Posts Tagged ‘patios’

It’s barely Spring here in New Jersey, and I am itching to get outside. The ground is still muddy, and the garden still seems so undefined. A mixture of gray and green, Winter is reluctantly giving up control of its  cranky gloom, appearing to hold onto us longer every year. I hope, that soon, the daffodils will be flowering.

Never a big fan of yellow, I now crave the clear brightness of them, deliriously happy when I can finally pick some and bring them inside. Every day I look at them, knowing that they will be here soon. They remind me of my Grandad’s garden, in England, I don’t know why…

As the clouds grow darker outside, my mind wanders to the subject of patio spaces and outdoor rooms. My ideal would be a cobbled patio with moss and thyme sprinkled in between the stones (no weeds). A few chairs facing a round picnic table, and a big fire pit off to the side. We would toast marshmallows and hot-dogs on sticks, late at night, staying warm with checkered blankets and oversized sweaters. Perhaps an old-fashioned, charcoal BBQ would look pretty; the men would curse at the inefficiency of it all, as the women relaxed, sipping wine and waiting for the food that will take hours to cook. (Yes, I know that is sexist, but, well, that’s how it usually works if we are honest – and lucky)

My table would have the biggest market umbrella standing over it. 10 or 12 foot wide, so that no one has to scrunch to fit underneath. It would be a lovely persimmon color, not quite orange or red, but somewhere nicely in between. Or, I may get all sophisticated and choose black, perhaps with lime green peeking from underneath…

Giant games would be scattered on the lawn, and a hammock would lie in a quiet spot.

The trees would be covered in thousands of white, mini Christmas tree lights and large, colorful paper lanterns would hang inbetween. An extravagant candle chandelier (well, maybe one from Ikea) would be hung from the biggest tree. Underneath, there would be chairs and sofas, sitting on an outdoor rug, making it the perfect place to relax and talk (or, take a nap).

So, as my dream continues, I look outside. It is still raining. The picnic table (that I found on the side of the road) needs painting, and the dog has worn a muddy track all through the moss garden. My umbrella was enjoyed by the hungry mice, living in the garage, and my potting table is starting to show loving signs of wear and rot.

Don’t worry, I’m not delusional, this is what I do. Each year I plan and fix and wonder about all the amazing things I will do. Rarely are they accomplished, but that is not what I need. I love the planning, the wondering and the creating. Not worrying about the mice needing a Winters snack, I am glad at the excuse to re-cover (or attempt to) the umbrella with a new fabric. The table I can paint, or seal with a wood sealant, and the rest will gradually take care of itself. For me, it is the process that keeps me motivated. The dreaming and the planning…..

And, yes, of course I will buy the candle chandelier (from Ikea, at $29.99 who can resist?), and I will find the perfect tree to hang it from.

http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/  Thanks to http://www.housetohome.co.uk/ for the lovely photograph and Ikea for my chandelier www.ikea.com

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Now that spring is here for many of us – and not too far off for the rest – outdoor living not only feels wonderful, but is a great way of expanding our living space. And creating a warm, inviting living space outside is just as simple

as creating one inside! For the seating area, begin with pretty comfortable furnishings. Just as with the inside, that means ‘upholstery’, which in this case is usually cushions. Postion it around a focal point, which could be a fireplace as in the picture, or simply a view of the backyard. Make certain there is enough seating for several people and everyone can chat easily. Even if you are outdoors, yelling to be heard isn’t warm and inviting. And of course, tables are a must for holding snacks and drinks.

Lighting is always a plus. How many summer parties or evenings with friends have gone well into the night? Of course, candlelight is fabulous, but occasionally not enough. You can certainly bring out lamps from inside for special events, but there is also some very nice lighting made just for outdoors. And see what a wonderful ambience a mixture of electric and candle light make, especially when combined with the firepit?

Accessories for the outdoors are easy – simply use potted plants! Flowering plants add color, while greenery is always great – and comes without the need of deadheading. Make sure the pots you use are attractive, then place the plants in strategic locations to add softness and interest. And don’t forget pillows and throws! Pillows can bring in additional colors, patterns and textures, while adding softness and comfort to the seating. Just don’t get too dramatic as you don’t want to compete with the outside surroundings, but rather enhance the overall look. And of course throws add not only softness, but are quite useful on cool summer evenings. 

And finally, don’t forget the dining table. Somehow food tasts so much better outdoors, particularly if it’s fresh off the grill. So have a table and chairs ready for family dining, planned dinner parties, or impromptu gatherings. Because now that your outdoors is so inviting, everyone will want to stay!

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