Inspirations Posts

Family Time: Top 10 Advantages of Involving Kids in Outdoor Projects

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Family Day came and went and it was a nice reminder that spending time with family, unplugged and in-the-moment, is really important. Our Summerwood family practices the age-old saying, “Families that play together, stay together.” It got us thinking that a cohesive family is like a Summerwood build – where all the parts fit together to create something special and built to last.

Life can get busy and sometimes it feels like a luxury for families to come together, but we feel that it can happen at anytime, without a special occasion or holiday. As everyone in the family grows older, it’s important to stay engaged with adventures, experiences and home projects because those memories will last a lifetime. How do we know? For more than 20 years, our customers have shared images and stories of their families working together to create their fabulous builds, whether a gazebo, cabin, playhouse or workshop. We’ve seen multi-generations enjoy their outdoor space, from celebrating life milestones, backyard play dates, to spending relaxing long weekends together.

Proactively scheduling family time is important, so what could be more appropriate than starting on Family Day? With Spring just around the corner, it’s the perfect season to get the family together to construct your Summerwood build, like a shed or workshop in time for gardening. Maybe it’s that cabana, gazebo or pool house your family has wanted to enjoy for the hot Summer months. These outdoor projects are a great way for families to build closer relationships while making memories, and possibly coming across some teachable moments.

Along with the obvious advantage of getting children away from electronics and into the fresh air, there are a wealth of other benefits to including kids in outdoor projects. Here are our Top 10 advantages to involve kids.

 

1. You get to know your child better

Kids grow and change quickly, so scheduled family time is ideal for busy parents to connect with their children. Especially when enjoying an activity together, parents will get to know their developing child better, and see their strengths and aptitudes.

Also, older children tend to share more information about their lives while engaged in an exercise with their parents, rather than when they are asked “What did you do today?”

2. Strengthens family bonds

Working together as a family will not just help build a playhouse or whatever your Summerwood building may be, it also builds strong and caring family relationships.

Families who share activities together as a group form solid, emotional ties, as a special relationship of trust and security develops. Studies have found that families who share in group activities that allow for mindful interaction hold a stronger emotional bond, and an ability to adapt well to situations as a family.

3. Teaches important life skills

Spending time together working on a project, family members learn how to listen and work together, while the child learns the value of communicating effectively and supporting others, important interpersonal skills they can take through life.

Working toward a common goal, they understand there is a plan and that teamwork will make it happen. Kids learn commitment, responsibility, patience, work ethic, and the benefits of being part of a team to make a dream a reality!

4. Builds confidence and self-esteem

Children who spend time with their parents carrying out tasks are learning in a safe and supportive environment.  With the freedom to make mistakes and find solutions on their own in a non-judgmental setting, children begin to gain self-confidence at an early developmental stage in their lives.

When children have a real say in what happens and their views are heard, they will build a positive sense of self-worth, as they know that their parents value them. When children feel that they are valued, they feel greater self-esteem and are better equipped to succeed in life.

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5. Encourages positive behaviours

When families take the time to participate in meaningful activities together, behavioural problems decrease, and kids are less likely to act out. Research has shown that teenagers with families who spend quality time together are less likely to use alcohol, drugs and engage in risky actions. If children know they can come to you with their tricky situations, they will likely choose better solutions to the issues they face in life.


6. Better school performance

Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom, but what the child learns outside of school can have a positive impact on their performance in school. A healthy emotional well-being, along with positive self-esteem, confidence, and good communication skills can work wonders in the classroom. Numerous studies have shown that children whose parents spend quality time with them perform better in school.

7. Develops creative and problem-solving abilities

Children have curious minds and love to see how things work. They are also eager to create something and to feel proud of the finished achievement. By involving your child in practical pursuits like a Summerwood build, you are nurturing their problem solving and creative skills, which can help develop aptitudes and interests in math, art and other subjects. Before long, the answer to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” may not be a superhero or an astronaut, but instead be; “an architect”, “a designer” or “an engineer.”

8. Relieves stress

In today’s fast paced, competitive, and technological world, children and teenagers are experiencing higher stress levels than ever before. Time spent in a non-judgemental family situation working with purpose towards a goal, takes children away from the social and school pressures that surround their lives, lowering stress and stimulating feel-good chemicals in their brain.

Talking through the challenges encountered in the project, can also help children learn that the best solution to problems is to talk about them, something that can carry over into the rest of their life, helping them deal with worries.


9. Develops parenting skills

Quality time together with their parents helps kids develop parenting skills for later in their lives.  As children from happy families are more likely to create a loving environment for their own children when they grow up, what you do this Family Day may well have a bearing on how your grandchildren enjoy Family Day in the future.


10. Creates memories

Lastly, active family time creates warm and treasured memories that can last a lifetime. For years to come, every time they enjoy their Summerwood building, parents and children alike will be reminded of happy family times that made it happen.

