The Perfect Set Of Outdoor Furnishings – For This Part Of The World


I generally prefer my gardens unfurnished. No statues or windchimes, no mirror balls. That way I can pretend I live on a high lonely hill, looking out. This isn’t an actively narrated pretense, just the kind that mutters when denied.

But summer beats fictions. Live outside we must, cook outside we will. You gotta sit down.

Outdoor furnishings vary between geographies, I assume. In cold climates you either cover or store your stuff, in winter, right? In the South, do you use outdoor furnishing much, or just stay inside in the air conditioning? You can tell, I’m a big baby about heat and humidity. By the sea, you’re thinking about wind, sun, salt. How about the desert? The mountains?

I do know the San Francisco Bay Area, and our particular sort of climate. We don’t need to bring anything inside for the winter. We buy stuff that can get rained on, we call it a day. And, notably, in the summer, it’s often too cool in the evenings to eat outside unless you’ve got the perfect spot.

The-Back-Patio

That’s my spot, above, at the back of our house on an overcast morning. It’s mostly shaded, and too cool for dinners unless our marine layer takes the week off. I have loved that bench, over the years. I sit on the patio watching the light change on hydrangeas. (I might need a cushion, these days, so my body can allow my mind some peace.)

I definitely need a grill. Although it’s too cool to eat outside, it’s perfect weather for cooking. We recently bought this, small, from Weber. One of those things you might as well source online unless you’ve got a very big car to bring it home.

Small Weber Propane Grill

Oh, and trays, plural, are critical for carrying foods back and forth. Use the good silver. Love my iGrill thermometer and app.

But that dumb old white table has to go. I think I’d like something small, round, wooden, to quasi-match the bench? It’d have to be sustainably grown and harvested, the earth needs rain forests and so do we. This one is acacia, and I like Savafieh’s responsibility statement.

Acacia Outdoor Table

Or this less angular one? What about a classic cadiz top? (BTW, Cost Plus World Market is having a sale on outdoor furnishings right now.)

Once we up the table game, surely that Fermob chair from my Christmas list? Some place for the cook’s company to sit. Do I want orange?

Fermob Bistro Chair

If yes, I’d need a muted cushion. Serenity can survive only so much burn. Or, wait?

I think I also want to put a plant in the corner. Something green, to pick up the dwarf maple. My fuchsia grouping is on the right, out of frame. I’ll get the patio power-washed this month, now that the trees are trimmed.

And finally, because Sturdy Gals with over-sensitive aesthetics care , I recently replaced my cheap and ugly bright aqua hoses with wonderful black rubber ones. Discreet, non-kinking, perfect for their task and the landscape. Less toxic than PVC. Seriously.
Black Rubber HosesIt’s all in the details guys, whether you like yours abundant or minimal.

What do your outdoor furnishings look like? Exuberant? Matching? Themed? Or, like mine, what we might politely term, “organic,” or, another forgiving adjective, “unfussy?”

 

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34 Comments

  • 06/01/16
    8:07 am

    Reply

    SAJ said...

    I have a set of vintage Brown Jordan that sits outside through blizzards, ice storms, -20, 101, and everywhere in between. I power wash it every so often and it’s easy. I don’t love the look but the problem with the lovely furniture that must be brought in is that you end up missing the best days because you either packed it away too soon or are reluctant to bring it back out too early. Our fringe weather is our best weather. I don’t like those French park chairs but I am the only one. I think it’s because they would make me look fat. I like big accessories and furniture to tip visual scale in my favor even slightly. How cold is too cold to eat outdoors? My cut off for dinner is 55 but for breakfast is about 45. I like hot coffee in a cold surround.

    06/01/16
    9:37 am
    Lisa said...

    @SAJ, We must absolutely furnish for ourselves! And you are a polar bear! We here in Northern California are admittedly spoiled, and decline al fresco dining when it’s under 73F;)

  • 06/01/16
    8:09 am

    Reply

    Valentine said...

    Good call on the hose!!! Here on the east coast beach we love teak. Or plastic!

    06/01/16
    9:42 am
    Lisa said...

    @Valentine, Thanks! Love my new hoses to pieces!

  • 06/01/16
    8:32 am

    Reply

    Ros said...

    We’re in Quebec, so our concerns are different: everything needs to stand up to -30 degree wind coming off the lake.

    We have a garden and deck that’s mostly made of locally-produced and sustainable rustic cedar. Or, more realistically: cedar from my father-in-law’s woodlot that he and my husband cut down and sawed and we built. Less fancy, but definitely more sustainable and affordable than other options!

