18 Ways to Add Outdoor Play Space to Your Backyard

  1. Table tennis.  The custom table seen here takes your childhood pingpong games to the next level in terms of design. It’s a striking focal point and also versatile. Remove the net and it can be used as a dining table or serving counter. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, a standard table will work just as well (and fit into your budget). You’ll need a table that’s designed for outdoor use and a smooth, flat space to put it on. Lawns are fine, although you’ll need to contend with sprinkler systems. A cement or stable paver patio or a spot with crushed stone or firmly packed decomposed granite will also work. Regulation size for a pingpong table is 5 feet wide and 9 feet long. Extra clearance is needed on each side, with a recommended total space that’s 11 feet wide and 19 to 20 feet long. American Coastal Properties 2. Beach volleyball.  Practice your spikes, dives and dinks with a dedicated sand court for beach volleyball. At this home, the court sits along the

Air Conditioner Maintenance Tasks That Aren’t Up for Negotiation

  1. Change the air filter Regularly changing the air filter is key to keeping your AC unit running efficiently. “A plugged-up filter is going to limit airflow and make the machine work harder, so you’re going to spend more money to cool your house,” says  Mike Donley , president of Phoenix-based Donley Plumbing and Air Conditioning. Change or clean out your filter about once a month, and make sure any replacements are the right size for your specific unit. A pleated filter will catch more debris than a flat one, so take that into consideration when you’re at the hardware store. 2. Clean the coils The AC unit will also run more efficiently when the  coils are clean . Since the coils are located outside on built-in central air systems, you can easily hose off dust and dirt on the coils. Just be sure to unplug the unit before applying any water. The coils should be cleaned once a year. Changing the filter frequently will help keep the coils clean. “As long as you’re changing your filter

6 Summer Maintenance Tasks That Could Save You Cash

  1. Power-wash your house Power washing your exterior can bring big bucks when it’s time to sell. “If most of your entertaining will be done outdoors, now is a great time to power-wash the deck, pool area, patio, driveways, and the front porch of your home for guests,” says  Jeff Beck , CEO of  Leaf Home Solutions . Power washing has also been known to pay off big-time when it comes time to sell your house. According to the National Association of Realtors®, you can expect to add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sales price after pressure-washing exterior siding DIY:  You can rent a power washer for between $70 and $300 a day, Beck says. But proceed with caution. “Do your research before power-washing, as it comes with some safety concerns or can lead to property damage if the wrong pressure is used on the wrong materials,” he says. Call in the pros:  If you’re uneasy about blasting the house yourself, call in a professional. You can  expect to spend between about $200 and $400 . 2. Give you

Dos and Don’ts of Designing a Kitchen Island

  When it comes to creating a new kitchen, an island is a must-have for many homeowners, but how can you ensure yours is both beautiful and functional? Here, four Australian kitchen design experts suggest 10 things to bear in mind to help you get this key element right. Tindall Architecture Workshop Do Choose a Tough, Easy-Care Countertop Material Kitchens are places of heavy traffic flow and productivity, so a good, durable natural or engineered stone for the countertop is crucial, says Katherine Wallis, interior designer and director at  Wallis Design . You’ll also want it to be scratch-resistant and easy to clean — and the same goes for your cabinetry and floorboard materials. Choosing good-quality fixtures such as sinks and faucets is always preferred as they get so much use and need to last, Wallis says. Pike Properties Do Get the Proportions Right Getting the proportions of your island correct lets you work efficiently in the space and ensures that traffic flow is maintained. Som