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Enclosed Patio Help

I have a friend who’s been living with the same hand-me-down patio furniture for ten years now.  She recently said to me, “A change is a comin’!”  She also said she doesn’t have the ability to visualize new possibilities and wants my help kick starting her creative juices.  I asked a few general questions about the feel she’s going for and she said she wants a dining/gathering space that’s either a vibrant, fresh feel that her seven year old daughter would be drawn to or a more natural and serene grown-up place.  Obviously, these are two completely different feels which most definitely call for two different inspiration boards.

I often see her house, already know her taste, so I didn’t feel the need to ask too many detailed questions regarding her style.  As much as I wanted to have fun pretending to be Emily Henderson on Secrets From a Stylist, you know, at the beginning of the show when she lays out several random objects and asks the clients to choose what they like so she can get an idea of their style , it just wasn’t necessary.  Oh well, I guess I can play that game some other time.  Moving on…

These inspiration boards are just that… inspiration to get her creative juices flowing.  She’s not looking to buy a bunch of pieces as she’s on a tight budget.  I’m giving her ideas for her space and then she’ll go thrift/Craigslist/garage sale/flea market shopping (and might ask me along for the ride if I’m so lucky).  Buying items on the cheap and turning them into something that works for a space is the fun part!  Okay, some of us think it’s fun.  Here’s the first “vibrant and fresh” sun-inspired board for her daughter:

1-4.  All from  I thought this was a fun combo for pillows, seat cushions, place mats, placing in picture frames for art on the wall, etc.  The options are endless.  Waverly Modern Essentials Glamour Marine, Waverly Pom Pom Play Spa, Waverly Stepping Out Matelasse Sunshine, Vintage Poly Burlap Khaki . Tip for buying small amounts of fabric: If you scour through the remnant or clearance piles, you can often find enough fabric for the project in need for usually 3/4 of the cost.

5-7. All from  I love the playfulness these invite into the room.  Aren’t they adorable?  Mama & Baby Birds, girl dog small, you are my sunshine.  Tip: If you’re artistic, you can easily use these as inspiration pieces and create something similar at a fraction of the cost.

8-10.  All from  Fun options to bring more vibrant color into the room.  Yellow Outdoor Stacking ArmchairSanta Barbara Table – White, Blue Outdoor Stacking Armchair.  Tip:  Wicker is a dime a dozen found on Craigslist, garage sales, and heck, even on the side of the road.  A good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint does wicker good.

11.  A neutral area rug grounds the vibrant colors and invites an element of nature.  This particular rug is also an indoor/outdoor variety so it’ll hold up well on the patio.  I can attest to that because I have this rug in my sun room.

12.  Love this!  So fun for her daughter, plus it continues to invite more natural grounding color in the room with the brown wicker.

13.  Contrary to popular belief, growing a lemon tree indoors isn’t impossible.  You really can do it!  It brings nature indoors and makes you proud to say the lemonade you made came from lemons grown on your tree!

Here’s board number two – the natural, serene feel:

Overall, you’ll notice the very natural and serene feel to the room.  The variety of materials and colors chosen aids in this feel.

1.  I am typically not a fan of fans, but I love this one!  I’ve never seen a canvas blade and I appreciate the artistic flare.

2-5.  All from  I really like this light and couldn’t decided between the fan or the light so I threw both in.  This light brings in a nice, feminine touch and is oh so pretty.  The bowls add a nice pop of color without screaming at you.  The candle holders, are just plain cool.  The birds add height and interest in the room.

6.  Another item on this inspiration board I really love are these hanging containers.  The white juxtaposed with the leather straps is elegant and smartly designed!

7-8.  Don’t you love the checkered floor with the white brick wall in number 7?  I tossed this into the mix because one of her walls is white brick.  When it comes to indoor fountains, often times they can be a bit loud in an enclosed area, but I added it because she loves them!  The table is a beauty right along with the price.  However, I love the wood tone in combination with the rest of the items.

9.  I chose this artwork because it does a couple of things: it brings in a nice pop of color, yet still remains soothing; and it brings the outside in.

10. These drums have a multitude of uses: storage; plant containers; or flip them over and place round cushions on them for additional seating.  Anything you can imagine, you can make work!

What do you think?  My friend wanted me to ask which direction you think she should go?  Did I also mention she has a tough time making decisions?  🙂

Have a great day!



admin - Yes, I definitely agree! If you are cost conscious in other areas, splurging on a great piece of artwork can make a room! I absolutely adore Sugarboo Designs and love that you found them. Now I’m jealous you’re going to have a piece in your dining room!!!

Grandma Shelly - Love your design inspirations. And . . . the funny thing is, I discovered Sugarboo Designs here in Fairbanks last week! They are a bit pricey but I love them to pieces. If you are cost conscious in all other areas, maybe you can justify the cost of the artwork within your re-design budget. At least that is how I am going to think about it as I pick out my Sugarboo Design piece for the dining room!

