My Back Patio Refresh
First Things First
Before I get into my back patio, I wanted to take a moment to say, “hello again.” It’s been a while (I know!) and I’ve been missing blogging constantly. My life over the past months has been a bit of a mash of unexpected events that have consumed much of my mental bandwidth. Here’s a bit of the highlights of my summer so far: Kicked off my summer with a roommate’s unexpected health issues and visits to the hospital, followed immediately by a new full-time writing contract (that included a commute that took upwards of two hours in the worse of traffic). I tested out a completely new workout routine for this aforementioned job, which unfortunately took up most of my evenings this summer (I did lose an entire stone though and am feeling very fit). I interviewed, was offered, and accepted a staff writing position with a company in a totally different field than I’ve ever worked before. (After three years, I’ve moved from sportswear to startup/tech). I’ll miss the freedom of freelance, but am looking forward to perks of a staff job. Finally, bookending my summer with hospital visits, my grandfather passed away suddenly.
He was an amazing human who I will miss everyday.
Summer isn’t over. There’s still a bit of time to salvage a bit of that “summer fun” before the rain returns and the leaves fall. Instead of using these last weeks of summer to travel, camp, or float the river (probably the most popular summer activity in Oregon), I’ve turned my focus onto home projects—this helps me decompress from all that’s happened while letting me pour my energy into a physical project. I appreciate the sense of accomplishment it gives me and makes my home just a bit more of a sanctuary. I’ve scrubbed my house clean, reorganized my bedroom into a studio space, and repainted my living room—making it one of my favorite rooms in the house. It’ll be perfect for when the weather changes and we start spending more time inside. And, of course, I gave my back patio a bit of a facelift. I dedicated myself to enjoying as many mornings outside on my deck as I can for the rest of summer—late summer brunches here I come?
My Patio’s Humble Beginnings
I grew up in a house with a nice backyard. We had trees that doubled as play forts, a grassy area to lay in and play, a garden full of veggies and flowers, and our deck where we’d bbq and eat most of our family dinners throughout the summer. With all my childhood memories of what a “proper yard” is, it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite features of my current house is the backyard. It has most of the features I love most in a yard: A patio to dine on, a big tree to hang lights from and provide shade on sunny days, a grassy area to lay in, and a garden full of flowers and vegetables. However, my favorite spot in the whole yard has always been the deck. It’s a small upper deck right off the house that leads to the lower patio.
When I moved in (me and three guys living it up New Girl style—I’d just gone through a breakup and worked part time as a teacher as well), the deck was nothing special. In fact, it was growing moss and featured a tattered looking couch that had been outside long enough, it double as a mushroom log. I’d moved in the fall and come spring my first order of business was to figure out how to dispose of the couch/mushroom log. (A local church down the road helped recycle it.) With the deck cleared off and empty, I decided to turn it into my outdoor haven/dining space/summer office. I bought my lime green bistro set from a Fred Myer up the road (with no car at the time, I carried it about 14 blocks home—I cursed from the weight but it was well worth the effort). I paired it with a couple pots of flowers and viola! The first rendition of my mini outdoor paradise was ready for use.
Pro Tip: Before I owned any of my own gardening supplies, I would buy hanging pots from the local garden center and remove the plastic hanger. I propped them up on cinderblocks or railings for beautiful planters that cascaded all around the deck. The effect is gorgeous, with the effort and supplies minimal.
An updated Space
After many years, it seemed time to give the space a bit of a refresh. I had two goals with this: 1) Make it reflect my current taste and 2) Make it replicable for an apartment balcony. My design taste over the years have change from “I just graduated college and this is what I can afford” to “I’m in my 30s and shopping for items I’ll keep long term.” I’m also expecting this to be my last summer at this house (shocking since I’ve lived here for 8+ years). I wanted to use this opportunity to create my “practice apartment balcony.” I started with my wishlist of things I’d want for my ideal balcony space.
I love outdoor rugs. I think they can create a beautiful pop of color, are an easy way to totally change the vibe of the space, and make being barefoot outside way nicer. I was torn between going with a white and black striped rug and a more “Moroccan” print. In the end, I found this beautiful blue Moroccan rug on Amazon and decided it was perfect (a few months ago I watch both John Wick III and Aladdin, which has inspired a few of my design choice). While I’ve considered updating the actual bistro set, it still holds a special place in my heart… and it’s easy to store in the winter months.
I knew I’d want more accent pieces than I’ve had in the past, as well as bring up a bit more light. The tree next to the deck has lots of twinkly lights, but the deck itself is a bit in the dark as the sun goes down. I added a tall, porcelain outdoor light to one side of the table and some geometric candle holders stuffed with colored light to the other side. The yard can get a bit mosquito infested in the summer. I normally combat this with citronella tiki torches, but wanted something a bit more appropriate for the wooden deck. I found glass table-top citronella torches in colors that complimented the Moroccan feel of the rug. For a splash of color, I added an ombre stone side table from Anthropologie and my new “pet” flamingo. I have a minor obsession with flamingos and decided to get a metal sculpture version that would be easily movable to an apartment balcony (versus the fun, but kitschy yard flamingos… which I also own.)
This year I opted to do something a bit different with my flower pots that I’ve done in the past. Thanks to a late blooming tree on the west side of the deck, the space get’s less sunlight the last half of summer. This has made it more difficult for my flower pots to really thrive (this summer in particular has been a bit more chilly and overcast than past summers, adding to the decreased sunlight on the deck). So instead of trying to coax my flowers to survive, I opted for more leafy, shade-friendly plants. I love the almost jungle effect it gives my deck.
The Devil is in the details
When creating my overall plan, I questioned how much I really wanted to add to the space. I’ve been trying very hard to cut back, donate, and own less stuff in general. Buying knick-knacks for my patio runs counter to so many goals I’ve been working on over the past months. But when I walk onto my deck every morning, I feel a nice rush of joy from the space. Some of the items I questioned the most (who really needs a metal flamingo sculpture) have been some of my favorite additions to the yard. My summer as a whole might have been a bit of a bust, but nothing beats a beautiful weekend morning, eating breakfast out on my deck. It’s been the bright spot in a heavy couple of months.