Ground Floor Remodel: Falls Church Cape Cod

On the exterior - the siding became dark grey (BM Amherst Grey) with off-white trim (BM Distant Grey) and bright, happy doors (BM Viking Yellow). Gooseneck sconces from Barn Light Electric replaced too-small carriage lights. Black shutters and a window box complete the look. Can you tell a Steelers fan lives here?! 

We removed gingerbread molding and cleaned up the exterior of this sweet Cape Cod style home. 

All photos by Helen Norman. 

This adorable home in Falls Church was built in 1939. At some point in the last 30 years, it was gutted by a former owner/builder for his daughter to live in. I don't believe she ever moved in, but around 8 years ago my clients did. The house was basic, but functional (90's kitchen and bathroom remodels). They planned a gut renovation for several years, and we discussed it while working on other areas of their home together - first the upstairs, then later the basement, which was their first major project in the home. 

After working on their basement with Sun Design (a custom design/build firm in the Metro DC area), my clients knew they had found a contractor they could trust to take on their ground floor remodel. Working with a great contractor hugely affects how stressful your remodel will be. A good firm will discuss your scope and estimate your project well, informing you of possible places you may exceed the scope (always likely in an old home - you never really know what is behind the walls until you begin). Sun Design knocked it out of the park with this remodel - they opened up several walls and a staircase making the space feel much larger and brighter, re-worked the original bathroom off the den into a shower-bathroom accessible from the main area, and redesigned the kitchen space to work much better with the open plan (it was originally semi-closed off by walls and a closet, and everything was at an awkward angle.) 

The new bright and open kitchen - classic white shaker cabinetry, hand glazed tile and a black and white granite with lots of flowing movement. A kitchen TV was a must have for the football loving couple. The husband does the majority of the cooking,, and can now watch games and chat with guests at the bar and in the sitting room as he prepares food. 

My clients wanted a light, bright space where they could cook and entertain friends and family. I encouraged them to retain the feeling of the original home, selecting finishes that work in a Cape Cod but also allowing themselves to inject their own personality. We discussed what they wanted, then they worked with Sun Design's team to select their finishes, and would review with me afterward and make any changes we decided on.

This was a great way to work for them as Sun Design have a wonderful design team who were very flexible and accommodating, and didn't mind me butting in with my two cents (or at least were very gracious in not saying so to me!!!) We selected a light grey crackle glaze handmade tile with some glaze variation for the backsplash in a long subway format, paired with this stunning granite with lots of movement. Inset white cabinets in a simple shaker style complete the classic feeling. The clients were so happy to go from their builder-grade white melamine cabinets with off-white laminate counters to this!

The new layout - much more open and communal. 

In the sitting room, just off the kitchen, we went for a conversation seating arrangement. The clients entertain often, and wanted to be able to have guests sit by the fire with wine. We selected swivel chairs, so guests can swivel toward the kitchen or fireplace, or even the living room which is open to this room (with original pocket doors) to the left of the fireplace. 

The request for the feeling in here was not too precious - we were going for a casual, relaxed feeling but more formal than their basement (which is all about fun!) This is where we ended up:

I like to encourage my clients to take a few risks in our designs. As designers, it is easy to forget that our clients aren't exposed to interesting design in the sheer volume that we are, so there are pieces that might be a little shocking to them that are not at all to us. There is almost always a piece (or two) in my designs that my 'idea' for the feeling of that space centers around, and really makes the design. In this room, it was the ceiling fixture, paired with the coffee table. I imagined them this way from the beginning of the project, and knew it would take some coaxing for my clients to be comfortable with them, but was willing to fight their corner to be included because they were such a strong part of the overall vision.

To my surprise, they signed off on the coffee table straight away... but the light fixture was not so easy! After a couple of months of deliberation and discussion (and even a holiday party where the potential light was the subject of much discussion!) the clients decided to put their trust in me and signed off on the fixture. Unfortunately by this time, the fixture I had selected had become back-ordered for a very long wait. Luckily I was able to source this very similar one, and it really completes the room. The clients say it is one of the first things visitors admire in the space, and they love it. 