In the Garden

Good day to you all!  Today I’ll be giving you a general overview of our backyard garden. You’ve probably noticed so far my posts have been pretty general and don’t go into great detail on any one specific topic.  Don’t worry, that’ll come.  Right now, I’m introducing you to our small part of the world for some inspiration.  The DIY how-to projects are just around the corner.

Our first two years in the house, we had a very small garden that produced a limited amount of fruits and veggies.  We didn’t want to commit to a full scale garden assault until we knew exactly what we wanted in the backyard.  After a few months of thinking, sketching, erasing, sketching again, and then thinking I’ve got a good plan, I called in the reinforcements (my very talented first step-mom who owns a landscape biz).  After a couple of hours of her fab advice on plant, tree, and decorative item placements, I got straight to creating a design in Punch Home & Landscape.  By the way, ignore the lack of a roof on the house.  I wanted my garden designed!

Thus far, we’ve stayed pretty true to our overall design, only adding and taking away a few items.  Here’s our current, in-progress, shots as we all know the garden is never complete.  And take my word for it, we’re rounding second base right now.

Are any of you thinking, “I thought you couldn’t use galvanized steel bins for an organic veggie garden because it leeches zinc.”  Well, there’s much debate on this topic and, for our family, I’ve decided it’s safe.  I’ve read tons of articles, searched forums, and so has this woman.  She’s with me, but I know there’s many of you who aren’t.  I say do what you think is best for you and your family!  If you’re in the Bay Area, we bought the bins here a few years ago when steel was still cheap.  The price of these bins has quadrupled.  Plan on signing over the deed to your house if you want several of these bins.  Okay, I might be exaggerating but geez they’re expensive now!  We built the wood boxes using untreated redwood from my parent’s old fence.  Re-use whenever possible!!

You’ll notice in some of the upcoming images, we have a watering system installed.  (We don’t turn it on until we’ve exhausted our rain barrel water supply.)  The hubby and his dad dug trenches for the 1/2″ tubing, then brought 1/4″ tubing up into the bins and boxes.  We have some with bubblers and some with half circle adjustable spray heads depending on the type of coverage needed.  The heads are easily interchangeable when you rotate your crops.

I’m sure you noticed above some boxes half full or all together empty.  We’re just starting some new crops of honeydew orange melon, banana melon, watermelon, white corn, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and gypsy peppers.  We’re currently harvesting carrots, peas, beets, lettuce, broccoli, artichokes, strawberries (yep, already), collards, kale (we do a lot of juicing), and several herbs.

What you may not have noticed is we have an entire large box dedicated to an herb garden (and two pink diamond pee gee hydrangeas in the mix).  We’re growing cilantro, thyme, cress, sage, borage, basil, parsley, savory, chammomile, dill, chives, oregano, and lemon verbena.  It sounds like the box would be bursting at the seams, but thankfully it isn’t.  We’re able to plant seeds in succession.  As one cilantro plant is finishing up I’m planting something else in its place.  So far we have a constant supply of most herbs.  For the first time, I grew frost sensitive herbs (basil for example) in the new garden shed/greenhouse over the winter and it worked wonderfully. Here’s a few of our herbs:

Mint tip: plant by itself in a large pot otherwise it’ll take over other plants and your yard.

 Sage just coming up

 Thyme just coming up


If you’d like some tips on growing an herb garden you may visit the following sites.  There are hundreds out there and I’m sure formatted much nicer, but these are sites I’ve referenced because they’re organic.

Here’s some helpful articles on designing your herb garden:

On a final note, we only use compost in our raised boxes and bins.  Over the years, I’ve repeatedly read to mix your current soil with a compost.  The first two years in our new home, we tested the soil, tried a mixture of our clay soil and compost, adjusted as needed, and felt like we weren’t getting results we were pleased with.  So, last year we went for it and filled the raised beds with an organic compost only.  Yes, we knew we’d run the risk of no seed germination and root burn.  However, the compost was aged over one year  and we thought, “Why not take the risk?  We can always go back to a mix.”  So, we went for it and are very pleased with the results.  After one season of growth, our asparagus crop is promising; our new strawberry plants are loving their home; the same lettuce varieties we’ve grown in the past are much larger this time around; and the kale was huge!  I could go on and on!  It also helps that we use an organic fertilizer from Steve Solomon.  The first year we used it, we decided to try it only on our strawberries.  The result: we got hundreds of strawberries on sweet juice steroids!  Oh my were they unbelievably sweet.  Not grocery store large and tasteless, but small and flavorFULL!  Yum!  This is a fertilizer everyone should be using!  Just look at the picture of Steve sitting next to his garden veggies.  If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Check out the results of some of our early crops:

Roman Artichoke



 Flowering asparagus

Sage, beets, peas, carrots

Here’s to tasty, healthy eating!


P.S. Did you read this recent article on childhood obesity?


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