Apple cider, leaves turning, warm fires and cozy sweaters. All of the staples of fall. And no city welcomes fall with such delight as Phoenix, Arizona. The end of a hot summer is here fellow Phoenicians, and the best way to celebrate cooler weather just might be a casual, cozy backyard party.

Whether you love the bohemian look with tossed pillows and blankets or an evening outdoors watching the football game, we have some ideas to help you throw a backyard fall party to remember.

Let’s start with necessities. Regardless of your style or extent of your guest list, every fall bash needs the following:

1. Warm Drinks… Nothing says fall like a big pot of hot chocolate or spiced apple cider. Get the timeless recipes here:

2. Warm Fire… Well, I suppose a warm fire might help those warm drinks along. It is getting below 70 degrees these days. Here are some ideas for building a cute fire pit in your backyard. Or just pop by your local home improvement store for a pre-built option!

3. Warm Desserts… Are you sensing a theme here? But seriously, is there anything better than a big pan of apple crisp or brownies to make it a true fall party? Your mother will be proud and your friends will thank you (unless you eat the whole pan like we wanted to) after you try one of these easy recipes:

4. Grab a few blankets and pile on the pillows to give your backyard a warm (yep, there it is again) and inviting appeal. We love these unique ideas.

If you want to get creative and bring in some extra ambiance, try a few of these comfy additions:

5. Bring out some sweet sparkles with stringed lights. Every yard is different, so take a look at these creative ideas and see what might work for you.

6. Or go for more of a garden glow with some of these lighting ideas.

For a little extra fun or an added theme:

7. Turn it into a movie night with a DIY projector and yes, you guessed it… even more blankets and pillows.

8. Or liven things up with a host of backyard DIY games. There are lots of adult and kid friendly options depending on your crowd.

And if you’re feeling artsy:

9. Here are some lovely chalkboard ideas. (If you can do them by hand, we’re inviting you to come and decorate for our upcoming fall party.)

10. Finally, if you do make those brownies, be sure to invite your good friends at Shea Homes, or maybe just a new neighbor or two. Brownies and fire pits have been known to start a few good friendships.

Check out the ideas above and more on our Backyard Fall Party Pinterest Board!


4 Ways to Enhance Your Backyard for Summer

by Shea Homes Northern California on July 8, 2015


Tired of your boring back yard? Spruce it up with these 4 fabulous ideas from guest contributor Bryn Huntpalmer! Enhancing your backyard will create an oasis for you, and a great gathering place for friends and family. Check out these great ideas, then leave us your idea in the comments!

Add a Natural Pool
Natural pools are a recent phenomenon or an ancient one depending on how you look at it. The basic idea is that you can have a swimming hole in your backyard that doesn’t require any chemicals or weekly maintenance. Natural pools use a gentle filtration (gentle enough that a frog can pass through safely) and the proper placement of plants that are suited for water. The plants are actually what keeps the pool clean by naturally filtering the water and balancing the pH of the whole system. Not only are these pools a really cool water feature to add to your backyard but they are also a great place to cool off if you live in a hot climate.

Nature Pool

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Spruce up Your Summer Patio

by Shea Homes on June 19, 2015

Backyard patio design ideas.

Have you been eyeing your backyard lately thinking that it could use a little love after the long winter? Patios and outdoor spaces can become neglected during the cooler months, but when summer rolls around, it’s time to plan some DIY patio projects and put in some elbow-grease so you can enjoy your outdoor space for all of the upcoming summer holidays. Pull out your gardening tools from the garage and spruce up your backyard landscaping, then head over to Pinterest or your local hardware store for some décor inspiration and plan on creating the updated backyard space you’ve been dreaming of.

Not sure where to start or what type of space you want to create? Check out some of the looks we love below.

Indoor-Outdoor Lounge

With many new home floorplans featuring more open spaces, a more seamless indoor-outdoor experience is attainable. Large patio coverings or covered verandas allow for comfortable seating areas that are shielded from the sun during the day and allow for contemporary light fixtures that create an intimate setting.

Indoor - outdoor space at 1 Channel Island. Perfect for summer entertaining. Creating an outdoor lounge-feel centers on creating the right combination of modern and sleek. Think minimal foliage, structured patio furniture and interesting focal features. A gas fire pit with glass or lava rock creates immediate interest and warmth while maintaining a lounge-like vibe.

Adding an outdoor feature like a firepit adds an instant lounge-like vibe. A large window that opens to an outdoor bar is the perfect area to create a DIY self-serve drink area with pre-made beverages or consider making up a signature cocktail for your party!


Serene backyard perfect for the whole family. If you use your backyard more for a casual family gathering place, this style may be right for you. Along with a snug setup of comfy outdoor furniture where mom and dad can gather, focus on creating a few areas throughout your yard that appeal to the different interests in your household. Consider adding a barbeque for the griller in the family, an interesting trellis or landscaping layout for the gardener (check out this blog to see how you can DIY one) and something fun the whole family can enjoy together. Whether it’s a fire pit (s’mores, anyone?) soccer goal for the kids, horseshoe pit, or even some DIY oversized backyard games, your family and friends will love to have something to congregate around and enjoy together.