    They built the deck, I built flower boxes and tables, and we all collaborated on garden boxes, swingset, sandbox, and other toddler-occupying items. This summer: sangria and ratatouille and grilled lamb, overlooking the sheep field and chicken coop and lake. There we have it. Bliss.

    06/01/16
    6:58 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Ros, It sounds like bliss. Rustic cedar, family-built furnishings, and a lake. Oh, and toddlers:).

  • 06/01/16
    8:32 am

    Reply

    nancy said...

    I love eating outside, I have a lot of furnish in the garden. Swimming pool, lounge set, bbq, candles, everything for a while summer living as much as possible outside! :-)

    06/01/16
    7:00 pm
    Lisa said...

    @nancy, A swimming pool definitely shifts the balance to the out of doors!

  • 06/01/16
    8:44 am

    Reply

    RoseAG said...

    That patio looks forlorn!

    Whatever you do, don’t forget the twinkly white lights.

    06/01/16
    7:05 pm
    Lisa said...

    @RoseAG, I do believe you are insulting my patio! Hey! I have to defend its honor! First of all, no no no to the twinkly white lights. I love them elsewhere, but what I suppose I neglected to make clear is that I can SEE the patio from my living room:). That wall of windows? That’s my living room, and the hall to our bedroom. So I need to keep things peaceful out there, and light cord is not peaceful, to me.

    Second of all, I suppose I hung my poor patio out to dry by failing to remind everyone that if you sit on that bench, you see my “woodland” garden. Native iris, forget-me-nots, oxalis, wild strawberries in spring. Then the dogwood, the hydrangea, et. alia. Red berries in fall. The patio has to take a back seat, remain nigh on invisible, because the garden has a lot to look at.

    That said, yes, I agree the patio needs a little sprucing up. That power washing I mentioned, for example. Hasn’t been done in 20 years. A nicer table, and a plant in the corner. Maybe, maybe, a small chair. But that corner is notable largely for what it looks at, not what looks at it.

    OK fine. I guess we don’t have to have a duel;).

  • 06/01/16
    8:58 am

    Reply

    Mary anne said...

    Yes, indeed, we have to remove or cover outdoor stuff in winter. Except the bbq. My husband can be seen in the dead of winter, sporting a down jacket, with a plateful of chicken. Of course we don’t sit outside, but bring our lovely grilled things in to enjoy by the fireplace.

    06/01/16
    7:08 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mary anne, Hahahaha! A down jacket and a plate full of chicken!

  • 06/01/16
    9:05 am

    Reply

    Dallas said...

    Fire pit!! You need a fire pit. I have one for my house here in the south, so it gets use March-April and then October-November. It’s the best.

    06/01/16
    7:09 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Dallas, If I had more space on the patio, I’d probably do that. As it is, I run into the maple, the lawn, the old Chinese elm, and then the “woodland” garden, pretty dang fast.

  • 06/01/16
    9:19 am

    Reply

    Susan D. said...

    At our house in Dallas we have a sturdy wrought iron table and chair from 1993 which is still hanging in there with its original coat of Verdigris paint. The brand is Woodard which has been around a long time. We almost never go in our backyard for anything other than to admire flowers as the mosquitoes get bad in the summertime.

    At our farm (85 miles away), it’s a different story. We have a big front porch and a beloved screened porch on the side of our house. Mosquitoes are not as bad out in the country (at least on our farm) for some reason. Our porch furniture is not the most practical, but it is beautiful. It is a dark wicker from a company called Mainly Baskets. We have four rocking chairs, two lounge chairs, a settee and an ottoman. Just this last year, we decided that we need to get covers for the rockers–so we cover them when we are away. The lounge chairs come into our bedroom to live when we are away. If you like natural wicker, I recommend Mainly Baskets as it is really attractive. You can go to their websites to see the various styles. We have the daybed in our log house.

    06/01/16
    7:22 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Susan D., Mainly Baskets is here, for anyone curious. http://mainlybaskets.com/section.php/74/1/chairs/8086fc843cc03f8d5b7479e3d1a375e2 I love that stuff. So wonderful for the porch of a classic, rustic house.

    My mom has some cast iron outdoor furniture from her mother. We’ll be selling it in the estate sale.

  • 06/01/16
    9:24 am

    Reply

    Wendelah said...