I am always happy to try to work in family heirlooms and sentimental pieces. In this room, the clients Grandmother's clock takes center stage on the mantle, while her writing desk sits out of frame to the left. The swivel chairs allow for fireside chats and open up the space to the surrounding rooms. 

The sitting room leads onto the living room, where my clients like to cosy up and watch TV. We went a little more relaxed in here - it's a space for lounging, movies and playing board games with their nephews and nieces. This used to be a den/bedroom, and the bathroom entrance was on the left. Sun Design were able to move the bathroom entrance to the hallway and create a closet here for storage and to house all the entertainment equipment. This makes a small room (around 12x12) feel much more spacious, and allowed me to squeeze in another seat. 

The living room - a comfy spot for a night of Game of Thrones watching!

The clients love to collect artwork, and have a great eye for interesting pieces. The wife's father gifted her this fantastic vintage 70's poster from the Lincoln Center, which used to hang in the dining room. We moved him to a great spot opposite the front door, so that Raúl Juliá (as Mack The Knife) can greet guests as they enter.

Vintage poster from the 1976 revival of The Threepenny Opera at the Lincoln Center in DC. Who wouldn't love to be greeted by Gomez?!

The living room and dining room both open onto a long deck, which makes entertaining in the warmer seasons easy - they can just throw open both doors and guests can mill about. 

The dining room - the 72" round table can seat eight comfortably, even in a tight space. 

In the dining room, it was important for my clients to be able to seat many people. They love to have friends and family over to eat, and often host nephews and nieces. They are fantastic hosts and love their guests to be comfortable, so we selected furnishings that were sturdy, comfortable and easy to clean. The 'rug' here is a series of FLOR tiles. In case of a spill, each individual tile can be picked up and washed off. 

I always like to leave space in my designs for collectors to continue their finds and add to their rooms, and give them some parameters of what to look for (size, colour, style). On the right (not pictured) above the buffet, we used a large piece of art they already owned, and on the wall above shown, we left a space for new pieces.

In the hallway, Sun Design were able to carve out space for this gorgeous shower room and a closet out of the original bathroom space. We retained the functionality of having a ground floor full bathroom (wonderful for aging in place). I also had them add blocking in the shower for handrails, should they ever be needed in future. Since the living room can still function as a bedroom, this gives great options for the configuration of a home if you plan to stay in your home as you get older, or have aging family members. In the case of these clients, having a ground floor full bathroom was still a wonderful perk after a surgery shortly after the remodel that required no stair climbing for a couple of weeks. 

The bathroom - echoing the feeling of the original black and white bathroom with the new gray and black marble paired with white subway tile and a black pinstripe liner.

The mudroom is my clients daily entry and exit from the house, just off the kitchen. We wanted them to be just as happy coming through the 'side door' as they would in the main entrance, so we used the same Viking Yellow for the door and the same hardware. We updated the orange pine paneling with a coat of BM's Plymouth Rock, and slate-look porcelain floor tile. Finally we added functionality with a seat cushion and some hooks. 

Yellow doors bring smiles even on a gloomy day!

Because of the scale of the home and each room's openness to the next, it was important that each space work with it's surroundings, even as some were more formal and others more relaxed. Having a wonderful and capable contractor in Sun Design to project manage their remodel meant we were able to focus on the aesthetics, and my clients are thrilled with the results. If you're planning a remodel, interview your contractor thoroughly. Ask for previous references, and visit completed projects (or even in progress remodels, if possible!) And of course, if you want to enjoy your freshly remodeled spaces to their fullest, enlist the help of an interior designer from the start. It is so much easier (and less expensive!) to involve your designer at the beginning of the remodeling process. 

If you're in the Metro DC area and thinking about remodeling, or want help with a space, get in touch! 

How projects come together - DIY vs Full Service Design.

