porch vignette. Incorporate natural dried materials, gourds, and seasonal flowers into your display for a delightful seasonal welcome.

Fall wreath ideas
Creekside Farms

Faux Fur Pillows

Swapping out lightweight summer throw pillows to more textural ones like faux fur, velvet or chunky knits in darker jewel tones is an easy Fall upgrade.

Faux fur pillows
Grandin Road

Bring the Outside In

Add natural textures to your decor by mixing twigs, hay and gourds with pewter and mercury glass for an elegant Fall theme.

Natural fall decorating ideas
Pottery Barn

Pretty Paisley

A richly colored, set of paisley napkins is an easy way to transform your dinner table for Fall. Add a monogram for a personalized look.

Paisley monogrammed napkins
Donovan Design Linens

Chic Baskets

The warmth of natural woven baskets feels instantly Fall. Pile a basket with fruit in the kitchen or group a few on the coffee table to stash the remotes or hold magazines.

Natural woven baskets
West Elm

Copper Accents

Handcrafted copper items have a rich glow that fits seamlessly into Fall decorating. An occasional polish will keep it looking shiny or allow it to mellow into a verdigris patina.

Copper candles
Akkadian Candles

Tidy Up the Bath

Don’t get caught off guard by holiday guests. Stock the guest bath now with fresh towels, soap and scented candles.

Marrakech towels Matouk
Fine Linens

Cozy Up Outside

Enjoy Fall’s cooler evenings outside with seating arranged around a fire pit. Keep cozy pillows and throws on hand if the weather turns extra chilly.

Mr. H says: Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower-Enjoy!

Is your back yard pet friendly?

With the Charleston weather predicted to turn much warmer this weekend, we’ll want to venture out to enjoy some Spring temperatures with our pets.  It is a common assumption, that our yard poses no danger to our fur kids however their are some precautions to take to ensure that your animals can roam without the fear of being hurt.

photo by Boudewijn Huysmans

Escape Routes

Gaps in the fencing or the ability to tunnel should be addressed.  Besides actually escaping, animals can become trapped or pinned in causing serious harm or suffocation.  Make sure fences are too tall for your dog to jump over and do periodic perimeter checks to make sure that fencing is intact.

Wild Animals

Small dogs and cats have been known to be carried away by eagles, hawks and owls so it is important to never leave them unattended.  Other predators that could attack when provoked include, raccoons, snakes and even wolves.   Keep these creatures at bay by not leaving out food, including bird feeders, overnight and securing other food sources, like garbage cans.

photo by Zdeněk Macháček


The prettiest parts of your yard could be the most dangerous to your pet.  Many common types of flowers are toxic to animals, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or even death.

Certain vegetables like onions, garlic, wild mushrooms, avocado, and grapes are lethal as well and should be cultivated away from your pet’s play area.


Pesticides and fertilizers keep our outdoor spaces free of pests and creates lush grass and vegetation.  These are poisons and should be stored in proper containers and out of reach to your pet.  Learn about ways to organically fertilize and get rid of pests naturally.  Same goes for the toxic cocoa bean mulch.  Pet owners will find pine and cedar mulches are good alternatives.


The Elements

Heat stroke can occur in all animals so be sure your yard has shady places for your pet to rest and has access to plenty of water in the summer.  Alternatively, in winter months animals should have access to a dog/cat house, garage or shed with blankets and a bed to avoid a chill.

Mr H says: Dogs laugh with their tails-Enjoy!

Charleston Summer Fun

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina enjoying a perfect sunset, cold libations and delicious food at one of Crosby’s Dock Friday night parties.  On a recent evening we enjoyed the festive atmosphere at this quintessential Charleston locale.

Crosbys Dock Charleston South Carolina

Perched on the banks of Folly Creek, the iconic Crosby’s Fish and Shrimp, epitomizes the best of the Charleston Lowcountry’s seafood industry.

Crosbys  d

Generous plates of freshly caught seafood come straight from the dock into the rolling kitchen

Crosby's dock  Charleston South Carolina

Charming nautical decor enhances the rustic atmosphere on the dock

Crosby's dock Charleston South Carolina

Nautical decor

Bring your dancing shoes as the Friday night dock parties feature live music.  Tutus optional.

Crosby's Dock Party

The evening ended with this stunning sunset over Folly Creek.  Check their Facebook page for future dock party dates.

South Carolina Lowcountry sunset

Mr. H says: Time is marked by each sunrise and sunset whether or not you actually see it-Enjoy!

Luxurious Outdoor Furniture

 Is it time to update your outdoor furniture for Summer? 

Old folding chaise lounge

Check out these attractive offerings from some notable outdoor furniture manufactures.


Formed in 1981, Gloster originally specialized in African grown and produced teak furniture.  Over the years they have evolved into a luxury purveyor of high design teak, woven, aluminium, stainless steel and outdoor furniture.

Gloster Bloc Sectional Pieces

Gloster Dansk Collection


The name McGuire has been synonymous with style and elegance since 1948.  Using best in class materials coupled with quality workmanship, while collaborating with international designers such as Barbara Barry, McGuire’s outdoor collections are a study in refinement and luxury. 