    The outdoors is too hot to sit in my part of Southern California during most of the year. We have stacking resin restaurant style chairs with a matching table. They will survive the apocalypse. If I had the money, I’d replace the whole shebang with restaurant grade teak. Alas, I do not.

    The Fermob chairs remind me of Paris. So nostalgic. I like the poppy red color better but the carrot color is pretty, too. And I’d probably get matching tables, but in a contrasting color, because I’m like that. While I’m making wishes, I’d like to order a bigger yard, some huge shade trees, and for the drought to end so I can replant my back lawn. This house and yard would do nicely: http://www.fermob.com/en/Browse-our-furniture/Flagship-collections/Bistro/Chair. The landscaping reminds me of the grounds at the Huntington Gardens, minus the tourists, of course.

    06/01/16
    7:27 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Wendelah, Oh I love all the colors mixed, and the long green garden. The Huntington Gardens, without tourists, we can all dream.

  • 06/01/16
    9:46 am

    Reply

    Northmoon said...

    My problem with outdoor furniture is a little different than some other commenters – it’s theft. I live in a big city with a public lane at the back of my house. I do have a fence with a gate to the lane, but the latch was broken within weeks of installation. Anything metal gets stolen for scrap.

    So I don’t put anything valuable or nice in my yard. I have some old wood cafe style chairs, a home made heavy wood bench/table, a plain green garden hose and assorted clay pots and containers for some geraniums. Oh and this year I bought a lounge chaise for $25. If they take it at least I’m not out a lot of money.

    You’ve got a lovely patio. I wish I could have a bbq, and a nice bench too, even if it did need a cushion.

    06/01/16
    4:21 pm
    RoseAG said...

    @Northmoon, That sucks! I lived someplace where things disappeared off our front porch if they weren’t cabled to the rails. It’s annoying.

    06/01/16
    7:28 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Northmoon, That would be really tough. A psychic drain, in a way. But I suppose cities are like that, they give and they take, both.

  • 06/01/16
    9:47 am

    Reply

    Jennifer said...

    My patio furniture is over 25 years old and looks every minute of it. Hoses? Jumbled, cracked and inflexible. Time to up my game :) If I didn’t have a black thumb I’d probably care more. I do love my grill though.

    06/01/16
    7:29 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jennifer, Ah love affair with our grills:). I’m telling you, a good hose is a real joy.

  • 06/01/16
    10:36 am

    Reply

    Susan B said...

    I’ve been meaning to replace one of my garden hoses, just ordered the one you recommended. When we furnished our patio a few years ago, the theme sort of was, “if we can’t be in Paris…” Cafe chairs, glass topped table with a wrought iron frame that hints at Art Nouveau. It sounds cheesier than it looks. ;-) If we ever replace those I’d go for something more minimal and pared down.

    06/01/16
    7:34 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Susan B, Ha! I think you’ve shown a bit of your yard, and I think the cast iron/art nouveau works well in LA. Mediterranean, broadly defined?

  • 06/01/16
    10:59 am

    Reply

    AK said...

    In the Bay Area, Brown Jordan is perfect. This Tamiami chair is really comfortable because it’s springy. Then you can have a glass top table. My parents had that and I wanted it too, but no one sells BJ in our area because it’s not practical.

    http://www.brownjordan.com/product/3390-4900_spring_base_chair.do?sortby=ourPicks&refType=&from=fn

    I live in snow country. We do not cover or put away our furniture. However it has to be heavy so it won’t blow off the deck. We have OW Lee Avalon. It’s coated cast iron. The chairs are springy, and table top is mesh so snow melts through. The chairs are mesh too, and comfortable enough they don’t need a cushion. The chaise is the only piece that needs a cushion. I do put it away for the winter. It’s kind of retro looking.

    http://www.owlee.com/wrought-iron/avalon/

    06/01/16
    7:36 pm
    Lisa said...

    @AK, That Brown Jordan chair takes me back to my aunt’s pool, and our pool, and in fact my mom’s other outdoor furniture is, unsurprisingly, Brown Jordan. I love it.

    I cannot imagine needing one’s furniture not to blow away:). But, of course that would be the case. Your cast iron piece is retro – I like it.

  • 06/01/16
    11:27 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    In coastal New England, L.L. Bean all weather Adirondacks and an all weather coffee table (that’s really a child’s dining table, but it’s the perfect size) on one side of the deck and a grouping of white & navy director’s chairs on the other side.

    All weather stays out in, well, all weather. Director’s chairs come inside in November.