I'm so pleased to share my latest completed project! It was a tough time, but we got there in the end! This started out as an e-design project, but the client encountered several huge and unexpected issues with her remodel (which had begun before we met). It ended up being 90% a full service project because of these issues. Because of this, I was able to stage the project and photograph it, which I would not normally for an e-design. Coming to post these photos got me thinking, and I wanted to write a little about the differences between e-design and full-service projects. If you're just here for pretty pictures, you can view the full project at the bottom of this post or under 'WORK'.

 A fully staged space - the furniture, pillows, flowers, accessories, artwork is all arranged for you just as it was imagined by your designer. 

A fully staged space - the furniture, pillows, flowers, accessories, artwork is all arranged for you just as it was imagined by your designer. 

I'm often asked the difference between an e-design 'DIY' project, and a 'full service' design, and what is right for a client.

With an e-design project, the designer provides you with a floorplan (usually based on your own measurements), a board with a furniture/accessories list, typically for retail only items the client can purchase in their own time. For those who want help with their homes but like to take control of the project management, purchasing, implementing and styling of their projects, these are a great, low-cost choice.

E-design is not for everyone. Many design firms don't offer it at all, because it can be really difficult to have so little control over your plans. Once the client ends up with the plan and implements it, it can end up quite different from what the designer envisioned, especially if they decide to substitute items (which sometimes is unavoidable when you are buying retail - things get discontinued much faster as seasons and trends change). Additionally because of this, if you are working to build a portfolio, it can be difficult to get work that really represents you as a designer photographed with e-designs. 

In terms of what you end up with in your home, the difference can be enormous. It isn't simply the difference between having all the 'staging' done for you, though this alone is worth it to many people. Full service design means your designer is there for you every step of the way. If you are renovating, this is enormous. Most people, especially on a first time remodel/build massively underestimate the amount of small but cumulative decisions they will need to make through the process. Of course, having an really great contractor/build team makes the world of difference here too, but even with that in place, the homeowner is still required to make a decision on everything. Let's say you are doing a 'simple' kitchen remodel. You'll need to make choices at the very least (and sometimes very quickly) on flooring, hardware, lighting, paint, countertops, backsplash, cabinets, paint, faucets, sinks, appliances, paint, and any number of hidden extras.

 Selections that needed to be made to create this kitchen include cabinets, flooring, tile, grout, countertop, custom shelving/hardware, appliances, furniture, faucet, sink, paint, three styles of cabinet hardware and lighting. 

Selections that needed to be made to create this kitchen include cabinets, flooring, tile, grout, countertop, custom shelving/hardware, appliances, furniture, faucet, sink, paint, three styles of cabinet hardware and lighting. 

A designer in your corner can make the world of difference here. They will work with you before the remodel begins to understand your wants and needs, and if there are surprises mid-project (surprise! Your tagged, beloved, granite slabs you already spent hours pairing your backsplash tile with were accidentally given to someone else! Yes, this happened to a client recently) they will work with you to quickly fix the issue, make sure there is minimal impact on the project and cause you the least heartache possible.

If you are the type of client who begins their project dreaming of coming home one day to a polished, beautiful interior that could grace the pages of a shelter magazine, full service design is what you want. Staging a home (which is what has happened before you see those beautiful 'after' shots in the magazines/on pinterest) takes many hours. Tracking down the right pieces (within budget), delivering, moving furniture, scouring the client's own home for forgotten art work or accessories you can use. Most designers working on full service projects install everything in one or two days at the home. There are a number of reasons for this. 

 A staged, finished space - flowers and accessories make a huge difference.

A staged, finished space - flowers and accessories make a huge difference.

1. Many trade only vendors will only deliver to a warehouse, not directly to a clients home. This means you may have several pieces of furniture sitting in the receiving warehouse waiting for all the parts of the puzzle to arrive. It is less expensive both for delivery and for hourly fees to the design team to bring all the parts at once, rather than arrange delivery for each item. 