The adjective “cohesive” comes from the Latin word cohæsio, or “to cleave together.” Cohesive things stick together so they are unified just like your new Summerwood building, and your happy family.

For inspiration on what type of building style your family can choose from, take a look at our 3D tours that showcase the interior and exteriors of some of our most popular builds. For families with younger children, we also have our playhouses that might spark some imagination! Never hesitate to contact us or visit our Custom Design Centre to create a Summerwood build to meet all of your family’s needs.

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10 Things You Need To Know Before Staining Your Cedar

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Cedar is by far our favourite siding material (check out our post on “The Best Construction Materials for Building Your Own Shed: Sidings”) for countless reasons. Although we understand the need and convenience of maintenance free options, when it comes to siding we simply can’t compete with nature. Western Red Cedar has been our first choice for years due to its durability, ascetic appeal, and environmental sustainability.

At Summerwood, we always recommend that our customers stain their cedar-sided building. But why do you need to do so?  Although you can let your cedar whether naturally when used for a deck or a fence, when you’re using it as a siding the idea is to keep the elements out. You want your beautiful custom backyard building to stay that way, and for your belongings to remain safe and dry inside. Staining the cedar is the absolute best way to ensure this, especially in four-season climates. Since Western Red Cedar naturally lacks pitch and resin, it allows for countless staining options and will accept stain very well if applied correctly. Below, we’ve got 10 tips to get your staining started and keep your outdoor structure looking brand new for years to come.

 

10 Tips for Staining Your Cedar

1. You have three choices: natural, semi -transparent, and coloured or opaque. Consider whether you want your building to look untouched, or add a pop of colour to your yard before choosing.

2. Cedar is known to age gracefully to a soft, silver-grey patina, but it’s wise to keep the rich tones of your cedar siding lasting longer. Transparent stains contain no pigment but have water-repellent features that will help to retain natural tones and slow down the natural colour change process. Win-win!

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3. Semi-transparent stains offer up a hint of colour. They still represent the wood beautifully, but give it a little boost. Grains and knots in your wood will be modified, not enough to take away from its natural qualities though!

4. Coloured/opaque finishes allow you to have fun with your finished product. If you want to go for a dramatic look, or maybe add a little extra charm, this may be the way to go. This option isn’t for the indecisive though, so make sure you know exactly what you want!

5. Once you’ve decided on your finish it’s best to get to work quickly. The sooner you treat your cedar, the better. Although cedar is naturally resistant to rot and decay, staining your siding promptly aids in preventing deterioration.

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6. Prepare your cedar siding by washing it with soapy water to remove any dirt or dust (if any has accumulated).

7. All stains should be applied on a clean, dry surface with a brush to ensure maximum penetration into the grain.

8. Is your cedar siding vertical? Begin from the top to the bottom. Is your cedar siding horizontal? Start at one corner and continue to the other. Go with the grain!

9. Two coats are always recommended when you want to maintain the natural look of Western red cedar.

10. Bask in the glory of your newly finished cedar building for years to come.

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For countless styles and options, cedar is consistently the best choice! Please don’t hesitate to contact the design experts at Summerwood with any questions you may have: 1-866-519-4634.

If you’re ready to design your very own spectacular cedar building, or do some brainstorming, our Design Center will get your creative wheels turning!

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5 Organizational Solutions That Help Eliminate Tool and Toy Clutter

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With most Americans dedicating up to a year total looking for misplaced belongings, it’s obvious that clutter is a time thief. When every tool and toy in your backyard has its own space, though, you can spend much less time searching for lost items and organizing your home. Start by creating a few dedicated structures designed for holding specific sets of outdoors items. If you take the time to plan out your landscape architecture design, you can integrate organizational nooks that actually accentuate the look and feel of your property. Here are five smart structures you can use to organize and declutter your yard.

Toy Crates

Crate with utensils. Wooden box for glass made in vintage style.

In just one fun-filled afternoon playing outside, your yard likely becomes a minefield of toys that your kids left behind. Kids love to live in the moment and drop whatever they are doing for the next fun activity so cleanup is really a chore if kids don’t have a dedicated place to store their belongings. Milk crates give your kids a place to keep their outdoor toys without the container filling with rainwater and you can stack the crates or use storage hooks to secure them to the side of your shed or fence.

Playhouses
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If your kids’ clutter extends beyond the random playground ball or Frisbee set, you may want to get a playhouse. The tall roof on the Peach Pickers Porch playhouse, for example, allows kids to store their extra toys without cluttering up their own play space. Or, your kids may love to keep their toy bins on the covered verandah for accessibility during playtime. With a fun, designated place for kids to store their belongings, they’ll rarely need to be reminded to keep their dedicated space clean and organized.