    06/01/16
    7:37 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Patsy, I can see it so clearly in my mind’s eye.

  • 06/01/16
    11:37 am

    Reply

    Rebecca said...

    As I get older, my desire to linger longer at the table goes up, and my tolerance for less comfortable chairs goes down. I very much agree with Tara Dillard’s suggestions (chairs with arms and higher backs) in this blog post,

    http://taradillard.blogspot.ca/2015/07/choosing-chairs.html

    And definitely a patio heater or fire pit to take the chill off!

    06/01/16
    7:48 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Rebecca, Yes, if we were going to eat outside, I agree with both your suggestions. In the scenario where I’m just cooking outside, some people might keep me company for a little while, and then we go back inside to eat, do you think that chair would still be uncomfortable?

  • 06/01/16
    12:05 pm

    Reply

    Town and Country House said...

    Reporting from the southeast US, we’ve enjoyed a mesh wrought iron table for six with matching chairs with arms. Off to the side, we’ve got a pair of 40-year old wooden Adirondacks. Everything stays out year round except the chair cushions, which I replace every couple of years anyway. This summer, I’m still enjoying navy blue-and-white paisley design. The only plants are boxwoods in inexpensive clay pots. We start having weekend lunches outside in April. As it gets warmer, we eat supper outside until it gets too hot, but it’s still not a bad spot to sip something cold while the Mister grills. We enjoy coffee outside in the morning all summer long and lots of meals through September or so. Then it’s dark and cold. Your spot is roomy and lovely. I love the Paris chairs, but you might enjoy something more comfy for reading and sipping!

    06/01/16
    7:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Town and Country House, I do the sipping, and staring at the sky and the tree and the plants, on the bench. With the cushion it’s pretty comfortable. But I love the idea of you sitting outside with your Adirondacks, drinking coffee in the morning. It sounds so peaceful, and companionable.

  • 06/01/16
    12:56 pm

    Reply

    Lisa Chavez said...

    Beautiful back patio, whatever you do, or don’t do, to it. I have a balcony. No hoses or grills allowed, but I love gardening, so I do the best I can with containers of plants, and am currently growing cucumbers as well, so the vines are climbing, winding, entwining… My style is eclectic. I have a gorgeous old rusted metal chair from the ’50s that I paid the man at a junkyard in TN, $20 for, as he was sitting in it and I thought it was wonderful. He thought I was crazy. Have a 2nd fabulous non-matching vintage metal chair from the fleamarket, and a little cast iron table. I hung a Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers curtain at one side, for more privacy and shade from the hideous Florida sun, and added pillows with birds on them to the chairs. Throw in a soft yellow ceramic chinese stool/table, and a cement Frank Lloyd Wright’s Garden Sprite statue among Foxtail Ferns, and add a stained glass window and a few vintage colored glass lanterns along the front overhang and it looks cozy, interesting and slightly exotic….my balcony is probably a little crowded but being up there among mints, lavender, citronella, etc. etc., is so pleasant. I enjoy sitting out there and having a Bud Light Clamato Chelada tallboy or water with sprigs of mint….

    06/01/16
    8:23 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Lisa Chavez, This sounds so Florida! In a good way, in a Miami/Key West, Southern edge kind of way.

  • 06/01/16
    3:41 pm

    Reply

    Bungalow Hostess said...

    Our deck furniture is teak and we have a table that seats six with four chairs and a teak bench. Martha Stewart chairs and table off to the side all have cushions that come outside when it is not raining.
    In the garden I have a French iron bistro table and chair by the back door and on our newly refurbished patio we bought two bright red PVC Adirondack chairs… Lots of opportunity to sit but I am usually busy weeding and dead heading the flowers to sit for very long.
    A propane BBQ is so handy for summertime entertaining too…hope you enjoy yours.
    Love the idea of orange against your house exterior and think of orange flowers in a few pots to add more impact!
    Your back patio looks quite private and lovely.

    06/01/16
    8:26 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Bungalow Hostess, It really is a thing, that need to jump up and dead head. I get it in my kitchen in the morning, because I can see the rose garden out the window! And yes, I’m on the hunt for a couple of kalanchoe to put in the small posts near my fuchsia. Can’t wait – I love the way they look with the pink and purple fuchsia blooms.

  • 06/01/16
    4:16 pm

    Reply

    Ellen said...

