Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Slade Drive House Tour - outdoor entertaining area

When Sean and I moved into our house on Slade, we were new to all this yard work stuff, especially in a southern climate.  We had a lot to do and a lot to learn!

There was a three-car carport in the back yard and two of the spots would be usable; however, with a dog, and our laziness, we knew we weren't going to use it because we would need to open/close the big fence gate every time we wanted to park.

We brainstormed a lot, and our work took place over a long time, but here is what we tackled...

The Befores...
(notice fence, big dead tree, and old shed in carport)...
The shed was completely rotted, there was random lumber stored up on the rafters, the iron fence along the back was completely rusted, the floor was a mess...thus, begin the work!
What a mess...as we prepared to get started...
(You can see the good work Sean did on the iron fench though - 
he wire brushed, sanded and repainted it)...

We had a chain link fence at first, but after someone stole our lawn mower from the carport, we decided it was time for a privacy fence.
Privacy fence after...

I started having visions of a nice outdoor entertaining area using the carport.  We toyed with ideas of putting a new shed space under the carport; however, it wasn't in the best shape structurally, and we weren't sure how long we would be there.  So, instead, we decided to buy one of those Rubbermaid storage sheds that we were able to tuck away on the side of our house in a space that wouldn't have been used otherwise.

And, for the record, Rubbermaid advertises some crazy fast assembly time of 90 minutes or something ridiculous like that.  Ummm...let me just say kudos to anyone who has ever achieved this.  This took us all day long.  Maybe it would have gone more smoothly if we had a rubber mallet instead of the meat mallet we used. :)

New Shed on side of house...

Then, we got to work on the carport.  We wanted to create an area to relax and hang out, a place to eat, serve food, and grill.  Thankfully, there was plenty of room for all of these functions.

First, we had some rotting boards replaced.  Then, we power washed the heck out of it.  Next, we painted the floor (chocolate brown) and the ceiling (putty).  We had two ceiling fans installed and an electrical outlet added (have to be able to have music!). 

The carport evolved over time as we could afford bits and pieces.  I envisioned a space flanked with long white curtains to give us privacy and a more finished look.  Enter the Ikea Merete curtains.  We bought pipes from Home Depot and eye hooks to serve as curtain rods.  I am sort of embarrassed to admit just how many hours of my life I spent taking down, washing, and re-hanging these curtains over the years, but from a distance, they held up very well.

We also bought lots of bags of river rock to put between the edge of the carport floor and the fence, to cover up the dirt that was there.  This helped keep the curtains cleaner.  It drove 'neurotic me' a little crazy how the wind would separate the curtains...thank goodness for binder clips!  Those got a little rusty from getting rained on, but they did a good job keeping the curtains together.  As soon as the curtains went up, it felt like the space was really transformed!

We got a collapsible table from WalMart as we knew we could use this in the future as well, and I painted our old dining room table chairs (hand-me-downs from my parents) black.  We bought the buffet piece in Northern Michigan, and we didn't have room in the house for it, so it was perfect out here.  It needed to be refinished anyway, so I figured I would leave it as is until we moved.  We bought the wicker furniture from Pier I when it is was on sale.

To the right of the wicker sits my cherished claw foot tub.  This tub is from my grandma's cottage.  It is over 100 years old, and when the family recently did some renovations, they were going to get rid of it.  Being the sentimental sap and antique lover that I am, I quickly volunteered to take it.  Much to Sean's dismay, we ended up renting a U-Haul to get it home.  It was perfect for holding all of our firewood!

We added some hanging baskets and sago palms as you entered the space.  I found free standing tiki torches at Sam's Club, which were great...except for when the wind knocked them over!

To make it feel more like a room, I added pillows, tablecloths, a votive chandelier (which really wasn't the smartest idea...why didn't I think about how hard it would be to light 40+ candles every time I wanted to turn it 'on'...boo!).  The chandelier quickly turned into a lantern holder instead.

I thought the space needed some plants, so I went for a couple split leaf philodendrons, and then moved my lemon trees to the entrance of the space as well.

I then wanted a space to take in some rays and enjoy an afternoon cocktail.  I found two wooden lounge chairs on sale at Hobby Lobby.  I added an umbrella and monogrammed lounge chair covers...I really miss this spot!

The afters..

I miss that flowering jasmine on the trellis - those blooms are so delicate and smell delightful!

view from off the back porch...

The amount of time we were able to spend outdoors in GA was one of our very favorite things about living there.  We used this space like an extra room in our home.  We were even able to eat Christmas dinner out here one year!

With any space that we worked on, we always felt that we had lessons learned.  I am going to try to document them as I go along so we don't make the same mistakes twice :)

Carport lessons learned:
--Don't buy chandeliers with a million votives to light. Nightmare.
--Be careful with glass outdoors.  Countless hurricanes, lanterns, etc. were broken when we had big storms = bad news when you have a dog wandering around the backyard!
--The more stuff we have out there = more to clean.  I spent a lot of time sweeping, washing off furniture, etc.  It was a lot of work from that perspective.
--If we ever had another outdoor room like this, but were able to design where it was located, we would definitely position this type of space close to the kitchen.  It was sometimes a bit treacherous trying to get all the food out here because of less than level backyard.

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