2. Many clients find it difficult to visualise their completed space, even with boards, plans, and even renderings. That's often why they are coming to a designer in the first place. For these types of client, having parts of the project turn up bit by bit can be hugely unnerving. They see the part alone, not as a piece of the whole, and get scared/decide they don't like it. For this reason many designers prefer the client to see everything as a whole on install day - it saves a huge amount of stress for everyone.

3. MOVE THAT BUS! OK, had to fit an EM:HE joke in there somewhere. Do you ever have those dreams where you find a secret room in your home? How else can you get the magical feeling that you have come home to this amazing place that you just can't believe you are going to get to live in? Yes, it's a bit of showmanship. But having watched countless reactions as people see their spaces for the first time and cry/beam with joy/go around discovering new parts they love, it's definitely a huge bonus to installing all at once. 

If you aren't great with managing projects, or don't have much time to spare, full service design is really the best way to ensure an outcome you love, with the minimum effort needed by the homeowner to achieve their goal of a beautiful home. If, on the other hand, you are the type of client who knows their own style well, loves project managing contractors, implementing projects, has a great eye for styling, and is able to take time off work for multiple deliveries, e-design can work really well for you. It's also a great way to inexpensively tackle smaller spaces that are less involved, and can be shopped for in just a few retail stores.

If you're considering e-design or full service and want more information, feel free to contact me!

May the fourth be with you!

Happy Star Wars day! As someone married to an aerospace engineer and bona fide nerd,  I am sometimes compelled to find ways to live with, let's say, "less than chic" home decor. Now, I love Tolkein as much as the next British country girl from the Shire, but I'll admit I'm not as enamoured with Gollum bookends as my husband.

For those of you who also love all things Endor and Middle Earth, I thought I'd celebrate today by rounding up a few of my favourite geek-chic home decor items. Some of these live in my 'younglings' Pinterest page, because they are great for nurseries or children's rooms, but could also work well for those of us who just don't want to grow up in every way!

I'd love to use this Imperial Forces wallpaper inside a closet or on the back of a bookshelf in a child's room:

 imperial forces wallpaper by Super7, $120 for a single roll

imperial forces wallpaper by Super7, $120 for a single roll

I love these retro travel posters for Star Wars locations. We collect the US National Parks versions from the parks that we visit. These make a stylish alternative to modern film posters!

 Retro Star Wars travel posters, available from TeacupPiranha on Etsy starting at $6.99

Retro Star Wars travel posters, available from TeacupPiranha on Etsy starting at $6.99

Of course we can't leave out the great Middle Earth destinations!

 Minas Tirith travel poster, from a series of film posters created by MUTI for Ster-Kinekor cinemas in South Africa.

Minas Tirith travel poster, from a series of film posters created by MUTI for Ster-Kinekor cinemas in South Africa.

 The Shire fantasy travel poster by Steve Thomas, available on request

The Shire fantasy travel poster by Steve Thomas, available on request

 Retro middle earth posters from SealDesignStudio on Etsy

Retro middle earth posters from SealDesignStudio on Etsy

One way to incorporate your fantasy book/film life into your home is to use your favourite quotations. Etsy is a great source for this. If you can't find what you are looking for, make your own or have something custom made:

 My own mantle, with a favourite Tolkein quote: hand-written by the talented Eva Zellmer of Gritshop on Etsy

My own mantle, with a favourite Tolkein quote: hand-written by the talented Eva Zellmer of Gritshop on Etsy

Pooh Bear has always been popular in nurseries. But what about a little Han and Chewie print?

 Perfect for a nerdy nursery, these Wookie The Chew prints are by James Hance.

Perfect for a nerdy nursery, these Wookie The Chew prints are by James Hance.

For my sisters - avid Dr Who fans - incorporate the time lord into your kitchen with this sweet tardis teapot:

For the trekker in your life, a little toile fabric featuring Spock and Kirk could be a fun addition. 

