Make us your home page
Instagram

Turn your home into a vacation oasis

TAMPA — With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, a lot of would-be travelers are hanging close to home this summer. In Florida, land of sunshine, beaches (and hot weather), staying put isn't such a big deal.

In fact, a day at the beach or a Saturday night get-together on the deck or patio might even seem like a pretty fair trade for that foregone vacation.

"With rising gas prices and airline costs, we know that many families are going to skip traditional summer vacations to celebrate 'stay-cations' at home in their communities," says Shannon Frederick, senior communications manager for Wal-Mart.

Unlike redecorating a living room — an expensive process you have to live with for years — investing in a few chic and fun summer accessories for patio or beach won't break the bank.

And it's okay if you decide you want something new next summer.

Beach towels, sand carts, caddies, plastic dinnerware, portable bars, even home versions of those frozen margarita machines are just the thing this season for the tropical homebody.

"Obviously the summer evokes memories of our youth — being out of school and spending summer vacation with family or friends," says Westchase's Aric Dawson, a district customer service manager for Bed Bath & Beyond. "Even if people aren't traveling as much as they used to, they're making the most of it."

The best thing about summer accessories, Dawson says, is that you can "be tacky and whimsical" and embrace that pink flamingo pattern you might never use inside the house.

This season, Tampa Bay area Bed Bath & Beyond stores are stocking everything from pastel beach towels to wireless outdoor speakers and the Margaritaville Bahamas Frozen Concoction Maker (add crushed ice and drink mix into separate compartments and, voila, your favorite frozen cocktail).

Starting at $199, it's a splurge, but its magic isn't limited to margaritas, either, Dawson says: "You can make pina coladas, daiquiris, anything you want."

The stores are also carrying On Ice! products ($19.99 to $34.99) that include acrylic salad bowls, lazy Susans and drink pitchers with built-in ice compartments to keep food and beverages chilled on a searing day.

If you're a fan of color, head to the Lillian Vernon Web site for some inspiring summer accessories for pool, deck or beach. There's a bright citrus yellow cotton terry cloth tote and chaise longue cover ($29.98) with a pocket for a water bottle or sunscreen.

Marcus Swieca, creative director at Lillian Vernon in Colorado Springs, Colo., calls it "awesome." He's also a fan of the reversible cotton-quilted mat ($19.98) for lounging by the pool or gulf. That, too, comes in punchy tropical colors, including pink and yellow and blue-green.

He likes the "Sandgrabber" umbrella stand ($19.98) that keeps a beach umbrella from blowing away like a parasail.

For those who want to set their picnic blanket stylishly but without blowing big bucks, the company's offering a line of break-resistant, frosted acrylic tableware ($14.98-$29.96) — bowls, plates and tumblers in festive pink, orange, yellow, blue and green.

For the littlest stay-at-home summer vacationers, he recommends a personalized beach towel with monogram and pattern chosen by the child ($19.98 with up to a 12-letter name).

"Kids like to have their own things, and it's fun for them to pick the pattern and design they like," Swieca says. "They can take it to the beach and it's theirs."

Wal-Mart's offering a selection of outdoor water toys (many under $30) that can turn your back yard into a water park. A bigger splurge allows you to turn your back yard into your own movie theater under the stars with a deluxe, inflatable outdoor movie screen for $200.

You can play "movies, games and slide shows," store spokesman Frederick says, and no doubt entertain everyone in the family as well as the neighbors.

If you're really planning to make a summer out of staying home, a $400, four-piece wicker seating set by Better Homes and Gardens Sunbridge includes a love seat, chairs and coffee table with a smoked-glass top.

The best part?

The set comes fully assembled "so you can turn your back yard into a sanctuary," Frederick says.

Inexpensive outdoor furniture that doesn't require hours of squinting, reading directions and hunting down tools — now that's a vacation. Even if it's just a few steps away.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at ebettendorf@hotmail.com.

Turn your home into a vacation oasis 07/02/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 2, 2008 1:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24

    Retail

    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights

    Business

    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.

    Yet.

    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]