Our Patio Cabana

June 24th, 2011

Hey all, happy Friday, and welcome to anyone who caught my appearance on the Nate Berkus Show yesterday!   I”m still on vacation, but promised a peek at our new patio.  I’ve been working on the design for this space over the past few weeks, and I’m proud to announce this patio is one we now call our outdoor oasis!   How about a quick tour?

You may recall how our patio looked a month ago, pretty lousy and void of any appeal, except for the nice view of our vines.  We started this transformation by installing a new stone circular patio which leads to this concrete patio.  We then turned our attention to this 13′ x 16′ long space  to create a place to relax and entertain.   It required an open plan with two entrances, and we didn’t want to obstruct the view from the kitchen window.

The design plan was to create an outdoor “room” protected from the sun with the feeling of an enclosed space, but still one that feels open and breezy.   We shopped four retailers courtesy of the American Express Membership Rewards program:  Home Depot, West Elm, Crate + Barrel, and Pottery Barn.   I also threw in a few of my own finds so the space didn’t look completely ‘out of a catalog’.

Here is the patio last month:

And today: 

 

Come take a closer peek of the inside!

I ordered some new deep seat cushions online from Home Depot, and I’m digging the fact that they’re the same color as our house, an unexpected bonus when they arrived on our doorstep.  Jute trim pillow covers from Pottery Barn. 

 

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Instead of the mosquito netting that comes with this 12′ x 12′ cabana from Home Depot,  I hung off-white curtains instead.  The “curtains” are cotton/linen flat sheets I found on clearance for $5 at a local outlet hemmed to the height of the cabana and hung with simple rings.  Both the curtains and the cover come down in autumn when it rains, then I imagine the metal structure will look fantastic all lit up with a ton of twinkle lights.

The side tables are halves of wine barrels simply turned upside down.  I found them at a local hardware store for $20, they make the perfect rustic end table and also fit the style of our yard.  Lantern from Pottery Barn, square planter from Crate + Barrel.

 

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Secrets of a Successful Terrarium

June 23rd, 2011

One of the nice things about contributors is how much they teach and inspire me.  This month, Courtney is back and he is talking about his personal experience with a project I’ve long wanted to try: a terrarium! 

Placing anything organic under glass is a hot trend right now.  We’re seeing these mini ecosystems pop up everywhere in design, and more and more terrarium vessels available at stylish retailers.  They were big in the 1970’s and now they’re back!

james modern bespoke terrariumI learned with a little research yesterday that the art of a successful terrarium is not a new discovery by any means.

The history of the terrarium dates back to the 19th Century, and grew in popularity in the Victorian Era in England.  Their origination is credited to surgeon and gardening enthusiast Dr. Nathanial Ward. 

An amateur botanist, Ward was conducting an experiment on protecting plants from the polluted London air, and observed how certain plants could thrive and be kept healthy under glass. 

An added bonus to his 1827 discovery was that horticulturists could use glass vessels to protect tropical plant species in ‘Wardian cases’ from sea air on long voyages returning by ship to their homeland. 

I am fascinated by these ‘Wardian cases’ which we now call terrariums, and so is Courtney.  He recently attempted to create one himself, and learned a few things in the process.  

Please welcome back Courtney Lake on the topic of successful terrariums!

“Terrariums are the flora equivalent of a ship in a bottle in my opinion. They are beautiful living sculptures that can serve a multitude of purposes from table centerpiece to anchoring a mantel vignette. The terrariums of today are not the ones we crafted for school science fairs.  Modern terrariums combine form, texture and color to create living works of art.

Yet for many, including myself, creating a successful environment can be intimidating.  Every time I see one, I think to myself “How did they do that?”  It amazes me that people have mastered the art of how to create what are essentially miniature gardens within the confines of a glass vessel.

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