 'It's life Jim, but not as you know it' Star Trek toile fabric by Debbie Birkin on Spoonflower.

'It's life Jim, but not as you know it' Star Trek toile fabric by Debbie Birkin on Spoonflower.

This is the pillow you have been looking for:

 everyone loves Artoo. C3P0.... meh. Pillow available on Etsy from RandomOasis

everyone loves Artoo. C3P0.... meh. Pillow available on Etsy from RandomOasis

And if you just aren't finding these snippets satisfying enough - if you need more geek-chic in your life than these can provide, I give you the Han Solo in Carbonite coffee table by UK company R9:

 Broken Han Solo in Carbonite coffee table, by R9

Broken Han Solo in Carbonite coffee table, by R9

Hope you've enjoyed adding some fantasy to your day! 

Virginia Is For Design Lovers!

Hello East Coast! 

Vesta Interiors is back and officially open for business!

After taking a couple of months to unpack, settle in, work on a couple of projects in our new home and file the appropriate paperwork, I am looking forward to getting down to some design projects.

The snow has finally melted. Spring is here, with the plants and trees in bloom, birds tweeting, and bright days filled with sunshine, signalling our chance for a fresh start!

If you are considering tackling a space in your home, I am offering a special Grand-Reopening deal for all design agreements signed through May 4th. You will receive 15% off Vesta Interiors' regular design fees, including for e-design packages.

Whether you are building a new home, remodeling, redecorating or just want to freshen up a space inside (or outside!) your home, contact me for more information! 

 

In other news, I have been taking wheel throwing classes at Frederick School of Clay, and am absolutely in love. It's amazing that you can create these beautiful, functional things out of the earth! So expect my instagram feed to be full of pictures of my creations, like this little bowl I made the first week:

 

 My little spring-time bowl!

My little spring-time bowl!


Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River...

After two years in the Arizona desert, we are excited to announce that Vesta Interiors is moving back to VA!

As beautiful as the Southwest is, we are very pleased to be returning to the East Coast. Madra will certainly be happy to see some snow again!

Please bear with us as we make our cross-country move. Vesta Interiors will be closed through the holidays, and will re-open in early 2015.

In the meantime, we'd like to wish you all a joyful winter season, rest and relaxation with your loved ones!

Colour Inspiration - Ireland

Since my husband is one of 6 Irish brothers, we have often been back to the Emerald Isle since we moved to the States to attend weddings, or spend Christmas with family.

This June, we visited for the wedding of his second youngest brother. We were blessed with a week of possibly the best weather I've ever known in Ireland. It was sunny and beautiful the entire trip (though the downpours began the day after we left!)

I often think of Ireland as somewhat grey - probably because I've spent a lot of time in a city surrounded by large, Georgian architecture (which I do love), in somewhat gloomy weather. But if you head out to any small Western town in the countryside, and particularly those closer to the sea, the most beautiful colours will appear. 

First, amongst the vibrant greens of the trees and fields, you'll see wildflowers in every colour gracing the hedgerows and bushes alongside the narrow, winding roads. Then at the sea shore, there will be soft, creamy sand, the blue of the Atlantic ocean and sky, and in the distant hills, deep, lush greens.

 Castlegregory, Co. Kerry

Castlegregory, Co. Kerry

In the towns and villages, each terraced home is painted a different colour. And the colours picked are a definite reflection of the vibrant folks who live in them. I think when it rains fairly often, it's important to make your surroundings as happy as possible to counter it!

 Main St, Dingle, Co. Kerry

Main St, Dingle, Co. Kerry

It's easy to forget in HOA-beholden suburban USA, that homes don't have to be 'builder's tan with off-white trim'. Especially here in the desert, where we are surrounded by brown and red, and most homes are a variation on 'earth-coloured'. In these bright, cheery houses, the owners don't pay much attention to whether the colour 'co-ordinates' with their neighbours house - but the eclectic result is perfect, and so much better than the dull repetition you get when committees decide a variety of 'acceptable' house colours for a neighbourhood and everyone just picks from the same palette.

