Summer comes, and the call of outdoor entertaining beckons. But today's good times are more than just burgers on the grill and tunes on the boom box. We lead sophisticated lives complete with chefs' kitchens and home theaters inside, so why not extend it all beyond the four walls?
All-weather kitchens--complete with six-burner gas grills, running water, and wine chillers--are commonplace in some climates, while homeowners even as far north as Minnesota go to great lengths to transform their yards into outdoor oases. If you only have good weather a few months of the year, you make the most of it!
Backyard dining is only part of summer fun. An outdoor home theater will transform your yard into a bona-fide drive-in. Weather-resistant TVs turn a patio into an extension of your living space, while cinema-quality projection screens lower for showing movies and retract when not in use. Inflatable screens can go camping or on a picnic with you. These inflate in seconds with the included pump, come with a stand, and can be hooked up to external components and speakers. Project an image and voilà! It's movie night.
If you’re just in the market for outdoor audio, there are many choices in weatherproof speakers. Wall-mount speakers are great space savers and can usually be painted to blend in with their surroundings. Angle speakers down and toward the center of the yard or patio to better direct sound.
Pump up the volume by sprinkling unobtrusive rock-shaped speakers throughout the garden. These come disguised in a variety of finishes for different landscapes and often produce pretty impressive sound.
Periodically check outdoor equipment for signs of wildlife, like bird nests. Brush away stray sticks or grass clippings, make sure housings are sealed so nothing can crawl inside, and store everything indoors during the coldest months of the year.
Don’t be intimidated by wiring. Wall-mount speakers allow access to indoor equipment--just use speaker cable rated for in-wall and outdoor use, and seal all wire connections and conduits with silicon, available at any home improvement store.
A radio-frequency remote control works through walls, unlike infrared remotes that need a line of sight to function. Of course the best solution is to have a custom installer do the wiring and program the equipment, and as always when working with electrical projects, the best solution is often the safest.
Runco Climate Portfolio 42-inch LCD TV, $8,995 (runco.com).
Acoustic Wave music system II from Bose, $1,079 (bose.com).
SoundWare speakers, $99 (bostonacoustics.com).
Nextar’s Wireless Floating Speaker system, $119, available at seventhavenue.com.
Sima Inflatable Projection Screen in three sizes, starting at $199 (amazon.com).