10 Ways to Buy a Great Summer at Home
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.
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."