Entertainment Hub

Is your house the go-to for game day parties, holidays and other get-togethers? Do you find yourself hustling to pull together a deliciously awesome menu when friends drop by unexpectedly? If so, you’re probably the quintessential “Entertainer” of your group and your backyard should reflect it.

Perfect backyard for entertaining To allow you to enjoy a group’s company, even when you’re prepping a summer BBQ, place your grill and prep station as the focal piece of your backyard. Create sitting areas and points to congregate that center around the grill so that you’re still in the mix of conversation when everyone gets to mingling. Plus – since you’re stationed next to the central locale for drinks and snacks, you’ll always be in the middle of the party!

Great backyard for entertaining larger groups. Not a griller? Take a look at the pin below for some additional ideas on how to arrange your space to make it easy to entertain a group.

Purely Peaceful

If you’d prefer to create a tranquil retreat to enjoy yourself or with a loved one after a long day, create smaller seating areas and adorn them with cushy pillows and other outdoor decorations that you enjoy. If you like curling up with a book and looking at a garden gnome – it’s your sanctuary – add the little guy!

Lush, private backyard idea. Candles and plants can create a sense of calm as well. Place outdoor candles around areas you may frequent, and if you’re not looking to spend too much time tending to a garden, place potted succulents or orchids around your yard. Plants like desert roses, primrose and peonies produce beautiful flowers with little maintenance while decorative grasses and shrubs provide a lush backdrop that require little attendance.

Backyard dining area.

How would you describe your ideal backyard? Tell us below and find more inspiration on our Outdoor Décor Pinterest board.


Shea Partnerships: Q and A with Jim Pinson of Shasta Pools

by Shea Homes Arizona on March 13, 2015

Jim Pinson of Shasta Pools, and also our unofficial BBQ extraordinaire, talks about the strong, longstanding relationship with Shea Homes Arizona.


Last week, you read about our newest partnership with Lowell School in downtown Phoenix for our Read With Your Child campaign and book drive. This week, we hear from one of our longest and strongest partnerships here in the Valley: Shasta Pools. Shasta Pools is also a family-owned company, which aligns perfectly with the Shea Homes values. They’ve been masters at building pools in the Valley since 1968. Jim Pinson is one of our “go-to” Shasta contacts; he is not only a joy to work with on the business side of things, but he is always willing to help us out at our community barbeques! Read our Q&A with Jim below, as he talks about everything from our partnership to pool safety!

Shasta Pools has a long history of partnering with Shea Homes to engage and benefit the community. How did your partnership with Shea Homes begin?

Jim Pinson: Shasta Pools had a previous relationship with Knoell homes that Shea Homes purchased in the early 90’s. Shasta then continued the relationship with Shea Homes.

Shasta pools recently sponsored two community BBQs to support the #ReadWithYourChild book drive to beat illiteracy. What is it about events like these that bring the community together?

shasta2JP: For Shasta Pools it’s all about giving back to the Community. Shasta started as a family owned business in 1966 and remains that same family owned company. The families in Arizona have embraced Shasta Pools as the number one pool company in Arizona since 1968. We embrace any effort to enhance Arizona families lives and Thank them for supporting Shasta Pools.

What do you like best about working with Shea Homes?

JP: Shea Homes and Shasta Pools has a very like-minded approach to business. Creating an environment of open communication along with offering the highest quality of products and services are Shea Homes and Shasta Pools top priorities.

As temperatures in Arizona continue to rise, what advice to you have for pool owners when it comes to keeping their pools clean, clear and dive-in ready all summer long?

JP: Take advantage of the technology available. The two top concerns of people as they begin the backyard dream of a pool is 1) Safety and 2) Maintenance. Shasta Pools has many available options at nearly any price point to resolve these concerns. For those with existing pools, we have complete service and remodeling divisions that can update or renovate your existing project.

As many children enjoy the freedom of spring break these next few weeks, what advice would you give to parents to keep their little ones safe around water?

JP: There is no substitute for always being aware; it truly only takes a few seconds of distraction for the unthinkable to happen. There are many options available toshasta3 assist as a second line of defense. Many City codes have a variety of barrier choices. Shasta will review these requirements, and incorporate the best choice into the design. If anyone has any general questions about their individual City codes, they can call Shasta Pools at any one of our three locations and we will be happy to help.

Whether you’re looking to build a new pool or you need some tips on how to keep up maintenance on your current pool, visit for all pool-related information you can imagine. If you need the entire Shea Homes-Shasta Pool package, check out our communities online here. For pool safety, read our detailed blog post on tips and rules you need to know.

For more information on Shea Homes and what we’re up to at the Arizona division, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get inspired with us on Pinterest, and learn all things homebuilding on our YouTube channel.


Throw the Perfect Summer BBQ

June 27, 2013

  The kids are out of school, the temperature is rising, and that can only mean one thing; summer is here! We recently showed you how to prepare your home for the hot summer months; now it’s time to start preparing to entertain! California summer evenings are warm and the sun doesn’t set until 8:30pm […]

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