I live in Kansas. We have four beautiful seasons. We get it all...ice storms, humidity, beautiful fall leaves and the most amazing summer storms you'll ever see. If you threw a dart at a US map, you'd find me right in the middle of the country. I live in a suburb of Kansas City. But when people hear Kansas, they picture me driving a John Deere, surrounded by chickens and growing my own vegetables. Well some of that is true. Ok- all of that is true, to a degree.
Two years ago my hubby and I stumbled upon a piece of property with an old barn, a 1970's farmhouse and a beautiful lake. We jumped in with both feet. Well not literally, it was December. That would have been a very cold dip in the lake. After a difficult real estate transaction, a huge renovation project ensued. I feel confident this is when my brain cells started to diminish. Ok, maybe it started sooner, but a project like this just moves the process along at a quicker pace.
The previous owner did leave a John Deere. And, before we even began renovations we bought chicks and a coop. I am also trying unsuccessfully to keep basil alive long enough to enjoy caprese salad every evening. So I guess you could call me a "suburban farm girl".
To say the renovation was a "project" is an understatement. Don't get me wrong, it was fun. It was also stressful and it tried my patience. Most likely you've heard renovations cost double and take twice the time. I agree, and then some. But our farm in the suburbs is a blog post for a different day. I have before and after pictures, and everything in between. I used to kick myself for not blogging during the renovation. Then reality set in and I got real honest with myself. I was too busy deciding where I wanted light switches, how many outlets I needed in a room, and if I wanted the microwave door to open to the left or the right. I had so many meetings about cabinets they started serving cocktails. Maybe that explains my hair accessory drawers ending up deep enough to fit a crock pot.
So here I am, over a year later, sharing my stories. I think I was sitting out on my back patio when I first thought about writing a blog. The view looked a little something like this...
So today I'm sharing my thoughts on actually using your outdoor areas. My favorite time to sit outside is during a storm. We have a huge swing on our covered front porch and for the most part we are protected, unless the wind blows the rain or hail sideways. We weren't in the house very long when my husband and I were enjoying some alone time on the porch watching a storm. Our youngest joined us and was sitting on her dad's lap on the rocking chair. And then it happened! Hail started blowing across the porch horizontally, pelting us from all directions. It was like a scene out of Saving Private Ryan. We were dodging and weaving, stepping on hail like land mines as we ran inside. Not our ideal evening, but no serious injuries to speak of so we chalked it up as a success.
So let's get started with some ideas of how to make your space more appealing than a crowded restaurant with overpriced wine. First, you need somewhere to put the reasonably priced wine you buy in bulk during the week when the kids are at school. You don't want to run in and out of the house to refill your glass. You'd run the risk of seeing a child and being asked to make a frozen pizza. This tin ice bucket is a great outdoor option because you don't want glass, and plastic, well- it's plastic.
This swing makes me want to add a second on our porch. I love the wide arms to hold your cold beverage and deep seats for colorful pillows. And because it has 2 "separate" seats, there's really no spot for your kids to join you.
I am a big fan of vintage. I wish I knew this when I was younger so my Mom would have saved more for me. Whenever I go to estate sales or flea markets I look through old albums. I have a huge collection of Christmas albums. But I did also find Michael Jackson's Thriller album for myself and Johnny Cash's Greatest Hits for my husband through the years. I know, you're jealous. I love these new record players that are designed to look old. Wouldn't this be so romantic on your patio or deck for your date night? You get where I'm going with this"no kids allowed" theme, right?
Eat outside I say! Make your meal in the kitchen, but not frozen pizza, and take your plates outside instead of eating at the island, like we tend to do at my house. Maybe you could convince your kids to "serve" you, for a small tip of course. Every store I go into these days sells beautiful melamine plates & serving pieces. Go getcha some.
Who says you can't hang stuff on your exterior walls? Not me! This is where vintage and repurposed pieces are prefect. They can withstand the weather, even here in Kansas. This windmill sure makes a statement. If you can't find it vintage, here's a great reproduction. Side note, fun to hang inside too with magnets for Christmas cards, invitations and kids' spsort schedules.
No matter what, add a bit of nature to maintain the outdoor vibe. If you get tired of watering your container plants by mid-June (picture me raising my hand here) then buy faux. There are beautiful artificial options now that won't remind you of your grandmother's house.
Oh how I love this look in magazines. Outdoor drapes are made in such durable outdoor fabric they can even withstand Kansas hail storms. Stripes, and solids and florals, oh my!
Without a doubt an outdoor rug is the most important piece. As soon as you lay it down, BAM, it's not just the patio anymore. Oh no, you have moved beyond just a deck. Your front porch is now additional square footage. Get 'er done!
Back to my point about plants, greenery and killing things. Herbs, it's what's for dinner. Grow just a few. Don't go crazy year 1. Start with basil, mint, cilantro and lavender, which will keep away the mosquitos.
And last, and surely not least, a BAR! There are SO many cool styles out there. It's the perfect place for your record player, herbs and that ice bucket! Don't skimp now. And think- you can use it indoors for the winter when entertaining. During your holiday party use it to serve wines, but upgrade a bit from that moderately priced stuff you bought during the summer in bulk.
There we have it friends, putting together a great outdoor space. Now who am I kidding, you'll need citronella candles. Why, why, why do mosquitos love me so much!? Oh, imagine a world without these stupid little pests. But we won't let that spoil our date night. Light those candles and don't forget the protective rain gear. Oh, and goggles & combat boots, just in case it hails ;).
Be kind & love others,