Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Progress on the Deck

Ok I have done pretty much NOTHING to the deck, but wanted to share a few "progress" photos.  The deck is still peeling and in terrible condition, along with the chairs, but ignore all that.  I'm stoked because I bought some plants and they have already made a huge difference! I'm doing my best to not kill them - no promises though.

I snagged a few boxwood's on sale at Orchard Supply, and they're lined up against the wall right now.

I think I'd like to get two more to line the entire length of that wall so it's more full and symmetrical.  Obviously the boxwood's still need to be planted, but they are at least temporarily brightening things up as they are.  

I see them sitting in a taller wooden planter... something like this:

Having them there makes it easier for me to envision what else I see being planted there.  

I'd like to stagger some plants, so that something taller - a vine climber like jasmine or creeping fig - can make its way up the wall behind the bushes.  Then there will be the boxwoods, that I'd like to see elevated about a foot higher than they are currently.  And then in front of them, perhaps some flowers that spill over the front of the planter.  

Maybe also a smallish lemon tree in the corner?  I mocked it up (kind of) just to give you an idea of how I see it playing out...

Anyway, that's what I WANT to see, but even just the gallon size planters with the boxwood have made a huge HUGE difference already.

I also tossed out the dead rosemary twig plant - may it rest in peace - and replaced the entire sad pot with a new wooden planter and some pretty flowers.  I planted some snapdragons, and these pretty pink and white flowers in the wooden planter - no idea what they are called but they were in the section labeled "full sun" so I figure they'll be ok.

They also really help brighten things up.

So pretty right??  I just love how the white one spills over the front.

And finally, since the peeling paint is a bit sharp on bare legs, I dragged out a few of our throws from the living room to sit on, along with some pillows for back support.

It made all the difference in the world this evening, and Kris and I sat out late watching the sun go down.

Just these little changes made me so excited to do more out here!

Happy Wednesday friends!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Outdoor Inspiration

We've been having some pretty incredible weather in San Francisco lately, and as a result, we've been spending a lot of time having dinner or drinks out on the back deck.  I even just love taking my book out there on weekends to read and get some sunshine.

The downside?? It's not looking so hot these days... 

The upside?? I have a plan, and it looks something like this...

Yep, the back deck is about to get a pretty fabulous makeover, and I'm looking to keep costs down here.  This transformation is going to take a lot of paint, a few plants, and a few well placed accessories.

Before I break down the plan for you, let's take a look at the deck's current state, shall we?

We've got a whole lot of peeling paint on the floorboards and wooden posts, some random cleaning supplies in the corner that are no longer fit to clean anything, a fireplace grate, some wooden furniture in need of new paint, and a very VERY dead rosemary bush.

God, the peeling paint has gotten really bad.

This side of the house is a western exposure so it gets the harsh afternoon sun, and the paint certainly shows it.

The wooden furniture has good lines, so while it looks sad, I think both the chairs and table can be saved.

Ok, don't judge me.

The broom, mop and miscellaneous metal bar are sitting out here out of sheer laziness. They need to go down to the trash. Simple.  In fact, I may move them down there right now.

So embarrassing.

Anyway, let's look back the other direction...

More peeling paint looking back at the doorway.  Oye.

And a closeup of the arm of the chair... luckily, it will be fairly easy to sand it down since the paint is hanging on by a thread.

Dead rosemary.  Like beyond dead.  It's time for a proper burial.

Scary, right??

Well, I'm hoping it's not so scary for long.

As I'd mentioned, the plan is to spruce things up with three things: paint, plants, and a few well placed accessories.  Here's the details:

The deck is in shambles - I mean you saw the pictures so you know what we're working with.  It can only go up from here, and the simple solution is to slap a fresh coat (or two) of paint on the deck and railings.  This is something I'm hopeful that our landlord will take care of, but if not, it's something I can tackle with a massive roller and some outdoor paint. Do I want to do it myself?  Absolutely not - it's a big job.  Mainly because the existing paint is peeling really badly already, and it needs to be sanded down first before any new paint can be applied... our deck is small, yes, not only do the railings, and floorboards need paint, but the walls of the building need help too.