    We have a large deck with a lovely view of our garden and the neighbors, making our yard seem bigger than it is. The Mississippi is across the street, so I get wild and windswept over there. We have a round table which comfortably seats six,and is cozy for eight, and armchairs with cushions which look like wrought iron, but are actually aluminum. We push them against the house, under the overhang in the winter. The cushions are stored in a tub. There are two other chairs, comfortable for reading and a tiny table at the other end of the deck. There are plants. I have to agree, there is minimal, and there is forlorn. And in climates with weather, a table from CostPlus would probably have a short lifespan… a few woods stand up to real weather, like rain, and covering them is a pain, and not very esthetic.

    06/01/16
    7:12 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Ellen, I have seen the Mississippi only once. It must be amazing to have it across the way. Sounds as though you are comfortably set up.

    And it’s a teeny bit forlorn right now but in context, not so much. I took the photo from that angle, from a place in which nobody ever stands except me when I am weeding, or the gardeners when they are mowing, in order to show the space.

    I thought you guys would be tired of yet another photo of my gardens, but, I forget that not everybody lives surrounded by my hydrangeas;).

  • 06/01/16
    5:12 pm

    Reply

    victoire said...

    Wow, that is one seriously stark and square and grey patio! (Or maybe it’s just the effect of lighting and camera angle?) Seems to me that you have either to embrace the grey, or consciously work against it.

    Suggestion: squarish wood furniture that will weather to grey, cushions that build color upon grey, lots of greenery in grey-to-green pots with a flourish of colorful flowers here and there. And maybe some sort of metal wall sculpture (or even painting) on that blank exterior wall behind the grill? Perhaps an abstract tree stretching from the the right of the grill and then across the wall? (That wall needs something to relieve its hulking boredom.)

    On the other hand, you could go totally Sixties with pop-art colors and plastic, and make yourself silly and bouncy and happy whenever you venture outside.

    You’ll find your own way and do it perfectly, I’m sure – you are not your mother’s daughter for nothing…

    06/01/16
    7:20 pm
    Lisa said...

    @victoire, OK, OK, I give up! Here is a list of posts in which you can see exactly what the yard/garden looks like when you’re seated on that forlorn bench.

    To your far left, as you sit:

    http://amidprivilege.com/2016/04/enduring-love-affair-fuchsia-friends-small-haws-copper-watering/

    Straight out ahead:

    http://amidprivilege.com/2016/03/greenery/

    http://amidprivilege.com/2015/11/evergreening-garden-pine-sight/

    http://amidprivilege.com/2015/06/hydrangea-time-california/

    And this video, from Instagram, actually taken while seated on said forlorn bench.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BD1bSHbtOM-/?taken-by=amidprivilege

    I hope you are no longer worried about my design sanity.

    Oh, and I need the blank wall to provide the moral equivalent of white space in print design. I apologize 80 hundred million pazillion times for assuming everyone carried around a picture in their head of my gardens. I guess I don’t talk about them as much I think I do?

    Alternatively, you’ve got lives. I’m guessing that’s it. xoxox.

    06/01/16
    7:24 pm
    Lisa said...

    @victoire, Also, your design solutions, to the photo shown, are wonderful.

  • 06/01/16
    7:00 pm

    Reply

    Kristina said...

    I have really enjoyed reading about how different people in different climes live in their outdoor spaces. I am naturally drawn to your choice of chair and color, but wonder about comfort.

    We’ve got a very large screened in porch which is our outdoor living room in the summer, and outdoor entertaining space (with the help of storm windows) in the winter, as we love a big crowd but have a rather small home. We’ve got “real” furniture out there — a craftsman style oak sofa long enough for my tall husband to nap on, two ikea “leather” club chairs, a 10′ yard sale table which used to be a display table at a local meat market, and 10 oak school chairs bought for $9 apiece off craigslist. We eat out there when my farmer husband will tolerate another hour spent outside.

    I’d like to put in another plug for a fire pit. We installed a large-ish gas one, surrounded by seating in our front yard (an arbitrary distinction on a farm) a couple of years ago, and nothing is better than a beer shared with my brother out there at the end of the day at the tail end of harvest. We have a new phrase — “fire time” — which friends request on a fairly regular basis. Except on days like this which tip 100 degrees. Your climate there is much better suited for consistent use of a fire pit.

    06/01/16
    8:28 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kristina, Your porch sounds like the stuff family memories, and legends, are made of.

    As does the fire pit. “Fire time.” I love that. As I love the idea that a front yard is an arbitrary distinction on a farm. I know exactly what you mean, the same is true of the Sierra ranch we used to ride at when I was a kid.