This house had a blue paint so vibrant and shiny, it almost looked laquered. It looked marvellous with the brightest yellow door!

 Blue house with yellow door, Dingle, Co. Kerry

Blue house with yellow door, Dingle, Co. Kerry

 Main St, Adare, Co. Limerick

Main St, Adare, Co. Limerick

Aside from the happy, vibrant houses, the colours that appeal to my heart most in Ireland are those found for free in the countryside. I was particularly taken with this rock on the Conor Pass in the Dingle Peninsula. The moss and lichen growing there over hundreds of years have given it a special mix of soothing, neutral greys, blues, creams browns and soft lilacs, which set against the deep green grass around it are something really special. 

 Conor Pass, Co. Kerry

Conor Pass, Co. Kerry

In home design, many people are afraid of colour. They worry about mixing too many colours together, or try to stick to a 'safe' palette and repeat the same patterns. This can be beautiful too - repetition is a staple in design for a good reason - the eye craves it, and humans naturally look for patterns wherever we go.

I love to mix up colours and patterns in my designs in certain parts of my clients homes. For living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, playrooms - these eclectic palettes bring joy and life into the space, and allow for a great variety of collected art and personal items by the homeowner throughout the years, without throwing off the design.

However, I typically strive for a visually soothing palette when designing a sanctuary, like a bedroom or bathroom. Keeping colours serene, and using small amounts of colour as highlights (like those wildflowers growing among the hedgerows) allows for maximum rest and relaxation. 

 Conor Pass looking into Dingle Bay, Co. Kerry

Conor Pass looking into Dingle Bay, Co. Kerry

What colours do you love? If you're looking for colour inspiration, have a look back through photos of the places you've been, where you felt most joyful and connected. Whether it's in the markets of Morocco, the mountains in Colorado, the blue of the Carribean Sea or the green rolling hills of the Peak District, use those colours in your home to recreate the memories and feelings you experienced in your special places.

Making the most of your outdoor space

Hi! I'm very excited to be launching Vesta Interiors' brand new website and blog! It's been a long time coming, but we are finally here! I'll be posting project updates, DIY how-to's, and general inspiration here. I hope you'll enjoy sharing it with me! 

Terence and I are loving life here in the AZ desert. One of the biggest benefits of being somewhere so warm is that right now (winter) through spring is the perfect weather to be enjoying your outdoor space. I must admit that I sometimes I look wistfully at our East Coast friends pictures of 18" of snowfall - doesn't freshly fallen snow make everything so beautiful?! However, I'm also well aware of how fortunate I am to be writing this post beside the pool in 73° weather. I like to sit in a ray of light and absorb the yellow sun's powers like Kal-El.

So, in honour of this gorgeous weather, today I'm going to share some of the first project I took on at our new home: the outside space. I started outside because a) the garden is pretty much always my favourite part of a home, and b) I wanted us to be able to enjoy it right away in the cooler weather. It's still a work in progress, but just getting some comfortable seating set up, ambient lighting, and space for guests to eat (all important at this house!) and rest their drinks was important to me. The landscaping and hardscaping itself is a longer-running project that goes on as time, heat and energy allows!

I'm a big believer in thrifting (that's visiting 'charity shops' to us Brits), making what you can, re-purposing, and Craigslist. It can be difficult to incorporate older elements into client projects, because of the time involved in finding that one-off piece, and also in any restoration/expense in fixing it up, or changing the colour/reupholstering, etc. It's really wonderful when clients are willing to work with you on vintage pieces, because it really changes the feel of a finished project, (and is far more sustainable than buying all new furniture) but it does make things more difficult in presenting a 'finished' plan to a client. For example, if you want to use older pieces in a project, understand that your designer needs a certain amount of leeway with your plan, as they likely won't have found them up-front, and when they do, they need to be quick to snap them up.