Fingers crossed our building takes care of that.

Once we have a new coat of paint on the deck, I think it will be totally transformed already.  With that done, I'll move on to freshening up the outdoor furniture we already have.

I actually bought this furniture (the two chairs and the table) off of Craigslist a few years back.  The set was a total steal from a woman who staged homes, and was cleaning out her inventory.  All three pieces were $50 total, and were painted a pistachio color.  It was pretty.. until became it faded and chipped beyond recognition.  Despite the paint, the wood is in good shape, so they can definitely be saved.

Since the deck will be white I think we need to bring in some color, and the chairs are the perfect opportunity for that.  I'm thinking blue would be really pretty, and since you can see them from inside, it will coordinate with all the other shades of blue we have going in the hallway and dining room.

Picking a shade of blue is the hard part.  I'm thinking I'd like the cushions to be a black and white stripe, so a brighter blue to contrast with the black would be nice.  Perhaps something between a  navy and royal blue. After a bit of research on the topic of blue paint, I've discovered it's kind of hard to get it right.  There are SO MANY DIFFERENT VARIATIONS!

A few that I liked...

Benjamin Moore – Old Navy 2063-10
Benjamin Moore – Van Deusen Blue HC-156
Benjamin Moore – Admiral Blue 2065-10
Benjamin Moore – Bold Blue 2064-10
Benjamin Moore – Blue 2066-10
Benjamin Moore – Starry Night Blue 2067-20

Benjamin Moore – Symphony Blue 2060-10

As you can see the blue's I'm drawn to range from an ultra marine type blue with a green undertone, to a true navy, to almost a royal blue.  Since I found some seat cushions at the Home Depot that are a classic black and white stripe, I'm really leaning towards something brighter - black and white against a classic dark navy wouldn't feel right to me.

I'm loving the Admiral Blue (samples I saw looked lighter) along with Starry Night Blue and Blue.

Symphony Blue is also calling to me a bit as well.  I'll pick up some samples and see what works best.

Once we slap some paint on the furniture and deck, I want to bring in some greenery.  I've already started scouting a few hearty plants that will be a) hard for me to kill and b) bright and green year round.

I've been told to try out citrus trees (lemon, or orange), lavender, boxwood's, and jasmine.  All year round green, all hearty plants, and all good in exposed areas (aka, they won't keel over with a bit of wind).

With my brown thumb, I want something relatively low maintenance, but I'm also thinking that in addition to the above low-maintenance plants, I'd like to bring in some flowers for color - even if they do end up dying, I think some potted flowers would just be so pretty.

Beyond paint and plants, I think a few candles, some bistro lights strung up (we actually already have those) and some sort of all-weather, outdoor friendly art installation will finish things off nicely.  There is a big wall divider between our deck and our neighbors, and it's sort of an eyesore.  It would be cool to paint the grid pattern the same blue as the chairs, but to make changes like that to the exterior of our building isn't something I feel comfortable with as a renter.  Some sort of solar powered copper clock would be kind of awesome, but I haven't seen anything much like that.

I also saw those pink flamingos on Home Depot's site and thought they were fun.  They might be joining me on the deck in the near future...

There is a lot of work ahead, but once I'm finished, I think we'll have a really lovely urban oasis out there - perfect for reading my book on weekends, drinking wine after work, bbqing, and having friends over.

Wish me luck!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Plans for the Living Room

Soooo... there hasn't been much news on here about what's going on in the living room... and that's because not a ton has been going on in there since our fireplace update.

I need to take some "before" photos, even though they're more "during" photos - while the rug from the living room of our last apartment has made itself a new home in our bedroom, the furniture currently in there is the same as before for the most part.  Here's a little refresher from before we moved:

Two love seats... lots of dark fake wood furniture...  I did the best that I could with what we each brought to the apartment together, and we made it work for two years.  I actually kind of liked it once I distracted from all the things I wasn't loving (black man couch... super duper modern everything...)