  • 06/01/16
    8:31 pm

    Reply

    Lisa Chavez said...

    That has always been my style. A bunch of things that don’t match yet look wonderful together.
    Oh Lisa, I hate Florida :-(
    Hate it.

    06/01/16
    9:07 pm
    Lisa said...

    Oh no:(. Then here’s to future travels.

  • 06/01/16
    8:53 pm

    Reply

    victoire said...

    Thanks for all the posts of your lovely garden – I see you have definitely figured out the “green with colorful flowers here and there” design motif! But thinking of your patio as a perch for gazing upon said garden, how about a pair of grey-green open-weave metal chairs with matching glass-top small table in between, to hold a mug of tea or glass of wine, set on an angle with their backs to the house? Cushions could carry on the grey-green scheme, which would be peaceful.

    But are you concerned at all that even the best patio furniture would impede the view of the garden from your living room? Ah, the intricacies of indoor-outdoor living and the California lifestyle…

    06/01/16
    9:14 pm
    Lisa said...

    I like your idea, a lot. Open-weave, glass top, etc. Gray green cushions. Everything letting the garden still take center stage. If it’s over towards those French doors, my view will be OK:.

    Hope it wasn’t too annoying of me to post the garden links, a little over-bearing, I know. Thanks for your forebearance.

  • 06/01/16
    10:48 pm

    Reply

    dottoressa said...

    Continental Croatia at home: vintage rocking chairs DIY painted in navy+ mint green table- for S-S-A only,at the balcony
    The orchard formerly known as vineyard- wood benches,table and stone built barbecue-all year long
    Adriatic Sea side small balcony- mint green Caligaris chairs +navy table ( oh yes,I see the pattern!)-outside only when I’m there
    I love your patio and the possibility to barbecue at home!
    Dottoressa

    06/02/16
    9:09 am
    Lisa said...

    @dottoressa, Oh that all sounds so lovely, and so innately European, which I cannot quite articulate as a concept. Thank you.

  • 06/02/16
    6:21 am

    Reply

    Kathy said...

    My outdoors is pretty “furnished”, an outdoor living room, and a rose covered pergola with a table that seats 12. But everything is very greyed out, teak, all weather wicker and reclaimed wood. We really use our outdoors when we can, so I like it comfortable and like an extension of my indoor house.

    I do have those French bistro chairs in a gray green in the front vegetable garden with a light gray metal table.

    06/02/16
    9:10 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, I like the idea of lots of gray and green. Obviously;).

  • 06/02/16
    7:02 am

    Reply

    Charlotte Des Fleurs said...

    Hi Lisa, I am very much a plants person and strongly agree with Tara Dillard’s philosophy of the “vanishing threshold”. What you see out your windows should relate to your interior decor. You say you embrace 1970’s hippy and mid-century modern.

    Your patio appears to be a good size (about 12 x 18). Here in California where houses cost a lot per square foot, a patio is a valuable “room”. Therefore, I vote for an outdoor heater so you can use your patio and grill more often. You have seen such heaters in the outdoor areas of restaurants. Buy on-line or at a big box DIY center.

    You also need more light. You are too much of a Sturdy Gall to want twinkly lights, but how about Cafe Lights with galvanized metal shades from World Market? These are bigger and should stand up visually to the siding on your house.

    http://www.worldmarket.com/product/cafe+10-bulb+string+lights.do?&from=fn

    Plants on the patio? Yes, more plants. I am under the impression that you and hubby don’t cook much. However, cooking is always more exciting and worthwhile when you have fresh herbs readily at hand. The Sunset Western Garden book with the purple cone flower on the front shows a lovely Northern CA garden using huge livestock feeding tanks (page 13). Not MY personal style, but surprisingly beautiful. Consider something like this at the edge of your patio to give a transition from patio to garden AND to plant cooking herbs. The height of the container will bring them closer to eye and nose level. For a 50 something person, the raised containers are also easier to garden in.

    http://www.textbooks.com/BooksDescription.php?BKN=818242&SBC=AG&kpid=9780376039163U&kenshu=321698cb-cb17-4949-96e6-286ff7e500f8&mcid=XKS-7564-41-450-GoogleShopping-PRIDREPLACE-291&gclid=CjwKEAjwsr-6BRCLvrj785rbhTsSJADjUxakGbj19o0PIfGjBBJOENOJVpY9VJmlY7ZK8lDll5Kv6BoCn6Lw_wcB

    You don’t have the space for that scale, but consider one or three of these galvanized metal curing tanks (2′ H x 2′ W x 4′ L). I like the diagonal corrugations which make them more stylish than just “country buckets”.

    http://certifiedmtp.com/galvanized-metal-curing-tank-95-gallon/?gclid=CjwKEAjwsr-6BRCLvrj785rbhTsSJADjUxakk-AFgg6Og0fBkCro6aIkd3jZ7fAAFqH6NJz65GDd1RoCyBLw_wcB

    If I were Tara Dillard, I would say, “Garden and be well”.