McGuire Barbara Barry Outdoor Furniture

McGuire Garden Classics Outdoor Cracked Ice™ Chair

McGuire Antalya Outdoor Collection

JANUS et Cie

Known as a design industry leader, JANUS et Cie has been bringing creativity and innovative “Generation-Next” materials in the most comprehensive collection in the design market for over 34 years.

JANUS et Cie Fibonacci Vantana Double Chaise

JANUS et Cie Matilda Outdoor

Janus et Cie Tosca lounge chair

Mr. H says: Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury-Enjoy!

Outdoor Spring Entertaining

With the weather finally turning to Spring, it’s time to move the party outside.  In the South, elegant entertaining is a way life and outdoor entertaining should be just as luxurious.

Ditch the paper and plastic for a colorful array of assorted table top.  Hillsborough, NC company, VIETRI is the largest importer of handcrafted Italian tableware and home decor products and we all know the Italians are master sat la dolce vita!

Vietri dinnerware

Think Spring produce, like asparagus and carrots, when creating centerpieces for a Spring party.

Create a dedicated area for the bar.  Provide plenty of backyard friendly glasses and napkins.

Williams Sonoma

Be sure to plan for lighting at nightfall with solar lights strung high enough to walk under.

Pottery Barn

Gather in the backyard with family and friends to enjoy a few games of classic lawn bowling.

Williams Sonoma Lawn Bowling Game

Host a gracious picnic out of this English willow basket from Williams-Sonoma.  Filled with fine tableware, linens and serving essentials for food and beverages, it has everything for a grand outdoor dining adventure.

Williams Sonoma Wicker Picnic Basket

The cocktail hour is an entertaining must in the South.  Feature the refreshingly light British Pimm’s Cup at your next outdoor affair.  This drink pairs lemon and ginger with the spicy fruit flavors of a gin-based liqueur called Pimm’s No. 1 cup.

Pimms Cup photo Becky Luigart-Stayner  Lydia DeGaris-Pursell
Becky Luigart-Stayner; Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

  • 3/4 cup Pimm’s No. 1
  • 2 cups ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 1/3 cups sparkling water, chilled
  • 4 lemon slices
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut into 4 spears

Fill 4 tall (12-ounce) glasses with ice cubes.  Pour 3 tablespoons Pimm’s into each glass. Pour 1/2 cup ginger ale and 1/3 cup sparkling water into each glass; stir to combine. Garnish each serving with 1 lemon slice and 1 cucumber spear. Serve immediately.

Mr. H says: Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’-Enjoy!

Old Towne Creek Park Charleston

On a beautiful Spring Wednesday, we sipped wine and enjoyed a sneak peak at the unopened Old Towne Creek Park in West Ashley.  Located along the banks of Old Towne Creek, just across from Charles Towne Landing, lies this new Charleston County Park.

Old Towne Creek Park Charleston

Old Towne Creek Park Charleston

Owned by the Ravenel family for years, Ashem Farm, produced vegetables and soybeans on its 55 acres.   The property’s long time owner, Emily Ravenel Farrow, was born here in 1915 and established the St. Andrew’s Parish Riding Academy on the farm.  When Miss Em married John Ashby Farrow the farm was dubbed “Ashem,” a derivative of both their names.   The couple used the place as a country retreat from their grand manse, the William Gibbes House on historic South Battery.

Ashem Farm Charleston

Asham Farm Charleston

Asham Farm Charleston

While the West Ashley area developed around the property, Mrs. Farrow ensured the protection of the farm by forming a conservation easement to the Historic Charleston Foundation, protecting both the land and buildings.  The easement permanently limited the potential subdivision and development of the valuable acreage which she willed to the Lowcountry Open Land Trust.

Old Towne Creek Park Charleston

Old Towne Creek Park Charleston

Historic Charleston Foundation’s executive director, Kitty Robinson, said this of Miss Em:  “Mrs. Farrow loved Charleston. She loved the land. And she loved people. We can think of no greater tribute to her legacy than this: a public park that will allow future generations to experience the beauty and peace of the Lowcountry.”  A real lady, Miss Em passed away April 26, 2011 at the age of 96.  Check out the Lowcountry Land Trust’s interview with her here

Ashem Farm Charleston

Mr. H says:  The land, the air, and the planet is our legacy to our young-Enjoy!

Outdoor Kitchens

With the onset of the warm Charleston weather, it’s time to fire up the grill.  As with all outdoor rooms, the al fresco kitchen is taking on characteristics of their indoor brethren.  Here are some tips when planning for an outdoor cooking space.

An outdoor kitchen is an extension of the home so be sure to use the same quality of materials

Memphis Elite

As with an interior room, coordinate finishes for a well planned look

Palmetto Outdoor Kitchens

Consider and l-shaped layout for ample prep and serving space


A sink allows for easy clean up and can double as a beverage chiller


Creating a kitchen under some type of covering provides shelter and offers some protection for appliances and cabinetry.

Aqua Blue Pools

Check out award-winning food writer and kitchen designer, Deborah Krasner’s book for more outdoor kitchen ideas.

Deborah Krasner "The New Outdoor Kitchen"

Mr. H says: One of the best remedies for unhappiness is to get outside-Enjoy!