10 Ways to Buy a Great Summer at Home

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- For outdoor enthusiasts who spent the past few weekends rolling grills out of storage and setting up deck, porch or balcony furniture, this time of year was worth the wait.

If your home's outdoor setup is just right, it gets really tough to leave. Couple a sweet grill and a comfortable chair with gas prices averaging more than $3.90 a gallon and warm summer weather becomes a strong argument for staying home.

Considering the impact of even a modest outdoor improvements, we've come up with 10 outdoor investments that can turn even the most modest real estate into an open-air resort:

Outdoor HD projector
Unless you want to pay more than $8 a pop to watch superheroes duke it out, an outdoor projector's not a bad idea. The local Walgreens(WAL) and CVS(CVS) sell inexpensive projectors consumers can hook up to a DVD player, computer or, in some cases, a smartphone. Epson packaged a projector, DVD player and speakers into its portable MovieMate line that starts with a low-resolution model and bumps up to a 720p high-definition version with HDMI input for Blu-ray or streaming.

Outdoor movie screen
If you didn't spend a whole lot on your projector, a sheet, wide window shade or handy blank wall may do the trick. If you're a bit more serious, Open Air Cinema offers a 9- by 5-foot inflatable screen that costs $600 and needs to be held down by tent-style tether cables. The Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog's $1,000 outdoor inflatable theater , meanwhile, has an inflatable 72-inch screen and comes with a 900-lumen standard-definition projector with HDMI and VGA inputs and two water-resistant speakers.

Landscape speakers
Want an outdoor theater that doesn't look like abandoned stereo equipment? Boston Acoustics hides its woofers and tweeters in Voyager outdoor rock speakers that range from $250 to $500 and come in New England granite, sandstone or river rock patterns that blend into the background.

A formidable grill
A standard Char-Broil or Weber will get the job done, but Lynx Grills ' steel exterior, 50,000 BTU burners, LED lights on the temperature controls, a halogen light on the grill surface and ceramic briquettes to help distribute heat have lots of patio appeal at $3,800. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet takes it a step further by offering hybrid grills that allow ambitious chefs to cook with charcoal, wood and gas all on the same surface starting at $9,000.

Artisan Fire Pizza Stove
Just slightly more frivolous than the average grill, Kalamazoo's $6,500 Artisan Fire Pizza oven has a composite stone cooking surface, a domed exterior for reflecting heat, a 350- to 800-degree cooking range. It also has dual burners to cook pizza from above and below, a wood box for smoky wood-oven flavor and a wall of fire that should send nosy neighbors running for the fire department faster than you can say "chimney."