    Smiles from Charlotte Des fleurs

    06/02/16
    9:24 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Charlotte Des Fleurs, I have stopped reading Tara’s blog, although I appreciate her expertise, because somehow her tone always makes me feel like I’m being scolded;0. Over-sensitive, I guess. That said, I’ve learned so much from her.

    Your point about the vanishing threshold made me realize why I furnish so sparsely. I do want my view to seem to go on forever. I want the threshold to vanish, but any sense of an endpoint to be gone too. My lot is not quite 1/4 of an acre, big for my neighborhood, but not amenable to vistas. I have to sit close to my house, if I want to be able to pretend I have no neighbors. The further out I furnish, the more I feel and see my neighbor’s houses.

    Thank you for pushing me over the edge to understand why I’ve done as I have. And I do think my patio planters could do with some herbs this summer. Thanks for the idea. (I cook a lot;))

  • 06/02/16
    9:33 am

    Reply

    Noelle said...

    I have these chairs on the deck.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Martha-Stewart-Living-Charlottetown-Brown-All-Weather-Wicker-Patio-Lounge-Chair-with-Green-Bean-Cushions-65-509556-1/202400791

    Deep enough to really curl up. The green cushions echo the green trees and plants.

    06/02/16
    9:24 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Noelle, So comfortable.

  • 06/02/16
    2:47 pm

    Reply

    Chelsea said...

    Chairs in my opinion just have to be very comfortable.

    06/02/16
    9:25 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Chelsea, Ah. I like them to be comfortable enough for the purpose. My grilling usually takes, what, 20 minutes at most? So someone just has to perch and visit, and I hope I have leeway to indulge in aesthetics…

  • 06/02/16
    7:01 pm

    Reply

    victoire said...

    (reply to your reply to my reply earlier -)

    Gee, I was about to thank you for YOUR forbearance in responding to my complete misunderstanding of your patio in my first response!

    But all the posts from your readers have been so interesting, and so inspiring, that I am now looking at all my own “outdoor rooms” with new eyes… as long as I don’t have to work too hard, or spend too much!

    But I will never be the gardener that YOU are, Lisa – kudos to you and to all your gardening mentors!

    06/02/16
    9:27 pm
    Lisa said...

    @victoire, We shall thank each other then;). These comments have been wonderful, haven’t they?, yours among them. And to be fair, my primary skill in the garden was hiring Jeff Savastuk 20 years ago to do the initial design. Then, I suppose, that love of dead=heading. xox.

  • 06/03/16
    10:01 am

    Reply

    Charlotte Des Fleurs said...

    Hi Lisa,

    Sorry to be a Nag about the patio, but you
    DID ask for our opinions. I haven’t really seen all of your garden, but if you only have 1/4 acre, then you need to use every square inch to the max.

    I, too, really don’t want to see my neighbor’s houses or for them to be able to peek into MY yard. (Once we had some REALLY nosy neighbors. So, hubby and I dressed up in flesh-colored leotards and tights and danced around in the moonlight in the back yard. NEVER saw the neighbors peeking again!)

    You may not have liked my idea of the ribbed, galvanized tubs. Perhaps too industrial for you. Lowe’s has a large rectangular concrete planter (about 15″ H x 15″ W x 33″ L) for $70. It comes in both grey (which might work for you) and in a tan color with white antiquing. The planters don’t have “feet” so you could raise the height by using 4 small grey concrete blocks to act as feet. Perhaps other readers will know were to get more decorative concrete feet if desired.

    http://www.lowes.com/pd_484946-1570-07-005213DS_0__?k_clickID=321698cb-cb17-4949-96e6-286ff7e500f8&store_code=2294&productId=50006438&selectedLocalStoreBeanArray=%5Bcom.lowes.commerce.storelocator.beans.LocatorStoreBean%4075b675b6%5D&storeNumber=2294&kpid=50006438&cm_mmc=SCE_PLA-_-SeasonalLiving-_-SeasonalOutdoorFashion-_-50006438%3A&CAWELAID=&CAWELAID=320011480000778189

    Don’t know if you have any vertical trees in your garden, but they are great for screening out neighbors.