Well, things are about to change... and SOON!

We just bought THIS sofa from Pottery Barn a few weeks ago. It looks a bit dwarfed in this photo, but it's big.  Really big.  And sooooo comfortable! I can't even put it into words.

We opted for the upholstered version and it's being made for us in this fabric:

It's got a subtle texture like linen, and little nubby bits here and there, and it's perfect.  PERFECT.

I originally wanted white, but everyone talked me out of it.

I mean I get it - it's just not practical.

I already know how anal I'm going to be once we get our new sofa.  People will have a glass of red wine and I'll be holding my breath the entire time.  And with a white sofa... I can't even imagine the sticky baby fingers of the adorable blonde babies we'll eventually have near this thing.  This sofa is an investment for us... something we see having for the next 10 years (at least), so I figure a textured fabric with a little grey and a little tan will help mask spills, and dirt over time.

We saw this fabric on a sofa in the store (photo below), and absolutely loved it - Kris was actually the one who noticed it.  The below picture is a really accurate representation of how it looks in real life. Much lighter than the above swatch, and I'm hoping I love it as much when this thing arrives in another month...

I'm also thrilled that we'll be getting rid of our current coffee table in the very near future.  After buying the new couch, we also bought the Box Frame Coffee Table from West Elm.  God I love that store.

Anyway, scroll back up to the picture of our old apartment for a reminder about what our current coffee table looks like.  I HATE the storage on the bottom.  It was practical for our apartment that literally had NO storage... but it always looked so cluttered.  Under the coffee table was where half of our Christmas decor lived for 11 out of 12 months of the year.  I only wish I were kidding.  Awful.

It was cluttered, and really detracted from everything else.  Plus the enormous dark coffee table was so huge, and manly.  Just this huge dark blob taking up an un-godly amount of room.  I can't wait for it to go away.

Already in our new place, we have a new rug - it's a nubby natural fiber jute rug (same one as the below picture), and it just makes things feel so light and bright.

With it I've layered our white cow hide that I adore.  I don't know that I've really ever photographed it for the blog but it's great... there's a picture of it in this post.  With the new coffee table, you'll actually be able to see it!  Hooray!

In the meantime, I'd been waffling between getting new side tables or trying to revamp what we've got. In the end, I'm going with the "revamp" option since there are other high ticket items on my list ahead of "new side tables".

What to do with them??

They currently look something like this (except the top is solid "wood") - you can see them peeking out in the first photo of this post if you need a real reminder.
They are fine - simple enough lines, functional.  I don't HATE them the same way I really hate our coffee table, but the fake wood veneer kills me.

I just haven't really known what to do with them to change them into something that I'll like, and it has been plaguing me... ok that's admittedly a bit dramatic, but it has been on my mind.

Anyway, a few weeks back, I saw this little makeover on the below chest of drawers, and knew instantly what I wanted to do...

Chalkboard paint.

No priming needed.  They look sort of like zinc which has the coolest finish, and I think that they'll fit right in with the more earthy palette we've got going on.

I mean how great does the finish on those (faux) drawers look??  Answer: amazing.

I also think that that finish will tie in really nicely with the finish on the frame of the coffee table:

I mean... right?????

So good.

Other things to think about for the living room..

Art.  That's been on my mind quite a bit lately.... some updates for you there (hopefully) soon.

Throw pillows - I want to stick with more classic patterns, and I've really been drawn to a white and cobalt color-way.  I'm also open to other shades of blue too...

Side chair - now that we're getting rid of both love seats (hooray) and replacing them with one sofa, we'll need a chair to go where one of the love seats currently is.  Should we do a solid neutral?  Too boring? What about a subtle pattern? Solid color? Something bold?

I don't know people.  There is still lots to think about, but soon it will be coming together, and I cannot wait.  Seriously... CANNOT.  WAIT.

More updates coming soon... I hope!