It also doesn't necessarily save tons of money on a project unless the client is willing to do a lot of the heavy-duty searching themselves (which can also mean lots of patience is needed). It can take weeks or months of searching craigslist to find a specific piece, for instance, this carrera marble coffee table top took me a couple of months of browsing daily to find. I paired it with a vintage Saarinen style base which I had already re-purposed the teak top of as our breakfast table. 

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After dreaming of a huge, solid, zinc topped harvest table for a while, I asked Terence to build me one for Christmas. He gamely took on the challenge, and we picked out a beautiful Spanish Cedar after discussing the merits of different species in the AZ weather with the friendly guys at our local Woodworkers Source. We used plans from Ana White, and I found several tutorials for using zinc sheet metal as tabletops or countertops online. I haven't sealed the top yet, as I am waiting patiently for it to gain a level of patina I like. I may not seal it ever. The great thing about zinc is that it looks great with patina, but you can also buff it back to looking like clean shiny steel if that's your preference. 

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I paired it with Louis Ghost chairs along one side, to keep the passageway through to the grass visually clearer. Against the wall, I hunted for a vintage church pew: an exercise in patience. Since the table is 8' long, it took me a while to find an interesting pew long enough to work. When you're really wanting something to be finished, it can be difficult to wait for the right piece to come along, but it's absolutely worth the wait when you find something special.

The chaises are insanely comfy, and offer the perfect spot by the pool to relax and soak in the light (in fact I'm typing this post from one now!) I often get expressions of surprise from guests for using white upholstery (I've a white slipcovered couch too), but the sunbrella fabric on these is extremely easy to keep clean. You just hose them down, and you're good to go.

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The Hardoy/Butterfly chair was another Craigslist find - I scored him for $15 in VA. He came with a black canvas sling that degraded over time in the Virginia weather (yes, I am a horrible person and left him out in the snow). Once we got to Arizona, I sanded down the frame which had picked up some rust, and repainted with primer and rustoleum. I picked up a new outdoor friendly sling at Circa50. I use inexpensive Mexican Falsa/Serape blankets around the house and garden to wrap up in the evenings, or throw down on the hammock. 

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I had fallen in love with some Trisha Turk for Schumacher outdoor fabric, but with so many other things needed for the house, I was balking at the cost. Quality fabric can be expensive, and in many cases it's a worthwhile investment. It can really make a difference in a finished space, and a really special pattern can hold lifelong memories: I can still picture vividly my vintage rose duvet cover from childhood. However, when the budget needs to be controlled, and you're using a fabric for something short-term, it can be worth considering other options. In this case, I discovered Trisha Turk had leased two of the patterns I liked for use as bedding/shower curtains. I snapped up two different shower curtains, and used those as fabric for the outdoor pillows. They certainly won't be as durable as the Schumacher outdoor fabric, but my hope is that they will hold up for a few years, since this is a covered porch and the weather is so great here the majority of the time. They make a simple white sectional a lot more comfy and bright, and add personality to the chaises and adirondack chairs.

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For lighting, I went for a simple outdoor fan over the sectional, to be unobstrusive and help keep bugs at bay while we're sipping our margaritas. Over the table, I chose a fixture from Nuevo called 'The Apollo', as a hat-tip to my Rocket Scientist husband. The overhead string lights are from our wedding - we sold almost all of them, but kept a few boxes in the hope of being able to string them up in a future home. Whenever I turn them on I'm reminded of our friends and family dancing the night away underneath them :)

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No matter the size of your outdoor space, It's simple to add some colour and life with fruit, flowers and plants. In this gold bowl I grabbed from Target, I planted a few small cacti, and grabbed some quartz stones from the garden to anchor them. On the coffee table at this time of year, we'll often have a big bowl of oranges, lemons or grapefruits picked fresh from the trees, ready to be eaten or juiced. 

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So, this is some of the garden in progress. We are still working on the very messy patio/bbq area, our veggie garden, and the outdoor shower area. I'll post updates as we go!