    Leland cypress – fast growing, dark green, a bit rangy and may not live more than 10 years (but good for almost instant gratification.)
    Arizona Blue Cyress – Blue green, silver and lime green varieties. Moderate growth and does well in containers. I have had mine in containers for 10 years.
    Italian Cypress – Moderate growth. Classic dark green spire of the Italian countryside. Gets TALL so very good to screen out two story neighbors.
    Italian Cypress (Tiny Towers) – from Monrovia – a dwarf version of above. Neat, compact and slow growing. Reported to be excellent in containers. On the expensive side, but every specimen I have seen looks fabulous!
    Spartan Juniper – medium to deep green with a very nice fragrance (and you can use the Juniper berries in cooking). About 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Pyramidal in shape so it is a nice filler for back and side yards. I like mine narrower so I prune off some of the side branches to bring indoors for the holidays.

    There!!! Aren’t you GLAD you asked?

    Smiles from Charlotte Des Fleurs

    06/03/16
    4:57 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Charlotte Des Fleurs, I do love reading your ideas. And, yes I have screening trees, but they are not cypress types, they are California Bay Laurels and privets. The problem is that my neighbors have let their equivalent screens die in the drought:(, or cut them down to add lawns (!!!) and built a second story on their house.

    I should try that flesh-colored leotard trick, but, in truth, I just wish they would not cheat and try to use my garden to fulfill their neighborly privacy obligations. I guess I’ve become the grumpy old lady of the cul-de-sac;).

  • 06/03/16
    4:13 pm

    Reply

    Kitty said...

    I live in rural Kansas. My number one consideration is how cumbersome is it going to be to drag that stuff back up to the patio the next time the wind blows it down to the first fence line or the ponds. And secondly, will it hold up to the numerous tumbling trips it will make back and forth between where I think it should be and where Mother Nature thinks it should be? My adult kids just shake their heads – but that’s my purchase criteria for anything to go on my patio.

    06/03/16
    4:58 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kitty, Well hello there in rural Kansas! And, I guess, I’m sorry if you hear this all the time, it’s like the Wizard of Oz? The wind keeps picking up your furniture and trying to move it to the Emerald City?

  • 06/04/16
    6:22 am

    Reply

    Flo said...

    “I can SEE the patio from my living room:). That wall of windows? That’s my living room”

    Blurt alert! Forgive me, I tried to stay quiet, but something keeps nagging me about the grill being in the living room-to-garden sight line. If the grill’s placement is necessitated by an fixed-place gas line jack, then there it must be. But if you’ve got a propane tank stowed underneath the grill, then might you consider moving the rig across the terrace to the other side, out of the living room-to-garden sight line? [Confession: I even want the bench pulled away from the windows!] xo xo

    06/04/16
    7:37 am
    Lisa said...

    @Flo, No worries on the blurting. We’re putting it all on the table here. Oh if I could move it anywhere reasonable I would. But the patio is triangular, due to our oddly shaped lot, and the grill has to sit on the wide side. Luckily, the grill and bench are actually in front of the hallway windows, rather than the sitting area itself, so it’s not as bad as it might be. I refuse to cover the grill, because, weird as it seems, I’d rather see black and steel than the beige vinyl of a cover.

  • 06/04/16
    9:26 am

    Reply

    Charlotte Des Fleurs said...

    Hi Lisa, If you don’t like the beige vinyl cover,but want to prolong the good looks of your fab new grill, get some all weather fabric and sew yourself a new cover in black. Cost – about $30 to $40. Alternative would be to get two cans of the new Durlux Superbond spray paint by Krylon @ $5.99 each. It bonds to plastic. Spray the cover black.

    I just sprayed all my faded patio furniture cushions and they look fab! They won’t last more than 5 – 10 years but by then we will have moved and I will get new ones. I have 8 chairs and 4 cushions. New cushion covers would have cost over $1,000. The spray paint is costing less than $200.

    Mario Buatta says, “Paint is a decorators best friend.”

    Smiles from Charlotte Des Fleurs

  • 07/08/16
    12:30 am

    Reply

    Jim said...

    Teak is always a good choice.

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