Bench Bins
A garden or patio bench can double as a storage container by utilizing the open space below the seating area. You can find a storage bench premade or customize your outdoor seating to act as an organizational device. Benches allow you to keep your frequently-used gear near specific areas of your yard. For example, you can store your small landscaping tools, kneeling pads and gloves in a bench near your garden beds. Of course, don’t forget to tuck away your seat cushions in the bench to protect them from the weather and local wildlife.

Garage Shelves
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Extra shelves in the garage allow you to organize your outdoor tools and products along the otherwise unused wall space. The garage shelves can store bins and baskets you use to keep similar items together. You can also arrange the items along the shelves on their own to keep them highly visible and accessible at all times. You will need to determine the best placement and sizes for your garage shelves to keep parking and work areas open and clutter free.

Storage Sheds
sarawak-garden-shed-islip-new-york-195923-1When you just have too much outdoor gear, you may need to invest in a storage shed to hold everything. The storage shed provides both wall and floor space for your landscaping tools, garden products and outdoor recreational items. Custom storage sheds can fit in the corner of your yard, nestle up to the side of your home or stand on their own in a dedicated section of your property. The lean-to and five sided storage shed designs help maximize your storage space without taking up too much of your property. If you want the garden shed to steal the spotlight, you can customize the design and paintjob to match your house’s architecture. You can even add garden beds and planter boxes around the outer perimeter to dress up the place.

Obtaining Beautifully Designed Organizational Solutions
Once you have your landscape architecture plans in hand, contact Summerwood for assistance obtaining the sheds and shelves you need for your yard makeover. You can deeply customize the pre-fabricated sheds to meet your organizational needs. When ordering your shed, you may want to match the exterior siding, paint and trim to your home or create a brand new design. Large and small garage shelf arrangements allow you to make the most of your available space. You can determine an ideal number of shelves to purchase by measuring and planning your garage layout before ordering.

Before and After Backyard Facelift

At Summerwood we see all kinds of backyard transformations. It often takes just one great garden shed or studio to create an outdoor space worth spending time in. This case came from Toronto, when a customer moved into a home and wanted to give the tired backyard a facelift.

There was an existing structure used for storage but it really didn’t lure you into the space. People often overlook their backyards, not realizing a backyard is an extension of the home. That’s where we came in.

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We tore down the old and weathered storage shelter and got down to business. We didn’t want to overwhelm the space, as the pool was going to be the focal point of the backyard, so we chose a traditional Palmerston garden shed. The owner wanted a spot to house tools, store outdoor furniture, and maybe even for swimmers to towel off and change. The Palmerston was perfect because it neatly fit into the corner without overwhelming the space.

A new fence went up and the Palmerston was incorporated into it, creating a streamlined and clean look. It was a custom job and the results were definitely worth it. By simply installing the Palmerston and putting up a new fence, the backyard quickly came together. While the pool was to be the focal point, we think the Palmerston stole the spotlight.

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3 Reasons Why Western Red Cedar is Your Friend

1. Durable and low maintenance

Red cedar is naturally resistant to rot, decay and pesky insect attacks. You won’t face the worry of mildew development like you would with a composite. Forget staining, sealing or painting, red cedar is hardy and one with nature.

2. Ages gracefully

Unlike other composites or synthetic materials, western red cedar is a designers dream when used for siding or other outdoor projects. While it’s known to be a great base for primer and paint (holding a solid stain for up to eight years), it’s in vogue to let your cedar naturally mature. A silvery-grey patina develops when red cedar is left untreated, offering the perfect option for those who prefer low maintenance beauty; and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?

 

3. Easy to customize and work with

Customization is often key when finding the ideal look or fit for a project. Red cedar comes in various surface textures, lumber dimensions and grades for one-of-a-kind designs. Cedar is easy to saw and glue and takes fasteners without splitting. Western red cedar is strong yet surprisingly lightweight, making it easy to cut and bend (a friendly material for DIYers). While certain materials may not readily come in unconventional sizes needed for outdoor structures like a garden shed, cedar is a no fuss, down-to-earth option that usually does.

Greetings from Grenada!

 

Summerwood was recently approached to work in close contact with Mike Jordan of CocoNet Ltd which specializes in design management and is based in Grenada, a small group of islands in the Caribbean. Mike was tasked with designing and erecting multiple buildings on the island of St. George for various uses as shops, residences, and tour offices.

To fit the bill, Mike purchased several 18′ x 20′ Canmore and Mountain Brook buildings. The final pictures tell a true tale of how beautiful the land is and how our structures and the climate complement each other so well. The various colours the buildings have been painted are a homage to the colour schemes used in the area; while definitely not colorus we see every day, we certainly love them in this setting.

Mike Jordan is now the official retailer of Summerwood Products in the Caribbean region and is continually erecting our structures throughout Grenada. Stay tuned for more great pictures and new stories coming from Grenada as this new partnership continues to develop and flourish.

Photos Courtesy of: Camper & Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina, Grenada  grenadagenada4 grenada2 grenada3 grenada5